Nathaniel Kunkel InSession: Save As…Archive

Nathaniel Kunkel Writes About Audio Production Archiving Standards in May 2009 EM issue
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One of the unfortunate chores at the end of any DAW-based music project is the creation of the archive files. I adhere to the NARAS delivery protocol.

While some might deviate from that standard, most people have similar tasks in front of them between the final mix and long-term storage.

I cannot stress how important it is to create archive files. Without making our files platform agnostic, we cannot guarantee that they will survive and be supported in future wares from DAW manufacturers. That is just a fact.

I don't want to get too much into what the possible delivery standards are and what will work for you. You can do that research yourself, beginning with the link above. What I want to do here is plead with the DAW manufacturers of the world: make this process easier, whatever our ultimate archive scheme is.

Give us a Save As Archive function. It takes days to create an archive file set, and what we want is pretty consistent. We need the files to be consolidated from the top to the tail, we need them to be the same length, and we need options on plug-ins and automation rendering. Even if it's not perfect, give us something.

It could have a preferences pane like other functions do, and the command would output a folder with a session file and an audio directory full of files of identical length. The preferences pane could look something like what is shown here.

It would also be great if there were a way to batch process this function. That way, I could drag a bunch of sessions into a queue and go to bed while the computer does all the work. Then I could write an AppleScript that automatically makes a Zip file that gets uploaded to my servers. Hello, productivity; good-bye, I-have-been-making-archives-for-12-hours errors.

The other thing that this option would provide is a more streamlined stem-print work flow. If you mix in the box and render all your automation and plug-ins to stereo files, you'll have individual track stems, with one menu selection.

I know that this may seem like a lot to ask for, but it is one of the few features that a DAW manufacturer could provide us with that would streamline the processes we dislike, as opposed to streamlining the ones we enjoy. I mean, if I have to sit in front of a machine for 6 hours, I would rather be comping a vocal than making an archive delivery.

Nathaniel Kunkel ( is a Grammy and Emmy Award-winning producer, engineer, and mixer who has worked with Sting, James Taylor, B.B. King, Insane Clown Posse, Lyle Lovett, I-Nine, and comedian Robin Williams.