Blogging with the Experts: Kevin Bowe on Messy Sessions

Kevin weighs in this week on a very important issue: session organization. If you’ve ever mixed a project for another engineer or artist, and you’ve received a messy Pro Tools session, you’ve probably already got an idea where Kevin plans to take this. Follow these rules for session mix prep, and you may get the gig again next time.

Sending someone else a session to mix– By Kevin Bowe

This is one of the bigger tests you may encounter in the engineering/production game:

You cut a session with an artist or group and then you have to send it to a mixer, possibly a big name mixer. This could be A GREAT opportunity to show someone how awesome you are, OR it could be a chance to show them you have no idea what you’re doing…..

First things first: always ask the mixer how he/she likes things formatted, and ask them to be as specific as they can. What should the session look like? How should it be sent to them (i.e. Thumb drive? DVD? Via web: YouSendIt, AOL IM?)? All of this matters because you don’t want to be seen as LOW maintenance; you want to be seen as NO maintenance.

I had one mixer send a session BACK to me because I had 2 mic. tracks on a guitar, that was bussed to one aux out. One was a 57, and the other was a Royer; I like to keep ‘em separated because I prefer to raise the 57 for brightness or the Royer for darkness while I mix. This mixer said “I want one track that says “EG1” (for electric guitar 1) and so on. That’s it!!!!” So that’s what I did.

Some universal rules are…

  1. Eliminate (don’t just hide) any unused tracks.
  2. Consolidate all tracks to bar one, beat one .
  3. Empty the audio regions bin and learn how to use Pro Tools to “compact” the session.
  4. MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO BAD EDITS!!!! Pops and clicks make you look like an amateur.
  5. Track labeling is important too. Be short, clear and concise. You should also re-name the consolidated files. Just ask Jay Fleming what he thinks when the audio file is named “audio file blah blah blah”. He doesn’t like it!!!

Sending someone a session to mix is a chance to show that you’re a pro so it’s worth the time to get it right. You’ll never get that first impression again.

Have you ever had a messy session come your way? Have you sent a messy session and learned your lesson? Please comment – we’d like to know your experience with this as well.

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