Pro Tools Stems

 

Pro Tools Essentials

 

Lesson Info

Pro Tools Stems

Okay, so this last section is sort of like the final thing of mixing we've gone through and done automation we've set up the mix done with the song we're getting to the end on we're ready to sort of start bouncing and I've heard so many different theories on what people think you should bounce back in the days with consoles when you were mixing back through a council you would have each of these separate segments would be bused back through buses on the council or channels on the council and then you would record the stereo mix back into pro tools or into a different d a w or maybe even on the tape on did took a lot of time to do that onda pull up all the settings on the council you have to write down the changes that you made over the failures were at and so it was great. You know, if you're mixing back for council, sometimes you get that sound of a specific analog counsel but what happens if, like two months later the band comes back and says, oh, you know what? Actually we need to u...

m we need to go back and add, like, bring up the vocals to d b on that song all this one section we really just need to chop out like three d b out of the guitars it's too loud in order to recall that mix, you have to go back in and pull up the knicks again set it back up in the same studio you have to book time in the same studio if you weren't there before, you have to said all the settings back in the council from your notes and poor back through everything that you were doing that doesn't happen as much when you're mixing in the box, so this isn't as important as it used to be, but it still saves a ton of time, especially down the road when it comes time to delivering all the final stuff that you're working on, so we're gonna walk through bouncing stems and bouncing stamps is a super important thing that a lot of mixing engineers have to do for a number of reasons, either just to give the band options to give the mastering engineer options when they come time to master or even just to be able to send tio anyone for different tracks. So this's sort of the list of things that I typically want to be able to accomplish. I want to have a stereo mix of the song I usually do a stereo vocal up mix, which is like the vocals up either two or three d be depending on the track, I'll do an instrumental mix, so I have to go through to make sure all the vocals were muted in case they ever need that for, like the background for a film or anything like that on deny bounce. Each of the stems on this stems are sort of a, well, it's I feel like stems air bouncing stems is a term that people say in a lot of people don't know what they mean or they mean something different than they say, we're going to come back and show how you could do that really quick first thing we're going to do is talk about bouncing and we're gonna go and just balance a stereo mixing the song so let's say this mix is done, we're super stoked about it. Um and we're going to go ahead and bounce it, so keep in mind you have to think about it musically. Where is the beginning of the song? And how does it start? Like that's? The first thing I want to think about it, I'm gonna go find the beginning here and see what's going on at the beginning. Very first thing I hear is the snare phil. And what else do I want to hear? Do I want to hear the tom's there? I would have edited easy out these out by now, um same with all the high hat I probably want to keep in and the overheads and the base comes in and this is punch point right here this so where the song starts and where the song ends, there may be some of the most important things you do is a mixing engineer. The worst thing that can happen is to have some wind and little fluff or note right at the end that you just don't even realize because you forget that it's there and this is something that's super important that happens a lot because as you're working with the track, you get used to it and you forget that it sounds weird so like I would be working on a session for, you know, weeks and you recorded the guitars and every time you hear you hear the civil life guitar, flubber and hiss at the beginning and the first time all I need to remember to fix that before we mix it. But then it comes time to mixing and you've heard it so many times that doesn't sound weird to you. It just sounds like the song and you forget to catch that because you're so used to hearing it and then somebody else hears that says, dude, what's up with the beginning of that song um somebody told me on engineer work with told me once that ends and out to the most important things in session or in a in a song which is so true like the very first note is so important and the very last note so important because that's what people here and remember you can kind of flubbed a note in the middle of a performance and maybe get away with it or flub something silly will notice but if you flub something at the very beginning of a mix like the very first second people are definitely gonna notice that something's wrong so I want to make sure that this first note is on one of my favorite records of all time the very first note that they play on this one song is just slightly out of tune the guitar on the piano and it drives me crazy every time I hear it and it's fine for us on issues that first note and I just can't even listen um or maybe