future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

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future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

Postby ditto » June 22nd, 2014, 3:19 pm

I'm spending quite a lot of time going through all the recordings I've done for all seven albums and future-proofing them. I'm making sure that all tracks in each session start at 0.0.0000, so that if I ever decide to remix any of them, I'll be able to load the wav files into whatever DAW in whatever OS I'm using and the track positions will be correct. However, the actual mixes I've done for those albums are obsolete as soon as whatever DAW and OS I'm using outgrow the DAW and OS and plugins I was using then. I think it's just a little bit outrageous that all that work is lost that way. (What's interesting about this though is that it was that way before the digital revolution took over recording - all those gear settings and fader moves were pretty much lost as soon as they were done.)

Anyway, it would be really nice to have access to all those old mixes. What would it take? An OS 'translator'? Doable?
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Re: future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

Postby Big Tim » June 22nd, 2014, 4:10 pm

Well, you're right, but it was ever thus even in the analogue world. In fact it was undoubtedly harder: all you had to work from was the final edited multi tracks, and before you had recall, a mix was basically a one-off event, never to be recreated. Even when you did have recall, over a period of several years between the original mix and trying to recreate it you might not have all the same outboard available to you, or even the same studio to work in. The studio might change the desk, or the monitors, outboard might be replaced or modified, all of which affect the mix. All kinds of variables that made recalling a mix to an identical state basically impossible if you went back any length of time.

So, making a mix future-proof is essentially an impossible endeavour unless you preserve the equipment it was created on in exactly the state they were at the time that final mix was printed. You can do that with a DAW - never replace the hardware or software and hope it always runs! Or do as you are doing at the moment and ensure your .wav files have a common start point so that they can be easily lined up, and any unique effects are printed to a .wav in case they can't be recreated.

But all of that kind of goes against the magic of recording. A record is the product of its time - the limitations and creativity of the environment in which is was made. The final printed mix is the end product, and why would you go back to recreate it exactly when you already have that printed mix? If you are going to revisit it, surely it's to improve it by using better equipment or new-found skills, or to adjust levels or EQ or processing to make a better version.
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Re: future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

Postby ditto » June 22nd, 2014, 5:04 pm

Big Tim wrote:...and any unique effects are printed to a .wav in case they can't be recreated.


Damn. I hadn't thought of that bit. Thanks, I think. :shock:

Big Tim wrote:But all of that kind of goes against the magic of recording. A record is the product of its time - the limitations and creativity of the environment in which is was made. The final printed mix is the end product, and why would you go back to recreate it exactly when you already have that printed mix? If you are going to revisit it, surely it's to improve it by using better equipment or new-found skills, or to adjust levels or EQ or processing to make a better version.


Yeah, I get that. And I see the beauty of the ephemeral in all of this. But sometimes I've gone back into an old mix and quickly made EQ adjustments that immediately improved things. But I can't do that cuz those Sonitus plugins don't work on my present system.
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Re: future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

Postby Farview » June 22nd, 2014, 8:58 pm

It will take up more space, but if you print each track with its processing, in its panned position, you can use those to recreate the original mix. Or, if you dont anticipate needing that much control, you could do stems with all the processing.

On top of that, print any time based effects. Simply not having a plugin qnymore will make you have totry to recreate something.
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Re: future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

Postby gregwar » June 23rd, 2014, 12:28 pm

I went thru a bit of this from 2004-2006 when I switched from logic on PC to mac. I had backups of my recordings on 3.5" hard drives and cdr/dvds but they got lost in a basement flood, none of my plug-ins we're salvaged, etc so pretty much everything from 1996-2006 was lost.

it's not a big deal to me now but the biggest problem was organization. I've stated before that people should have the .wav files in the project folder, all iterations of a mix backed up (I have a numbering system that starts with year, project number, then the decimals are version numbers).

I recently got a new laptop and saved my entire old laptop as a folder. tracks dating back to 2009/10 open fine in logic 9 and older ones are all organized with wav files as stems. if I were to go back and remix something or use a sound from a synth I sold, for example, it would be in the here and now

I have old mixed down versions of those tracks and it's almost laughable how bad they sound to me now. it's fun to be nostalgic and everything but it would be better almost to just go back and redo everything from the raw wav files or even re-track a whole song. even a mix from six months ago I can hear improvements to be made but I have to let it go

if you're serious about recreating those mixes from back in the day they used polaroids, you could try to do screen grabs and save them with the project. plug-ins have changed but the basics are the same. you can write notes to yourself like comp here, eq like this there, etc. I often do this because of doing so many cross-platform collaborations. I'll write notes about different versions of a track, suggestions for directions it can go, etc

tl;dr
if u have the original mix on cd, some pics & notes, you should be armed with enough info to recreate an old mix in a new daw, platform, etc. being organized is key
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Re: future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

Postby Big Tim » June 24th, 2014, 4:14 am

gregwar wrote:I have old mixed down versions of those tracks and it's almost laughable how bad they sound to me now. it's fun to be nostalgic and everything but it would be better almost to just go back and redo everything from the raw wav files or even re-track a whole song. even a mix from six months ago I can hear improvements to be made but I have to let it go
That's it in a nutshell for me.Some of my older mixes still sound decent to my ears, but there's a helluva lot of my old recordings where I just wonder what the heck I was doing, and the only reason to go back to the project would be to wipe the mix and start over. New tools, better ears, better mixing environment, more experience - can't do any worse. There's a big differnece in the synth world though, where recreating lost sounds can be very hard.
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Re: future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

Postby ditto » June 24th, 2014, 8:59 pm

Big Tim wrote:There's a big differnece in the synth world though, where recreating lost sounds can be very hard.


Tell me about it. I'm exploring a new synth, Volca Bass, and I really like it, but last night I tweaked up a sound I really like and realized that there's no way I'll ever replicate it later on except by trial and error.
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Re: future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

Postby gregwar » June 26th, 2014, 6:56 pm

yes and no

when I got my first analog synth it was very confusing. it would stop making sound and I'd try every knob until it worked again lol

if you read the manual and understand what the functions are then if you have some sort of reference (like a recording) it can be replicated. for more complex stuff I took pictures and made notes (back in the day there were sheets of paper with all the knobs/sliders you could draw your settings on)

a good way to learn is experimenting, another is recreating sounds you hear. gearslutz used to have ultra-nerdy synthesis challenges like recreating sound effects from movies, etc. you eventually learn about sound design, which is a separate but great skill for musicians & audio engineers
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Re: future proofing recordings and retrieving mixes

Postby AwwDeOhh » June 26th, 2014, 9:28 pm

gregwar wrote:...for more complex stuff I took pictures and made notes (back in the day there were sheets of paper with all the knobs/sliders you could draw your settings on)...


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