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Tips 'n Tricks - General Production Whether a happy accident, or based on years of experience, find/post 'em here

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Old 5th October 2008 , 05:11 PM
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Thumbs up More flow less work :)

Work faster and smarter...

Start well
Demo demo demo...(if possible). Don’t take chances with a host you have not tried before. One of the worst things you can do is waste your time trying to learn something that you do not even like using. Learning takes motivation, you might struggle to find it if you do not like your choice of DAW, FX or synth. At the very least take time to choose your host carefully.

Remove distractions
Pay close attention to your working environment. The internet may be a distraction on the same PC, games, media players e.t.c . A very focused environment can work wonders.

Avoid working when tired
Try to get enough sleep e.t.c. a tired mind produces tired results. Try to avoid working very late at night. You are almost certainly not going to be at your best so late in the day.

Read...
Get that PDF manual for your Host, synth or FX (if available) on to your desktop or at least a shortcut created so that you can access and reference it easily.

Watch your back
Watch your sitting posture and try and use a chair you are very comfortable with. If you are going to spend a good deal of time at your desk...taking the time to sit comfortably and carefully might avoid unwanted back problems for instance later.

Faster starting points
If your Daw has project templates use them as starting points instead of re creating every single track set up every time. Some hosts allow you to save track, VSTi , and FX combinations..if you do make use of similar combinations on a regular basis, save them as a track template, channel strip e.t.c that you can recall quickly to save time.

Study your genre
Pay special attention to the genre you want to work in. Try and stay within those boundaries. Of course leave room for your own creativity to come through, but if you do not really know your chosen genre very well (from a production point of view) you might have to keep making changes later on which will waste time you could be spending on more productive aspects of music making.

Can we meet some other time?
Avoid letting people who will distract you come into your studio during critical production time if they are not really adding to the process of getting a professional result. Schedule a time to see them when you are not trying to get some serious work done.

Less can be more
Do not overload you song with too many tracks. We have so many VSTi choices (commercial and free) it can be tempting to use too many. Less really can be more. An overloaded mix is going to be much harder to mix and properly separate frequency wise e.t.c later.

Have another deeper look at what you already have
Don’t try to buy creativity. While you can of course have a major break through workflow wise by getting a synth or host that meets your requirements much better than the your current one...it can be costly to be in a constant state of wanting something new to spark creativity. Try to master what you have. Hosts, FX and Synths these days have incredible depth.

Try and spend time exploring your existing collection and then consider a purchase from a more experienced point of view. You will be a much better buyer and probably save a lot of money as well.

Goals?
Ask yourself what you want to do and set some goals to achieve. Don’t approach your DAW with no real idea or purpose. You can save a lot of time working with a clear purpose in mind. Yes one can also be totally spontaneous and see where a DAW session goes but...in most cases it may be better to have a clearly defined idea as to what you want to get out of your time with your host.

Give it your best
Don’t settle for mediocre results. If you hear your work and A/B with other commercial tracks in your genre and it’s not really up to the standards people expect, take time to get it right. If you are not really bothered about the quality of your output you cannot really expect your target listeners to be interested either.

Where is the finished product?
If you really want to get your work out to the buying public or even have a few friends hear your work the way you really want it to be heard...you have got to finish your projects. Be disciplined with your time, and work habits. Stay focused.

A song will never be finished if it is constantly changed here and there. If you just have to keep making changes it might be better to do a remix of a song you have finished first, instead of never finishing anything because you constantly keep making changes.

Resources
If your host has some sort of additional training resources it is well worth taking the time to check them out. You tube is an excellent starting point. Many free videos are available from fellow users of a product, official company videos and 3rd party video snippets from companies that sell training material related to your product.

Screen issues
If you are struggling to see text on your screen or have to sit too close to it, you may want to invest in either a dual monitor set up with larger screens or a single larger screen. Also monitors with higher native resolutions can fit much more on screen and still provide a very sharp image.

Back up!
Do back ups during your breaks or over night. Not having a back up strategy at all may very well cost you more time than any other problem you might have in your studio. The more projects you save, the more projects you could possibly lose if you have a hard drive failure or similar issue that leads to the loss of all your saved work.

Remove desktop clutter
This really can help one focus and work more quickly. If your desktop has so much going on with folders and shortcuts all over the place you might have to clear most of it off and simply have two items on your desktop.

One folder for application shortcuts, and your waste bin icon. Thats it.

The shortcuts folder can have shortcuts to any folders that were taking up space on your desktop but are now moved off your desktop to another part of your hard drive. You can also move those application icons off your desktop by dragging them straight to a quick launch bar.

Right click on Windows Taskbar and click on "Lock the Taskbar" if it is locked, that will unlock it. You can then drag the splitter to the right to make space for more icons. Dragging icons to the quick launch bar will free up your desktop space and make it far less cluttered.

You can also auto hide the Windows task bar completely. If you have any other tips to work smarter and faster please share
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Last edited by Monarch; 5th October 2008 at 05:29 PM. . <
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Old 5th October 2008 , 05:23 PM
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Excellent thread M.
For Desk top clutter i think that applies in the physical realm too, if you have a clean surrounding you work better, so they say! it works for me but i just never get round to cleaning my area as much as i should
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Old 5th October 2008 , 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sureno View Post
Excellent thread M.
For Desk top clutter i think that applies in the physical realm too, if you have a clean surrounding you work better, so they say! it works for me but i just never get round to cleaning my area as much as i should
Cheers Sureno!

