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Snapshots: Part 1


Say you have a complex, multi-track project with lots of different sections - a multi-part vocal section, an orchestral section, a guitar section and, of course, the many tracks that make up the drums section. Suppose you want to solo each of these sections quickly and to go between each of the soloed sections without having to keep cursoring through your tracks, however well organized, to unsolo this and solo that. Or say you need to produce several variations of a multi-layered sound effect that differ either in perspective, pitch or something else for a game. Say you have built a complex effects chain and want to experiment with the effects in different orders, quickly swapping between the possibilities for comparison. Say you want to trial different effects on a mix to compare them or that you've had two completely different ideas of how to mix a song and want to compare them side by side to see which is better. Enter snapshots, a feature of SWS that basically allows you to set presets for your project.

Snapshots allow you to capture the volume, pan, sends, effects including automation, mutes, solo state, even the visibility and selection state of tracks within your project and save them for instant recall. You can pick which tracks are saved with your snapshot and you can add tracks to a snapshot later if you add new ones. The important thing to remember is that, if you delete a track, recalling a snapshot will not reconstitute that track for you. Also, snapshots do not save anything to do with items, takes or their properties and effects. Snapshots are just a tool to aid your workflow at the mixing stage.

Thanks to David Eagle and Johanna Heranen for reporting the discovery that, at the time of writing this article, although snapshots will save routing between tracks, they will not retain information on send volume automation or whether the parent send is enabled or disabled. Although this has not been investigated yet, this probably means that, should you change the channels to which a track is sent or whether or not the send is post-fade, this will not be retained either.

It is possible to configure what parameters are saved as part of a snapshot and what parameters are recalled so that you can not only compare two full mixes, but also aspects of two mixes while combining others to get the best of both. This article, however, will explain how to save snapshots that capture the states of all the parameters mentioned above and how to switch between them quickly.

Creating a Snapshot

Once you have parameters set as you want them, i.e. once you have created a version of your mix, press control alt shift n, which will bring up a dialogue in which you can enter a name for your snapshot. Simply press okay and the snapshot will be saved. Then you will need to press escape to exit the snapshots window and return to your work. Snapshots save as part of your project so any collaborator with SWS will be able to access them too.

From there, you have three choices you can either:

  • Continue making changes and save them as an alternative snapshot by repeating the steps above.
  • Make some changes and decide you don't like them and revert to the state captured in your snapshot by pressing control alt numpad 8 with the num lock on, which will recall the current snapshot.
  • Or make changes and decide that they should overwrite the snapshot you saved, in which case you press alt shift s, which will save over the current snapshot.

Toggling between snapshots

Once you have a number of snapshots saved, you can toggle between them by using control alt numpad 7 and 9, which recall the previous and next snapshots respectively. When you press these keys, all the settings that differe between the snapshots will change instantly, allowing you to compare wildly different mixes very efficiently. Alternatively, you can bring up the snapshots window by pressing alt numpad enter which will put you in the list of snapshots you have created. Pressing enter on any item in that list will recall it, allowing you to compare snapshot 1 with snapshot 26 without having to cycle through the ones in-between. Immediately following this list in the tab order, there is a new button, which allows you to create a new snapshot, a next and previous button, which perform the same functions as the aforementioned shortcuts and move up and move down buttons, which allow you to change the order of snapshots in the list.

Transferring Snapshots

It is possible to copy snapshots between projects. Simply recall the snapshot you wish to copy, press alt shift c, switch to the project into which you wish to paste the snapshot and press alt shift v. If there are fewer tracks in the receiving project, you will be warned that not all the snapshot items can be recalled, which also happens if you delete tracks and then try to recall a snapshot that needs them. This is simply a notification which offers you the chance to edit the snapshot such that it conforms to the new number of tracks. You would have to reconstitute missing tracks manually.


in the next part of this tutorial, we will learn how to pick and choose which settings we recall and save and how to combine features of different snapshots to synthesize an even better mix.

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Page last modified on February 25, 2017, at 01:34 PM