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Thread: Standard Protocol for Project Documentation

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    No Cal

    Standard Protocol for Project Documentation

    Back in the day, it used to be, you would write down settings, names, times, everything for a session. Now, in the days of everything in the box, how much documentation is necessary, expected, a nice addition, etc...?

    It seems engineering ettiquette is somewhat different than what I was accustom to in my yout' - maybe I've just grown lazy - but it seems most documentation from of old seems a bit superfluous. I generally record, mix and master most of my clients' projects myself, so I tend not to write stuff down, but then again, it's all right there the way I left it (saved it) every time I go to work on it. Ahh... the beauty of total recall!

    What do you think? How much documentation is enough? Necessary? Superfluous?

    I'm curious, because the more work I send out to be mixed or be mastered, I want to be sensitive to the needs of my fellow engineers :-)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    No Cal

  3. #3
    Haigbabe's Avatar
    Haigbabe is offline 3D VIP 2004, '05, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12
    Join Date
    May 2002

    I make quite a few notes. I note which day the tracking was done, which day editing, etc.

    I keep track of the DAW and the V# (eg PTLE 6.4, Samplitude 7.22 Pro etc).

    I make a note of the takes used for comping the master during editing. I make a note of which plugs, and *definitely* which outboard and what the settings are/were. I may even backup the settings onto floppy/memorystick/cd etc.

    If also mastering a project, I note what upsampling etc etc. What downsampling, what gear was used, which dither, what method of bouncing the final, eg itb, to external machine, via what outboard. Which DACs for monitoring etc.

    I used to write it all out on the computer, but these days I use pencil and paper. Most projects are on DVD backups so I find the relevant DVDs and then dig out the paperwork.

    I do this because clients come back and want *one* change made, maybe two. I need to be able to replicate the original.

    Best regards,

    Proud supporter of 3D as a 2012 3D VIP

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Dublin, Ireland
    I work in a number of different studios so I've started keeping a master notebook of all the things I work on anywhere. When a project is finished I put all of the pages related to it into another binder for future reference.

    I try to make notes about almost everything that seems important in a session: date, location, who played what, tech data (microphones, signal path, sample rate, bit-depth, file type, software...), tempo, notes about takes, who was nice or a jerk, whatever. These are my own notes and I hold onto them. I may also photocopy some of these notes or write a shorter summary to be included with a studio's backup.

    For projects that other people will work on I will write a Simple Text (that's a mac thing, but I'm sure there's an equivalent PC app.) document with as much info as seems useful and include it with the session data. I will always note the software + version, file type, sample rate, bit-depth, etc., as well as any particular notes about the files. For instance, yesterday I was doing drum overdubs in Digital Performer for a project that will go back to the producer's Pro Tools system. For his notes I noted the tech data, summarized a few details about the sessions, described in some detail how to import the flattened (merged) drum tracks back into Pro Tools, and detailed notes about each song including a list of takes with notes to help him sort through the various takes.

    I can't count the times I've received badly organized and totally un-notated projects from other engineers. If I'm lucky, I can call the previous engineer to try to resolve any questions that come up, but sometimes you just have to do what you can.

    The producer's and engineer's wing of NARAS has created guidlines for just these kinds of issues and you can check them out here:

    While some of their recommendations aren't going to be practical for everyone, they're certainly worth reading and thinking about when you're sharing files, delivering masters, and archiving data.

    To go back to your original question, how much documentation is enough? Write as much as you would want to know if you didn't know anything about the project. Then add some more. Even if it's a project that only you will work on, think of what you'll want to know if you come back to it in 5 or 10 years. Remember that the software and plug-ins you have today may not work in the future, so note what you used, print any special processing you want to preserve for posterity, and make flattened (consolidated/merged) tracks that start at 0:00 that can be loaded into a new platform if necessary.

    Andrew Leavitt

    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."--Ralph Waldo Emerson


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