Jump to content
  • 0
Dave G

How to "preserve" finished projects?

Question

So, let's assume I've finished a MIDI project (no audio tracks, just MIDI notation) and exported to MP3. I'll also want to archive the project...

I'd want to store the project in a way that's open to revisions as necessary, maintaining all the resources I've used (VST instruments, plugins, effects, etc.)

These resources are not "embedded" in the project in any way. Therefore, keeping a raw version of my project would mean also keeping all associated VST's and plugins (and Sonar, for those VST's not included in CbB) fully intact.

This concept seems to me a daunting task just to keep my projects "complete" for future use...and for all time. Otherwise, they'll be missing some of the aforementioned components.

I've heard talk about bouncing/freezing tracks. Would this function help "preserve" my projects to ensure nothing goes missing? If so, what's the difference between the two functions? And in doing so, would I ever be able to convert the tracks back to MIDI notation form?

And if bouncing/freezing is necessary, would I apply effects (reverb/delay, etc.) before or after?

The problem is, converting my tracks to audio format makes me uneasy -- if this means permanently rendering the MIDI notes uneditable. Most likely, I'd want to keep those tracks in MIDI notation form so they would be always be open to editing.

Anyway, when I do eventually finish my projects, I'll want to have them saved in a way that's final but still open for future edits. As said, my biggest concern is remembering to have all the included  resources installed at all times.

How does one archive and adequately preserve a Cakewalk project they've finished -- MIDI notation or not -- with these concerns in mind?

Please advise. Thank you in advance! ūüėä

Edited by Dave G

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

14 answers to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 0

Simple MIDI projects are easy to preserve as noted. But if you have specific instruments & FX you want to save as well...

To archive, simply  keep a back up copy of the project folder on another drive or CD/DVD.

CbB uses Per-Project Audio Folders, and keeps all project files and folders within the main project folder.

To preserve plugins you can freeze or bounce the tracks which will lock them in place "audibly", but you won't be able to edit the parameters without unfreezing & reusing the same plugins at a later date. And you'll now have wave files in the project.

 

FWIW I don't use Instrument tracks, but separate MIDI & Synth tracks. Freezing these maintains your MIDI & audio in separate tracks.

Freezing Instrument (combined MIDI & Synth) tracks doesn't loose the MIDI data, it just locks it in rendered form. You can later unfreeze it to edit the MIDI. However, under the right conditions the freeze/unfreeze function can fail so I personally don't trust this method... anymore.

Bundle files are not recommended for archiving. They can become problematic or corrupted over time.

Edited by sjoens
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

One idea re preserving your midi, you could duplicate the midi track before doing any rendering etc, and keep it as is. You could archive it, hide it out of the way, put midi duplicates in a folder. I never freeze so cant comment on freezing. I have opened very old projects and found fx or instruments missing that i no longer have installed so i get your concern. For me i have better instruments and fx now so don’t mind, but every now and then i like the old sound better. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

I believe that if you've exported to MP3, then it is audio. MIDI itself makes no sounds; it must be played through some sort of synthesizer which makes the sounds. You probably already knew that.
Furthermore, no VST or DX synths or effects are saved in any format, just references to where they are on the computer.

Saving MIDI as .mid should open and play forever on a MIDI-capable machine, but the synths won't be there. Saving a Cakewalk by Bandlab project as a .cwp or .cwb should open in any Cakewalk program, but not on any old computer without Cakewalk. Just a note about .cwb (bundle) files. There have been reports of instability with them, but I've never had a problem.

I would save my songs as audio and .mid, mixed down and separate tracks to CD, DVD, external hard drives, thumb drives, the cloud, etc. if I wanted to preserve them for a semi-eternity.

All that being said, I'm on my first cup of coffee and may be blowing wind.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

What Greg said. Saving a project as a midi file is 100% future proof. Example I still can open midi files I made on an Atari in 1985. With very little fuss I can add instruments and it’s good to go. 
 

With pure midi projects most of your work is in that midi data. 

I also take all my projects even if they have audio and use “Save As “. And uncheck the Copy Audio box and save them to OneDrive. This gives me my midi backing tracks complete with instruments and effects and leaving the audio tracks blank but all ready to go to lay down new material. 
This works especially well for midi only projects.  I have over 200 CWP files stored on OneDrive and they take up very little space. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
13 hours ago, treesha said:

One idea re preserving your midi, you could duplicate the midi track before doing any rendering etc, and keep it as is. You could archive it, hide it out of the way, put midi duplicates in a folder.

