Most mixing engineers tend to have a preferred way of approaching a session, whether it be the effects used or the way in which signals are routed, each engineer will have a process in which they feel is most productive.
Pro Tools offers a feature known as ‘Session Templates’ which allows you to create your own custom session arrangement which can either be called up at the beginning of a new session, or imported on the fly.
Creating The Template
We will start by creating a new blank Pro Tools session, you don’t need to worry too much about session settings or where you will be saving the session as we will be deleting it after creating the template. The lowest sample rate and bit depth settings will be fine.
You will now be presented with the usual blank session mix and edit windows, this is where we will start to build our template of tracks and effects we commonly use in a production. It is very common for engineers to want to send their session tracks to various reverbs and delays, so for this tutorial we will create a template fit for just that.
The template which we will create in this tutorial will consist of:
- 1 x Room Reverb
- 1 x Short Plate Reverb
- 1 x Long Plate Reverb
- 1 x Slap Delay
- 1 x Quarter Delay
- 1 x Eighth Delay
So within the blank session I will create six stereo Auxiliary inputs and begin to place my effects on each of them, I will also name the tracks so I can easily tell them apart. Not only will I place effects on each of the tracks, I will also adjust the settings of each of them to what I commonly require.
Once you are happy with the template setup, we are ready to save it as a single file which you can call into Pro Tools as needs be.
Saving Your Session Template
We now need to save a reference of the session setup you have created, we do this by going to File > Save As Template…
You will now be presented with a dialog box which gives you options on where you would like to save the template file. You will be given the option to save the file ‘in system’ which means that it will be saved within your local Pro Tools folders where it will be displayed when you choose to create a new session from template.
You can also choose to set a location for the file, this will allow you to create the file on your desktop for example.
Quick Tip: The ‘Include Media’ option should be used if your session template contains any audio, MIDI, or Video regions. This may be templates such as an ADR template which could include a ‘Sync Tone’.
Your .ptt file has now been created and is ready for you to move to your portable storage device to take to the next studio you may be mixing in, or simply saved with your other templates on your own system.
Importing The Template
Most of the time, you will be presented with an existing Pro Tools session which may have only the raw recorded material and no effects; this is where you can call up your previously created template allowing you to introduce your favourite production setup at the click of a button.
With your session open, navigate to File > Import Session Data, this is a tool within Pro Tools which will allow you to pull across whichever tracks, effects, audio files etc you need from another session. It is also the tool you will need to use to import a template – you can also use the keyboard shortcut OPT_SHIFT_I.
You will be asked to search for the file or session you wish to import from, simply click on the template ‘.ptt’ file you created earlier and click OK. You will then be taken through the import window, this shows a range of information about the created template file but the section you need to be looking at is the source/destination area around the middle. This area should now display all of the tracks you originally had in the template file and to the right of each track will be a drop down menu which will read ‘(none)’ by default.
The drop down menu dictates where that track information will be placed, whether it be onto an existing track within the session or a new one. As we would like to have our effects template on their own tracks we will simply change the value to ‘New Track’.
Quick Tip: Holding the ‘Option’ key while choosing ‘New Track’ for one of the tracks will make the others follow in the same way.
It is also important at this stage to ensure that the menu below the track allocation which reads ‘ Track Data To Import’ is set to all, this will ensure that all of the plug-ins and settings on those tracks will be imported as well.
When you are happy with the options, click ok and you will instantly be taken straight back into your session with all of your preferred effects there and ready to be routed to.
Experiment with building up your session templates to include window configurations and custom effects and instead of starting the beginning of a session setting up, you can spend it mixing instead!