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Open Old Projects in Bitwig Studio

Being able to revive previous work by open old projects in Bitwig Studio allows you to revert back to productions from yesteryear. However sometimes there are pitfalls which you need to look out for. I take a look at one of my early tracks and reopen it in Bitwig Studio 4.

Why would you want to open old projects in Bitwig studio?

There are so many reasons that a producer would want to open old projects in Bitwig studio, anything from a rebuild of a PC to looking back at previous creations. In my case for this article I wanted to see if I was able to revive a track which I first completed in 2014.

This track was a remix of the Otis Redding track “Sittin on the dock of the bay”. Although the track needs no remix, and his is the original and best, it was only because I came across a sample of the vocal which gave me the inspiration to try out this “new product” called Bitwig Studio back in 2014.

Early doors

Bitwig was this up and coming product out of Berlin and was getting talked about in all the magazines, so with me getting back in to music production after a 15 or so year gap, I thought I’d give it a try.

I was an early adopter to the software and I love it. I’ve see it come on leaps and bounds. The question is, will the project I did back then in Bitwig 1 now open in Bitwig Studio 4?

Well the first challenge is to find the actual project file. I’ve been through a number of laptop rebuilds, and also moved from Mac to PC in the space of 7 years (now in 2021 at the time of writing) and so being able open old projects in Bitwig Studio would be an interesting task.

I eventually managed to find the project file on a NAS drive in my house. This was great news, as all my old files and samples were in there. This goes to making sure you have good secure backups of your files in case you ever need to do a restore.

I copy this file over to my current working laptop and import the contents using the file open option from the Bitwig Studio menu.

Everything Loads!

Hey presto, the file opens and it’s all there!! Or is it?

open old projects in Bitwig Studio
It opens, but there are missing plugins and missing samples.

So it all opens ok but I’m missing some things. I’m missing the following:

  • Some VST instruments
  • Some samples – more importantly, I’m missing the sample of Otis Redding’s vocals! That’s the main part of this track.

Not to stress, it’s ok. I know that I have my Sample Library backed up on my laptop as I keep it in sync with my Google Drive (totally recommend BTW, saved my a** a few times). This means that my samples and snips are all there, but it needs re-importing.

Find Missing Files and Samples in Bitwig Studio

The other beautiful thing when it comes to wanting to open old projects in Bitwig Studio is that if there is anything missing, Bitwig Studio will tell you:

If you check out the above gallery, you can see the Files icon in the bottom right of the screen can bring up a menu to allow you to see what is missing.

Clicking on the “Missing” tab will give you a list, then the Find All button toward the bottom will open up a Windows File Explorer (or Mac Find Files) to point to just the top level directory of where your files reside. Click ok and with any luck, the files will change from Grey to White, meaning that they are now available to use.

When you take a look in the main player window now, there should be wave patterns on the samples, indicating that they are available.

Find Missing VST Instruments in Bitwig Studio

This is the next hurdle which I faced. In my early days using Bitwig Studio, there were a lot of free plugins I was using. Additionally a lot of the Computer Music magazine freebies were in my arsenal of plugins.

I do not use these any more as I’ve become too much of a plugin junkie (check out my deals page for the latest audio plugin deals!) and so I was upgrading to the paid versions or finding alternatives from the free ones which offered more.

This meant that any plugin I no longer had installed on my PC which was included in the original file would show as “Plugin-Missing” when trying to open old projects in Bitwig Studio.

There are three ways to deal with this:

  1. Install the plugin which is missing and the program will rescan and enable it.
  2. Use the Find Missing feature again from the above and for missing plugins, use the “Replace” feature to put a new plugin on that track.
  3. Delete the original plugin and find something to replace it with. – This is my preferred method as I find it to be cleaner than method 2.

It is quite simple to replace the plugins and by now I have a suitable alternative. I had two to replace (Bass and Strings).

For the Bass I now use u-he Diva for pretty much everything. It’s my go to and is just an absolute beast.

For the strings, it was a case of loading up Reason Studios rack plugin and using Fricktion, – yes I know it’s another DAW altogether, but with Reason Rack and Bitwig together I’ve found the opportunities are endless. And also just because I love that plugin.

There are obviously plenty of native alternatives in Bitwig Studio that can be used.

With these both loaded up, it was just a case of cycling through patches to find something as near to the sound I wanted as possible.

Ready to go

So that’s it, sounds found and instruments replaced. My track plays beautifully as it is, but of course the difference now is that we are 3 versions ahead of Bitwig Studio.

So now I can take a look at the other elements which have been introduced since originally creating this track and get them added on.

Since being able to open old projects in Bitwig Studio, I can now load up The Grid and process that way. I can modulate some epic sound effects on the project. So much more is possible!

Hear my finished track up on soundcloud here (unfortunately it can’t be officially released for obvious royalty reasons!) Please share any times you open old projects in Bitwig Studio and let me know how it works for you.

Finally restored and recovered, I was able to get my track finished.

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