Just for clarification, by "MIDI track", you're referring to a "project" track, not as in "single MIDI instrument" track, correct?

11 hours ago, 57Gregy said:

Furthermore, no VST or DX synths or effects are saved in any format, just references to where they are on the computer.

I would save my songs as audio and .mid, mixed down and separate tracks to CD, DVD, external hard drives, thumb drives, the cloud, etc. if I wanted to preserve them for a semi-eternity.

I kind of figured that there'd be no way to "lock in" my VST's and plugins to the project, rather than them be fetched outside the DAW from where they're stored.

9 hours ago, John Vere said:

What Greg said. Saving a project as a midi file is 100% future proof. Example I still can open midi files I made on an Atari in 1985. With very little fuss I can add instruments and it’s good to go.
I also take all my projects even if they have audio and use “Save As “. And uncheck the Copy Audio box and save them to OneDrive. This gives me my midi backing tracks complete with instruments and effects and leaving the audio tracks blank but all ready to go to lay down new material.

Thanks to all for your explanation. Although I have trouble putting my thoughts into words, I hope you understand my concern when it comes to keeping these projects "whole". I just wish the options were more finite, convenient, and clear cut.

I completely agree that MIDI files are 100% future proof, but when including the instruments and drum kits from several libraries, things will get complicated. This is the part I find cumbersome, that I have to keep all VST's installed for each project -- every single add-on + Sonar -- or the project isn't complete. Like a special recipe that has to have all the ingredients included all the time, or it fails.

So I'm guessing that my options are:

  1. Keep my MIDI versions accessible (but also keep all the included VST's installed)
  2. Bounce all the tracks to audio, thereby permanently losing notation editing ability, but editing clips instead (and not worry about VST's)
  3. As Treesha suggested, keep both MIDI + audio versions of each project (more files to keep track of)

Am I understanding this right?

Because with either option, I'll have a mess on my hands. I think the complication lies within how to save/store the projects in the simplest, cleanest way feasible. Kind of overwhelming. And this means, if I'm willing to lay down the notes and convert them to audio and leave it that way, I'll really have to commit to my decisions.

In that respect, I'll have to evaluate how many VST's I'm using and minimize those resources... (TTS-1, Cakewalk Sound Center + 19 add-on packs, Studio Instruments Suite, Session Drummer and Addictive Drums)

So I do have one remaining question: My project is all Simple Instrument Tracks. When I bounce the project to audio, do I have to bounce each track to its own audio track, or can I bounce the entire project/mix to one track before export? (I may have more questions on this later, as I'm confused.)

I know I'm overthinking, but it just feels to me that's necessary for such a big decision when it's time. Thanks for your responses. :)

Edited by Dave G

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Im not sure i fully understand your post, so i was just addressing the concern that you would like to open a saved project and be able to access and edit the midi data in the project in the future. I was suggesting that you preserve a duplicate of a midi track in the project before you render the midi into audio. Then it is there as midi when you open the project in the future.  You can archive it, hide it, put it in a folder in the project to be out if the way but its there if you want it someday. Its really not a mess, you can bounce to audio using the midi and its vst, and keep a copy of the midi. As for long term storage i keep my song project folders on 2 usb external hard drives saved as .cwp I dont do midi only recordings so have never saved a project as midi. Are you short on space that keeping instrument vsts on your computer is an issue? The ones you mention dont seem overwhelming. As you say to work on a song later and play the midi or redo the midi and bounce to audio anew you need the ones you used to be installed or reinstalled. I think its common to use multiple vsts in a project and reopening later goes fine if they are installed or reinstalled. (I would be surprised if ppl uninstall vsts after finishing a project. I think ppl keep installing more of them myself included ha). So save the project however you choose (midi only or midi/audio or only audio) and keep the vsts installed and all should be fine to reopen revisit. Hope that helps

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

That’s a very small list of VST’s compared to the majority of users. Someone just posted about their collection of 1,600 VST’s. 
 

