Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Save Early, Save Often

Save early, save often has been the mantra ever since the advent of the computer in modern life. Who hasn't experienced the agony of loosing an hour or two of work for lack of hitting Control-S

I got caught off guard at an outdoor stage this last weekend. At FOH was a Presonus 24 and just as I had finished setting up the routing a GFCI breaker tripped and I was left staring at a blank console. It was only a few minutes work and easily re-done We weren't under too much time pressure so it wasn't really a big deal. Later on in the morning though, with sound check completed and the lawn filling up with patrons it was starting to creep back up on me. As I was walking to my vehicle to grab something I got on the radio and asked if someone would kindly drop by FOH and save to slot eight for me.

In the studio world it's no different. Nobody likes doing drum edits and losing even a few minutes of progress to a power glitch or a system crash is enough to drive one to drink. But there's another level of saving beyond that.

Working over the internet with a client recently we were passing versions of a short clip back and forth to get a feel for what the client wanted. It seemed like a pretty serial progression to me, with each version yielding a new set of notes and the next version turning out closer to what they wanted. After a while though the client started comparing version five to version two and it hit me that I was in a little bit of hot water.

Even though I've been computer savvy for most of three decades and pretty handy with a DAW, I'm still pretty much an analog guy at heart. Let's face it. If the power drops out on you at a show, a good old fashioned analog desk won't let you down. But the saving that would have helped me out in this instance is the kind that sets a way point every time you output a version. 

Session files are pretty small. All they are is a road map for how the DAW is to handle the recorded files and how to steer the plugins. It's barely any strain on the hard drive or the engineer to simply click "Save As" and then go to work on that next version. In my case, I was able to just listen to the previous version and make the needed adjustments. But the more complex the project is and the more time elapses, the more handy it is to be able to exactly recall the way you were doing things several tries ago.


  1. I have Reaper set up to render mixes with a timestamp in the file name, and save an identically-timestamped session file along with the render. Problem solved. =D

  2. Well, there's another reason not to use the studiolive.

    Every other digital board I work with returns all settings to exactly where it was before it was turned off. I use, regularly, the x32 and the oooooold mackie tt24. Both of which don't lose your place if they lose power. The only change is, the x32 drops the main fader when powering on (I see this as a good thing).

    1. The Presonus autosaves every few minutes. Two or four, I forget how long it is. I'm pretty fast on it though so I set up all my channel assignments, high passes and a couple other things and it must have gone down right before the autosave cycled. It's not like I lost hours of work but in a pressure situation it would have really sucked.


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