Managing Large Track Counts


Pro Tools Essentials


Lesson Info

Managing Large Track Counts

So this is the last section we're going to cover today and this is basically preparation for mixing tomorrow when we start getting into really large track counts we want to know a system in place to be able to manage all of this information it could start to really get out of control did you start to add more and more tracks to keep sort of like a bird's eye view of what you're actually mixing and setting it up so that it makes sense and you can still make musical decisions? I mixed a record once for band that came in and had it was like anywhere from eighty to one hundred thirty tracks on each song and we had four days to mix the record in this studio so there was a lot of time that we had to immediately start breaking stuff down into very specific parts and understand what everything was doing so as we started to build this you start to think in terms of systems and this is mme or I mean this is less of a pro tools thing that is of a global mixing thing this picture actually appear i...

s an actual session from a band that was mixed by chris lord elgin you can see all the tracks just the huge session that it is and how many tracks all of that gets some down chris or challenges really for those of you know really well known mixer mixing engineer and he's he's, known for a very specific workflow, he still miss mix mixes. Excuse me on an ssl with a sony forty eight track, basically dat machine that has all of the all of the tracks that come in for approach was get dumped onto that. So this session, it was a picture of this session that basically gets split down to his track count so that he can manage it in the same way that he thinks about everything and the reason I like that so much as I like thinking about things in terms of putting in, even though a session might be huge, we still want to break it down into specific chunks that we understand and we can think about. So I made this little diagram here, and this is sort of like a way to think about it. Structurally, we're just going to kind of walk through this, and then I'll show you sort of types and answer some questions, then we'll be ready tomorrow to start setting up for a mixed session to start mixing and start going through some stuff. So the highest level, with the very back end of whatever you're mixing, you have either audio or many tracks, and many tracks are basically like I said before, they're not necessarily themselves holding any information that contains audio, they just contain digital information that tells something else to create audio, so they're at the very background. Once you get to the mixing point, you never want to look at a mini track again. You want those to be hidden and out of sight. In fact, the if you can see the sort of dotted line in the middle of the screen that's movable, but that dotted line sort of represents what you actually see in the window, depending on what state you're at so that the hope is is that over time, as you're mixing, that dotted line gets further and further down until you can just see the basic amount of information that you need to cover for mixing most the time, I would actually have it right above the line if you see where it's at right now, once you make the many tracks you've got, all those separated, sometimes those air reinforcing audio tracks, and then they're replacing audio tracks. It depends on the session, and you can see I've got like, kicks their rack tom for tom, like we did this morning, those many tracks, maybe I have a mini since base I've got many keyboards that are creating sounds, and all of those were being fed to virtual instruments that are in the audio track world. So once they get into the video tracks many tracks and those air said, I'm going to hide those from view they're still working and setting sending information, but I'm not looking at them anymore and the next layer is all of the idea tracks that have been recorded and especially with modern production in modern studios, people end up tracking away a lot of tracks, many of which they might have been abusing, but they have for options in the future, so you know, for drums they might record a kick in micah, kick out mike kick compressed mike and maybe, like even a kid room mike for snare, they might have snared tops in their bottom snare compressed, you know, multiple options that they have they can always go back to if they need racked on top rack, tom bottom, you know, it sort of gets out of control with how much you can actually record, so you look at all those blue squares and those are all the tracks that have been recorded that you don't necessarily want to be looking at all the time you just want to get set and then move on same thing with base, maybe you've got a base, you know, for twenty one on the base and you also have a forty thirty three on the base and you also have the direct line and you're blending all those together to get a different combination of sounds nothing is more true in modern rock production then with guitars maybe you have a guitar room mike ahh convincer anna dynamic on each guitar cab plus the direct line for revamping later and all those get managed into the same session and get funneled to the same same place you've got all those guitar tracks you want to look at all those you just want to have those in the background hidden that air feeding the next layer and the way that I set this up and we'll talk about this tomorrow is that I actually using approaches eleven I use v c a buses to manage all of those audio tracks, so once I get those levels set then I'll hide the set I hide those tracks and a look at them anymore and I create one