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?
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.
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.