If you don’t already have a standard blank template for your sessions then you should. I have a few different templates pre-built for certain times so I can start up my ProTools rig, open a session, save a copy and start working. In ProTools 8 there is native support to save a session as a template. There are a few things I like to consider when creating a session template which are –
- What situation would you like this template to cover?
- How many tracks are you likely to need?
- Will you need any MIDI tracks?
- Will any stereo tracks be needed?
- Are you going to need a headphone mix for the band?
- Do you know the processing you will be needing at mixdown?
As an example of what I do I will use the template I use when tracking sessions for Ebullient, a Lincolnshire based band I’ve been working with for 2 years which consists of two guitars, two vocals, bass, and drums.
- High tom
- Mid tom
- Low tom
- Overhead Left
- Overhead Right
- First guitar amp
- First guitar DI
- Second guitar amp
- Second guitar DI
- Bass DI
- Vocal 1
- Vocal 2
As you can see there is a lot going on in the session just tracking so having these all ready for me when I fire up ProTools is a huge time saver. Things don’t stop at creating the tracks however, if you know your going to be needing headphone mixes then these can be setup now. When recording Ebullient we tend to use all three of the performance rooms (live, dead, and drum booth) so headphone mixes need to be sent to the relevant people, and to the relevant rooms. I setup aux sends in ProTools to handle the headphone mixes which allows me to alter the level of the snare for the guitarists for example, if they wanted to hear more or less of that. I have a separate mix for the guitarists and drummer, to the singer who has more of himself, as well as more of the lead guitar than the others.
It goes without saying that I ALWAYS have a master fader in my templates, whether I’m working in 2.1 stereo, or 5.1 surround I will have the appropriate master fader active. I personally don’t use any MIDI when working with Ebullient so that does not apply to this situation, however if you were to use a lot of MIDI for drums for example, go ahead and add the MIDI tracks now. Everything I record is in mono, even the overheads on the drums are recorded using two mono tracks instead of a stereo track. I prefer to do it this way as it helps me when making stems for exporting, however you may wish to use a stereo track for things like that if you prefer. I also create three stereo aux faders for the drums, guitars, and vocals which allows me to add a multi-band compressor over all of the drums at once for example, rather than using individual ones on each drum which uses more CPU power.
Below is a screenshot of the mixer in ProTools after I load into my Ebullient tracking template, you can see everything I’ve described above is all ready for me to record enable and go for a take pretty much straight away. Please ignore the I/O settings except the Bus’s as I created this template using an Mbox 2 not using my 002 as it’s currently misbehaving.
I also tend to make a copy of the tracked session and then mix the session using the copy so I have also added but disabled the following plug-ins on my master channel, WaveArts TrackPlug 5, WaveArts TubeSaturator, and DigiDesign Maxim, which I know I will use at final mixing. I also colour code the instruments together so that I can find groups easily and quickly if something is poking out too much.
To save a template, create your session exactly how you want it (it doesn’t matter if you’ve already done the tracking as audio is not saved in a template file) and then on a Mac go to File->Save as Template. This will display a box asking where you would like to install the template, I always create a new category referring to the project the template is relevant to, give the template a name, make sure the “Include Media” box is NOT checked, and hit OK. Your template is now installed, congratulations!
To use your newly created template, when you create a new session just select “Create Session from Template”, select your category from the drop-down list, notice mine is “Ebullient”, and then you should see a list of all the templates you’ve installed in that category. Just select the template you wish to use, and then hit OK and continue as you would normally.
On my TDM rig I have about 5 different templates setup for Ebullient to cover full tracking, overdubs, live performances, and a few other situations. I only do tracking on my LE setup in the 5.1 studio at uni so don’t need any other templates installed in LE.
I hope that has made things a little clearer as to what templates are, what they can do, and how much of a time saver they really are. I advise everyone to use them in whatever DAW you use and you will thank yourself in the long run.
As always, if you have any questions please just comment, grab me in uni if you see me around, or email me 🙂