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Professional Audio Techniques for Adobe Premiere Pro

Chapter Description

This chapter will help you start to generate great audio in your program. Because you don’t always get to work with perfect audio, this chapter also features a section on how to fix common audio problems using Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition CC. From setting up your working environment to adjusting levels to adding effects, you’ll work with audio just like the pros do.

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Adobe Premiere Pro Studio Techniques

Adobe Premiere Pro Studio Techniques

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Timeline Interface

Making Timeline adjustments doesn’t add functionality that isn’t available elsewhere in Adobe Premiere Pro. But putting additional meters and buttons directly on the Timeline makes it easier to tweak and monitor audio settings at any stage in the editing and mixing process. In this section I’ll discuss expanding the tracks, adding buttons to the track header, and keyframing.

Expand Audio Track

The first helpful customization when you’re working with audio is the ability to expand the audio track to show the audio waveforms. You need a visual representation of the peaks and valleys of your audio clips, and displaying the waveforms is the easiest way to accomplish that.

New in Adobe Premiere Pro CC is the ability to save this expanded view as a preset. This preset is especially useful when you’re adding keyframes, searching for the start or end of dialogue, or finding unwanted sounds that were recorded. To save the waveform view as a preset, simply click the wrench icon wrench_icon.jpg at the top of your Timeline and choose Save Preset (Figure 4.8).

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8 You can now save the Timeline track height view as a preset.

Give the preset a name you’ll remember, and you’re done! To recall your preset, choose it from the same menu.

You can adjust the height of a track by placing your mouse in the track header and in between the different tracks. When your mouse cursor changes shape to a double-headed arrow with two lines through it, click and drag to adjust the height of the track.

Audio Track Buttons

Adobe Premiere Pro CC includes by default some common audio track buttons, such as Mute, Solo, Toggle Sync, Keyframe, and more (Figure 4.9). These buttons are used in the editing process to help you better perform your edit. If you need to keyframe the volume level of a particular clip, it might be better to listen to just that track; so soloing that clip makes sense. By the same token, if you need to see track keyframes instead of clip keyframes, you would select the appropriate setting using these buttons:

  • The Mute button mutes the corresponding audio track and is useful when you want to isolate audio between tracks during playback. This button is used when you need to stop listening to a particular audio track momentarily so that it will not distract you.
  • The Solo button mutes all other tracks during playback. You can solo multiple audio tracks, which effectively mutes all tracks with the exception of those soloed. This is particularly useful when you have many audio tracks but at the moment you only need to listen to a few.
  • The Show Keyframes button toggles the display of keyframes in the audio waveform on the track. If you have used track keyframes in your work, you will need to see them at some point. This button enables you to change the display of the Timeline to show you the track keyframes instead of the clip keyframes. To display the clip keyframes again, just select the option from the same button (Figure 4.10).
  • The Previous Keyframe and Next Keyframe buttons navigate between existing keyframes on the audio track. These buttons are particularly important when you need to navigate between keyframes to adjust their settings. It is easy to miss the time position of the keyframe if you drag the playhead, making any adjustments you make create a new keyframe. Therefore, it is better to use these buttons to navigate when you need to adjust an existing keyframe.
  • The Add/Remove Keyframe button adds or removes keyframes (depending on the position of your playhead). If the playhead is on a keyframe, clicking here will delete it. If the playhead is not directly on a keyframe, clicking here will add a new keyframe at that point in the Timeline.
  • The audio Toggle Sync Lock determines which tracks will be affected when you perform an insert, ripple, or trim edit. Imagine you have several clips in several different tracks in your Timeline and you need to perform a ripple edit. Only the clips in the track that contain the edited clip will be affected. However, if the Sync Lock button is enabled in all of the tracks, any edit you perform in any of the tracks will make the clips in the other tracks adjust their time position to allow for the edit.
  • The audio Track Lock button goes a step further and locks the audio track completely, which prevents any change, accidental or intended. In essence, the Track Lock button “saves you from you.” Using this button will prevent you from accidentally making changes to a track.

    Figure 4.9

    Figure 4.9 The audio track header view in the Timeline.

    Figure 4.10

    Figure 4.10 You can show either clip or track keyframes in the Timeline.

