MixCoach Podcast 061: Our Mixing Workflow

mixing workflow workflows

Today at MixCoach, we are talking about our mixing workflows and the power of having a workflow. Enjoy!

Raw Transcript:

Kevin: This is the Mix Coach Podcast Number 61.

John: This week on the podcast we’re going to be talking about the power of
workflows in mixing and not just the power of workflows. We’re going to be
talking about why you have workflows and the answer might be different than
what you’re thinking. Hey, Kevin, how are you doing today?

Kevin: Hey, John, I’m good.

John: All right. So this week we’re going to be talking about thing that’s
kind of close to the Mix Coach hearts, as far as that goes. We work with
workflows a lot and we talk about workflow, so we’re going to talk a little
bit about that today and kind of address the power of workflows in mixing.
So Kev, as far as workflows goes, we talk about that a lot. What do you
mean by workflow and what exactly do you do to get a workflow?

Kevin: I have been fascinated lately with systems and really, if you
look at something like . . . I promise I’ll bring this back around. But if
you go to McDonald’s or Starbucks, let’s just say McDonald’s, that is not
the best hamburger in the world. You can get hamburgers just about
anywhere, but the beauty of McDonald’s is its consistency, in that you can
go to a McDonald’s – I’ve been to McDonald’s in Europe, I’ve been to
McDonald’s in California – it sounds like I go to McDonald’s a lot. I
really don’t.

John: I’m in a new place. Let’s hit the McDonald’s.

Kevin: Well, if I was close enough to California, I would be in In and
Out and never darken the door of McDonald’s, but anyway, I digress. The
thing about McDonald’s is they have system which makes it consistent. You
know about how much time you’re going to spend in the drive-through line.
You know about what the burger’s going to taste like – no better, no worse
than the one you had before – and really, systems fascinate me because
that’s the beauty of what that is, is they have a system in place. And it
makes for good consistency.

So that’s why I advocate workflows in your mixing because if you’re
going to be a professional or at least a highly regarded mix engineer in
your local town, in your church, in your band, one of the key things that
you’ve got to do is consistent. You’ve got to be consistent. You can be
consistently okay, consistently good, consistently bad, but if you’re all
over the map, then nobody’s going to really know what they’re going to get
and what you’re worth paying for if you’re not consistent.

John: Yeah, that’s a Jekyll and Hyde thing, where it’s like, I don’t know
if I’m getting Jekyll or if I’m getting Hyde whenever I hire him.

Kevin: Right, right, right. And that all revolves around having a good
system. And my system has to do with, “Oh, that’s a great-sounding reverb.
That sounds great on a snare. I’m going to say that is Kev’s snare verb.”
Or “I use this all the time. I’m going to say this is a preset and call it
Kevin’s instant awesome.” Or better yet, have it come up whenever you
instantiate the SSL plug-in, it always comes up now.

John: Yeah.

Kevin: And I vary from that from presets right up to whole mixing
templates. I’ve got templates that have . . . a couple of podcasts ago we
talked about split tracks. I’ve got a template that has all that stuff
already in it so now when I go to mix a big orchestral piece that they’re
going to need this many tracks, that template comes up with my presets and
then I vary it from that, because in my opinion, your brain as a mixer, you
can be very analytical.

John: Yeah.

Kevin: And that’s good to be sometimes, but you’ve got to be creative
at the same time.

John: Oh, yeah.

Kevin: And it’s hard to be both at the same time. So it’s kind of like
the myth of multi-tasking, where you can’t actually do two things at once.
You’re actually doing one thing or another. So what I try to do with the
systems or the workflow is just try to separate those two things to where I
can get my . . . where everything is routed, the kind of presets I use, and
then I can switch and go over to my creative mode and say, “Now, how does
this sound?”

John: Yeah.

Kevin: “How can I make this sound better?”

John: Absolutely.

Kevin: And you don’t have to worry about, “When I’m doing the split
tracks, am I hitting it three and a half dB too high?” I don’t know cause
it’s built into my system, my template, my workflow, which makes,
hopefully, my mixes consistent.

John: Yeah.

Kevin: You know what you’re going to get when I mix a song for you.

John: And a lot of people will just assume – what you just made was a great
point – because what a lot of people will assume is they assume that it’s
about saving time and it’s about that sort of thing, where it’s a
timesaver. While workflows and coming up with a good system is a timesaver,
it’s not necessarily the first concern that I have or that you have
whenever you do a workflow. The first concern I have is separating out the
technical side of things. I think you mentioned routing.

Something I work into all my presets and my templates is a routing
thing, where everything’s kind of named, where I don’t have to think about
the routing. Where, especially if I’m bringing in – like programming a loop
or things like that – I always have it routed the way I always have it
routed. I’m sending to the right bus with the same name with all the same
things in it. And so that way, literally my brain doesn’t have to think
about it, where it becomes an ears-to-hands thing, where there’s no
separation of ears, “Wait is that routed right?” And then you get out of
the moment, you get out of the art of it, and you get out of the creativity
of it. And you have to go hunt down the routing. That always just kind of
takes you out of the moment. So while it does save time to do work close,
that’s not necessarily the first concern. The first concern is the art and
coming up with the best product possible.

Kevin: And consistency.

John: And consistency.

Kevin: I just finished a fascinating book, called “The 80-20 Rule.” It
was written by Perry Marshall. And the 80-20 Principle or the Pareto’s Law
– we’ve talked about it before in videos and on Mix Coach Member.

John: Maybe even a podcast, I don’t even know.

Kevin: Probably even a podcast. But I just really . . . the more I
study the 80-20 Principle, the more I’m convinced that it’s not actually a
rule, it’s almost a law like gravity.

John: Yeah, something that happens.

Kevin: Basically what the Pareto’s Principle says is that 80% of your
results are from 20% of your efforts. And that’s what this workflow is. I
mean, the templates and presets, because 80% of what you do to any mix is
going to be the same from mix to mix. So why not build it into a workflow
to where with the click of a button, you’ve got 80% of what you would have
done? And another thing, most mixers right out of the box, right out of
school, right upon opening up Pro Tools or Logic or whatever, you can get
80% of the way to a mix. But the 20% that’s left over is where the men are
separated from the boys and where the pros are separated from people who
are not pros yet.

John: Right.

Kevin: And so why not, since you’re going to have to put 100% of your
effort in there, why not let your workflow dictate what 80% of your work
would be? And that way you can really concentrate on what the 20% that
really makes the difference in your mix.

John: Absolutely, absolutely.

[Music]

Kevin: Thanks for listening. This has been the Mix Coach Podcast, the
podcast dedicated to making your next recording your best recording. For
more tips, tutorials and even a free course, be sure and visit us at
mixcoach.com.

Question: What does your mixing workflow consist of?