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Quick Tip: Enhance Your Workflow - Create Custom Templates

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This post is part of a series called Creative Session: Productivity for Music Producers.
Using a Reference Track in FL Studio

Being able to spend as little time as possible preparing a project at the beginning of every session is a strong quality of professionalism. You may have a preferred starting setup with a specific number of tracks and tools that you use in every project, taking care of these preparations in advance will save you valuable time when you are in the middle of a project and it means that you can spend more time creating and producing audio.

In this quick tip, I will cover techniques to make your Logic sessions more efficient, as you would expect, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the possibilities.


Create Your Tracks

As soon as you create a new empty project, the New Track dialog opens. You can create as many tracks as you need at once by typing the number at the top of the dialog. If you are creating audio tracks, you can set them to be mono, stereo or surround, assign inputs and outputs automatically as well as set them to open with input monitoring turned on and recording enabled.

After you have created x number of tracks, you can create additional groups of tracks by clicking the Create Track (+) button at the top of the track list. Depending on your needs, you may want your template to include a combination of Audio and Software Instrument tracks.


Customise the Toolbar

The default set of buttons that appear on the toolbar is not the whole set, you can customise the toolbar to have one-click access to some very useful features. Right-click on the toolbar and choose Customise Toolbar from the menu. The Customise Toolbar dialog appears and you can add functions to the toolbar by dragging the icons to the toolbar. When you are happy with the functions on the toolbar, click Done.

It is important to remember that adding buttons to the toolbar is a user preference so they will be present not only in your template but in all project files.


Customise the Transport Bar

Right-click on the Transport bar and choose Customise Transport bar from the menu. You can then select the checkbox of each function you want to add. If you are not familiar with some of the functions, I recommend spending some time exploring them; there may be something in there that you wish you knew about.

In contrast to adding buttons to the toolbar, when you customise the transport bar, this affects only the individual project file and will not be present in all project files. This means that the changes to your transport bar will only appear on your template.


Work with Screensets

When working on a project, we need access to editing and mixing functions. It is true that we can access these functions directly from the Arrange area, but is also true that the area can get crowded when displaying many things at once. Screensets allow you to assign window and area combinations, including all zoom settings and options, to a number key on your keyboard. Therefore, by creating a custom screenset you can switch between an area dedicated to editing to an area dedicated to mixing by pressing a single key.

By default, new projects only have one screenset. You can, for example, create a new screenset customised for mixing that still contains a small Arrange area for an overview of the project tracks. All you need to do is press the 2 key on your keyboard. Then, click the Mixer button so the mixer appears at the bottom of the arrange window. You can then switch between your two screensets by pressing 1 and 2 on your keyboard.

You can always check what screenset you are working on at any particular moment by looking at Logic's menu bar. Also, since all the options and zoom settings are saved with each screenset, after you have spent some time customising your screensets, you can lock it to prevent it from any further changes until you unlock it again


Explore Key Commands

Key Commands are not necessarily template specific; they are, however, a very important feature when it comes to customising your system. You can find out key assignments by going into the Key Commands window, which you can access from Logic > Preferences > Key Commands. When assigning key commands, it is recommended that you only do so if you find yourself performing a menu command often. Also, assign keys that provide some sort of clue to the function it will provide, like a key with a graphic representation or the first letter of the function.

There are certain functions in Logic that are only available via key commands and are not available as menu items, some of which may be useful. When looking at the list of key assignments in the Key Commands window, notice how some of the functions listed have a bullet in front of them, these are the functions that are only accessible via key commands.


Use the Tool Menus

A very important part of every project is the use of the tool menus. These menus are different depending on the editor or window in which you might be working at any given moment. In all cases, the tool menus appear on the upper right side of the screen. In many cases, you need to switch between tools often while editing, so being able to do this switching in an easier way is an important part of speeding up your workflow. To keep in context with this article, I will not go into details of using the tools, that will need to be covered on a different subject. I will rather mention one main customising function you could use to enhance your use of these tools.

If you use a two-button mouse, you can have a third tool menu giving you an extra access point for more editing options. You can enable this option by choosing Logic > Preferences > General and clicking the Editing tab. Click on the Right Mouse Button pop-up menu and select Is Assignable to a Tool and you will notice that a third tool menu appears next to the default and alternate tool menus.


Save the Project Template

Now that you have spent quite a bit of time customising your project, you can save it as a template for future use. Under the File menu, click Save as Template and assign a name to it. The next time you open Logic you will find a new collection labeled My Templates.


Open Projects Automatically

Even after creating many templates and building a nice selection to choose from, you may want to start your sessions with the same configuration. You can set Logic to automatically launch a given template (or empty project) on startup. Go to Logic > Preferences > General and click the Project Handling tab. Click the startup action pop-up menu and select Create New Project using Default Template. Click the Choose button and select the My Templates collection to find the template you created. The next time you open Logic, it will automatically create a new project based on your template.

This kind of admin work can save you valuable time (and maybe a headache) when you go into a new session. With time you will start building you own pack of tricks and preferred practices, being able to save these as your own portfolio and to create easy access to them is definitely a powerful aspect of Logic that everybody should be making use of.

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