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In this course, professional audio engineer Scott Hirsch shows how to create an evocative sound mix for a film or video, built from basic audio collected during the shoot and transformed into a final mix using Pro Tools 9. This course shows how to set up and optimize a Pro Tools session template for projects with unique requirements, record Foley and ADR audio, layer sound effects, perform corrections such as noise reduction and pitch shifting, mix for stereo and 5.1 surround sound, and finally, how to format and deliver the finalized mix, whether destined for DVD, movie theater, broadcast, or the web.
Of all the audio problems you'll encounter, broadband noise is the toughest to work with. Broadband noise is characterized by noise spanning the audio spectrum in unpredictable frequencies in varying amplitudes over time. In this movie, we'll learn what we can do to tackle these types of noise problems the best we can. We're going to be using a broadband noise eeduction tool here used by iZotope called Denoiser, but there are few different tools out there in the market that do the same thing. Waves makes X-Noise, Pro Tools makes one called BNR, Broadband Noise Reduction, and all of them work in a similar fashion.
Let's take a listen to the audio we are working with, so we can identify the type of noise we're talking about. (Male speaker: The Ventura Improv Company started in 1989. There were some of us who had been doing some improv but never really quite got it.) (Male speaker: We just kind of knew it was something we wanted to do.) The recording of the voice sounds fine but you can hear this sort of background wash going on that we're going to try to attenuate through noise reduction. So we're going to first make a copy of this track as an alternate playlist, so we can always go back to the original after we've done our noise reduction work.
It's always good to do that to make sure that the work you've done is actually better than the original. So I'm going to go into the Track playlist and choose Duplicate. So we'll make another version of that track and we can always go back and forth between the two, and we'll work on the second version. And the second thing we're going to do before actually getting into the Noise Reduction plug-in is to try to remove as much audio problems as we can through other means like EQ. For example, if we can get out any low frequency rumble before we get into the Noise Reduction that will be totally beneficial to us, because the less the Noise Reduction plug-in has to work, the better off we are.
So let's start with on the first insert slot here. Let's choose a EQ 3 1-Band EQ and we're going to actually just use a High-Pass filter at a fairly steep slope, 18 dB/ octave, and we'll get this down low. So again, we're just trying to remove any unwanted low frequency noise. So we can probably get away with somewhere around 80 Hz. That will be below the actor's voice but just enough to remove any rumble. So let's hear what the sounds like with this EQ in.
(Male speaker: ?.Company started in 1989. There were some of us who had been doing some improv but never really quite got it.) Okay, so we still hear the broadband noise going on but again, here we're just trying to get rid of anything we can before we get into the Noise Reduction plug-in. So on the second slot after this we're going to first start out by using the iZotope Denoiser plug-in in real-time, and here it is called RX 2 Denoiser. You have to remember that these types of plug-ins incur a lot of latency, so it's actually not practical in the end to use a real-time broadband noise reduction plug-in, but we'll use it now just to get our settings right and then as you'll see, we will move over to an AudioSuite version of the plug-in.
So all of these noise reduction plug-ins work in a similar fashion. You need to actually sample a bit of the sound that has just the pure noise and not any of the voice or not any of the sound you're trying to keep. There's not a whole lot of space in this sequence where there is just the noise out in the open but I found a small section here towards the end where we have a sampling of just the noise, which is what you need to do. You have to actually have the plug-in learn or capture this sound and then it will work off that sound to noise reduce the rest of the sequence.
So I'm going to make a selection over this section and I'll just to hear it, let me bypass the plug-in. We can hear what just the noise alone sounds like. (White noise) So you want to get a decent sampling and that should be long enough. It doesn't have to be too long, as long as it's a good representative example of sound. So let me un-bypass the plug-in and I'm going to click the Learn button and all I need to do is play it back once and hit Stop, and you can see that the iZotope now has a noise print that it will work off of.
So at this stage, I'm going to go back to the beginning or close to the beginning of the sequence. Just move the plug-in out of the way so I can see what I'm doing. And I'm going to grab a section of it. We don't listen to the whole thing. Just grab a good section of it, something like this, and that will loop and my playback is in Loop mode. So we'll hear the same section over and over again as we work but it would be a good way for us to tell how we're going. So the name of the game when you're using this type of plug-in is you're going to have to find kind of a sweet spot between where the noise is gone and you have artifacts and where you're just not noise reducing enough. And I'm going to keep it simple.