was I think it was the base that first the note on the base on the first there's just a little bit out of tune and there's never again and that first note just drives me and saying it was happy to the song I would have never noticed but because it's right at the beginning I can't even listen to song even though I love the record um ok, so we're going to try to find this very beginning and make sure that the ins and outs air tight before we about so I'm gonna look here see this gets hard part I want to make sure there's no am pissed or anything right at the beginning you know? I mean, I guess unless you maybe you want campus of course like there's many records that kind of sounds sloppy the beginning intentionally, which is totally fine and if you look, I probably would've done this and editing for the guitars but the guitar and bass or a little bit off somebody go out and just slide that over just a little bit just to make sure that they start together. Um it's vocal stuff I don't need it's muted. Okay, so the ends are good. I know where the beginning is going to play some marker right there. Um just call this beginning and I would have added these markers in during tracking like we talked about yesterday when I'm setting up my session, I go through an ad in all the mixed templates and memory locations so that it's all set um okay, now we want to find the end it's really important at the end that you not only think about the end of the song but you think about the end of the reverb tail at the end of the song I've done this before where I've bounced a mix and the river tail got chopped off and that sounds horrible you want to make sure you don't do that so you can leave a good second or two after a song like the master continue to take care of that, so don't feel like the ending has to be exactly the right time, but I'm gonna go ahead and put an end here. Um and listen, one more time to make sure nothing it's pretty solid. I feel like it's tight. Um, ok, I'm ready to bounce. I'm gonna go ahead and pull up my memory locations a couple of ways to do this. We'll show you the hockey we talked about yesterday, I'm gonna go, period one period hold on shift, period to period and now the region of time from beginning to end, a selected and I'm gonna go up to bounce to disk it's gonna give me a bunch of options. Eso typically, I usually bounce the stereo mix first by itself, and I usually like to listen to the balance, because in pro tools eleven, you can bounce off line for the first time so you can bounce a track without listening back to the whole thing as it's playing along and it's. Definitely very helpful, especially when you're doing something like stems, but there's something that's like so it's kind of romantic a little bit about you know like the final mix listening to it right before you print it like I want to listen to the last time of the mix before it goes to tape and I can't tell you how many times I've been bouncing and hit stop because I caught something I wanted to fix really quick um if you bounce off line you don't do that that's all fine is great for if you like once you decide you know the mix is good and you're already bounced it you just have to do a bunch more bounces is awesome but I usually save the bounce off line for the steps which we're going to do next okay so bit depth is important and sample rate is important I usually bounce that the same bit depth and sample rate is this session so I'm not doing any dithering or conversion in the bounce handler which I think you know really saves a lot of time um I usually do multiple mano format as faras what type of stereo five fouls I'm getting way back in like pro tools seven or six I remember that I could distinctly tell the difference in phase correlation between a stereo file that was bounced into mano files mano files bounced left and pan left and right something about how pro tools combined the file change the sound a little bit for me it's not so much anymore like I think it's better now but just to be safe I always still bounces multiple mano on dh then I send the mastering engineer to files for every track left and right and they load those and separately and there's no you know bleed between the left and right channels and all a ce faras how those air recorded I want to make sure that I'm bouncing from my master output and the bounce handler you can bounce from a bus and output or physical output so if you remember the outputs that adding the output have have to have a bus to show up in the output window but the physical output tab just gets me straight to that output so I could bounce straight from that if I wanted to I honestly can't think of why that matters but it's it's something new and pro tools eleven that's interesting um once it's done I'm gonna go ahead and name the track and file naming is really important this is the first mix so I'm just going to call this um lamb of god one and then sequentially every time I make a mix change I'm gonna add a new number so put him in the same folder so when I'm done mixing and I pull up the session I know exactly what the most recent mix is you really want to be clear about that next thing I wanted to make sure that I know where I'm putting this so if you look right now, this is always way off to me. It was it would be the last window you ever opened from importer out port, which this was the re verbs, so I would have bounced this