Tracking Notes Question

I was thinking about tracking notes lately. I still write mine down IN ADDITION to using the provided note pad for each of my tracks in Nuendo. I still find the hand written notes a valuable resource in case a file is corrupted and I might have to rebuild a project from scratch. But also mostly because the “track numbers no longer match.” By that I mean my DAW tracks don’t match those of my desk. So track 1 in Nuendo is kick drum, but it comes up on fader 17 on my desk (which is th digital return equivilant of channel 1).

When I started thinking about how much effort I had to put into keeping things as clear as possible for just myself and reading about all the complaints pros make regarding the state of projects being sent to them by home recordists, I started wondering What IS the standard for professional track notes now?

Engineer A recorded a 64 track Digital Performer file on a 32 channel Neotek Elan. Then he sent the files to Engineer B who works in Logic on a Yamaha DM2K. All of this is sent to Engineer C in a Pro Tools HD room with an API Vision for mixdown. Do you bother sending the information as related to the first 2 desks or is that irrelivent, since Engineer C can send the tracks to any channel he/she wants on the API? You should send the all of the DAW notes possible, right? Or is that no longer considered necessary, since they can see the settings on each track of the imported file. I ALWAYS ASSUME SOMETHING WILL GO WRONG ON IMPORT/EXPORTS BETWEEN PLATFORMS, so I send everything I can think of, including contact information, to help the mix engineer in case something doesn’t show up, is scrambled, or whatever other gremlin can cause a hiccup. But that’s just me.

As it’s been a while since I’ve had to work between studios, I just wondered what the generally accepted standard is now for communication between DAWs and especially regarding hybrid situations with analog desks.

What are the complaints you read about?

I collaborate with some post houses and usually track naming in the proper lingo along with specialty track notes is all they request.

Mostly that the notes are: missing, illegible, incorrect, incomplete etc. from all the flood of home studio owners sending their poorly recorded projects out to pros for mixing. Then, as I stated earlier, with the DAW’s carrying so much of the load now, the art of project note taking was being lost and, as such the problem was now working its way into pro rooms. Interns were not staying on top of keeping serious notes on a session!

OK. I don’t experience many issues because I send an email with what I require and state any issues/errors found after import outside my control are billable at hourly rate above quotation.

When I return to work later this week, I can p.m. you what I send them. If “pro studio” is experiencing problems, and they are not communicating how they want to receive projects, it is their problem. How is a home recorder/recordist supposed to know? Its not likely they would. Interns that get lazy should be corrected or let go.

Personally, my collaboration with other joints is vo that then goes to the post house. I ask the post house their requirements. Each house has different requirements. Projects incoming to me, I list my bare minimum requirements. These projects are usually music type projects and some mastering.

I do take notes during projects here like you. I have a book that sits on the console for all of it. Its funny that you should bring this topic up because I was thumbing through it a week or so ago laughing at my chicken scratch and pictures I draw about how I am going to approach the mix. There was a document floating around the internet a few years ago about project organization, but I never saw one on collaboration. If you find one, I’d love to see it.

Is this the Organization Document you wwere referring to?
There’s a hilarious story from a pro engineer on using those guidelines. See below.

40 pages on how to make a track sheet? Awesome…

I mixed a record for EMI one time and they sent me the NARAS / P&E Wing Protocol for mix delivery as their requested delivery. Alongside the 12-page document was a very stern letter stating that until they received delivery based upon these requirement, the producer would not receive his final 1/3 payment and I would not receive the final balacne on my mix fee.

The first song took us 10 hours just to print - much longer than the actual mix took. The second song took 8 hours after we were able to streamline our process a bit. After renting a 2nd Pro Tools rig on the 3rd song, we finally got it down to about 6 hours per song to print everything in their document plus all the versions they requested plus all the stems that the band requested for their live backing tracks.

After 11 songs we easily determined that we spent more time printing, consolidating, copying, and archiving than we did creative mixing. The studio was happy, I was happy, the 2 asst. engineers were happy, but the producer was pissed since his fee did not really address the additional time required (obviously he did not hang around for all of the printing & busy work, but I sure did!) It doubled their mix fee for the studio, me, and 2 assistants.

EMI was furious, but we asked “What were we to do? We wanted to get paid so we followed your directions to the letter.” They ended up taking the document to 2 other producers and mixers to ask them how long the process should’ve taken. After reviewing all of the requirements and being told what all we were asked to print and archive and how we were asked to do it, they both came back and said they thought 6 hours/song was miraculous! I think EMI ditched the document soon thereafter…

Boy, that was a big paycheck - those were the days!

Yep, that’s the one! There is some good info/ideas in that document. I don’t abide by it but it was worth the read because it presented things I haven’t thought of.