You’ve noticed how the world keeps getting smaller haven’t you?
The internet makes everything available, right there at your fingertips. For us engineers, this means we can offer our skill set to anyone around the world. For musicians and bands, this means they’re not limited to the two mixing engineers they know in their hometown. They have the world to choose from.
But whenever a file exchange like an online mixing session happens, there are a few thing to keep in mind.
Same Software – Less Hassle
If you’re both working in the same software, there’ll be less problems. They can simply compress the folder into a .zip or .rar file and send it your way.
Given that all his audio was in the audio folder, everything should open up perfectly. Depending on how much producing the artist did in the DAW, there might be some plug-ins here and there that you should be aware of.
Dealing With Plug-ins – Getting a complete session from someone is a double-edged sword. It’s definitely easier to open everything up and start working, but you also need clean up the session. It’s common for a session to be filled with various plug-ins, aux channels, reverbs and inserts of all kinds.
It’s great because it allows you, the mixer, to hear whatever the band had in mind when they were recording. However, you need to clear up all those plug-ins so that you can hear what you’re really dealing with.
Whenever I get a session from someone else I tend to start from and other processing that’s already in the session.
The only exception is if the artist was going for a specific, produced sound. For instance, I will leave guitar effects and amp simulators alone unless I know I can get a better sound from my own plug-ins. I don’t want to come between a guitarist and his tone, so I’ll leave it alone unless I’m certain I can make it better.
Different Software – Only Audio
If you are working with different software, the best method of exchange is to have the artist consolidate everything so that each audio file starts at 0:00. Then, when you’ve consolidated every file, rename them and export them separately as Kick01.wav, snare01.wav etc, or something that’s easy to figure out for the mixer.
If you have a vocal track that’s broken up into a bunch of regions in the DAW, all those parts will have different audio files in your audio folder. But if you consolidate and rename that one track, you’ve compiled them all together into one, easy to use audio file.
Even if that guitar solo starts at 4:57, you better make sure there’s a big block of silence all the way to the beginning. Because, if all the audio files start at the same time, importing them into your session is easy.
Dealing With Plug-ins – If you’re fixing a session for a mixing engineer then I wouldn’t recommend exporting your audio files with your own processing. We like our audio files to be dry and unprocessed so that we can work with them however we like.
But if you print an audio file that’s already heavily compressed by your own compressor, then there’s nothing we can do to change that. Make sure to deactivate all your plug-ins before you export your audio for someone else.
Easy Online Mixing
Online mixing is a great way to take advantage of the global internet. It doesn’t matter where the band is from, as long as both of you have a way to share your files over the internet. It can get you more clients, and allows you work on very diverse stuff.
Communication is easy via e-mail, or even faster through Gchat or Skype if you have any burning questions about the session.
Although mixing a session from someone across the world is fun, it’s kind of like hanging out at somebody else’s house. You don’t know where everything is, and you need a minute to figure out where the bathroom is.
If you’re having problems setting up a mixing session and seeing the big picture, check out Mixing Strategies. It was written to help you see the big picture mix.
Image by: gualtiero