5 Ways To Speed Up Creative Workflows In Pro Tools

05-06-2013 11:47 AM

Sometimes the biggest thing stopping us from being creative is the very thing we use to make our music, our DAW. Pro Tools is not alone in this, all DAWs are filled with features that can give us enormous power, but if we are not smart then they can get in the way of getting ideas down fast.
Here are 5 ways to speed up your workflow.

  1. Use Session Presets
    A session preset can be as simple or as complex as you wish, from a single instance of a piano VI and a microphone channel right through to a session of lots of channels for tracking an entire band, just remember to make sure you don’t defeat the object of this exercise by making it too complicated.
  2. Configure Your I/O Settings
    I/O settings are where you make sure the inputs and outputs of your audio device are configured correctly. Even better, if you take the time to label your inputs, outputs and busses then you won’t be trying to figure out what is hanging off the end of each channel. Again it can be as simple as labelling your mic channel “mic” and your instrument channel “guitar” or indeed labelling your entire patchbay. It’s also a good idea to make sure you label your buss channels so that you don’t having to keep creating reverb sends etc.
  3. Create Instrument Presets
    In some circles the term synth ‘presets’ can be a dirty word. I love getting under the hood of synth and making cool new sounds, but doing that before you try and capture a song is going to distract you. So every time you create a cool new sound, or effect for that matter, then create a new folder for those favourites and save them. You can even save a session preset to load all your VIs and effects along with those presets and save another step.
  4. Organise And Label All Your Loops And Samples
    If you want to create sample based music then it’s a good idea to make sure you spend a day going through your library and organising it. It may seem like a chore, but when you need to find a cool Jazz loop at 135bpm then you’ll thank me for suggesting this. Workspace is perhaps the most irritating part of Pro Tools, so anything you can do to make using it easier is time well spent. Most loop libraries ship with this data, but again, make sure you have everything to hand. Spending even an hour trying to find the right loop for a track can really start killing your mojo.
  5. Turn Off Distractions
    This tip goes behind any particular DAW and to anyone who wants to be as creative as possible. If you are going to spend a day writing then make sure you check your emails, social networks and other distracting stuff, even your mobile phone and then turn them off. If Apple thought they were helping creatives with most of the features in Mountain Lion then they can think again, having bleeps and visual pop-ups every couple of minutes is not going to help the creative flow. Get one bad email or snarky comment from Facebook and you may as well wave goodbye to your creative session - unless of course you’re a one-in-a-billion creative type who doesn’t take everything personally.

So, there are 5 tips for speeding up your creative workflow… what are yours?