If you are serious about having a pain free session when using Pro Tools and not having studio downtime, delays and angry clients then read this now.
1. Don't Update Your Software Mid Project
It's tempting when the latest version of Pro Tools, a plug-in or most critically your operating system gets a refresh, but if you update any software mid-project then you could be asking for trouble.
Do you know there are many top studios around the world, some of them iconic who still run Pro Tools 10 or 11? There is a simple reason for this, they know it will work every day they start to work. Any downtime costs money, can make clients angry and damage your reputation.
Avid qualify Pro Tools so that they can assure users that the software has been tested and should work without issue. This is often at least a few weeks or months behind the release date of an OS (Operating System). If you are in the middle of a critical project with deadlines and precious Pro Tools Sessions then we advise you wait until the project is finished, the client is happy and you've had to time to back everything up.
2. Don't Replace Or Update Your Hardware Mid Project
In much the same way as software updating your hardware in the middle of a busy work schedule or a project is unwise. Often hardware, even on Apple Macs, may need qualified drivers, and if you have to take the time to make sure the hardware is working as it should then you may lose valuable time and work.
Recently one of the team lost an entire hard drive and kept having system crashes because of an incompatible USB3 hub. Tracking down the issue and then recovering data from back-up took over a day - that's billing time.
Our advice is to plan to do your hardware updates when you know you have studio downtime, even create an event in your calendar to give you time to get it right.
3. Never Start Recording Without First Naming The Track
This is Pro Tools 101 stuff, but ask any mixing engineer or producer who has taken over a project from someone else what drives them crazy and it's a folder full of files called 'Audio_1', or any permutation of that naming convention.
The reason files end up with names that are prefixed 'Audio' is that the Pro Tools track was not named before pressing record. Pro Tools names the audio (clips) based on the name of the track. Furthermore, Pro Tools creates versions of the audio based on the name of the track and the use of certain processes like AudioSuite plugins and Playlists.
It is essential that you name all of your tracks in a Pro Tools Session before you start recording. It takes seconds to get this part of a Session right but hours to find the needle in the haystack when files go missing.
If you want people who work on your Pro Tools Sessions to hate you then don't name your tracks if you want them to love you then do it.
4. Never Start Housekeeping Your Audio Files Mid-Project
Pro Tools offers a number of file housekeeping options such as 'Clear' and 'Compact' both of which will either remove or change the audio clip.
One could argue that now drives are cheap, much cheaper than the cost of tape for a similar project, the need to either delete or compact files is largely irrelevant.
However, should you feel the need to 'tidy up' a Pro Tools session using any of these available processes then we recommend;
- Never do it mid-project.
- Understand exactly what you are doing before you even attempt to do it.
- Backup everything at least twice before starting.
- Think one more time about even doing it, even with backups you could end up with a bag of hurt.
Our general advice about having smooth sessions using Pro Tools is don't fiddle mid-project. If it's not broke then don't mend it, there could be tears and if a client is involved then they could prove costly.