By Dave Foxx
Open any session on your system and look at the names of the files. I’d be willing to bet that more than 80% of you will see Audio-01-02 and Audio-02-06 and…well, you get the idea. How do you know what anything is without listening to it? How do you know what you can throw away and what has to be saved? The other 20% of you take the time to name your files. Bravo. Let me begin this week’s column with a suggestion to those in the 80% side: if you never have to revisit a promo or sweeper session, just keep doing what you’re doing because it seems to work for you. For the rest of us who will come back to a session for an update a week or a month after the work has already been on the air, start thinking about naming your files so you don’t have to hunt for anything. What follows is a couple of other ideas that might make your life a lot easier.
Step one would be to name your files something that makes sense. Main theme or applause would tell you right away what they are. Typically, in one of my sessions, I’ll have a couple of themes and several effects, so I tend to use names with numbers: theme-01 and theme-02 or slam-01 and slam-02. I generally number them in the order they appear in the finished promo or commercial.
Step two would be to organize them into groups. I do this using special ASCII symbols at the beginning of each filename, which are accessible by pressing the [option] key while pressing a letter. Just like the letters and numerals on your keyboard are ASCII numbers, as far as your computer is concerned, all of the special characters are also ASCII numbers. Consequently, when your list of files is alphabetized, they all show up together.
For example, here are some of the files I might use in a session for a promo about Pink:
§Don’t Let Me Get Me, §Get The Party Started, §Just Like A Pill. These are complete songs.
•You Make Me Sick, •Most Girls. These are portions of songs, usually the hook only.
vpr, vpink, vann. Main VO is vpr. Pink’s VO is vpink, and Anne DeWig, our female voice is vann.
“just what I needed”, “don’t go there”, “amazing…” These are drops.
˜slam-01, ˜slam-02, ˜pad-01, ˜pad-02, ˜ramp. These are effects and special pads I use between hooks and such.
When I’m done with the session and look in the region bin, all of the complete songs are listed together. Likewise with the voice tracks, drops and effects. Now, this might not seem like a huge thing, but when you’re working on a very large session, it becomes invaluable when you’re looking for a specific file.
Step 3 is a little more future oriented, but it can save you so much time and effort. When I collect music beds or drops from various places, I record them into single stereo files. I put them in a special folder on my main drive called Workparts. Within that folder I have folders for beds, drops, ramps, slams and whatever other category I want to store them in. I keep a special folder for natural sound effects that I know I’ll come back to from time to time, like an F-16 flyby that I use for vacation flyaway promos. (747s are just too damned slow!)
When I’m in a session and need a slam, for example, I’ll import from the “slams” folder. Remember that it’s a single stereo file. In order for my session to use that sound, it has to create a new stereo pair of files, thus automatically making a copy of the file. That way, if I later decide I don’t need the file, it’s just a copy so I can delete it without affecting what’s in the Workparts folder. Another side benefit is that when I back the session up, it doesn’t have to note from where the file was imported. It’s using the file that is local to that session.
With these three steps, I know I can jump into a months old session and get right to work without having to re-discover what everything is. I’m so smart!
This month’s column isn’t so much about creativity as it is leaving your brain free to be creative. I’ll be getting back to the creative thing next month, as I’ll be analyzing some production from one of our RAP readers. You’ll be able to hear what he submitted on the CD and read what I think he could do to improve it in this space. Man! Now you’re gonna see, first-hand, what a dope I really am.