Today, being productive is imperative. Fortunately, it is also easily doable, with the proper planning and the right tools. Batch processing, automation and accessible recall are all extremely important and can save you a lot of time and headaches.
But after working in the audio industry over the past few years, I’ve found that a handful of free third-party applications that exist outside the DAW are now crucial to my daily workflow as well. And I’m sure that if you try them out, you will begin to integrate them into your workflow too.
Media Human Converter is an application for OSX and Windows that converts your audio files to pretty much any file type you want: WAV, AIFF, WMA, MP3, FLAC, OGG, and more.
The interface is extremely simple and the functionality is completely intuitive. Just drag your files in, select the file output type, hit “convert” and boom: You’re done!
Some of the bells and whistles include the ability to send files directly to your iTunes library, perform built-in searches of Discogs, Last.fm, and Google Images for cover art and track details, as well as a take advantage of Cue Sheet export options for those who might be working in audio post.
I use this app on a daily basis, whether it’s converting tracks to Apple Lossless to send clients my progress on their mix, converting WAVs to 320kbps mp3 to fit a large number of files on my phone for the road, or for converting WMA files to anything else if I’m working with someone who uses Windows. MediaHuman Converter is probably the best one-trick pony you’ll find on this farm.
In the course of turning out project after project, it is easy to become inundated with incredible numbers of files.
Whether its sample libraries for composers, music libraries for DJs or sound effects libraries for post-production houses, these are the digital filing cabinets we strive to keep organized in order to maintain a steady workflow.
But what happens when your hard drive runs out of space and you can’t seem to find what’s taking up all the room? You download Disk Inventory X, a German program that displays your files and folders in a novel geographical format called “treemaps”. You can quickly and easily sort files by their type or size, and even by how many files are inside of them, or you can simply click to see what your largest or smallest files are.
Cloud storage quickly developed into a force to be reckoned with when it finally became easy to access in the mid 2000s.
There are dozens of great cloud storage applications out there—Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, iCloud, etc—and at the root, they all do the same thing. Whichever you choose to use all comes down to personal preference. I personally prefer Google Drive for a few reasons:
First, they offer 15GB free, which is a lot when you’re dealing with audio. If, for whatever reason, you need more than 15GB, they offer a variety of cloud size options that other cloud storage apps don’t such as 1TB for $1.99 a month.
In my cloud, I have client folders that are easily accessible as long as I provide an unlisted link, plus my Pro Tools Templates, PDF Manuals, and a discography of every commercially-available recording I’ve worked on.
Not only does Google Drive let me access these files from the cloud, but it also acts as another form of backup for some of my most important files, which never hurts to have. In today’s age, it is important to be able to access certain files from anywhere in the world and Google Drive does that flawlessly and securely.
Another form of cloud storage, but centered moreso around text, is Evernote.
Evernote (which is available for both desktop and mobile) allows you to create “books” of notes, keeping them organized and easily accessible. It’s a fairly simple concept but super-helpful if you make a lot of notes.
I have found it to be great for keeping track of what deliverables which record labels usually ask for (a TV mix, a vocal +1db and the like) which deliverables TV networks ask for (dialogue split, MnE, SoT, etc). I also use it to make quick notes-to-self if a friend tells me a cool plugin to check out, or if I’m listening to a mix while traveling and hear something I want to tweak. The search functionality is also a huge help when you need to find what you’re looking for.
If you’ve ever been up all night recording or mixing, you’ve felt the strain on your eyes. It’s painful. It burns. Is that bright light the computer screen, or death at the end of a console?
Once you’re done, you’ve probably experienced just how hard it can be to unwind and get to sleep after a late night of staring into a screen that’s brighter than some lightbulbs.
Either way, f.lux is here to save you! The company’s slogan is “software to make your life better” and that’s exactly what it does.
f.lux adjusts the halogen settings on your computer screen based on the time of day by removing blue light, which prevents your eyes from tiring out and also helps you avoid screwing up your body clock by keeping you from bombarding yourself with daylight-like cues at midnight.
Give f.lux your location and tell it the hour of the day you usually wake up and go to bed, and it will create automatic settings for you based on those factors. As long as you leave it running in the background it will adjust the colors of your screen, adding more blue light during the day, and filtering it out at night to give you a softer, more sunset-like hue after hours.
After using it for a few weeks you may not even notice it. I once had an engineer walk over to my screen and say “Dude, what happened to your screen? Is it broken?” but it was just “Fluxing”. As much as mixing is a skill based on the ears, we need our eyes (and our sleep) to function properly.
The magic of the internet and all the hard work of the miniature Tron people that make it go (I assume) has enabled us to work with anyone from anywhere in the world.
That being said, not everyone works the same way. Everyone has a different computer, a different operating system, a different workflow, and different preferences. The UnArchiver acts as the great equalizer.
When sending files back and forth, most people prefer to ZIP or “compress” them so files sizes stay small and nothing gets lost in the transfer. No matter what extension you ZIP with, The UnArchiver will be able to open up the compressed files without any hassle. Owning this application is a MUST if you are a Mac user working with Windows users and vice-versa.