We're going to have two sliders here. We have Noise reduction. So higher this slider is the more noise reduction we're doing. And then there is the Smoothing fader. So this actually helps to kind of decrease some of the artifacting. If I move the Noise reduction all the way up and we listen, (Male speaker: You know why? And in that year we met a woman named Barbara Scott from San Francisco who did a workshop.) You can hear all the noise is gone, but the actor himself sounds like he is kind of underwater and that's one of the negative artifacts that these types of plug-ins have.
So we're going to have to find a compromise like I said. I'm going to play it and I'm going to back this off until I feel like I've gotten a good spot. (Male speaker: You know why? And in that year we met a woman named Barbara Scott from San Francisco who did a workshop in Santa Paula.) (Male speaker: Right just down the street here and suddenly a lot of this stuff starting making sense for?) I'm going to pick an earlier version when you can hear that car passing, just because that's throwing in another third variable that we have to deal with. So get back here.
(Male speaker: ?been doing some improv but never really quite got it.) (Male speaker: We just kind of knew it was something we wanted to do. But when a scene failed?) So it seems to me that the sweet spot in this case is somewhere around 9 or 10 in Noise reduction. Anything above that we start hearing artifacting and anything below that we just still hear the noise. So it's not working. It seems like around there is a perfect spot and then I'm going to move the Smoothing around and see if I can kind of even further enhance that. (Male speaker: ?had been doing some improv but never really quite got it.) (Male speaker: We just kind of knew it was something we wanted to do. But when?) So it seems like a Smoothing of 7 takes care of a little bit of the artifacting.
One other approach you can do when you're trying to find that sweet spot that we've been talking about is to click this box where you just output the noise only and then we're kind of inverting the whole thing. So we're hearing just the noise and not the original audio. Just the noise that we are reducing. So if I'm hearing just the noise and I move the Noise reduction up, we should start then hearing the voice which means that we're going too far with that noise reduction. (Inaudible) So you can hear then if I go too high with the Noise reduction, I'm getting some of the voice into the noise I'm trying to attenuate, which is a bad thing, as we're trying to leave the voice alone and we're trying to just get the noise out.
So, again. (Inaudible) When I'm around 9, when I listen to the output of noise only, I'm just hearing a bit of noise, which is kind of where you want to be with that setting. So I'm going to uncheck that. So that's just a helper tool, just to kind of help you find that sweet spot. (Male speaker: ?who had been doing some improv but never really quite got it.) So let me bypass the plug-in and see if what we're doing is actually effective. (Male speaker: ?who had been doing some improv but never really quite got it. We just...) So that sounded good.
When I had the plug-in bypassed, I heard some of the noise. When I put the plug-in back in, the noise went away but his voice sounded okay. So I'm going to go with these settings. Now remember, I said that you can't use this as a real-time plug-in. So we're going to actually now copy these settings to the clipboard. So in the Preset menu, just like in any plug-in, copy these Settings and I can close this plug-in and I'm actually going to take the plug-in off of the real-time inserts, and I'm going to select all of the audio and go into the AudioSuite plug-in and open up that version of the Denoiser.
Now the AudioSuite version because it's offline actually has some better algorithms. We can go to the best algorithm, algorithm D. It's slowest but it works the best. We choose that one and then I'm going to go up to the Preset menu and paste my settings in. So there is the settings. Remember Noise reduction is 9, Smoothing is at 7, and I'm going to process the audio with this plug-in. Okay, so here's our final noise reduced sequence. (Male speaker: ...in 1989. There were some of us who had been doing some improv...) And I can compare it to the original.
(Male speaker: ...in 1989. There were some of us who had been doing some improv but never...) (Male speaker: ...in 1989. There were some of us...) So as you can hear, it's a little bit cleaner and we've got some of that background wash out of the way. So using any type of broadband noise reduction plug-in is always kind of a compromise. You're trying to find the best spot between the artifacts and the noise reduction and you kind of have to move the sliders around and use your ears to tell you if your work is being effective or not. And if you get stumped, it's best to put it down for a few and come back to it and see if you can get it back to a spot where you're actually able to reduce some of the broadband noise.
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