How to prep your Pro Tools sessions for mixing.
1. Open your session & immediately save it as something else like “my song EXPORT”. This is merely an added layer of protection from screwing up your original session if you make a mistake & have to start over.
2. If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to bounce down a rough mix so I have something to reference while I’m mixing. Label it as “my song, rough” or whatever is appropriate & place it along with all of your other rough mixes inside a folder called “rough mixes”. Be sure to include this folder on the drive or discs that gets shipped to me.
3. Organize your session so that you avoid using the same track for different instruments. If you must due to track limitations, then be smart, put guitars with guitars, keys with keys, percussion with percussion. Do NOT put a tambourine on a backing vocal track or a vocal track on the guitar solo track. Label these tracks appropriately & type a note in the track comments window so I know what’s what. Feel free to use bar/beat numbers or time indexes too.
4. PLEASE LABEL ALL TRACKS CAREFULLY & APPROPRIATELY. Use names like “Bass DI”, “BVX 3” &/or “Joe Guitar 2”. Do NOT use names like “Audio 03.12”, “verse 2” &/or “new heavy shit double 2.03”. It’s confusing & I have a tiny brain.
5. Now, DOUBLE CHECK that you just did that last step correctly. Finished?... Great!... Now let’s go ahead & TRIPLE CHECK it.
6. If you are using any effects, plugins, pitch correction, virtual instruments, automation &/or tricks that are uncommon, specific, unique &/or essential to your song &/or system, please print them to a separate audio track(s). Be sure to label them appropriately.
7. Remove all overall common processing like eq, dynamics, reverbs, delays, pans & volume automation.
8. If you are using any outboard MIDI devices &/or unique audio processors, please print them to a separate audio track(s). Be sure to label them appropriately.
9. Spend as much time as you possible can carefully & thoroughly cleaning up your session. Look for things like clicks, pops, noises, buzz, headphone bleed, weird edits, unwanted parts, etc & remove or delete them as necessary. Double check every fade in your session. This can bite us in the ass so please triple check it too! Please feel free to use the track comments window for track descriptions & comments. The more informed I am about your session the better I can mix it. Please include the session tempo, time signature & key signature for every song.
The last several steps are critical so please read the instructions carefully.
10. One last time, double check that all your tracks are labeled carefully & appropriately!
11. Now, CONSOLIDATE ALL AUDIO TRACKS FROM ZERO. This IS the ballgame folks. Track consolidation will ensure what I receive from you stays in perfect sync.
12. After track consolidation is complete, please go to the playlist menu on any track in the edit window & choose “Delete Unused”. When the Delete Unused Playlist dialog opens, select all of the playlists in that list & click delete.
13. Now, in the region bin menu, choose “SELECT UNUSED” & with those regions still selected, go back to the region bin menu & choose “CLEAR”.
14. Once the Clear Regions window opens click the “REMOVE” button. DO NOT CLICK “DELETE”. That will permanently delete the files from your disk. We just want to remove the unused files from this specific session.
15. Under the file menu, choose “SAVE COPY IN”. Name it something like “my song MIX”. Select “Latest” as your session format & make sure that “All Audio Files” is selected in the “Items to Copy” box. Also make sure that the “Enforce Mac/PC Compatibility” button is selected. If it is grey’d out don’t worry, continue on.
16. While still in this dialog, navigate to your desktop & create or choose a folder to save this & the other sessions to & click save.
17. After Pro Tools finishes saving your copy, double check the audio files folder of that newly copied session to make sure nothing is missing.
18. Repeat this process for every song on your album.