the sea a bus for all of the kick trump's um the kick in the kick out the kick compressed whatever blend of all those air set I hide the tracks and I have one vc a bus that could just cruise controls kick the same for snare rack tom for tom overhead and room and that way it's basically down to like five mikes for drums it's actually like, you know, twenty mikes for drums, but I'm only looking at five tracks when I'm making those musical decisions simply having the guitars, maybe I have like four parts that I want to think about, but there's actually like twenty five tracks and guitars behind that I'm going to funnel all those tracks into those four guitar track vcr buses, same thing with sensor keyboards and with acoustic instruments and with vocals I've got all these vocal tracks doubles, triples, harmonies and I want to funnel those down to lead vocals, background vocals and maybe one other that I can think about. So once those levels are set, all those blue tracks get hidden and I'm looking out of the buses now the cia buses aren't actually being sent because the cia buses just control audio tracks, they don't actually route audio, so all those blue tractor actually going straight to the brown layer, which are all of the buses and the buses are for bus compression. Maybe I'll have a stereo bus for drums, stereo bus for all the bass guitars, keys, acoustic vocals and then I could make slight adjustments, especially if I want to bounce stems later on, which we'll talk about in segment three tomorrow of that, the time to do that andi that's easily already set up maybe I want to be able to just make slight adjustments I get notes back from the band that they just want the guitars up I could just bump that guitar bus up by one and a half tb and not have to go through every individual track or everybody see a bus maybe I want to do a print without vocals for for a for like a new instrumental mix that I could just mute the vocal bus and keep in mind with that to you also have to meet the vocal sends to the river bs you know, same with guitars and drums and stuff so we'll cover all that mixing but the brown layer basically gives you the ability to control at a global view everything in the session and finally that gets funneled down into the master bus which you're sort of like final source material ends up in it all gets funneled into that category so you think about it in terms of like information tons of information consolidating it, putting it together and then mixing you've got this sort of like big work flow of how to set up a session so that's sort of my theory there's a million theories out there I know that I remember reading an article from michael brower who instead of having buses for each instrument he buses he creates buses for each range of frequencies he has like a low and bus a mid range bus a high investor than an open bus and he just assigns tracks two different buses based on where he wants them to sit in the frequency range totally valid an awesome way to do things. Everybody has their own work flows, so the key is just to really be thinking and even write down some maps like this. I create your own idea of how you feel like you want to work and then go on a pro tools to know how to make that happen, but don't get lost just looking at tons and tons of tracks and don't have any idea where to start start with, like a plan and a map of what you want to accomplish and go from there. Awesome cool said, where we at I think we're good. I mean, that's pretty much set up for mixing tomorrow. I'm happy to take any questions from today if there's anything and we can kind of do you do you do compression and accused insert on the tracks or the audio tracks? That's a great question I actually do them on the audio tracks themselves. The visas are only used for volume control, what's the advantage or disadvantage of you know, I'm not actually sure, I don't think you actually can. I'd have to check to see if even can bring up. Um, the cia buses can bring up plug ins on v c a masters yeah, you actually can't bring up inserts on the cia masters. They basically just control the groups that they're put in. So you create custom group's, reach of those and then control the groups, and then, um, yeah, you could make it that way, okay, is there any reason to not have tracks default ticks instead of samples, you know, there's, a really good question, and it's it's, a question I don't know the answer to. I've never really looked into the difference between ticks and samples, other than just when using elastic audio. So that's, definitely something I could look into and get back about, because I don't really know the difference. Awesome. So tune in tomorrow for for for that awesome.

Class Description

Learn the ins and outs of Avid's Pro Tools HD, the recording industry’s most comprehensive DAW, with Zach Varnell. Zach is an industry veteran, who has worked in dozens of studios throughout Seattle. In this comprehensive guide to Pro Tools, he’ll share the best practices he's picked up over the years.

In Pro Tools Essentials, Zach will walk you through the entire mixing platform including the intricacies of bussing, VCA groups, key input, HD functionality, and notable plug-ins. He’ll also show you how to create custom impulse responses from time-based outboard gear and rooms.

You will learn about Elastic Audio and Beat Detective along with a comprehensive workflow and track management process and how it can be applied to a studio session with a band or film scoring with triple-digit track counts.

If you are ready to take your Pro Tools game to the next level or just want to brush up on some time-saving techniques, don’t miss Pro Tools Essentials with Zach Varnell.