I shot a video testimonial recently with a less than desirable audio setup. I only had one mic for three interviewees, the mic was too far from the subjects which introduced room noise and a slight echo and there were kids playing in a nearby room down the hall. How did I fix this in post? I won’t go into extreme detail, but I’ll give you an idea of what I used and how I used it to accomplish the goal of cleaning it up and making it sound professional. I’m always interested in how others accomplish this task, so I thought I would pull back the curtain and show you how I do it in these situations. Leave me a comment and let me know how you do it. Enjoy!
I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire some mixing projects from a Southern California marketing company in the past few months or so. It’s been quite a learning experience in many ways, but I couldn’t ask for a better client to drop in my lap. Essentially, they make vignettes (marketing videos) for local companies. They film the footage, record the voice-overs and interviews, add their background music and send it to me. I then fix the audio and polish it up and mix the VO and music together for the vignettes.
The key element here is; I fix the audio. What exactly does that mean? Well, when they go to film/record the client for the vignette, sometimes background audio gets in the way. It could be a bird, a fountain or anything that’s not pleasing to the ear. When I polish that audio up and raise the volume level, all of that noise becomes very apparent and essentially ruins all of their hard work. So, before I can even mix the VO and music together, I have to get rid of that noise.
The weapon of choice for my noise removal is Adobe Audition. I basically find the frequencies that are causing trouble and tell Adobe Audition to remove those frequencies and only those frequencies in the exact spots I tell it to do so. I wish I could say that it is a one button operation, but the truth is that a person has to use all the tools available in the software to fine-tune the process so as to not affect the voice-over itself. I’ve enjoyed the learning curve associated with noise removal. Every project is different and so one must put on the troubleshooting hat and get to work.
I thought it would be fun to show a snippet of what I have done in regards to removing the noise and mixing the overall audio on one of the projects sent me. So, let’s begin.
This first clip is the raw audio given to me. There appears to be a low-level hum in the background and you can tell he is most likely sitting in a very large room due to the amount of echo flutter.
This clip is after the noise removal has been applied. I was able to reduce the amount of echo flutter and what echo is still there has little in the way of decay. Also, the low level hum has been completely removed. I also punched up his voice with some some EQ and compression… not to mention some other little goodies the Cali Dingo has up his sleeve.
Finally, I mix that clip in with the music provided.
Thanks for checking out my latest post. I hope you found it either useful or entertaining.
Today I share some drum editing I did for a local metal band I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. These drums were recorded with a midi drum kit into a drum software program. The editing I performed was to get the performance in time and to customize the kit for the drummer. I would have LOVED to record his acoustic kit, however, I don’t have the inputs or ADAT capabilities in my audio interface to handle 8 + microphones. So, troubleshooting led us the midi kit.
This is with only rough mixing involved. I set the mixer faders, threw on a EQ over the kit and used slight compression to help it pop. The trick to getting it to sound like a real kit and not a computer generated kit is to have a person actually play it. Drum loops are not the way to go when trying to capture a humanistic feel. Get a real drummer to play the kit. The only difference between what we did and the traditional way of recording drums was HOW we recorded the drums. Traditional uses mics to capture the performance; we used midi to capture the performance. Many want to believe this is a subpar way of recording drums. I disagree.
Without further ado, enjoy this sample and feel free to comment.
I have had the pleasure of recording some metal guitar work for a local band this past holiday weekend. It’s always a thrill to record good musicians. This was to be used as a guide for the rest of the band to learn the songs. In turn, the working relationship seemed to go quite well and we will be adding bass and drums as a result of how well the session went. I was impressed by this guy’s playing and look forward to hearing the whole band. They are in their late teens/early twenties and they play old-school metal. How cool is that?
As a side note, their rythmn guitarist was present as well and she can play piano. So, my newly purchased organ/leslie got tickled by someone who has skill. That was a nice treat. In hindsight, I should have recorded it. Oh well, perhaps I’ll have her back over for that specific purpose.
So, as I have stated/mentioned in prior posts, I have long had a “home studio” in a spare bedroom in the house. I used the room as is, with just my furniture “cleverly” situated in odd areas. As an example of my odd layout, I decided to put my desk in a corner of the room. Why? Don’t ask me. I guess I was trying my hand at eccentric interior design? Not sure. Plus, I had no acoustic treatment, which didn’t affect the layout, but it did affect the “sound” of the room. As a graphic design / web design office it was just fine. As a music studio? Not so much. Needless to say, over the course of me recording, mixing and mastering audio, I began to realize this room was dishing out all sorts of problems. For instance:
Recording – Too much ambient room noise, and not the good kind. When recording voice overs, echo-flutter was all too apparent. It became a nasty problem once I was in the processing phase, because once I added any compression that echo-flutter was very, up front and center. It made me work harder in the editing phase, attempting to knock out the noise wherever there was a pause in the vocal. I still do this when editing, but I had to get real surgical when dealing with all the echo-flutter. Talk about time consuming, not to mention the echo was still somewhat present during the voice over. Maybe no one else heard it, but I did and I’m the only person that matters… besides my wife. 😉
Also, when attempting to record, my room had… well, no room, thanks to my eccentric interior design (I wish I would have taken “before” pics. I always forget to do that). The layout was horrendous which led to me pulling cords outta my guitars or knocking over my preamps. I looked like one of the Marx brothers when trying to record.
Mixing/Mastering – This is where the acoustic treatment was badly needed…only I didn’t know it for quite a while. Being that I’m married and my studio is in a house that my wife lives in, I typically use my monitors, KRK Rokit 5s, for referencing only. However, the acoustics in my room made referencing a bit more daunting. The mix from my monitors sounded totally different from what my headphones were telling me. This would lead me go back to the mix and try and fix what the room said needed fixing, only to go back to the headphones and find out that the changes I just made, based on my monitors, sounded off. Once I studied up on acoustic treatment the light bulb went off and I began to understand that my room was playing a dirty trick on my ears.
So, I sat down, did some research and discovered that I needed to change the layout and add some acoustic treatment. Upon realizing how much work was going to be involved I decided to also change the color of the room. You see, I made my home studio in a kiddie bedroom. It had a baseball-themed light fixture and powder blue paint. Perfect for a little boy. But, it has been annoying me since I took the room over as my office/studio. Now was my chance.
Let the work begin…
Whew! It was a lot of work, but I love the results. Part 2 will cover the addition of acoustic treatment to the room. Let me know what you think so far.