March 13, 2023 at 1:36 am #5477
I am curious as to how others organize their tracks, vis a vis things like color coding (by channel type? instrument group?), track layout (master on top or at the bottom?) and so forth. I have never evolved a system that I am entirely consistent with, in large part because I don’t work with consistent instrumentation across lots of songs. I tend to color code by track type (audio, MIDI, submix master, aux send, VI return, etc.), but sometimes I do it by instrument grouping instead (drums, vocals, etc.). Just curious how others approach it.
And let me take this opportunity to say how much I appreciate a forum which I expect to have a higher signal-to-noise ratio than is found many other places in InterWebs.
March 13, 2023 at 12:35 pm #5482
Dear Larry: Are you looking for ideas to help organize sessions based on how others organize? Or are you trying to lobby for ideas on a standardization of session organization?
Keep in mind that muscle memory is a key for my session organization. I’m comfortable scrolling over to different areas of my mixer and edit window where I’ll usually find a certain category of instrument or bus, etc. For example, Echo returns are always at the right for me, and just before them are all the stems and captures.
(hopefully this does not degrade the signal to noise ratio of your post 🙂
March 13, 2023 at 1:52 pm #5483
The former: looking for ideas. My sessions are reasonably organized compared to many working from personal studios, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever arrived at a wholly consistent system, so I am curious about how others conceive of and execute session organization. Your last sentence is helpful in this regard, thanks!
I have VERY strong doubts there could be any standardization because sessions can vary so widely in their instrumentation and even basic structure, as well as there being such variety in composing and engineering approaches. For example, a session for an aleatoric piece will have no resemblance organizationally to an EDM session.
March 13, 2023 at 2:57 pm #5486
My tracks are color coded and arranged in track folder groups. A track folder is a construct that can contain any number of tracks or folders, which by default also serves as a submaster bus for the tracks it contains. For example, a folder called Drums Bus contains tracks for kick, snare, high hat, room mic, overhead pair, and also contains folders named Toms and Cymbals that contain tracks of that type.
There are other folders in my template named FX Bus, Vocals Bus, Guitar Bus, etc.
It is really efficient, and any folder can be visually collapsed to make it easy to navigate projects with lots of tracks.
This is reliant on the DAW support for track folders. I use Reaper; I can’t say whether other DAWs have a similar feature.
March 13, 2023 at 7:12 pm #5489
yeah, thanks, Phil! I use track folders like crazy and always have. My main axe is Digital Performer, which does not use the folders to create a bus for the tracks, though I have also used Studio One, which can do that. (I have Pro Tools, but rarely use it.) I also often (but not always) have busses that correspond to the folders, both because it facilitates group processing, but also because it simplifies printing stems when I want to archive the song at the end of the mix or project.
Again, my usage isn’t an entirely consistent scheme. For example, a tune I’m working on now has a drums folder and a vocals folder, but it also has a rhythm folder with chord and rhythm instruments, and a leads folder.
Curious, though, how you work your FX bus. Some effects will be applied to group (i.e. vocals or winds), while others may be dedicated to a single instrument (snare, lead guitar). Do you put all of those in the FX bus? I tend to put the dedicated stuff with the instrument they are serving, and the more general effects in a folder together.
March 14, 2023 at 9:22 am #5494
I really have to start mastering the new track folders feature in Pro Tools. My entire session organization/template should change to take advantage of that. Of course I’ve been color coding different groups of instruments, grouping like items together, etc. Until that time I’m going to shut up here 🙂
March 14, 2023 at 11:07 am #5504
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Larry – The FX Bus folder generally only contains reverb and sometimes echo. Other plugs are simply inserted into the tracks where they are used (EQ & compressors mostly).</p>
I have my default track/folder setup saved as the ‘default project’, so any time I pick new project, that gets loaded with empty tracks. I don’t use default effects, though, those are loaded as needed as the mix commences. I find, since every mix is different, I’d have to open each anyway to tweak it to the needs of that mix. So it is easier and faster to just insert them at that time.
I hope you find this helpful.
March 15, 2023 at 9:22 am #5505
It gets a little more complex when you want to make stems for TV or at least vocal and instrumental. To “cover your ass” as it moves to mastering. For organizational reasons and also for reverb return reasons. Requiring vocal and instrumental stems at the same time as the mix (without requiring another pass) means that you have to use different reverbs for vocal and instrumentals. And the routing and organization gets more complex. But in my not so humble opinion, this is a big advantage in the long run. You capture your mixes and stems in the session and if there are revisions or tweaks you can punch in and out and replace sections. It saves lots of time in the long run.
March 15, 2023 at 10:46 am #5506
Bob – I agree. The template is just a tool, and more complex tasks require more complex tools. I’ve seen some jaw-droppingly huge layouts used for movie scoring; not for the faint of heart!
March 15, 2023 at 11:43 am #5507Eddie BazilParticipant
It all depends on the project and stem count.
However, the one thing I always make certain to nail is naming tracks/parts. I used to do the whole colouring thing and it was fine with smaller stem count projects but with genres like pop I get huge stem counts and colouring doesn’t cut it. Grouping like for like in folders, saving specific routing templates etc are a must for me. It’s all about saving time and keeping things uncluttered.
I think, certainly for me, key commands are more important as they help navigate without the need for a gazillion clicks.
Everything else, I wing it.
March 16, 2023 at 3:43 am #5513
Just to clarify, when you say “stem count,” do you mean “track count” or “submix count”? Because I have not encountered very high stem (submix) counts, even when doing film, but high track counts, sure.
I totally agree that naming is absolutely necessary for a number of reasons, but I still find color-coding in addition to be useful. I keep thinking I should find an absolutely consistent system, which was the genesis of this thread, yet no such thing emerges over the course of numerous projects, so I dunno…..
As far as key commands, what I find the most helpful at all is key command sequences. I can’t think of a DAW other than Studio One that includes this feature, but, for years, I used QuicKeys to automate sequences of steps, sometimes even extremely elaborate and sizable tasks.
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