In this QSG, we look at working with audio for filmmakers, editors, and mograph artists.
Here are the essentials you need to know to quickly create high-quality audio in Premiere Pro.
Clipping is Bad
Premiere Pro measures audio in decibels. The audio should never hit 0 decibels on the meter, which causes clipping. Clipping is bad and causes the distortion of your audio.
Recorded music often comes in hot (clipping) so I generally reduce the volume in the project before putting the clips into a sequence. Put all your music clips in one bin (its a folder, all the other Adobe apps call them folders). Press G to bring up Audio Gain, so you can change the loudness/gain for all the tracks at once. Experiment with this, but generally setting your music to -20ish is a good starting point if you have narration/dialogue with it. If you are just cutting to music, you could pick “normalize max peaks to -6, ensuring the music a good level but that it won’t clip. As a general guide, you want your main audio to average around -12 and not peak above -6.
Changing the Volume of a clip in a sequence.
The line on the audio waveform shows you the clip volume.
I can drag the line up and down to change the volume, but its not a very exact way to work. Press the left and right bracket keys to lower/raise the volume 1 decibel.
Adding Shift will lower/raise the Audio 6 decibels. (this can be changed in Preferences > Audio)
If you want to manually keyframe the audio volume, Hold Command/Control and click on the line to add points.
Clip vs Track Audio
There are 2 types of Audio adjustments in Premiere Pro: clip level and track level.
Clip Level Adjustments – Dragging the clip audio line up and down, the Audio Clip Mixer, the Essential Sound Panel.
Generally, you are working with audio on a clip level. To work on a track level, use the “Audio Track Mixer”.
If I move the fader for a track in the Audio Track Mixer”, I’m changing the volume for the whole track.
You will need to change the view to track from clip keyframes to track keyframes to see the audio changes you make in the track mixer.
The track mixer is handy if you want to apply an audio effect(s) to all the clips on a track, and when you are doing a submix (grouping tracks like multiple SFX tracks so all the tracks are treated as one).
Essential Sound Panel
The Essential Sound Panel was added in 2017, and offers a unified interface for working with audio.
Adobe has done a similar thing with graphics and color correction, adding the Essential Graphics and Lumetri Panels.
To get started, switch to the Audio workspace which automatically brings up the sound panel.
Then select the”Audio Type” you want to adjust in the sequence. Selecting the appropriate audio type
then allows you to pick from a variety presets or to manually make adjustments.
If you are new to audio, the presets are the best place to start. Experiment with them till you get a sense of how they work. Unchecking the boxes in the presets is a good way to hear what each setting does.
One of the features I use the most is the automatic ducking feature. This drops the music’s volume when you have narration, dialogue, SFX with the music clip. Select a music clip, pick the Music Preset, then one of the ducking presets. If I have multiple audio clips above the music (narration, dialogue, SFX), I start with the “duck against everything’ preset as it will react to all the audio clips.
The Noise Reduction Preset is essential when recording video/audio in an uncontrolled (not a studio) environment. Select a narration or dialogue clip, pick the Dialogue “Audio Type’. and select “clean yo noisy dialogue preset.
Loudness “Auto-Match” will set the “perceived loudness” of all the selected clips to be the same and is a quick way to make multiple clips sound even.
Using the essential Sound Panel will allow to quickly tweak your audio mixes, and production crate has a large selection of royalty-free music, SFX, and ambiances with new collections released often. If you have any questions, post them in the comments or in the forum.
Easily learn all these steps in this video!
If you want to learn some advanced techniques using Apple’s Logic Pro X consider reading this article.