Back To The Future - Mixing Session Reflection

With a full Saturday dedicated to our sound replacement project every week along with mid-week meetings, things were coming along nicely so Doctor Duck and I decided to do a mid-week mixing session. We learnt a lot about lining up audio with visuals, editing, layering and we learnt it all twice.

After our class with Nick, we learnt how to set the session to frames per second. 23.976 FPS timecode (to be exact), which made moving sounds into place easier, faster and more accurate. We would use tab to transient to trim right onto the transient and then nudge it frame by frame until it lined up just perfectly. Then stretching it back out and adding fades as we go. We went through and did this to virtually every sound we had in the session so far. There's a bit of info on setting frames per second in the article below.

ProTools - 5 Basics you can't afford to ignore

We wanted all the clicks to sound a bit different from each other and to have a bit of texture to them, so we layered up sounds from all the switches. We did the same to the dials and also lined them up just perfectly so that as the dial reached the numbers it would click. Which was actually more precise than the original film. (I guess they didn't have tap to transient back then)

We also wanted to get the pic sound to really shimmer. We tried heaps of things with reverb and couldn't get what we were looking for.we ended up duplicating just the ding sound at the end and then we tine stretched it to really make the ting shimmer.

After nearly 4 hours work we lost everything. Pat Duck had his hard drive plugged in and wasn't aware he'd been working off his hard drive the whole time. So when he picked the session up off the desktop and dragged it onto his hard drive. Selecting "replace all" he effectively whipped over our new session with the old one undoing all our work. Thankfully we are both hard workers and no one had the studio booked after us. Pat was determined to stay and get things back to the point we were at and I was dedicated to staying to support him in doing so. I went and booked the studio out fir the rest of the night and went to make some coffee. We had a coffee and smoke break and got back into it.

We were smashing through it with a photographic memory (and whatever the audio version of that is) we were easily remembering exactly which sounds we'd used where we'd put them and what wed done with them. The second time around we did it all in 2 hours and we actually did a better job. There is no such thing as wasted time.

signal flow is the foundation of everything we do in audio and knowing whether you are working off your hard drive or a computer is a form of signal flow in itself. Where is it coming from? Where are you sending it? We ask these questions of ourselves every day. It is valid to work off your hard drive or off the desktop but being aware which you are working off and which version you are saving is imperative. I personally always move my session onto the desktop and then unplug my hard drive while I work, plugging it back in only when I want to save the session.

I usually add the date to the title if I want to keep the old version as well. if not I hit replace all knowing it will overwrite the session on my hard drive with the newest version of the session from the desktop. I have worked with engineers who just work straight off their hard drive to minimise waiting for files to load and minimise getting corrupted files etc.. this is perfectly fine if you have a solid-state hard drive and understand where you are working from and saving too. Moving ProTools Projects

The problem was neither of us realised we were working off the hard drive till it was too late. Doctor Duck has learnt a valuable lesson and has been unplugging his hard drive and working off the computer since then.

If you want to read more about this project, Check out some of my previous blogs:

Project Plan

Reflection 1

Reflection 2

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