File Transfer in Pro Tools and File Sharing Tips

How many of you want to share your studio work with other people?

As we start expanding the scope of our work, each of us will find ourselves at some point needing to share work across other DAW software or sessions such as Logic, Nuendo, Studio One, etc. There are many reasons you might share your projects, such as working with collaborators, sending your song to a mix engineer, or having to integrate your work with other material, such as a video. For whatever the reason, the transfer of information between platforms is happening at a fast and furious pace and understanding some basic procedures will make things flow a lot smoother for you.

Mihai Boloni and Kevin ElsonLet’s first look at some of the scenarios you might encounter in the course of working on a session. You have a partner or group of people you collaborate with and they are using different DAW’s in their own studio. The keyboard player might be using Logic, the drummer might be using Pro Tools, and the Singer/Guitar player is using Nuendo. You will have to put all these different pieces together in order to give them to the Mix Engineer who might be using Pro Tools. This type of thing is very common in the musical landscape. Another scenario might involve transferring material between video editing systems such as Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, Premier, back and forth to Pro Tools so you can do the Audio Post Production. Each of these situations might require a slightly different workflow, but in the end the same goal is being accomplished - sharing information across different platforms.

 

Recently, I had the pleasure of working on an album with the legendary multi-platinum producer/engineer Kevin Elson (Journey, Boston, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc...) and in doing so, every song on the album had to have audio transferred between three different studios as well as between Pro Tools and Logic. The Singer/Artist was from Pennsylvania, the music director was in Miami, and we mixed the album at Audio One Studios in FL. The main challenge was in getting the different tracks for each song between the multiple studios for the various parts of the project. The artist sent us rough tracks she had done in Pro Tools but the musical director was cutting all the music tracks in Logic. We had to not only transfer the audio files but also had to keep in mind the timing and song layout so we didn’t have any timing issues with parts coming in at the wrong time. The easiest way to accomplish this was to transfer all of the individual audio files so they can be opened up in Logic.

Since our session had multiple edits on each track the first step was to consolidate all of the track information into singe files.

Since our session had multiple edits on each track the first step was to consolidate all of the track information into singe files. Pro Tools has a feature in the Edit menu called: Consolidate Clip:

Pro Tools Consolidation Clip

This feature allows you to select the entire contents of the track, beginning to end, and make a new, whole audio file. It take all of your edits, blank space included and “consolidates” them into a single file. In order to make sure all of our timing remained intact we selected from the very beginning of the session to the end on each track.
By selecting to Consolidate Clip we wind up with something that looked like this:

By selecting to Consolidate Clip we wind up with something that looked like this: Notice in the example above how we now have whole audio files on each track.  This can also be seen in the Clips bin in Pro Tools: every “Whole” file is in bold type, every “Edit” in in normal type.

Notice in the example above how we now have whole audio files on each track. This can also be seen in the Clips bin in Pro Tools: every “Whole” file is in bold type, every “Edit” in in normal type.

Now that we have each of the tracks consolidated as whole files we can use the “Export Clips as Files” feature of Pro Tools to export these files so we can give them to our collaborators.  Make sure the files are selected in the Clips bin and click on the Menu button.

Now that we have each of the tracks consolidated as whole files we can use the “Export Clips as Files” feature of Pro Tools to export these files so we can give them to our collaborators. Make sure the files are selected in the Clips bin and click on the Menu button.

Once you select to export your selected files you will have a dialogue window appear asking you a few things about the files you are exporting.

The main things you need to make sure are selected are .wav or .aiff file types, (no MP3), the format should be (Multiple) Mono, and make sure the BIt Depth and Sample Rate remain the same as your session, no reason to change either of these. Regarding Mono and Stereo file format, choosing Interleaved will actually create Stereo Interleaved versions of every audio file you’re exporting. By selecting the Mono option you will wind up with individual Mono files as well as your “stereo” files automatically labeled .L and .R. Your exported files will look something like this:

You should notice that we have several files that have .L & .R at the end of the name, these were “Stereo” tracks, and files that have no added extension after the file name are from “Mono” tracks. We now have all of the files from our original session ready to import into another DAW.

When your musical collaborators import these files into their DAW, all that needs to be done is placing the files at the start of the session. This is the same technique we used with every song on the latest album project. It made things actually flow a lot smoother than trying to force everyone into adopting a single DAQ. We were able to work with multiple people, and multiple platforms just by exchanging audio files. The main factor making this technique work is that everyone was mindful of what we were trying to accomplish and maintained the same technique for exporting files across the different DAW’s.

Another aspect of music production where this becomes very useful is when you are working with remix artists. Since it’s impossible to know what type of platform everyone else is on, it’s always safer to give people audio files. It doesn’t matter what DAW platform each individual is using, they can all import the same audio files.

If you enjoy this article, consider taking a hands-on pro tools class with us at ProMedia Training in one of our locations in NY, LA, Dallas, Atlanta, or Miami/ Lauderdale.

File Transfer in Pro Tools – Video Tutorial

Video tutorial for today’s feature article about how to share pro tools files across different DAW platforms. That way, if your band members or collaborators use other software other than Pro Tools, you know how to most effectively give them the files to work with as well.


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