The workflows used for Pro Tools tracking and overdub sessions are vastly different. For example, when you're cutting your tracks on a console, Pro Tools acts as a capture recorder with faders and panners zeroed. The console is used for mixing, adding effects, and sending cue mixes to the talent. But later when you move to overdubs this all changes to an in-the-box scenario where Pro Tools is the recorder, mixer, and more. This way you can record overdubs in a more affordable environment like a smaller home studio. The setup time when moving between these workflows can cut into your creative flow but not if you're organized. The following tutorial will take you through preparation, execution, and other best practices for quickly moving from tracking to overdubs.
Fader Levels and Pans
One of the best time-saving tricks when jumping into an overdub session is to import your mix from the tracking console into your Pro Tools session. How do you import faders and panners from a hardware mixer into a software mixer? All it takes is a bit of prep before you strike the set on tracking day. Start by opening a blank session template and renaming it FADER LEVELS. Then set all track outputs to any pair such as 1-2. This will bring up panners on every channel. Next, copy the fader level and pan of each console channel into the Pro Tools Fader Level session track of the same name (a close guesstimate will suffice.) Because the template has the same tracks with the same names as the console, this should go quickly, especially if two people are involved. Effects returns need not be a part of this procedure since they weren’t recorded.
Re-purposing Your Sessions
Before the talent arrives on the first overdub day, purpose all your tracking sessions for overdubs. Start by setting all track outputs in the session to the same pair – whatever works best with your OD setup. Next, use the Import Session Data shortcut (Shift + Option + I) to move the mix into the session. From the import browser choose your Fader Levels Pro Tools session made at the end of the tracking day (Fader Levels.ptf). Once the import pop-up is open, click on the 'Data To Import' pulldown and deselect all check boxes. Then from the list choose only 'Volume Automation and Setting', and 'Pan Automation and Setting.' Hit OK and watch your Pro Tools mixer quickly set all planners and faders to the console mix. Because one console mix won’t necessarily fit every song, you’ll have to fine tune it to make it perfect. Once the first song is done, open any other songs and repeat the steps. At the end, you’ll have all your sessions ready to record overdubs.
Watch this free tutorial to see all these tips in action.