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In The Studio: Tips For Naming Pro Tools (And Other) Sessions
Steps that will allow you to "idiot-proof" your sessions as much as possible...
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Do The Evolution
There may be a time that you can’t remember which file has progressed further. Proper labeling will prevent that. In the file name you will not only see the location the files were moved to, but the progress.

When we took the drive over to Gene’s to track strings, we copied my USB file onto his system.

We immediately opened the session and saved as:

Please Please Please_gene_04

Again, notice the location AND version number change. After Gene put down a bed of lovely strings for us, we copied the session to our drive and labeled it:

Please Please Please_USB_05

When we got home, we transferred our session to our master drive before doing any work or editing. (That’s an important step!)

After opening, guess what we did?

Yup, we renamed it: Please Please Please_home_06

Obsessive Mindsystem
Yeah it may seem like overkill, but if you follow these steps you won’t be left scratching your head searching for a session.

Type A
When copying back and forth, I have a destination folder on each drive. Name the folder something obvious.

On my master (home) drive I have a folder labeled “Home Sessions.” On my USB drive, I have a folder named “USB Sessions.”

Jumping Ship
Proper labeling also comes in handy when switching between different DAWs.

I use Pro Tools, Logic and Ableton. Different tools for different jobs. It can get messy, though.

Say I’m working on a session brought to me in PT. I may want to open Logic and use a built-in software instrument. I export a bounce and open up Logic. We’ll use the song “Little Orphan Frannie”as an example.

If the PT session is labeled: Little Orphan Frannie_home_04

When I open it in Logic, I’ll label it: Little Orphan Frannie_home_05

Why? You’re working from a bounce and it’s not a full session, right? True, however it’s important to track the progress in the event you need to hunt something down. I always want to be looking at the current file no matter what program I’m in.

By the time I’m done with Logic and export the tracks to be imported back into PT, the PT session becomes the highest ranking file in version number.

The key here is to make it easy on yourself. These steps will allow you to idiot-proof your sessions as much as possible.

I claim no responsibility if you happen to be “testing out” a small batch rye whiskey prior to labeling. In this case, the only idiot-proofing that is effective is locking the control room door.

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC.

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