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Saving Time with Logic Pro 9: Templates

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This post is part of a series called Creative Session: Productivity for Music Producers.
Saving Time with Logic Pro 9: Screensets
The Good Librarian

In the precious minutes it takes from the time you have a great musical idea to loading up Logic and configuring a session, you may have lost the creative spark required to get it down and expand on it. Save yourself the hassle by creating templates that suit your way of working in Logic.

This is the second tutorial in a short series on helping you save time in Logic Pro 9. We’ll be covering:

  • Screensets — arrange Logic’s windows to suit your way of working, and reuse those settings for improved workflow.
  • Templates — the focus of this tutorial!
  • Keyboard shortcuts — finally, keyboard shortcuts can be quite hard to commit to memory, but provide you with perhaps the biggest savings in wasted time. We’ll cover this last.

What Are Templates?

Templates are essentially Logic Pro projects, but Logic treats them a little differently—it basically makes a copy of your template and renames it when you start a new project using the template as its foundation.

In addition to being able to make your own templates—which is where, in my own opinion, the real power of templates lies—Logic comes with several useful templates itself. These aren’t tailored to suit your needs or workflow, but if you don’t have your own templates yet, they can be useful.

Using the Default Templates

Logic’s default templates are divided among three groups: explore, compose and produce. Each of these sections includes an empty project option (essentially, a non-template!). Logic’s descriptions are a bit scant and it would take an hour or two to take a good look through each template, so we’ll quickly summarize what each contains for you.

Explore

  • Guitar Tones: if you’re just loading up Logic to have a jam on your guitar and perhaps come up with some new riffs, this is a pretty useful project. Setting up tracks with a variety of guitar sounds is annoying and time-consuming when you just want to get in there and have the ability to jump between various clean and heavy sounds quickly as you experiment. Guitar Tones has a decent range, and if you want something it doesn’t have, you’ll have less work to do to make one of those sounds right.
  • Instruments: this template is great for all-round exploration. It has a variety of keyboards and pianos, guitars, kits, and percussion, and synths. Each track has some default inserts set up to get the instruments sounding great from the start, and a reverb and delay effects send/return system.

Compose

  • Electronic: this template provides several kits—from classic electronic to IDM, three bass synths, and just under ten synths of the pad, lead and arpeggiator persuasion. No tracks for vocals or any real audio. This template provides three effect sends—delay, reverb and Warped FX—and four submixes to help you control your mix. Nothing worse than clipping electronica, after all! Plenty of composition specific screensets.
  • Hip Hop: this template includes a selection of kit, bass and synth software instruments, like the electronic template though using more hip-hop oriented sounds (and tracks for software choir, strings and piano often heard in some types of hip hop). There are also four vocal tracks, two for males and two for females, and a headphone mix channel. It has the same effect sends and submixes as the electronic template.
  • R&B: this template is very similar to the hip hop template in terms of its software instrument selections, though it uses different strings and keys (and has a few more options as far as pianos go). There’s a male vocal track and two backing vocal tracks, and a headphone mix channel. Again, R&B features the same effect send and submix options as other templates.
  • Rock: where the first three templates are quite similar, Rock changes the format—it includes a bunch of guitar tracks (audio, not software instruments) with insert selections creating both clean and heavy sounds. There are two software instrument drum kits but this is the first time a template includes live-sounding drums as opposed to intentionally electronic-sounding drums. A little oddly, the bass guitar tracks are software instrument tracks, of which there are two. There’s one male and one female vocal track, and a headphone mix channel. The same effect sends and submixes feature with the exception of the Warped FX send. There are also far fewer screensets this time.
  • Songwriter: You’d expect a template for the singer-songwriters of the world to be fairly sparse, but there are more tracks in this template than all the others! There are three electric guitar tracks and three for acoustic, two studio kits (software instruments), two bass guitars (also software instruments), two male vocal tracks, one female vocal track and two backing vocal tracks (and of course a headphone mix). However, like Rock, it lacks the Warped FX send—unsurprisingly.

Produce

These require less explanation of what’s inside than other templates, so I’ll be briefer.

  • Multi-track stereo production: a 24 track project, no preset instruments, includes reverb and delay sends, submixes and screensets.
  • Music for picture: features an Arrange window layout that gives you the ability to include video and sync your music to the video file. Has eight audio and eight software instrument tracks, effects, submixes and screensets.
  • Stereo mastering: simple a project for taking your bounces and mastering them on stereo tracks with a selection of inactive metering and mastering inserts on the channel strips. Great for getting the mastering on a whole CD of tracks to line up in terms of levels.
  • TDM configuration: a template designed to help you work with Digidesign TDM hardware. If you need to use this, my condolences.

Creating Your Own Templates

What if none of these templates suit you? The only one I ever use personally is the stereo mastering template. The solution is to create your own. You can start with an empty project, which is my preferred method, or you can take a project with which you were particularly happy with the workflow.

If you are going to have a lot of templates for different purposes, the first step you should take is to navigate to ~/Library/Application Support/Logic/Project Templates. This is where Logic saves your templates, and you can add folders inside this one to categorize your templates. I like to get things organized before I begin so everything has a place to go (at least for me, the alternative is that things never get organized).

Now, set up a project so that it contains everything you want to see when you open up a new project for a particular purpose. We’ll look at the various things you could do here shortly.

When you’re finished, go to the File menu and choose the option Save as Template. A dialogue box will appear allowing you to choose a name—make it something descriptive.

Your template will, by default, be placed in the aforementioned Project Templates folder. When you start a new project in Logic, you’ll see the extra templates under My Templates:

Now, move the project to one of the folders you’ve created.

Next time you start a new project in Logic, you’ll see something like this:

What to Include in Your Templates

Just to get you thinking about the various possibilities, here are some ideas:

  • Include tracks for each of the instruments you’re likely to use in any given production
  • If you have a preferred or signature sound for any of your instruments, load it up with inserts — this helps you get from opening the software to capturing ideas quickly.
  • Set up effect send/return systems that you regularly use — reverb, delay, chorus, even distortion — anything that you use.
  • Create submixes in groupings that make sense to you — drums, guitars and vocals, for instance.
  • Video track and foley tracks where appropriate
  • Include screensets that you use regularly. You could also make a screensets-only template for those times when you want to start with a blank slate musically but want to keep the screensets you’re used to.
  • If you like things organized, remember that naming conventions, color coding and so on all carry over in templates.
  • Templates set up to be ready to go with ReWire and Reason straight away.

The list of possibilities is about as long as the number of things you can do with Logic. There’s no need to be a minimalist — create a template for every occasion! If a bit of time spent now saves you time in the heat of a creative moment, you’ve done your job.

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