Get in the Creative Fast Lane: Templates!

Ready? Get set…GO!

That’s how templates in our DAW make us feel: poised for audio action. While we at BB4 know that every artist and project is completely different, we understand equally that our clients want to get straight to the creativity when they arrive.

Having a variety of preset formats ready in the Pro Tools rig -- or whatever one’s workstation of choice may be -- is the key to speed in the studio.

“I always use templates when I’m recording, mixing, producing or mastering -- I almost never start from scratch,” says Kiara Mudd, Studio Manager/House Engineer for BB4. “They save time because you’re not searching for where a certain instrument, sound or plugin is, you’ve already put it in its correct place. That way, you can be more focused on creating, instead of stressing about which track is where.”

Music is all about sharing, so in that spirit we’re sharing four of BB4’s go-to templates. These are yours to download, but don’t think of them so much as rules as recipes -- feel free to add, subtract and spice them up to taste.

Template #1: Beats

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Kiara first got turned on to templates at an earlier gig, pumping out promos and programs at a prolific NYC audio post facility. “With the amount of audio tracks you have to handle for editing and mixing TV shows, being organized is essential,” she explains. “That’s when I started creating my own templates for my own songs.”

Our mindset for original productions, ranging from sparse beats to entire songs, anticipate multiple MIDI tracks. That’s why this template starts out with eight MIDI tracks (easily expandable, naturally), as well as two auxilliary tracks for different instruments like Kontakt or Reaktor. In addition, there are auxilliary reverb and delay tracks set up to send all of the most-common beat components including kicks, snares, claps, high hats, and shakers.    

Likewise, we have a Pro Tools in-and-out template for busses that Kiara has created. Everything is properly labelled for swift stereo prints for instruments, drum auxilliaries, vocal auxilliaries, vocal reverb, vocal delay, and more. There are also busses for exporting only instrumental versions of a song, or only vocals.

Download our BB4 Beat Template here.

Template #2: Samples

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We heart sampling at BB4, and so do a lot of our clients. This template is a lot like the one we’ve constructed for beats, but with fewer MIDI tracks -- starting with just four -- and the corresponding audio tracks to print that MIDI from.

Download our BB4 Sampling Template here.

Template #3: Recording

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This does the trick for a quick mix directly following a tracking session. “Sometimes when I’m recording people they want something to be levelled immediately, so they have something to check out right after we’re done,” says Kiara. “This is a down-and-dirty, right-away mix.” 

For this template, we have a master fader, fed by 10 audio tracks and a number of auxilliaries for some dependable plugins. Vocal reverb, vocal delay, and parallel compression for drums are usually part of the program.

Download our BB4 Recording Template here.

Template #4: Mixing

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Want to get to the meat of your mix real quick? Try this one on for size.

It’s got a master fader, four auxilliaries for vocals (reverb 1 &2, delay 1 & 2), then another two vocal auxilliaries (compression, parallel compression). Then there’s 30 audio tracks available to pull in all the audio from the recording, beat and/or sample sessions.

Download our BB4 Recording Template here.

Roll Your Own

Kiara closes with some tips on how to make your own templates. Whether you work in Pro Tools or another DAW, use the templates provided here as a jumping-off point, or just think of it this way.

“The best way to set up a useful template is to reverse engineer it,” Kiara advises. “Think about the final destination first, then arrange your tracks to feed into your vision. And be aware of what you tend to do: Do you always put EQ on a kick or snare, or compression and reverb on a vocal, for example? If these signal paths are a staple of your sound, then having that all set up can save you a lot of time and effort.”

If you’re not careful, of course, templates can make you a creature of habit and drain your creative juices, instead of letting them flow. “That’s always a danger,” acknowledges Kiara. “But every song you’re working on should be a new experience. There’s certain things you’d do for one composition that you wouldn’t do on another. If you’re really feeling where your new track is going, templates will help you head in a fresh direction.” 





David Weiss