into my folder of impulse response river bs, which doesn't make any sense. So I want to always check that I'm going to go to documents lamb of god. Um in pro tools eleven they add an automatic folder now in the session folder called bounced files. That's what I usually used sometimes you want to keep them separate on the desktop, I try to keep them all with the same session folder, so that it's consistent, I'm gonna put it in there and now, once it's done, we've got wave um multiple mano selected I'm gonna go and it bounce so we would have bounced the file if you know, so I don't have the votes at the vocal, still muted from when we were soloing something else, but I would have gone through and bounce that whole thing, and once I'm done with that and I would go back through and I would do the same thing with muting the vocals, which I actually was that time, and call that instrumental and again be really careful when you're bouncing, you want to make sure that any vocal reverb sends are also muted or are set to post fader s so that when you mute the vocal take, it doesn't also have these like reared reverb trails and it's not actually an instrumental I've definitely seen that before you also want to think about the background vocals that you consider those vocals in an instrumental I usually do sometimes like if they're whose or the more patty can kind of go either way, I usually do all the vocals for an instrumental andan I do a vocal up mick, so I'll go through and I will actually you know, for the vocal up mix well, we'll just do it with since we have the theater will do it this way, so I'm going to go ahead and move the bcs theater up zero and bounce that two disc and I'm gonna call this lamb of god one vocal up and do the same thing, so I bounced that and then I would always remove that so I know that I have a vocal up mix, but I don't keep it in the mix because I want to make sure that when I come back later, if I've made mix changes, I have the original mix and usually if you're doing the vocal it makes last you end up keeping it accidentally and you want to make sure not to be that, um ok, so now we've come to the point where we're bouncing stems, we've done vocal, it makes an instrumental mix. We've done our stereo mix were happy with those three. Now we want to print some stems that I could send those to the mastering engineer sent us to whoever that we might not want to send those two and typically the old way of doing this without pro tools. Eleven hd is you had to go through and solo all of just the drums and the drum river bounce, then do all the guitars bounce, then do all the base bounce and it would take you an afternoon to bounce stems. It was like a job in pro tools eleven you can, for the first time actually bounced all of those stems at the same time, which is really cool all on before we do that really quick. The concept of stems I was saying before it's kind of funny because when I heard about what stems were when I was learning about that kind of thing, my understanding of stems were that you would print with effects and compression and everything sections of each of the of the sessions I would usually do drums, rhythm, guitars, lead guitars, keyboards, strings, vocals and then in effect, send and I would keep the effects reverb sends separate um and I would bounce each of those separately, and those were kind of like my groups several times I've been asked by other people in a label or other musicians or other mastering engineer can you send me stems, and I'll do that and send them, and they say, what were all the tracks? What do you mean? The tracks like what we asked for? Stems like we want kicks there like all that stuff, and I'm like, well, that's not stems, that's, just the multi track sessions, and they're like, oh, well, I thought that was stems, so I think people have a very wide range, especially recently, of what stems actually means my understanding of stamps is that it's printed effects to tape with each section that is pulled out separately so that they can adjust them separately. You're printing your compression, your printing, your vocal tuning, your printing, your e q you're not pulling any of that stuff off. Some people might think stems are all of the individual sections like drums, bass guitar, but with all the effects muted or any of the mixing you've done, so the compression pulled off. That doesn't make any sense to me, because I would think that if you didn't have the multi tracks and you were trying to compress the movie, just wouldn't like there would be no use for that. So I don't I don't know why that would be the case, but that might be a definition. Um, so when you talk to somebody about sharing files, just make sure that you really clear if they ask for stems, what exactly they're asking for? So I'll show you what I think of stands as so I'm gonna look at my bus is here and this is actually going to be a pretty quick process because we did this when we set up the session intentionally to make this easier at the back end. Now that I'm tired of mixed the whole song and studio days down and I just want to go it is down and go home. I don't have to spend a bunch of time re best re busing anything, so I'm just gonna look at my outputs, I've got drums, I've got, uh, gets harr's, I've got so drums guitar to, um, I've got base not being sent to anything, so I'm gonna go ahead and send these out to the base