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Remember that on the set location sound recordists are preoccupied with recording the best dialog possible. They're armed with very focused shotgun microphones that hone in on one area. It makes sense then that the other production sounds, such as a door closing, putting a glass down, or hanging up a telephone, will naturally be off access to the microphones, and maybe a little dull. Sweetening is the process of making these dull recordings come to life. You can use sound effects to give dimension and weight to sonic events that were recorded on the set but are a little flat sounding.
Here we're going not sweeten the coffee cup sounds in this scene. Let's watch the scene. (paper shuffling) (coffee cup clinking) (Character: Hi Charlie.) So there are two sounds we're going to work on there. He takes a sip of coffee, which we can barely hear, and he puts the cup down, which we could make a little more exciting. So I've dropped in some markers already to indicate where these two sound effects need to go. So first, we're going to locate the sound effects. Then we're going to look at some different ways to sync them to the events.
Let me use the DigiBase Browser to find first the coffee sip. Option+Semicolon or Alt+Semicolon to bring that up. So here I'm going to search specifically in my directory by clicking the Search tool on the left, and I'm going to look for 'coffee sip'. So there's a coffee sip.wav file; let's take a listen to it and see if it will work. (sipping sound) That sounds good. So now I'm just going to drag it loosely and drop it somewhere on an effect track below.
So I can get back to the Edit window. So the first thing I'm going to want to do before I sync the effect is actually edit the head of the region so that it starts right on the sip sound. So I use F6 to get my Trimmer tool and drag right up to the beginning of that sound. And the next thing I can do is use these markers to get my cursor in the right location. So there, I clicked on the marker and my cursor went right to that spot. Now I'm going to use a quick key to snap this region right to that location. I'll hit F8 to get my Grabber tool and Ctrl or Windows on a PC, click on the region, and the region snaps right to that location.
That's a really easy way to sync up a region. If the head of the region needs to go to a specific location, you can put your cursor there and Ctrl+Click on it with the Grabber tool, and it snaps right to that spot. Let's take a listen. (sipping sound) That looks pretty well. Now the next sound effect we're going want to attack is the coffee cup down. (coffee cup clinking) (Character: Hi Charlie.) So that's the production track. It's not as exciting as it could be. Let's first, again, find that sound. Go back to the DigiBase Browser, and this time we're going to search on cup down, and there's a couple of Cup Down sounds.
Let's listen to one of them. (coffee cup clinking) Okay, that will work. So again, I'm just going to drag it loosely into my track and close the browser. Now this sound is a little different than the sip sound, because you can see there's some sound that happens at the head of the region, and then there is the sound that you could actually use to sync up, and there's some sound after. So in this case we want to use something called the sync point to make a sync point right where the actual action occurs, but we want to keep what's before that sync point. So if I click into this region, I can use a feature called Tab to Transient in Pro Tools, and then I will get the cursor located right to the first transient event.
So Tab to Transient you can turn on and off on the top of the Edit window. Make sure that button is blue. And now if I hit Tab, it'll take us right to the transient event that's nearest where our cursor was. So right there is right where I start to hear some sound of the cup going down. So that seems like a good place to drop a sync point. To do that, we'll hit Command+Comma, which is also Ctrl+Comma on a Windows system. So a little green triangle appears at the bottom of that region. That's our sync point.
Now if I zoom out a little bit, I can again get the cursor right to the location we want to drop that sync point to, which is where the cup-down occurs. So we're going to use Spot mode to do this, and to use Spot mode, we need to know the exact time code. So before I do this, let's look up at the main Time Code reading and find that it's at 1 hour, 9 seconds, and 14 frames. So let's keep that in mind, go to Spot mode, click the Grabber tool, click on the region, and we'll type in where it says Sync Point, 01 hour, 09, and 14 frames.
I'm going to hit OK. The region will slide right to that location, and Pro Tools put that sync point right on that mark. Now let's see how that sounds together with the original track. (coffee cup clinking) (Character: Hi Charlie.) That sounds pretty good. I can hear by itself. (coffee cup clinking) Just to make sure and let's play them together again. (coffee cup clinking) (Character: Hi Charlie.) Great! Another way to sync a region with a sync point without using the Spot mode to specific location is to use a key command.
So let me move this off a little bit again, and again, I'm going to get the cursor to the location I want to move it to, and here I'm going to use Ctrl+Shift+Clicking once with the mouse on the Grabber tool; that automatically spots the sync point to that location. So that's a real quick way, instead of going into Spot mode and typing in numbers, where you can snap a region right to a location. So one more technique I want to show you for sound effects is that you might want to use some EQ to even heighten the impact of some of these sounds.
For this, you can use the equalizing capabilities of the AudioSuite. So let's go into the AudioSuite, and we'll choose the 7-Band EQ. And here I'm going to make this Cup Down sound a little brighter, so basically I'm just going to go in and give it some high end there on the top there. Now before I process this, I want to keep my old version, so I'm going to make another playlist. Just go into the Track Playlist pulldown menu. I'm going to click Duplicate and hit OK.
And let's preview this and see what it sounds like. (coffee cup clinking) So it's a little brighter. I can even push it even more. (coffee cup clinking) That's great! Hit Process, and we have our EQ'd region, and let's hear it in context. (coffee cup clinking) (Character: Hi Charlie) Great! Now remember, if I ever wanted to go back to the original one, I can always go back to the previous playlist and hear the original region before it was processed. So, playlists are a useful way to keep your older versions intact. Using sound effects to strengthen and give dimensionality to the sound is a great way to motivate narrative storytelling.
These tips should help you sweeten audio and add hard effects quickly and efficiently.
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