Additional Audio Track Buttons

In addition to the default audio track controls mentioned in the previous section, Adobe Premiere Pro CC offers several additional buttons that you can add to the audio tracks. To add (or delete) any of these buttons, right-click on the track button area and choose Customize, or click the Timeline Display Settings button wrench_icon.jpg and choose Customize Audio Header. You can then drag and drop additional buttons to the track button area, or you can reset the layout by clicking the Reset Layout button in the Button Editor panel (Figure 4.11).

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11 The Button Editor lets you drag and drop additional buttons to the track header area.

These buttons are the Track Meter, Left/Right Balance, Track Volume, and Enable Track for Recording. To me, the ability to control some settings directly in the Timeline is both exciting and time-saving.

The most important track buttons that you might want to add are

  • The Track Meter button adds audio meters to the corresponding audio track. This is useful when you’re working with multiple audio tracks and you want to see the audio levels from individual audio tracks without switching to the Audio Clip Mixer panel.
  • The Left/Right Balance button adds a left/right pan dial.
  • The Track Volume control allows you to increase the track volume level by +6dB or decrease it to∞ (infinity). The reason this is referred to as infinity is because dB (decibels) are a ratio. As stated earlier in this chapter, 0dB is near silence; 10dB is 10 times as loud; 20dB is 100 times as loud; 30dB is 1000 times as loud; and so on. You can click and drag left to decrease or drag right to increase the volume level, or simply enter a numeric value.
  • The Enable Track for Recording button lets you record audio directly to the corresponding audio track.

Keyframes

Clicking the Show Keyframes button will let you choose between showing Clip Keyframes and Track Keyframes. Showing Clip Keyframes displays keyframes that are clip based, so if you move the clip, the keyframes follow the clip because they belong with the clip. These keyframes are the same keyframes that you would add in the Effect Controls panel. I discuss clip keyframes later in the chapter.

Track Keyframes

Track keyframes are added to the track and not the clip. Imagine you are editing your program and you need to add background music. You are not sure which track of music you want to add to your program. You add one clip to the track, and you add clip keyframes to the volume of that clip so that the music becomes softer when the voice-over starts. After listening to the edit several times, you decide that you no longer want to use that music clip, but instead you want to use a different clip. You delete the clip in the Timeline and add the new clip. However, the keyframes that you added to the original clip have disappeared when you deleted the clip.

Now imagine that instead of clip keyframes you added track keyframes to the original edit. Instead of the keyframes disappearing when you delete the clip, they will stay with the track and apply to any clip you add to that track at that point in time. Now you can add as many different music clips to that track and the keyframes will apply.

Keyframes in action

To get a better understanding of how keyframes work, follow these steps.

  1. Open the project Chapter04_Audio.prproj, and then open the sequence named Keyframes.

    You will see two different tracks, one showing clip keyframes and the other showing track keyframes.

  2. Move the clip with the clip keyframes, and then do the same with the clip in the other track. The clip with the keyframes maintains them, but the other clip does not because the keyframes belong to the track. If you find that you cannot move the clip that is in the track with the keyframes, temporarily show clip keyframes, move the clip, and then switch back to the track keyframes view.

Working with Separate Audio Tracks

Imagine you recorded an interview with your video camera and have different microphones going to different audio sources. It would be difficult for you to edit these clips separately if they show up together in the Timeline as a stereo clip, so you may want to separate both of these channels. To separate these channels into distinct (but linked) clips, choose Preferences > Audio and change the Default Audio Tracks options to fit your needs (Figure 4.12). In the previous scenario, you need the clips to come in as mono clips when importing that footage so you can edit each of the channels separately from the other one. Each channel of recorded audio will appear in its own track. Although having each channel in its own track is not always necessary, it is very useful when needed.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 Check your Audio Preference settings to ensure that each audio channel appears in the Timeline as a separate track.

Track naming

It is always a best practice to name your tracks. As a result, it will be easier to distinguish your audio when you’re working in the Mixer or even in the Timeline. You can easily name your track by right-clicking in the track header and choosing Rename. You can also rename the track using the Audio Track Mixer.

4. Mixing Sound | Next Section Previous Section