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Documentation
Old 2nd October 2002
  #1
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Unhappy Documentation

I was wondering what kind of documentation you normally do for a session. How in depth is it? Are you writing down everything from mic position in 1/16" increments all the way through that 1/4dB at 13k5 you added? Or is it more general? I always mark on the track sheets what mic, preamp, compressor and EQ I used when getting a sound. If it's a multiple pattern mic I also write down which pattern I used. If the guitar player is using a lot of pedals and amps I'll take notes on that and I'll also jot down snare drum changes and cymbals too if I catch them.

At the very least everyone is labeling all their tapes and making legible track sheets right?!? It's scary how many projects I get to mix with track sheets written on a legal pad.
Old 3rd October 2002
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I just do track sheets with mics/pre(if outboard)/comp/eq(if outboard). I usually only mark the sheet called "basics" with all the info. I then make a sheet for each song and the overdubs get the added info. I also write where the song is on the track sheets (ie. tape 1 2.30) and speed. I make the reels with masking tape with band name, reel number and speed. I usually mark the boxes it they are cardboard.

I'm not much of a documentation type. I don't measure mic distances. I never make recall sheets. I don't make mix notes (send 1 M3000 patch 341 etc.) On the few times I've needed to remix something it's because the client wasn't happy. In that case I start fresh.
Old 3rd October 2002
  #3
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Documentation (in mixing AND tracking situations) is very important to me. Here's why:

Tracking: Anytime I track an artist, I document the mic (WITH serial # if it's a tube) the chain, and any other settings. This way anytime a vocalist says "Hmmm, it doesn't sound the same" when you do overdubs a month later, you'll know it's not your chain. This is also great in case of last minute changes (during a mix)

Mixing: I had to do a recall on a rap project because the rapper said "Terrorist" and several other shady lyrics. My assistant pulled up the recall. I usually mute the vocals and A/B the instrumental on the board to the printed instrumental of the mix I've done earlier. It was nothing like the original. After a brief list of excuses, I gave the assistant new documentation guidelines: After every mix, send a 1K tone through every piece of gear, and document the in's and out's.
This recall was supposed to take all but 3 hours... I had to cancel a 2nd session I had planned.
Old 3rd October 2002
  #4
Lives for gear
 
subspace's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I take digital pics of the console/ outboard and save them with the project file. I just saved a set-up for a band that will be returning to track/ mix another 5 songs in November. I'll be able to recall the mic set-up, pre gains, EQ, compressor settings, etc. to give us a similar starting point if we want to try to match sounds or recut any parts on the stuff we just did. We'll also have the mixes we did recallable as a starting point for the new tracks. The only writing I do is on the console scribble strip notating mics and outboard patched in, or ride and mute times, which I make sure is legible when zoomed in on the digital pics. Of course, I also type in all the track names before recording so all the audio files are properly labelled as well.
Old 5th October 2002
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Ahh this is one of the few reasons I like mixing in PT. I just write some notes under the track in the mix window. Documenting sucks to do and always kills the flow of the session. Since I normally have to work fast because of budgets.

Pretty soon though I'll be mixing back out thru an analog board and am dreading having to document everything.
Old 5th October 2002
  #6
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I take a lot of notes. Whether it's live or studio work, I want to know where I'm at when I show up to the recording.

Once I'm at the session, I may take additional notes if I feel I have to recreate the sound or session. Just like Subspace said, digital pictures are a great tool, from knob settings to mic and speaker placement. A picture can tell you more in a quick moment then thousand words can describe.

If I'm not interested in recreating the sound, I'll take general notes. Just like Jay mentioned, I list, mic or DI usage, preamp, eq, compressor type, plus other info related to the live recording side of things.
Old 7th October 2002
  #7
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I never take notes for recalls unless I think the need might arrive. I usually try to talk people out of recalling a mix just to make a small change like having the 1st three words of the second verse 1dB louder. If I remix a song it's because I totally ****ed up and then a recall won't do me much good. When I first started assisting I was at a studio that took lots of notes for recall. And 98% of the time we had to do a recall it never came back sounding the same. All those little 1/2 and 1dB's start to add up across 30 or 40 EQs and pieces of outboard gear.

I do get to mix a fair amount of projects that were tracked in home studios and even the track sheets are usually pretty bad. I've gotten everything from no sheets to cryptic messages that I need a decoder ring for. At the very least a track sheet should be a grid with the track number and what's on that track. It should also contain the band/project name, client name, start time of the song and the reel/tape/or folder for that song. One client came in with three sets of Adat tapes, none with labels and track sheets that didn't have start times listed for any of the songs. I spent almost a day with him rewriting everything so I could start mixing.
Old 7th October 2002
  #8
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I also instruct the studio managers to never release any recall notes under any circumstances. How many times have the labels lost my recall notes?
Old 7th October 2002
  #9
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
We never let recall notes leave the studio. They were always kept in a file with the time logs and billing info. I remember working on one project that had been going for three + years and was a mess. 17 songs, most of them had been mixed about as many times. When I left that studio we had 103 reels of 1/2" mostly 996 and then we couldn't it anymore and switched to SM900. Final count on that project was 142 reels of 1/2". For people counting at home it's $7100 just in tape for mixing. Studio time? Hah!

Anyway, we'd mix a song and the producer would listen over the phone and suggest changes to the mix. When it was all done we'd FedEx a DAT to whatever city they were in (the group was backing a very successful singer) and they'd approve it. Then we'd take notes and start the next song. Without fail, a few days later they'd want to remix the first song to make the last note of the guitar solo have more reverb on it. And of course the recall never came back right.
Old 8th October 2002
  #10
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
A printer or copy machine can take care of this dilemma.

The originals (or copies) stay with the studio. The others go with the masters.
Old 8th October 2002
  #11
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Well, sort of. I've had shady record labels try to stiff me, take my recall notes, then do the recall with a $20/hr assistant. Regardless, I want to know if someone wants to look at my mix documentation.

Has anyone copywrittend mix documentation?
Old 8th October 2002
  #12
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Can you actually copyright mix information? I never have and I can't think of anyone I know that has.
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