I never have to freeze tracks. But I’m not doing movie scores either. Just pop songs. Those are at the most 16 -24 tracks.  Everybody  is different.  And I also don’t use more than  about 12 different VST instruments or 12 different effects. 
I have about 6x that installed but I stick  with my favourites. 
So I’m not overly concerned about retrieving sounds in the future. 
I have old projects I’ll open and I never use what I had originally used anyway. I move on to newer stuff. It’s always better. 
So what you might want to do is use the track note pad and write out what that track used and the settings etc. it’s found in the inspector. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

I can't imagine going back and revising long finished songs. I try not to be like Wordsworth who couldn't stop messing with the Prelude or Whitman and his perpetual revisions of Leaves of Grass.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Everyone is different. I think the downside of all this free powerful software is it leads to folks making things way more complicated than they need to be. 
A great song can be 1 track with no effects. There’s a million examples of this from the past.  
Myself I was happy with an 8 track and a compressor and reverb in the rack. Running a small studio taught me that it’s all about the talent and performance not the gear. 
I used the same set up for dozens and dozens of recording sessions using the same room, mikes and gear. There’s a huge difference between all those recording that is only due to what was on the other side of the glass. 
Ah but there we go again, old farts complaining about how these youngsters not having a clue about the art of recording .  Apologies to the OP this has nothing to do with your issue. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
14 hours ago, Dave G said:

Keep my MIDI versions accessible (but also keep all the included VST's installed)

Saving as  MIDI file will allow you to open the MIDI on just about any computer or DAW. When I double-click a .mid it will open and play in Windows Media Player or Groove Music without a problem, except the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth sounds are not so good. You would also still have access to the notation, which is part of the MIDI standard. And open them in just about any modern DAW.
 

 

15 hours ago, Dave G said:

Bounce all the tracks to audio, thereby permanently losing notation editing ability, but editing clips instead (and not worry about VST's)

Not if you also saved the MIDI.
In most of my projects, I bounce down or record all my MIDI to audio, archive and hide the MIDI and soft synth tracks. Keeping it all audio is easier for me to mix.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
19 hours ago, treesha said:

I was suggesting that you preserve a duplicate of a midi track in the project before you render the midi into audio. Then it is there as midi when you open the project in the future.  You can archive it, hide it, put it in a folder in the project to be out if the way but its there if you want it someday. Its really not a mess, you can bounce to audio using the midi and its vst, and keep a copy of the midi. As for long term storage i keep my song project folders on 2 usb external hard drives saved as .cwp I dont do midi only recordings so have never saved a project as midi. Are you short on space that keeping instrument vsts on your computer is an issue? The ones you mention dont seem overwhelming. As you say to work on a song later and play the midi or redo the midi and bounce to audio anew you need the ones you used to be installed or reinstalled. I think its common to use multiple vsts in a project and reopening later goes fine if they are installed or reinstalled. (I would be surprised if ppl uninstall vsts after finishing a project. I think ppl keep installing more of them myself included ha). So save the project however you choose (midi only or midi/audio or only audio) and keep the vsts installed and all should be fine to reopen revisit. Hope that helps

There is no issue of hard drive space at all. I'm just trying to determine the best way to archive my work once it's finished. The main point, having to have all those VST's installed if I should ever have to edit the archived MIDI track.

I believe I further understand the function of bouncing my MIDI instrument tracks to audio, as I researched this and tried it a bit yesterday.

6 hours ago, John Vere said:

That’s a very small list of VST’s compared to the majority of users. Someone just posted about their collection of 1,600 VST’s. 
So what you might want to do is use the track note pad and write out what that track used and the settings etc. it’s found in the inspector. 

That's correct; I don't have a lot of VST's I'm using instruments from. However, for the sake of simplicity, I may opt to leave Session Drummer and SI Drums out of the equation completely, because Addictive Drums is far superior, from what I can tell.

Your suggestion to utilize the notepad is a very smart idea. I was pleased to see it recorded the actual creation date of my project. :) If only Windows would maintain the file creation date (vs. Modified date) in that manner. If you have a file you save over and over again, you know what I mean.

Whether it be inside or outside the DAW, I may somehow keep notes of all the VST's and instruments I'm using in case those need to stay installed. Then again, for the audio only versions of my projects, those won't matter.

6 hours ago, bdickens said:

I can't imagine going back and revising long finished songs. I try not to be like Wordsworth who couldn't stop messing with the Prelude or Whitman and his perpetual revisions of Leaves of Grass.

Because I consider myself a perfectionist, there's always the likelihood of changing something that doesn't need changed. Working a large project with so many variables and functions, the fear of doing something incorrectly and having to fix it is not just daunting, but quite paralyzing. This is why I have to question how to archive my projects and whether I want to preserve the notation. Because I know that strictly saving as audio only means losing the ability to edit them on a note level. I am aware that preserving these projects as audio tracks still allows for some editing capability, such as effects and volume. But that matter has already been discussed.

I'll let you in on some background. In the 90's, I composed several tracks in Voyetra Digital Orchestrator -- back then, one MIDI file, GM instrument set only, no external add-ons whatsoever. I knew nothing about mixing. After exporting the finished tracks to MP3, I foolishly discarded the MIDI files. Then, I gradually realized how unbalanced and poorly mixed those tracks are and wished I could correct them. When Sonar came around, I decided to remix all my old tracks for today's DAW, but I had to rewrite them all from scratch. I don't want that to happen again. This is why I have to decide archiving as MIDI vs. audio (and/or both).

For the average composer, I'm sure it's not as concerning. But for myself, I have to second-guess every decision, especially if it's permanent. Just want to do it all right.

5 hours ago, John Vere said:

Everyone is different. I think the downside of all this free powerful software is it leads to folks making things way more complicated than they need to be. 
A great song can be 1 track with no effects. There’s a million examples of this from the past.  
Ah but there we go again, old farts complaining about how these youngsters not having a clue about the art of recording .  Apologies to the OP this has nothing to do with your issue. 

Whether relevant or irrelevant, I do appreciate the conversation and the ongoing information. This is valuable to my education in this hobby. :)

5 hours ago, 57Gregy said:

Saving as  MIDI file will allow you to open the MIDI on just about any computer or DAW. When I double-click a .mid it will open and play in Windows Media Player or Groove Music without a problem, except the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth sounds are not so good. You would also still have access to the notation, which is part of the MIDI standard. And open them in just about any modern DAW.

In most of my projects, I bounce down or record all my MIDI to audio, archive and hide the MIDI and soft synth tracks. Keeping it all audio is easier for me to mix.
 

I'm aware of the flexibility of MIDI files; it's simply a question of how to preserve the finished work. Not to beat a dead horse, just fielding everyone's input. :)

What I've learned here is: it comes down to saving the MIDI tracks (and all the VST's remain installed) or saving audio only (satisfied with my work and committing to the finished product). But furthermore, being awfully meticulous in mixing it properly before "setting it in stone".

Whatever the solution and the reason, I just want to finish my projects to my best ability but also keep them open for editing.

I know there's a lot of contradictory thought, confusion, and skepticism in my reasoning. It's hard to explain, but it's all part of the learning process. I will say, pertaining to my need for control, it's a huge thought process...even considering my music is strictly for personal enjoyment and no professional ventures whatsoever. :)

Edited by Dave G
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

If hard disk space is really not the issue, have you thought about periodically creating complete disk images? If you keep just your music-related stuff on a relatively small SSD, you should have space for literally dozens of disk images on a regular hard disk or cloud repository. Having said that, I don't know whether what you seem to want is truly possible, seeing as neither VST copy-protection measures nor future operating system revisions are completely knowable.

Last month I built some Cakewalk projects from scores I wrote out in a manuscript book in 1978-1981; good old paper and pencil saving the day. I might well have compact cassette recordings of the same material, but finding them and being able to play them might not be as simple as poring over the staves. The point is, if there really is a good reason to resurrect old material, you will do it regardless of the amount of work it takes -  if the need is there, and OCD notwithstanding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
21 hours ago, Dave G said:

What I've learned here is: it comes down to saving the MIDI tracks (and all the VST's remain installed) or saving audio only (satisfied with my work and committing to the finished product). But furthermore, being awfully meticulous in mixing it properly before "setting it in stone".

I don't think that's what folks are telling you, it's not either-or.  Save both....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

This has been quite a revealing and educational discussion!

I was just going to note that I've probably been doing a lot of overthinking about it. I think it is a wise idea to save MIDI and audio copies.

Besides, that process won't happen for quite a while. Right now, my priority is remixing my old 90's tracks as indicated above -- and finishing several new tracks.

Thanks, everyone, for the insight! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

√ó
√ó
  • Create New...