Have you over got to the point in your mix where you really feel like you’ve lost complete control over what you’re doing?
I can hold my hands up and say that I absolutely have.
It’s a really terrible feeling and you realise that you have to untangle the mess you’ve made and get your mix sounding right again.
I would very often think… “If only there was a way to get my mix sounding the way it did (yesterday/2 hours ago/5 hours ago).” The time period is arbitrary and doesn’t really matter. It’s more about that sinking feeling you get.
Sometimes, I’d go back to the Pro Tools ‘Session File Backups’ folder and trawl through the backups to find a spot where I could pick up again and start moving forward, but pretty much everything I did resulted in time and energy lost moving in the wrong direction. Eventually, I’d get back on track but that little blip in the middle was no fun!
The ‘Session File Backups’ are great for something like a scenario where you’ve accidentally deleted a bunch of tracks and want to go back 5 or 10 minutes to the point that they were still in your session. Accidents happen and that’s no big deal. If, however, you’ve balanced all your faders nicely, added some tasteful EQ and taken the completely wrong approach with compression or “rebalanced your faders”, you’re in a bit of trouble.
Now, I want to share with you my very simple solution.
You know that ‘Save As…’ button? Use it!
You have your workflow and your system for mixing and I have my preferred way of doing things too. So, as I finish each stage of a mix, I ‘Save As…’ to a new file within my session folder. You’ll see labels like “EQ Mix”, “Compression Mix” or “Automation Mix”. The folder looks a lot like this:
This approach is in stark contrast to how I did things many years ago. I used to have one ‘.ptf’ (old school Pro Tools session file) that I would use to make all of my edits, prep my session and go through the various stages of my mixing workflow. That was a recipe for disaster that caught me out a few times.
The stages of your mix might be a little bit different to mine based on your workflow, but I highly recommend taking this simple approach. If you do, you can revert to an earlier version of your mix without wasting any time and move forward positively from that point.
It might seem very simple and intuitive but the best advice often is. Take it from me – this will really help you if it’s not something you’re doing already. As creatives, we sometimes like to skip ahead a little impatiently to the “more fun” parts of mixing. Session organisation and file management might not be that much fun, but I guarantee you that using this very simple tip will help save you from the potential frustration of ruined mixes.
So, of course, now I want to hear your confession…
Have you ever messed up a session and had to untangle the mess before moving forward positively?
What did you do to get back on track?
Leave a comment below!
professional sounding mix every time…