One of the things I enjoy most about starting a new recording project is setting everything up. If you’ve done much recording, you know what I’m talking about. There’s a certain sense of giddiness that bubbles up when you sit in front of a blank Pro Tools screen.

It’s very god-like. You’re creating something out of nothing. When you open Pro Tools for the first time, it doesn’t open up with a huge song already put together for you. It’s a blank slate. There’s not so much as a single mono audio track created. You must do this yourself. For me, that’s an exciting part of the creative process.

But what happens when it takes you thirty minutes to set up your Pro Tools session for every new song you start recording? While it is certainly fun to build your virtual Pro Tools mixer, is this the best use of your time? Shouldn’t you be…um…what’s the word…recording instead?

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. However, as I mentioned in the first article of this productivity series, it’s important that we view our home studios as professional studios. Time is of the essence. If there’s a basic activity that you’re doing over and over (i.e. setting up a Pro Tools session for recording), wouldn’t it make sense to automate that process?

Template, anyone?

That’s where templates come in. Session templates are not a new concept. Logic has had them for years. Pro Tools formally introduced them with version 8, but a lot of engineers were using pseudo-templates with Pro Tools long before they implemented the template feature.

The basic idea is that you take the time to create a session that has all the features you typically use in a recording project. This becomes your new starting point, rather than a completely blank session. It can take a little time to put together, and you’ll change things from time to time in your template, but it’s a valuable thing to have in your studio arsenal.

No Template Feature?

If you are using a program that does not have a template feature, per se. You can most likely still use templates. Take Pro Tools version 6 or 7, for example. There’s no menu option to “Save Session as a Template.” Here’s what you can do. Save your “template” session you’ve created to your desktop. Now, every time you open Pro Tools, create a blank new project, then go to File — Import — Session Data. A window will come up asking you to find the session from which you’re importing data. Find the session on your desktop and select it. You’ll then a window that looks something like this.

Import Session Data

Simply select any (or all) of the tracks to import them (along with all of their settings) as new tracks into your session.

If you are on Pro Tools 8, or you simply want to see session templates in action, check out this video.



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9 Responses to “VIDEO: Productivity Part 2 – Using Session Templates”

  1. Julian West

    Man you’re a studio genius with PT8. I watched this until my head hurt but now I have a workable template for starting new sessions that should take me from scratch tracks to worked out song. Sweet. NO Books or other sites convey this info. Thanks Joe!!!!

    I also went to another tutorial and watched it in HD size and figured out a sensible way to use groups, just by seeing how you did it. Also I was curious how EZ Drummer triggered via MIDI and the video you did on Master fader brought it all home. So I naturally pre-added some Kick/Snare/etc tracks to my Main Template (and his them for now).
    Awesome stuff! This rocks…

    • John Bonuomo

      I’m a newbie so please excuse me, but when using the template and then save, it saves in the folder where the template is. So if I use the template for multiple recordings won’t all the session files from different songs continue to accumulate in the same folder? That doesn’t sound good it me. Am I just not getting it?


      • Joe Gilder

        A template is simply a copy of all the tracks/settings. When you create a new session from a template, it copies those settings to your new session folder, which is saved wherever you tell it to save, just like creating a new session from scratch.

  2. Mark

    I work in Sonar 8 and found the option to create my own templates. It realy does save a lot of time. There are so many options it seems overwhelming to learn the full capabilities of the software! Like CrummyJoel I had to learn to open the template and before I do anything I needed to rename it so I wouldn`t overwrite it.

  3. CrummyJoel

    Quick question: I use the template you set up for me (thanks!) to start all my new sessions. The only problem I might be creating is that Pro Tools saves all of the plug-in and audio files in the “Template” folder rather than in a new folder for each song. I think there’s an easy way around this, but I’m wondering if it matters one way or the other….thanks.

    • Joe Gilder

      You’ll need to create a new session in Pro Tools, name it whatever you want, then save it wherever you want. THEN, go to File – Import – Session Data. This way you’ll import all the tracks and settings INTO your new session. I can’t remember if you’re on PT8 yet or not. If you are, then simply save that template file I made for you “as a Template,” then you can use that every time you open a session and save yourself an extra step.


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