With the help of Bob Clearmountain and Ryan Freeland, Apogee hasreleased Session Tools 2.0 ($349), a FileMaker-based databaseprogram that addresses important aspects of managing a recordingstudio. FileMaker-based programs are inherently clunky comparedwith standalone applications. However, it's obvious thatexperienced studio professionals who know how to organize relevantinformation designed Session Tools.
The program provides Client and Project databases, Session WorkOrders (along with related invoices and studio supplies forms), andTape Library and Equipment Maintenance logs. You will also find alabeling system for tapes and disks, track sheets, and templates inwhich you can note and recall settings for popular outboardgear.
The outboard gear recall sheets, which are bundled withtemplates for a number of ubiquitous studio components, areparticularly useful. You can create custom equipment templates byimporting your own drawings. This is an especially handy feature ifyou must constantly recall old, obscure outboard gear.
The program does not attempt to function as a completebookkeeping package; instead, at the end of a project, it generatesclear and accurate invoices specially tailored for studio sessions,provided you correctly entered all the relevant session data(hours, rates, additional billable supplies, and so on). Theprimary invoice form includes a multitude of rate categories thatcover hourly recording, a daily lockout rate, mixing, editing,copying, and transfers. A simpler alternate version is available ifyou don't require such excruciating detail.
For instance, if you run an ADAT-based demo or project facility,you probably won't have much use for a detailed maintenance log orequipment rental list. However, a commercial recording studio ofany size can benefit from this program. For those who run a largecommercial facility, the program offers several features tosimplify the facility's operation considerably. For example, anengineer experiencing problems with a piece of gear can activate aTrouble Alert within the Maintenance History section and enternotes describing the problem. The Find Trouble button lets youimmediately find out which units are having problems.
At the more prosaic end of the spectrum, the Time Sheet sectionfunctions as a time clock would and keeps track of the hours astudio's staff worked. It is possible to network Session Tools byinstalling one main server copy; then you can install satellitecopies on your networked machines, which share information from theserver copy.
If you need a program to help manage your studio, make SessionTools your first choice for evaluation. It's a professional pieceof software written by people with real-world experience, and itsdesign and feature set reflect that.