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Mixing dialog and music

From: Creating a Mini Documentary with Premiere Elements

Video: Mixing dialog and music

The final thing we need to do to finish our mini-documentary is mix the audio. There's going to be a couple of steps here. But first, we need to render everything so that it plays smoothly. I'm going to tap Return and then wait for the render to finish. Mixing audio involves a lot of careful listening and small adjustments. There are several tools to use, and I want to go over some that are most useful on this project.

Mixing dialog and music

The final thing we need to do to finish our mini-documentary is mix the audio. There's going to be a couple of steps here. But first, we need to render everything so that it plays smoothly. I'm going to tap Return and then wait for the render to finish. Mixing audio involves a lot of careful listening and small adjustments. There are several tools to use, and I want to go over some that are most useful on this project.

Remember, we still can't trust our ears, so the Audio Meters continue to be important. Next, do you remember that problem that we noticed? Let me play it so we can see it again. (music playing) (Female speaker: My favorite thing in the world) (is actually being a participant in this incredibly--) Did you notice how our voice is only on one side? We've got a good fix for that.

Let's apply it now. Go to my Effects palette. Of course it's an Audio Effect I am looking for. And the one I want is Fill from Left, because I'm only getting sound in the left ear. Let me apply that filter. Now to see this clearly, I am temporarily going to lower the volume on the music so you can really see the difference. (Female speaker: My favorite thing in the world is actually being a participant.) Much better! We've got it in both ears now.

Let me apply that to the rest of the interview. Now, let's continue to work with the music. Of course, I pulled it all the way down just temporarily. Let's bring it up to about where it was. I want to start with setting the level of the music at the very beginning. At the very beginning of this piece, the music is the main audio element. So it can actually be fairly loud.

(music playing) Let's see how this sounds. And also, don't forget about the meters. (music playing) I like that for this beginning part on the abstracted sound. But we are going to have a problem when we hit the interview. (Female speaker: My favorite thing in the world (is actually being a participant in this incredibly rare medium.) Well, I like the louder music when it was the only element.

As it starts to mix with the voice, it becomes distracting, and when the music gets louder and more rhythmic down here, the problem's actually worse. (Female speaker: I think it's almost a poetic expression--) You also notice that overall, the music and the drumbeats are quite loud, hitting the yellow and the red. So now it's time to fix that. And to do so, we need to add keyframes to the audio. You may have worked with keyframes before, but their principle is you always need two--two exact--to change.

Let me show you what I mean. If I position my playhead just before this first bite, when I want the volume to start decreasing, I put a keyframe there. Then, right as she starts talking, when I want the level to achieve its lower state, another keyframe. Now, if I adjust just this part of the level, you can see that I've made a ramp in the audio.

Let's listen to that back. (Female speaker: My favorite thing in the world (is actually being a participant in this incredibly rare medium.) Much more balanced! Based on these waveforms, I have a feeling we are going to have to make the music a little lower here, because in actuality, it's getting louder. Let's listen. (Female speaker:--absolutely go with that one specific piece. I think it's almost a poetic expression in--) Do you hear how the heavier drumbeat when mixed with the voice is still interfering a bit? We just need a couple of more keyframes.

(Female speaker: It's almost a poetic expression.) I think a little lower. It's always best to err on the side of the voice. When someone can't hear what's being said, that's very distracting. (Female speaker:--in our glass.) Now we're going into a section where we have cut to the beat, and the music is more important, so we can lift it up again. And so on. Let's skip ahead so you can see what this music track looks like once it's all done.

So you can see, once we are done with our music, we've created ramps up and down, both for when our subject is talking, and then also to account for changes in our music, like here where the talking is still going on but the music is getting louder. (Female speaker:--specific piece. I think it's almost a poetic expression in our glass.) This takes a lot of listening and careful work.

For instance, I just noticed that my music hit the red up here, and you never want to see something that loud. So I'm going to bring it down a notch and check it again. (Female speaker:--our glass.) (music playing) This is working really well. I encourage you to take your time with this step. It's very important that all of your audio elements are balanced properly.

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Creating a Mini Documentary with Premiere Elements

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Jason Osder
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