A few related questions have been asked before, but I can't find any threads discussing Stems and backup practices in a more focused manner. I'm just curious as to what all of your practices are after a mix is completed and what stems you save in the long term.

Working here in TV land, I usually keep the full sessions for a decent length of time, but permanently back up a set of stems that I bounce out of the final mix session. This usually includes a single channel Dialogue stem, 5.1 and stereo Ambeince/Background stems, 5.1 and stereo FX+Foley stem (I usually don't have to do to much in the way of foley work, so I just lump it in with my effects). Typically in the past, for stuff at work anyways, all automation is enabled when I bounce out these stems. I do that because we almost never remix something down the road. The stems are more of a backup to reproduce the final mix if necessary after something catastrophic happens; in which case I'll have to get a new one at break neck speed. At least that way all I have to do drop it on a timeline and bounce.

So what do you do, do you keep premix stems or just final mix stems? I'm looking for some good ideas to steal. ;)

2 Answers 2


We keep all sessions and stems as long as our backup drives will last (2 copies of each drive). There's a whole closet full of drives and it's pretty bizarre how far back you might go due to a random client request.

Additionally (maybe of interest to you), we're the local audio storehouse for a fairly large indie film company. The post for their films takes place all over the world, but they have each facility send us the final elements after completion. We archive those films here and then they call us any time they need to recall assets, post files for trailers, etc. The original hard drive ends up permanently stored at a large post company in CA, but is stored here in NYC for them to have easy access (my guess is that our services are cheaper than those in CA).


I keep a copy of (Save Copy In so I get all the audio files too) all my mix ProTools sessions for starters. Stems are a little different though.

We have a 24p workflow from edit - tracklay - mix and the stems get routed/recorded in ProTools and put onto HDCAMSR (Mix, M&E, Music, Effects, Dialogue). I then import them into a PAL and NTSC session for delivery.

The ProTools 24p sessions and PAL/NTSC stems get put onto a backup HDD until the series is delivered then is burnt to BluRay.

Then I re-import the BluRay to ensure it's grand and wipe my drives of the show.

A full 52 episode (12 mins each) normally takes 4/5 BluRay discs (at €20/$27 each) to archive. Around €100/$134 to archive a series isn't that bad and safer than a HDD I think.

Last week I had a first and had to re-layback our HDCAMSR master of a show and the system obviously works as the PT session fired straight up without a problem.

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