Audio Post Essentials: A Basic Session Template
Updated: May 25
In Audio Post Production, having a clear session template can be the difference between a well structured, efficient workflow, and a selection of tracks that is difficult to navigate. In this post we will be covering a basic Post Production session template, suitable for small projects such as film trailers and short films.
Start by opening up your DAW and create a blank project. We will be building our template in Pro Tools 12 HD, but this template can be recreated in other software too. If you don't have 5.1 capability, feel free to replace all 5.1 tracks and buses with stereo alternatives.
We will be creating groups of tracks in increments of 8, to allow for ease of use with Avid Eucon Controllers such as the S3. Follow along, and by the end you will have a session template that you can adapt as you see fit.
1. Enter the I/O Setup window in Pro Tools and select the Bus tab.
2. Hit New Path and create 10 new 5.1 buses and 1 new stereo bus.
3. Assign the first 5.1 bus to a 5.1 output
4. Assign the stereo bus to a stereo output.
4. Name your buses according to the picture below.
This I/O configuration will allow us enough buses to build a basic post production template, containing multiple stems, 3 reverbs, 2 delays, a master limiter track and capability to mix in 5.1, with a stereo downmix option.
1. Create 16 mono Audio tracks.
2. Name the first 8 tracks in ascending order from 'Dump 01' to 'Dump 08', assign a unique colour to these. Route these tracks to the Main Output.
3. Name the next 8 tracks in ascending order from 'Dials 01' to 'Dials 08'. If you will only be using dialogue recorded in post production, call these tracks 'ADR 01' to 'ADR 08' instead, assign a unique colour to these. Route these tracks to the Dials bus.
The Dump tracks are for all of your imported OMF/AAF file data and any recordings / sound effects that wont be used in the Final Mix. They should be made inactive when not in use.
The Dials/ADR tracks are for editing and mixing dialogue, voice overs and automatic dialogue replacement (ADR).
1. Create 12 mono Audio tracks, and 4 stereo Audio Tracks.
2. Name the first 8 tracks in ascending order from 'Foley 01' to 'Foley 08', assign a unique colour to these. Route these tracks to the Effects bus.
3. Name the next 4 tracks in ascending order from 'Spot 01' to 'Spot 04', assign a unique colour to these. Route these tracks to the Effects bus.
4. Name the next 4 tracks in ascending order from 'Atmos 01' to 'Atmos 04', assign a unique colour to these. Route these tracks to the Effects bus.
The Foley tracks are for editing and mixing recorded foley footsteps, cloth movements and prop sounds.
The Spot tracks are for editing and mixing sound effects that are not present but are needed to fit on/off screen cues, for example gunshots, doors closing etc.
The Atmos tracks are for editing and mixing atmospheric sound effects, for example wind blowing, birds tweeting etc.
1. Create 12 stereo Audio tracks, and 4 mono Audio Tracks.
2. Name the first 8 tracks in ascending order from 'Design 01' to 'Design 08', assign a unique colour to these. Route these tracks to the Effects bus.
3. Name the next 8 tracks in ascending order from 'Music 01' to 'Music 08', assign a unique colour to these. Route these tracks to the Music bus.
The Design tracks are for designing, editing and mixing audio material, for example trailer impacts, monster vocalisations and sub rumbles etc.
The stereo Music tracks are for editing and mixing mainly non diegetic music.
The mono Music tracks are for editing and mixing mainly diegetic music.
At this point, you can select every track from ADR 01 to Foley 08 and add a Compressor and EQ plugin.
Route these sends to the following buses on each selected track:
Send A: Reverb 01
Send B: Reverb 02
Send C: Reverb 03
Send D: Delay 01
Send E: Delay 02
The Compressor and EQ are for shaping and controlling individual tracks.
The Sends are for delivering signal to our reverb and delay effects.
Auxiliary Input/Master Fader Tracks
1. Create 9 5.1 Aux Input tracks, name them as shown below:
/DIALS 5.1 - add a Channel Strip plugin
/EFFECTS 5.1 - add a Channel Strip plugin
/MUSIC 5.1 - add a Channel Strip plugin
These tracks are for balancing the levels, frequency content and dynamics between dialogue, sound effects and music in your mix.
/VERB 1 5.1 - add a ReVibe plugin
/VERB 2 5.1 - add a ReVibe plugin
/VERB 3 5.1 - add a ReVibe plugin
/DELAY 1 5.1 - add a Mod Delay plugin
/DELAY 2 5.1 - add a Mod Delay plugin
These tracks are for adding reverb and delay to your mix via buses.
/LIMITER 5.1 - add a Maxim and Downmixer (5.1/Stereo) plugin
This track is for controlling the peak level of your 5.1 mix, and for downmixing to stereo.
Route all of the inputs of the Auxiliary Input tracks according to their name. For example the input for 'DIALS 5.1' should be 'Dials'. Route their output to Limiter.
2. Create 1 5.1 Master Fader track and 1 stereo Master Fader track. Name them MASTER 5.1 and MASTER. Route their inputs to MAIN OUT 5.1 and MAIN OUT.
The MASTER 5.1 track is for monitoring and bouncing your 5.1 mix and the MASTER track is for monitoring and bouncing your stereo downmix.
Now that you have a basic post production template, feel free to add more tracks (in banks of 4 or 8) and plugins as you see fit for your Final Mix. Let us know if you have any questions.
If you enjoyed this article please check out our ultimate guide to audio post- production: https://www.344audio.com/post/the-ultimate-guide-to-audio-post-production-sound-design