bus. Um, paul's guitar here is not being sent to guitar to which it should be I've got my vocals being sent to know where someone sent those two lead vocals, let's see background vocals. And then I'm gonna create effects now the thing to keep in mind is that even though I have a drum bus set up, I'm also compressing this drum bus so I don't really I can't if I chose the drum bus output to bounce the stems from it would be bouncing it before I hit the's the's compressors, which I really want to make sure I use so what I'm gonna go ahead and do is create new io settings just for for just for the just for the stems so we're going to go ahead and add these paths and just call it will add let's just say six stereo buses and we'll call these drums stem base them it's karsten um solo stem lead vocal stem pgd stem tips actually one more actually two more we'll do a um uh, pad or we'll just call it synthetic stem and a reverb stem. Oh actually, no so what we need to do is because we created individual river bs for each instrument we want to keep those separate eso we're actually gonna need quite a few more here, so we'll call this drum verb stan uh vocal verb stem guitar verb stan and I'm gonna go ahead and prince both the drum plate and room verbs on the same stand because I don't think we really need to separate those saying that not using them then it's fine and then the drum verb vocal verb guitar verb and we'll do the last one is the ambient stand. So now that I have all these set up, I'm gonna go back through this section I'm going to set the output of both of these drum buses, too drum stem and then the base we're going to go way could just use the base since we didn't use the base um like we've said it before, but I'm just going to go ahead and use the based on that we set up just now to see cuba consistent guitars should be going to guitars and guitar to output we're going to send to baste them or guitar sam sorry, then nazi the solo, which is right here we're going to send two guitar solo stem lead vocals were going to send two lead vocal stem uh the that's the vc master let's see, we'll do the doubles as well. So all the b g v s the background vocals will send two b g ve stem and then we get to the river bs that will do the same. Well, actually, first is the since stem and then we'll do the drum verb stem the guitar verb stem vocal stem and I'm gonna put vocal vermin echoing the same and then the ambiance stem ok, can I have all these buses set up I'll have to do now is go to bounce to disk, just like I was bouncing a session, and I'm going to make the first one um, be from drums or I'm sorry drum verbs, where is it? Drums them and then I click the plus button here and I can add mohr and if you notice they're going to add them sequentially for me. So now I have all these stems aiken bounce um I'm gonna put these in a folder not under bounce files, but under a new folder called stems. I'll keep it the same bit depth and sam paredes, my session the same session is the same selection is selected actually, not sure if we it doesn't matter. We'll make sure that that happens on the file name will be stems one and the reason I'm naming these is because they're not going to be named after the stem a cz the sub categories the the after the period of the file name, but we'll just keep it a stems as the main founding. Um, well, keep those waves, so I'll go ahead and bounce and you see, I didn't have the same session time selected, so let's actually do that really quick so you can see and then I'm going to bounce off line. So it's not bouncing all these stems this used to take all afternoon and you can see now it's going to take literally less than a minute which is a pretty huge timesaver when it comes to bouncing stems again you really have to be careful about the verbs because this wouldn't work if you didn't have the river bs all separated out there would be bleed from re verbs on overall reverb stem so now when I pull up that folder I'm going to go to the session yep you bounced like that with the sanibel sources and regular pro tools eleven you know I think it's on the approach was hd thing now okay yeah you could still bounce the stem severally but now if you look I have all the stems here all bounced a minute ago which is so nice but that's definitely a selling point for eleven hd so yeah, I think that's basically bouncing stems and I think that's it for the section we can take a break and unless there's any questions I can answer ok? Yeah there's one question mike has a question is there any reason you put certain plug ins and specific spots on the insert slots? No it's a good question not really it doesn't affect the sound at all I usually don't start at the top because I always want to save room for in case I wanted to put something before it and I don't put it in the end because I don't want to maybe put something after it. So it's more just process it's, like I start in the middle, because I'm always, like, start with the compressor, and then maybe I want to put a e q before that compressor, so I don't have to move it later on. Don't put it right at the end, because I don't wanna have toe move it back up and save him at the end. So that's, the only real reason I do that that way, there's. No, it's, not like it's for any sonic reason. Cool.

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.  

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