thing-a-day #6: recovering old digital performer projects

I had a terrible scare tonight. None of my Digital Performer (my DAW) projects from before I moved to my new Mac would open. It suddenly felt like I’d lost 5+ years worth of musical experimentation.

After panicing a bit, I did a whole lot of research, and came up with this process. It’s slow, but it works. And it’s a thing for today since no one else has ever written it all up in one place before.

  1. Go to the Terminal and change directories to your project, for example: cd Waynemanor/DP\ Projects/Barracuda\ Project/ (If use of a UNIX command prompt and escaping spaces are new to you, you may want to read through a tutorial first.)
  2. Use ls to find the files that are your project files. In this case, I have two: Barracuda and dys4ik 2006-02-28.
  3. Install the Apple OSX Developer Tools if you don’t already have them.
  4. Use the following command: SetFile -t PERF -c MOUP <project-file-name>substituting each project name in turn.

You’re not done. Your audio files may also be corrupted. Try loading the project into DP. Still problems? Getting a Resource file was not found (-193) error? Your DPII’s resource fork got lost, probably because you copied to a non-Mac system and back. Try these steps. Some guesswork may be required.

  1. Download, install and run SoundHack.
  2. Use File > Open Any (cmd-A) to open your first sound file from the Audio Files directory.
  3. Use Hack > Header change (cmd-H) to assign the correct sample rate, number of channels and encoding. Most DP projects have single channel. You just have to know what the sample rate is (usually 44.1 or 48) and how many bits deep it is (8, 16, 24, 32 are most common). Press Save Info
  4. Select File > Save a copy (cmd-S). Be sure to set the same bit depth here as you used in the file’s header, or SoundHack will do a conversion! Save a copy somewhere else, like your desktop. Be sure to save as the same name as the original file to prevent confusion later.
  5. Navigate to where you saved the file and double-click to open in your favourite sound program. This could be QuickTime, AudioFinder, DSP-Quattro, or even DP itself. Play to make sure it sounds right. If not, you got the sample rate or number of bits wrong. Go back to SoundHack and try again.
  6. Painstakingly repeat this for each of your sound files. This could take a while.
  7. In the DP project folder, move your Audio Files folder aside. Place all of the newly patched files into a new folder called Audio Files.
  8. Try re-opening the project in DP. You should be able to pick up where you left off.
  9. Grab a cold one. You deserve it!

6 thoughts on “thing-a-day #6: recovering old digital performer projects

  1. Hi Joan –

    I have been moving older DP files from one hard drive to another over the last couple years as I’m replacing and adding new internal hard drive space. I also moved a few that were started in OS 9 to OSX (in the same G4 MDD dual 867MHz). I have been handicapped for several months, postponing some work, because I get the “file not found” message on some of the projects. Scared that I may have lost some info, and afraid that I may lose more if I do the wrong thing, I’ve just been avoiding dealing with it. It sound like the information is somewhere on one of the hard drives; I just need to have someone with a little more computer knowledge than myself, help me through some of the steps you mentioned above, correct? I now have multiple copies of the files, some on an external hard drive. Any suggestions in addition to your guidance above would be appreciated.

    Thanks… I haven’t yet found anything close to what you wrote, yet .


  2. Sure – feel free to post questions here and I’ll do what I can to help. If I have a bit more time I might script this up and make a little utility out of it.

  3. Great !

    My bug was : Error ID=-193 in digital performer because I’d saved some DP5 projects on a external disk formated in FAT32 MS-DOS.
    Not great for audio project whitch come from the mac world in HFS+.
    I use the terminal cmd explain in this post and the DP project file will be restore. After, I lauch the project file with DP5 and my session was retrieve except it doesn’t found the audio file .
    Import with cmd+A in the audio folder all the files in the Soundbite Window of DP5.
    Cool ! Evrything OK and the music start again …..

    Thanks for this help !

  4. thank you for this post. It looks very painstaking. I’m kind of pissed that I cant just open my files and they work. . . . Very unfortunate. Is there a tool that converts 3.11 to 6.01? or 7? What if I got an older version that works on OS X like 5? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you.

  5. Very interesting but I do not understand the first bit of changing the directories to my projects. Not used UNIX much. Any help for the less educated. MOTU are useless.

  6. This worked perfectly for me. Thanks for doing the research!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *