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Processing tips for sound effects

From: Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools

Video: Processing tips for sound effects

In this movie we'll get started on a few ideas on how to generate our own sound effects to create evocative and dramatic soundtracks. One way of generating sound effects is to start with a conventional sound already being used in the session as a catalyst to create a new sound. The benefits of this is that the introduction of a new tone, or sound, is rooted in the sound of the scene, so it's not too foreign, or out of place. Here we have a transition that goes from motorcycle race into a hospital, then into a lake. It's kind of a dreamy sequence, and we want to have an ominous tone run throughout to bridge the three scenes.

Processing tips for sound effects

In this movie we'll get started on a few ideas on how to generate our own sound effects to create evocative and dramatic soundtracks. One way of generating sound effects is to start with a conventional sound already being used in the session as a catalyst to create a new sound. The benefits of this is that the introduction of a new tone, or sound, is rooted in the sound of the scene, so it's not too foreign, or out of place. Here we have a transition that goes from motorcycle race into a hospital, then into a lake. It's kind of a dreamy sequence, and we want to have an ominous tone run throughout to bridge the three scenes.

We're going to use the background ambience that's already laid in to stimulate a heavy reverb, and we're going to print that reverb return effect back into Pro Tools. The result will be an ominous sound effect that carries the scene. So let's listen to the scene without any effects. We're going to be just hearing the ambience now. (ambient sounds) (people shuffling and talking) (water splashing and birds chirping) So as you can see, those ambiences work really well.

But here we're going to actually tap into them and make them generate reverb that will give us a more ominous tone that bridges the transition. So let's add three sends on our three FX tracks. Let's go over to the Mix window, Command+Equal or Ctrl+Equal, and on our three FX tracks, FXA1, FXA2, and FXA3, we're going to create a send. Start with FXA1, and we're going to put this send on a bus, and the bus will return to our VERB1 track.

VERB1 is an aux track that's over here on the far right. So we're sending A1 over a bus and returning it on VERB1, the aux track. Now on this send, which showed up as a pop-up send here, we're going to select PRE fader. That means that this send level won't be influenced by the volume control on the track; it'll have its own independent level. And we're actually going to copy the same send to the other two tracks. To do that, you can hold Option or Alt and just simply drag the send over to the other two tracks.

Another way to view the send in the Mix window is to go up to View > Sends A-E, and show just that send. That way we get a little mini fader in each of these tracks, instead of having to deal with these big pop-up send. So now we'll go back to the Edit window. On our return track, or returning the send--let me just go ahead and make it medium so we can see-- we're going to insert the actual reverb. So I'll go into to the Insert slot, and we're going to over to Reverb and we'll choose, TL Space. It's one my favorite post-production reverbs.

So here we're going to call up a pretty dramatic reverb effect. On TL Space you've got your presets located on the upper right, and we'll go into our presets here, and we're going to choose Chambers > Concrete Stairwell > Two Floors up, so that'll give us a dramatic reverb effect. Remember, double-click on the effect to load the actual reverb. It's not loaded until you see this little dot next to it. So we can close our reverb. We've got that loaded up. And now we're going to automate the send on all three of these tracks to pump out reverb into that aux track.

So we want to show the send automation playlist. To do that, we'll go into the Playlist pulldown window and we'll choose (snd a) VERB1 > level, and we can see the automation line there. So we're going to just do this manually with the Pencil tool, which you can get by typing F10, and we're going to draw in a send over the course of that section. So we'll just go ahead and draw a send automation move, something pretty dramatic like that, and we'll do that for all three of these tracks. So again, going into automation playlist send level. Send level.

I'm just kind of eyeballing it. Reverb is pretty washy, so it doesn't have to be too exact. And I'm go back to my Selector tool and let's take a listen to what this sounds like. (ambient sounds) (people shuffling and talking) (water splashing and birds chirping) So my only criticism is that it should end a little sooner, at least on the track with the outdoor noise.

So I'm just going to go ahead and edit that move a little bit and make it end kind of before that bird is out there. So remember, Option+Click or Alt+Click to erase automation keyframes, and something like that should work. I can just rewrite the end here to go flat. So let's listen to that ending one more time. (people shuffling and talking) (water splashing and birds chirping) Great! I like that! So it provides a nice bridge between all three scenes.

So the next thing we're going to want to do is print just the reverb effect on its own. And that way it'll free up system resources. We don't have to have these sends running through this heavy reverb. It'll just be a printed effect. So to do that, we'll route the output of the VERB track into a track I've made below, called FX Print, and we'll use our Handy Track Output selector, go into the track output and choose track, and there is our FX Print track. So just with one action, it automatically routes the output of this track over a bus to the input of our FX Print track.

And we'll record-enable that track. We'll take the playback to before this effect happens, and I like to use numeric keypad 3 to start recording. (ambient sounds) (people shuffling and talking) (water splashing and birds chirping) So we've just printed purely that reverb effect onto this FX Print track.

Un-record-enable it, and now we have just the stand-alone effect here, and we can actually disable the sends and the reverb. Let me go back to the Mix window for a second. A lot of people would just go in here and take them out, but I like to save it for later in case I needed to go back and edit that effect, maybe you want it to be a little less dramatic, or a little shorter, so forth. So there's a way that we can use a keystroke combination to just simply disable the sends and the reverb, and that's Ctrl+Command for Mac and Windows+Ctrl for PC; Ctrl+Command+Click just right on the send, and you can see it keeps all the settings there and just disables them, and will do the same with the reverb effect.

The reverb plug-in is now disabled. So all of our DSP usage for those actions are freed up and if we got back to the Edit window, just go back to our regular waveform playlist, and we're hearing now the effect that we printed go along as its own track, and just the original dry signal from the ambiences on the original tracks. (ambient sounds) So as you can hear, it sounds the same as a printed track, but we have the option of going back later and fixing it.

So making these kinds of sound effects tracks is some of the most fun part of audio for video. Hopefully, this tutorial got your mind going. You're able to see how open ended Pro Tools can be when it comes to making unique sound effects.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools
Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools

51 video lessons · 8799 viewers

Scott Hirsch
Author

 
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  1. 6m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      40s
    3. Using this course with Pro Tools 10
      1m 57s
    4. Relinking audio files
      2m 33s
  2. 18m 37s
    1. Understanding the new audio for video features in Pro Tools 9
      5m 17s
    2. Exploring the hardware requirements for Pro Tools 9
      5m 19s
    3. Understanding the audio components of a finished video
      5m 22s
    4. Understanding the audio production workflow
      2m 39s
  3. 25m 10s
    1. Understanding video formats, SMPTE timecode rates, NTSC, and PAL
      6m 21s
    2. Understanding video formats, codecs, and pull-up/pull-down
      5m 16s
    3. Setting up your Pro Tools session for video
      8m 44s
    4. Exporting OMF and AAF files
      4m 49s
  4. 32m 14s
    1. Importing OMF and AAF files
      8m 8s
    2. Importing and the DigiBase browser
      4m 0s
    3. Conforming the OMF import to your template
      6m 51s
    4. Setting up groups and windows
      6m 2s
    5. Spotting film and using markers
      7m 13s
  5. 52m 55s
    1. Organizing the dialog tracks
      5m 0s
    2. Optimizing the dialog in the first pass
      4m 30s
    3. Using room tone
      4m 10s
    4. Creating fades to smooth out audio edits
      5m 4s
    5. Understanding sound effects, ambiences, and backgrounds
      7m 12s
    6. Sweetening and hard effects
      6m 52s
    7. Processing tips for sound effects
      8m 46s
    8. Bringing emotion to the mix with music tracks
      5m 33s
    9. Leveraging clip-based gain in Pro Tools 10
      2m 51s
    10. Exploring AudioSuite enhancements in Pro Tools 10
      2m 57s
  6. 15m 29s
    1. Preparing the session for foley and ADR recording
      9m 19s
    2. Recording ADR and editing with VocALign LE
      6m 10s
  7. 45m 5s
    1. Noise-reducing hums, rumbles, and buzzes
      8m 11s
    2. Eliminating crackles and digital clicks
      5m 30s
    3. Taming plosives and sibilance
      6m 10s
    4. Reducing broadband noise
      9m 26s
    5. Conforming to video changes
      8m 36s
    6. Pitch shifting for effect or utility, TC expansion
      7m 12s
  8. 56m 19s
    1. Setting up for stereo mixing
      5m 11s
    2. Calibrating levels using an SPL meter
      7m 2s
    3. Mixing with automation
      11m 4s
    4. Advanced mix automation
      8m 0s
    5. Automating plug-in parameters
      9m 22s
    6. Mixing with reverb
      7m 20s
    7. Ducking techniques
      8m 20s
  9. 42m 4s
    1. Setting up a surround mix template
      11m 14s
    2. Calibrating for 5.1 surround mixing and bass management
      9m 2s
    3. Mixing and spatial techniques for 5.1 surround
      14m 9s
    4. Downmixing, encoding, and using Neyrinck plug-ins
      3m 38s
    5. Automating techniques for 5.1 surround mixes
      4m 1s
  10. 10m 6s
    1. Print mastering and stem mixes
      5m 47s
    2. Mastering delivery levels and dynamics
      4m 19s
  11. 5m 29s
    1. Backing up your final project
      5m 29s
  12. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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