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Using Templates In Your DAW To Improve Your Workflow

It’s no secret – templates make everything easier. Think about it – everything from coloring books to website templates – would be so much harder if we didn’t have a nice place to start.

And working in your DAW is no exception.

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 6.39.30 PMIf you’ve never used the templates function in your DAW, you’re really missing out. And we’re not necessarily talking about the preset templates that come with your DAW – although they can be very helpful to get you going as well. We’re focusing more on the real use for templates, which is creating your own templates that perfectly suite your workflow.

Here’s an example of when templates would help you out in a tremendous way:

You’re working on recording your bands newest five song EP. Your indie pop/rock style requires the same drum mic set up, guitar and bass tracks, and scratch vocals for the initial rhythm sections recording. Your Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 is sending eight channels of drums, and you’ve got another 3 channels (2 for guitar, 1 for bass) coming in.

Every time you want to start a new song, you have to take five (more like 15, 20, 25…) to create a new session, add the right number of tracks, set up the I/O, and run cue mixes to your band mates. By the time you’re set up, your band has moved on to the couch upstairs and they’re in the middle of a close game of Battlefield on PS3. “Ten minutes left…we’ll be right down!”

This is the wrong way to do it. Here’s the right way:

Instead of having to configure your DAW each and every time you start a new song, you do it once. That’s right, just once. Then, before you even think about hitting record, save it as a template! Now, all of your session settings will be saved as a template that you can easily pull up and work from when you’re ready to start the next song.

Once you finish the current song and save it, your band mates see you close out of the session and start to make a break for the pantry. “Doritos!” But before they can set down their sticks and bass, you’re all set to go! You simply loaded the template you already saved and record enable your tracks! [Warning: Band members may become irritated and hungry. Top tip #2 for the day is to have some snacks readily available and scheduled breaks to keep them fresh and ready to record! :)]

There’s a lot of other uses for templates as well – like the following:

1. Mixing an album or EP where the tracks have a similar layout/arrangement (simply import the audio to your template and make a few tweaks! Remember, templates can save plug-ins and settings too!)

2. Mastering albums – if you know your mastering chain on each track, why not have it already set up! Of course, you can make changes when necessary, but go ahead and set up 15 audio tracks with the plug-in chain you like and import your audio from there!

3. Starting new sessions (even the small stuff)! You don’t have to be in the above scenario to benefit from starting new sessions from templates. Even if it just creates a click track, master channel, unused channel, and a few audio/instrument tracks, it’ll still save you some time!

When it comes down to it, templates help you to remove the techy stuff and stay in the creative mindset. It’s always important to remember that when you’re recording – so try out your own templates and watch your workflow/creativity get better and better!

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