How To Create Sounds Like a Pro In Adobe Premiere

Man filmmakers think that audio is the last component to be bothered with, but here’s the honest trust: bad audio will make or break your film.

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Creating Excellent Sound for Films

Like a True Audio Enthusiast  

We know the drill.

Your screenplay is written brilliantly. Your cast is bounded by gifted strengths booming with characters full of life, and your cinematography is something out of a Wes Anderson coffee table book. But there’s just one thing not quite right — the dialogue is garbled, the wind and overall background noise audibly obstructs the vocals, and the levels are all over the place.

Your sound is terrible, my dude.

Many independent filmmakers think that audio is the last component of filmmaking to be bothered with, but here’s the honest trust: bad audio will make or break your film. In fact, some might argue that good sound is more important than how your film looks. Horrible picture can easily be passed off as a “stylistic choice” when accompanied by perfect audio, but the crappily recorded wind noise will make a great picture look amateurish and poorly-executed.

Forget what you think, let’s dive into what we know. Read onward for more tips on how to 1.) record audio that will turn your next indie movie into a masterpiece, and 2.) polish sound with a micro budget on Premiere Pro. Lucky for us, we brought in sound-master, Oliver Hughes, for a quick dive into his knowledge of high-grade professional sound engineering. 

Here are his tips.

Be Organized. Name your Tracks.

Good Audio 101: name your tracks and group them into categorized folders. Don’t be a ninny. Each track is just as important as the next and you don’t want to fumble with a myriad of estranged, unnamed audio files. This will make your workflow ten times easier than if you were to leave out this step. Once you export your files, do this right away.

Use Natural Audio (Camera Audio) Even with SloMo

Celebrate the way the water ripples with intentional force by capturing its methodical sound. Don’t be afraid to get creative with how the audio comes off, SloMo audio is actually quite intriguing and done more often than you think. It will give pause to an important, viable scene. It’s these kinds of critical details that will throw your film beyond the expert level.

Use a Compressor to Even Out Foley/Nat Sound

The decision to use compression should greatly depend on the tastes of the Sound/Foley Supervisor and for what medium it’s suited for. First, if you have a crew, check with who is receiving/cutting/mixing the foley. If it’s YOU — and you crave the desire to level out transient material (mainly when working on a project with a tight mix schedule and a medium with less available dynamic range) — then go for compression while tracking only 2:1/3:1 alongside a gentle threshold to catch peaks, etc.

Don’t Fear the “Track Mixer”

To work with audio, according to Adobe, first import it into a project or record it directly to a track. You can import audio clips or video clips that contain audio all you want. After the audio clips are in a project, you can add them to a sequence and edit them just like video clips. You can also view the waveforms of audio clips and trim them in the Source Monitor before adding the audio to a sequence.

You can adjust volume and pan/balance settings of audio tracks directly in the Timeline or Effect Controls panels or use the Audio Track Mixer to make mixing changes in real time. Additionally, you can also add effects to audio clips in a sequence. If you are preparing a complex mix with many tracks, consider organizing them into submixes and nested sequences (https://helpx.adobe.com).

Auto-Duck Your Music In Premiere, Then Adjust.

Enabling “Ducking” in the Essential Sound panel to automatically add audio keyframes that lower volume during dialogue is vital. If your clips show varying loudness levels, click Auto-Match in the Loudness section in the Essential Sound panel to automatically adjust loudness to a level appropriate for the audio type.

Ducking Settings:

Select the music clips and choose options that set the way audio ducking is applied.

  • Click to select the types of audio that will trigger ducking.
  • Adjust the sensitivity to set the responsiveness of the ducking.
  • Adjust the amount that the level will be reduced by.
  • Set the duration of fades between different audio levels.

Adjust accordingly. Be sure that no levels are above -6dBfs, which we’ll get to in the next tip.

Watch Your Output Levels

You’ll never want you output levels above -6dBfs.

To watch for this, in the Adobe Timeline panel, for each audio track, click the Show Keyframes button. Then choose Show Track Keyframes, or Show Track Volume from the drop-down menu. Toward the bottom left of the Audio Track Mixer panel, click the Play button to play the sequence and monitor its audio (https://helpx.adobe.com).

Turn your headphone/speaker volume down to almost nothing, and if you can still hear everything, you’ve got a good mix.

Always FADE Your Cuts

Working with audio transitions in Adobe Premiere Pro is simple. To fade in a clip's audio, drag an audio transition from the Effects panel to a Timeline panel so that it snaps to the point of the audio clip. You can also select the applied transition in a Timeline panel. Then, in the Effect Controls panel choose Start At Cut from the Alignment menu (https://helpx.adobe.com).

Film Life Drop #35

Inspired by mobile filmmakers, Film Life is about staying stoked and creating memories. It’s about traveling…a lot…and never without a camera. That crisp audio. Good natural light. Cheap adventures. All with the gear you need to make better films with your camera phone.

This collection of goods is primarily inspired by technical sound engineering — probed by all the necessities to making one epic mobile video: tools for better audio, packable tripods, and changing light.

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