When I was starting to bake regularly, I tended to use what my wife describes as, “Every bowl in the goddamn house.” This is hyperbole, there were still one or two in the cabinets. Somewhere. This caused problems, from mixing the wrong ingredients, mismeasuring, and the dreaded, “Wait, what’s that and when was I supposed to add it?” I learned to prepare better, “Okay, this is 12 ingredients, but only 4 need to be scaled (ahahahaha, no, they all go on the scale now. I was so young…), and I can do this in 4 bowls.” Now it’s usually two, one for wet, one for dry. Prep gets done first, and no more little bowls for every ingredient like you see on TV. Fewer dishes to wash, less chance of forgetting something, and a better result thanks to 90 seconds of planning. Walk through the procedure. What should I expect when I do this? What do I need to do and is there a time limit?
I apply that to my job, too. I don’t buy a lot of plugins. In fact, I only used stock plugins for about a dozen years. “What could you need that isn’t built in to PT or Sound Forge?” I thought. I only bought a couple. Then a couple more… Then Waves Gold and suddenly I’m up to my eyeballs in chorus effects I never use. Sure my PT > SF > Reaper > RX > Reaper workflow was pretty clever, but then I had to hand it off to someone and she wasn’t about to buy Sound Forge to run one script, and oh, right, it has to be exactly the same version because I left this bug in there, and then the namespace changed… Flour everywhere. Egg whites on the ceiling.
So I took a step back. Simple dialog setup, one compressor, one EQ, some clever ReaScript, that’s it. Cut the chain down to as few links as possible. Use tools with as few dependencies as possible, especially paid dependencies. Design a workflow that doesn’t switch tools too much, and only has hands on, audio experience required, on steps that are worth doing by hand. If the computer can do it, let it. If the student can do it, let him. Putting every task on my plate just made me busy, managing a workflow that was unsustainable. It meant dragging an Ilok around from machine to machine, not being able to sync projects to my work laptop, and running into annoying $400 barriers. Good tools pay for themselves, but that doesn’t mean you need to break out the big guns for every project. Except RX, RX is magic.