I am doing final mixes for one project right now and I am also starting final mixes on another project in a few weeks time. Like many others in our field I am starting to lose the thread of all the changes that can occur to a project as it goes through its life. This is due, in part, to the volatile nature of the recording process today. Unlike 20 years ago, where it was very clear what constituted professional recording, we now have an amazing array of technologies, delivery formats and widely ranging engineering skills. So just what do you deliver your finals on these days? And how do you document your finals? In most cases the record companies still dictate these terms.
The P&E wing of the Recording Academy created the Delivery Recommendations for Master Recordings as a specification for transitional and archival storage of master recordings. You can find the full recommendation here. I had a few of my friends participate in the committee.
One item of interest is the need to ensure that each track should be “flattened” as a continuous Broadcast Wave File without processing or automation. In audio engineering we often slice discrete audio tracks into fragments. I have come across many projects where the original track is completely lost. All that is left is the edited and processed track. The original performance is gone forever!