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Dealing with noise problems

From: Audio Post Workflow with Final Cut Pro X and Pro Tools

Video: Dealing with noise problems

There're several noise reduction software plug-in bundles out there that you can buy as add-ons to Pro Tools. But you would be surprised how much you can do just by simple editing. A lot of noise problems are just short events that if edited out properly can really make a difference in how clean your clips sound. Let's take the John Downey interview, for example. Here is one of these noise issues. Right on the cut it sounds like he is smacking his lips. Let's take a listen. (video playing) Our first inclination is to select this area and delete it.

Dealing with noise problems

There're several noise reduction software plug-in bundles out there that you can buy as add-ons to Pro Tools. But you would be surprised how much you can do just by simple editing. A lot of noise problems are just short events that if edited out properly can really make a difference in how clean your clips sound. Let's take the John Downey interview, for example. Here is one of these noise issues. Right on the cut it sounds like he is smacking his lips. Let's take a listen. (video playing) Our first inclination is to select this area and delete it.

But we have to be a little more crafty than that. Because this whole interview is a little noisy, we'll really miss that background sound if it's just deleted. So what we want to do is scroll through the clip and find some empty air where we hear just the background noise only and no one's talking. There's actually a bunch here at the end of the clip. Now we'll select this, and we'll copy it to our clipboard by typing Command+C. Now we'll use a handy technique here called paste to fill. We will go back to the area where we want to fill where the problem is, and we'll type Command+Option+V to paste it in.

By using this command instead of just the regular paste command, Pro Tools will fill just exactly the space we selected. If the space was longer than the clip you had in the clipboard, Pro Tools will loop and cross fade the clip for you until it fills the gap. Don't forget to put in some small crossfades to smooth out the edit. Let's do this, and then we'll take a short listen. (video playing) Great, that sounds much better. Now that we have his room tone in our clipboard, there're some other places in the interview where we can use the same technique.

Check out at time code 01:03:28:10, there's a clicking sound we can cover up. (video playing) So we'll just select that area where we want to fill, and Command+Option+V to paste it in. (video playing) Don't forget to fade the in and out of your paste. Towards the end of this interview, near time code 01:03:43:19, is also another type of noise, but this is some kind of digital click rather than something that happened at the location. Take a listen.

(video playing) These kinds of digital clicks can happen from faulty wireless microphones or even just digital glitches that can occur somewhere along the project's creation. The good thing is these types of glitches can be edited out as well. We're going to use the Pencil tool to actually redraw the waveform to fix this problem. Now this is one of the few processes in Pro Tools that is destructive, and it will forever alter your source media. So you may want to make a copy first. Let's do that by selecting and going to Edit > Consolidate Clip.

This will just make another copy of this file that we can alter and not mess up the original. Now what we will next do is known as scrubbing. By holding down the Ctrl key and dragging in the clip, we can hear what's underneath until we find the glitch. (video playing) Once we find the exact glitch, our cursor will be centered on it, and we can zoom way in. Once the waveforms turned to a thin line, we can select our Pencil tool, and we'll redraw the waveforms.

When you're redrawing the waveform, just try to imagine the originals shape how the waveform was and follow it. There're actually two problem areas here that we can repair. Now let's zoom out and take a listen and see if we can still hear the glitch. (video playing) Great that sounds pretty good. We've fixed the glitch. If you want to learn more on noise reduction and using third-party noise reduction add-ons, be sure to watch the more advanced Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools course.

There're tons more on this subject there.

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