Long Term Project Management
I was working with a client today who is self funding but really wants a perfect product with no short cuts. They have done what a lot of people do these days: take their time over recording. But this one is really one of the longest projects I can remember. We started tracking the album in 2010. And it's still unfinished!
What do we need to think about when working over this timescale? Archiving data over that timescale is simple enough. Every session, every folder has a clone of itself. (I guess we should get a RAID system sometime but I would prefer to spend cash on compressors or preamps). Good old LACIE 7200 rpm drives are the main archiving machines here, and touch wood I've only lost a couple in the last 10 years. At the end of each session, we copy everything over to the clone. I don't tend to save multiple versions of arrangements. Only major changes get a second version. So I always pretty much know I'm working on the definitive version. We recently upgraded to Logic X. I've got a feeling that the original sessions were recorded on Logic 8. So it's been worked on across 3 programmes. Good to note that Logic hasn't presented any issues transitioning from version to version.
The only thing I had to do recently was to upgrade my Waves plugs with the new computer. Of course, as you add to your plug in collection you want to keep switching out your old plugs for new ones on the mixes. And when you've been tinkering with the mixes for so long you can't remember what the angle was that you were going for on this or that track. You really need to have a cut off point where you say - we are mixing this again from today- and more or less zero all your settings and start again, painful as it might seem.
You may be matching up vocals from different sessions and the tone is different. Logic's match eq plug in is useful in in getting around this one. I'll at least record with the same mic, but preamps may change as will the whole dynamic.
So that's where we are at this point in this project. Just muting everything and re introducing the elements one by one instantly makes everything cleaner ands punchier as you recalibrate your levels and relax those compression settings that were made on the fly during tracking. Eq can be fine tuned now that there is some quiet in the control room.
Finally, I try to title things in a numerical and descriptive fashion in the arrange page. So we will have things like Guitar 5 - Solo. Drums have been played and replayed so there may be sessions from different days grouped together. In the new Logic X I can now use the handy Track Stack option. I also use colour to navigate visually through these incredibly complex arrangements - red- drums, blue bass, green guitar, pink keys, yellow Vox. Arrangements have a tendency to bulge these days and the key to navigating through a dense one is to remember that not everything is necessary, no matter how much time you spent recording it. The only thing that matters is does it belong NOW? Try to walk away from any baggage individual recordings carry with them.