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Taming plosives and sibilance

From: Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools

Video: Taming plosives and sibilance

In this movie, let's take a look at two other problems that you're very likely to run into as you work on audio. These are called plosives and sibilance. Plosives happen when syllables like P or B create some wind that actually strikes the capsule of a microphone, and it causes a lot of low-end to be heard. Let's take a listen to some plosive audio. (Woman speaking: The principal ate the potatoes prior to the presentation. The principal ate...) That's a pretty extreme example where there are four plosives in one sentence. But sometimes that occurs. I mean the way to avoid this really is to have a screen called a pop filter in front of the talent's mouth when they are speaking into a microphone.

Taming plosives and sibilance

In this movie, let's take a look at two other problems that you're very likely to run into as you work on audio. These are called plosives and sibilance. Plosives happen when syllables like P or B create some wind that actually strikes the capsule of a microphone, and it causes a lot of low-end to be heard. Let's take a listen to some plosive audio. (Woman speaking: The principal ate the potatoes prior to the presentation. The principal ate...) That's a pretty extreme example where there are four plosives in one sentence. But sometimes that occurs. I mean the way to avoid this really is to have a screen called a pop filter in front of the talent's mouth when they are speaking into a microphone.

In this case, obviously, there was no pop filter and that wind struck the capsule and we have these plosive sounds. So we're left to deal with it in post-production. There are some methods we can use to deal with these problems. So let's zoom in on the first plosive here and get into it. If we zoom in pretty close, this is the first plosive. I think it's the word principal. Let's take a listen. (Woman speaking: The principal? The principal ate?) Okay, so let's zoom in right on the problematic area. You can see there is a percussive part of the P represented by these smaller waveforms.

We'll zoom in a little bit so we can see what we're doing, and then we have these larger waveforms. That's where the problem is, because that's all the low-end right there. So just by editing, we can effectively grab just those few problematic waveforms. We're going to leave in the percussive part of the P, because we want that, and we can actually just edit those out. We'll just delete them. And we'll grab the other part of the audio and we'll just kind of snap it up against it, and then we'll do a quick cross-fade. With the Selector tool, I click in here and I'll type D. Do a quick cross-fade.

In fact, actually let's try a-- take my Grabber tool and double-click on this fade, and let's try an Equal Power fade here instead of an Equal Gain. Now I know we cut out a little tiny bit of the audio, but let's see if this works. (Woman speaking: The principal ate the potatoes... The principal ate...) So yeah, that worked pretty well. We still have the percussive part of the P and all the low-end offensive part of the plosive is gone. And this type of editing works most of the time but not always. And I want to show you another way you can deal with plosives. To do this, we'll go to the last one.

(Woman speaking: ?presentation...) So presentation. You can see already visually there is a big fat plosive right there as indicated by the larger waveforms. All that low-frequency energy is negatively impacting the audio. So in this method, we're going to actually make a selection a little longer than the plosive itself, and we're going to go up to the AudioSuite. We're going to actually use EQ to deal with this. In this case, we can just use the EQ 3 1-Band EQ to deal. So all we need is a High-Pass filter, which is represented here in Type by this symbol. Now the High Pass filter, we want a pretty steep filter.

18 dB/octave should work, and we're going to actually go down to about 500 or 600 Hz. So again, getting rid of everything below all the low-frequency energy and we're keeping what's above. So once we get our settings there, we'll hit Process and you can see those big waveforms went away once we processed. Now since we made the selection a little bigger, I did that on purpose so we could actually trim the old audio back from either side, and we'll apply a quick little cross-fade on either end.

F and F and let's take a listen to our work. (Woman speaking: ?to the presentation...prior to the presentation.) So presentation. N ow we've got the plosive gone and it sounds natural again. So those are two ways to deal with plosives. Let's go on to the next audio example which is sibilance. Now this happens when syllables like S or C negatively impact the capsule of the microphone and become enhanced beyond the point where it's acceptable. So they're kind of harsh sounding, and we'll take a listen to this.

(Woman speaking: Seven skeletons bicycled over to the cemetery.) So we've got a lot of sibilance going on there, and there is a couple ways to deal with sibilance. One way is just by simple volume automation. So if I hit the minus key to see my volum automation playlist, we'll zoom in kind of close here and say for the first S syllable, which I think is just this section here-- (Woman speaking: Seven?) We can just do a quick volume dip. So, just a real quick volume dip over to that syllable can help to alleviate some of that problem.

(Woman speaking: Seven?) So it just lessens the impact of that S slightly. It doesn't always work and it's not for every time. So I want to show you another way to deal with sibilance and that's by using a special type of plug-in called a De-Esser, pretty appropriately named. So let me get rid of this volume automation and I'll click the minus key to go back to Waveform view and I'm going to insert a De-Esser plug-in. So this one also comes with Pro Tools and it's actually found under the Dynamics category because it is in fact a compressor like any normal compressor, except it works selectively on specific frequencies.

So when it hears high frequencies, which you can attenuate here, hit the threshold, that's when the compressor works. So it's a selective compressor. It's kind of a combination between an EQ and the compressor. I like to use some of the presets here in the De-Esser. They actually have a Female De-Ess and a Male De-Ess already set up for us, so we can start there. And I'm going to use the Female De- Ess HF what stands for High Frequency. So that kind of sets us up to a good default value. The Range, since this has a lot of sibilance in it, I'm going to pull that down a little bit and let's take a listen to how this is working.

(Woman speaking: Seven skeletons bicycled over to the cemetery.) So as you can see, the compressor was working only when the sibilance sounds were happening and when the audio was normal it kind of moved back up. Let's hear it with and without the De-Esser. So here is without. (Woman speaking: Seven skeletons bicycled over to the cemetery.) And here's with. (Woman speaking: Seven skeletons bicycled over to the cemetery.) So that's kind of helping us take out some of the edge off the De-Esser.

So those are some techniques to help us deal with plosives and sibilance as we work through our audio projects.

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 · 9431 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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