When we create stems, we create individual tracks for different tracks within our mix. I ask for stems from clients that started their song or piece in a program other than Pro Tools. The ultimate goal while creating stems is to create a series of individual tracks that all start at the same point in time (so I can easily line them up within Pro Tools), and to break the song down into its individual tracks enough so that I can mix it. When you create stems, the end result will be a folder of audio and/or MIDI files that you then send on over to me for import into Pro Tools. Here are some general instructions on how to print stems, but you might want to look up more information about your specific DAW to ease the process.
How to Print Stems:
- Figure out how many tracks you will send to me. I will need at the very least: one audio file for each audio track (the clean version), and at least two files for each MIDI track (one audio and one MIDI file).
You’ll want to send over clean versions of all your audio tracks. “Clean” means they don’t have any effects on them, like reverb or compression or EQ, etc. If you want to send over effects tracks for those audio tracks (so tracks with just the reverb for an audio track, for example), then you will want to create tracks for that as well. I also recommend removing any automation you have on your tracks (for example, volume or panning automation). If you have MIDI tracks in your session, I’ll want one MIDI file for each track, and the audio version of that MIDI track as well. I ask for these two versions of each MIDI track because then I can reference what sort of sound you were aiming for by listening to the audio file version. I also ask for this because sometimes I replace your sounds using the MIDI file, but sometimes I incorporate the audio file version into the mix.
- Consolidate your tracks. What this means, is that you’re going to modify all these tracks so that they all start at the same point in time within your session (usually the very beginning of the session). This is so I can easily line them up within Pro Tools later.
Find the end of your piece, and highlight all tracks from that end point until the very beginning of your session. Depending on your DAW, there’s usually a function called something like “consolidate”, usually within the “Edit” menu. If you choose that option, you’ll notice that your files that start later on in the session will now extend from their previous start locations until the beginning of your highlighted region, with silent audio or empty MIDI created to fill the previously empty space. Once you have all your files (audio and MIDI) extended so that they all start at the same point in time….
- Export your files! Now you can export or bounce out your files. You can either export each track one at a time, or figure out how to use your specific DAW to export them as separate files all at once. The end result should be that each of these tracks are their own file. Put them all in a folder, and label your folder. If you’re sending me multiple songs, make sure each song gets its own folder, so we can easily keep straight which files belong to which song.
- Send the files on over! Now you’re all done, and can send your files over to me. To send larger files within a folder, I recommend using Filemail.com. It’s free and easy, and you don’t even need an account on their site to use them. Please send files to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!