Good point yes. A physical cluttered desktop brings it's own set of issues...I have been there many times.
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Old 5th October 2008 , 05:55 PM
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Never start a project with a full bladder!

Good thread though, good advice.
I think there should be something about taking breaks and calming it down a little if things are getting a little tense, working yourself into a tizzy is very counter-productive most of the time (for me anyroads).
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Old 5th October 2008 , 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilty View Post
Never start a project with a full bladder!


Quote:
Good thread though, good advice.

I think there should be something about taking breaks and calming it down a little if things are getting a little tense, working yourself into a tizzy is very counter-productive most of the time (for me anyroads)
True. If it stops being fun and/or productive then yes a break can calm things down. As you mentioned regular breaks are definitely needed as well.
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Old 14th December 2008 , 03:59 PM
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I have a bit of a problem I have to admit. My (physical)desktop can be as cluttered as hell, but if the room behind me is messy or the leads of my setup have become a big ball with no beginning or end, then I just can't relax and make music. Weird but true.
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Old 14th December 2008 , 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meander View Post
I have a bit of a problem I have to admit. My (physical)desktop can be as cluttered as hell, but if the room behind me is messy or the leads of my setup have become a big ball with no beginning or end, then I just can't relax and make music. Weird but true.
cluttered work area cluttered mind, well that's what is said, i myself can't rest easy if things start getting too dusty, i got in last night/this morning 06:30 from a gig and felt compelled to dust off my monitors as i noticed dust gathering on them otherwise i think i wouldn't of slept easy
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Old 14th December 2008 , 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sureno View Post
cluttered work area cluttered mind,
I'd have to agree.

It's also that I don't like moving much when I'm making a tune so everything has to be within reach! On my desk atm are 2x lava lamps (I like to use Sonar's "big time" function some mood lighting, when I'm listening over something), 1 x litre of Ribena, tobacco, rizla, lighter ashtray and other assorted smoking products , loads of used cd's, bottle of lager, some loose change etc etc. a mess, but as long as the room behind me is clear, I'm cool lol.
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Old 14th December 2008 , 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meander View Post
I'd have to agree.

It's also that I don't like moving much when I'm making a tune so everything has to be within reach! On my desk atm are 2x lava lamps (I like to use Sonar's "big time" function some mood lighting, when I'm listening over something), 1 x litre of Ribena, tobacco, rizla, lighter ashtray and other assorted smoking products , loads of used cd's, bottle of lager, some loose change etc etc. a mess, but as long as the room behind me is clear, I'm cool lol.
Ah life as a muso no wonder people think we are hippie's
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Old 15th December 2008 , 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meander View Post
I'd have to agree.

It's also that I don't like moving much when I'm making a tune so everything has to be within reach! On my desk atm are 2x lava lamps (I like to use Sonar's "big time" function some mood lighting, when I'm listening over something), 1 x litre of Ribena, tobacco, rizla, lighter ashtray and other assorted smoking products , loads of used cd's, bottle of lager, some loose change etc etc. a mess, but as long as the room behind me is clear, I'm cool lol.
Ohhhh watch that Ribena bottle...one false move and splosh!
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Old 15th December 2008 , 09:26 PM
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NP, its a sealed carton
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Old 16th December 2008 , 12:10 AM
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My #1 creative tip - work with someone who can drive your DAW - let your mate drive the computer while you just play and visa versa - it can make a world of difference what you can get recorded when you dont have to drive the computer as well, and risk loosing whats in your head due to some flakey software etc.

My #2 creative tip (and perhaps #1 production tip) - have your DJ rig (if applicable) patched up to you DAW (or actually the other way around) so you can mix your own stuff with other material - great for inspriation, and actually also very good for seeing how your mix sounds again other similar material.

#3 Work on your feet - at least sometimes - its an odd thing, but actually you tend to be more energetic, and tend to groove more - and that translates into the music you play and mix choices (again, if applicable).


#1 blocker after flakey software etc - not knowing your gear and sound libraries etc. People often comment at the number of hardware synths I have, but I dont have any software synths that I use, so basically Ive only had to learn my way around a small number of synths (and really only use one of them on nearly everything, so thats the one I know inside out) - its makes such a huge difference when you can just program something without really having to think about it too much, or you know about patches that are good starting points for what you need etc.
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Old 16th December 2008 , 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meander
NP, its a sealed carton
Ha! One step ahead of me.

@Khazul

Thanks for sharing those tips.
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Old 18th December 2008 , 12:07 AM
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Cheers for the tips Monarch!

Most of those related to me big time! A little too much to be honest....
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Old 21st December 2009 , 12:44 AM
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I used to have a Roland VS2480 (big) and a Roland VM3100pro on my desktop, as well as a 19" rack for fx etc. I'm going to move to a new house at the end of december. In my new music room things will be thinned out. The Roland stuff is already gone, replaced by a DV247/Synergy PC running Cubas5/Reason4. A 19"rack will sit on the ground holding my Motu Timepeice, Lexicon IOnix FW 810s and MPX-1 and my Alesis DM5. In the rack will also come a poweramp and a cd player. My 15" monitor will be replaced by a 26" widescreen IIyama.

Clean and tidy for a good workflow.
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