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Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools

Understanding sound effects, ambiences, and backgrounds


From:

Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools

with Scott Hirsch

Video: Understanding sound effects, ambiences, and backgrounds

It's time to begin working with sound effects. This is where you get to really establish the sonic world of your video. In this movie, we will go over the five different types of effects, and then we will look at databases for managing sound effects libraries, and we'll begin to lay in some ambience and background tracks of our own. First, let's just make sure we understand the different sound effects and what they do. There are five main categories of sound effects. First we have hard effects. These are single sounds placed exactly on action. Here is an example of a hard effect, or where a hard effect is needed. I am going to mute the track and we'll see where it's needed first.
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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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Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools
5h 9m Intermediate Jun 14, 2011 Updated Apr 04, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding video formats, codecs, and timecode rates
  • Importing OMFs and AAFs into Pro Tools
  • Spotting film and using markers
  • Using room tone
  • Creating fades to smooth out audio edits
  • Sweetening and hard effects
  • Recording ADR and editing with VocALign LE
  • Editing out plosives, crackles, and hums
  • Mixing with automation and reverb
  • Calibrating for 5.1 surround mixing and bass management
  • Mastering delivery levels and dynamics
  • Understanding the Audio Suite enhancements in Pro Tools 10
Subjects:
Audio + Music Video Audio for Video Post Production
Software:
Pro Tools
Author:
Scott Hirsch

Understanding sound effects, ambiences, and backgrounds

It's time to begin working with sound effects. This is where you get to really establish the sonic world of your video. In this movie, we will go over the five different types of effects, and then we will look at databases for managing sound effects libraries, and we'll begin to lay in some ambience and background tracks of our own. First, let's just make sure we understand the different sound effects and what they do. There are five main categories of sound effects. First we have hard effects. These are single sounds placed exactly on action. Here is an example of a hard effect, or where a hard effect is needed. I am going to mute the track and we'll see where it's needed first.

(clip playing) Did you see when that bike was laid down? I will play it one more time. (clip playing) That's a good opportunity for a sound effect. As you can see, we've laid one in. Let me solo the track, and we will hear what that sound effect sounds like by itself. (clunking sound) Then I will unsolo the track and we can hear it in context. (clip playing) (clunking sound) So that's an example of a hard effect. Again, a sound placed exactly on an action. Foley effects are effects that have to be performed by an actor and rerecorded to a scene.

It's in fact easier and faster to record foley to match a specific action than to take pre-existing sound and try to make them match a lot of times. We have a foley track in this session, and this is the sound of a helmet being taken off. So again, I am going to play this without the sound at all. (clip playing) So you see the action, but you don't hear anything. Then I am going to solo the sound up, and we will hear just the foleyed sound of the helmet being taken off. (sound of helmet being removed) Now we will hear it in context.

(clip playing) (sound of helmet being removed) The third type of sound effects are backgrounds and ambiences. These are layers of sound and specific noises that build up the sonic space of a scene. Most often these sounds make up for what we cannot see in the frame. They add depth in reality. They can be washes of sound, but they can also be specific, like an offscreen car horn or thunder. In this sequence, we have some background noise that we laid under the race that just kind of gives it a little bit of depth and reality. So let's play this section of this without the ambience.

I am also going to mute the music for effect. (motorcycles revving) Now let's hear the ambience by itself. (ambience) So, again, it's just sort of an outdoor noise. Then let's hear it in context with the rest of the film.

(motorcycles revving) So again, here this ambience just provides a separate layer of reality to this race scene that wasn't there previously. The fourth type of sound effect element is called sound design elements. These refer to sound that are built and designed, or layered, around an event. They're not just one hard effect or an ambience track, but a bunch of layers that make up an actual sound design piece. We have an example of this in this movie where the car crashes.

As you can see here, during the car crash, there are several different sounds that are layered. Some of them are deep sounds. Some of them are metal against metal, but they all add up to make up the sound design of this crash. So I am going to play a couple of these by themselves, and then we will hear them altogether. (crashing sound) There is one. Here is a different one. (pinging sound) Here is another one. (crashing sound) Here is another one. (whooshing sound) So all of those together in context of the scene sounds like this.

(crashing sounds) The last type of sound effect element I don't have an example of here. They're called production elements. Those are those bleeps, blips, and whooshes you hear in advertisements a lot. They're useful little sounds and often they occur on action, but they aren't really the sound of a real thing. So how do we get all of these sounds into Pro Tools? A lot of them come from maybe a personal library that you've built up over the years, or a sound effects CD library. Most audio for video professionals have driver or drives with libraries and tons of sound effects that they've either recorded, or they might be from different collections.

A very popular third-party program to do this is called Soundminer, but Soundminer is a pretty high-end tool, and it's expensive. Luckily, Pro Tools has its own DigiBase browser that also performs a similar function as a database. Let's open to DigiBase browser. Options+Semicolon or Alt+Semicolon on the PC will open it up. You can also get it from Window > Workspace. Here we have our DigiBase browser. So this actually works pretty well. We can search through our drives to find sound effects we want. All you have to do is click the magnifying glass in the upper left and that enables the search functions.

So we choose the drive or drives we want to search on. In this case, we are just going to search on our main Mac hard drive, and we are going to look for motorcycle race. When I click Search, Pro Tools will go through and look at either the metadata or the file names of different files to find anything relating to motorcycle race. And as you can see, it found a whole bunch of sound effects that are on the drive that relate to motorcycle race. So another thing you can do to in a DigiBase browser is make a catalog. So here as you can see catalogs, they are kind of like favorites, or collections, that you can assign to a session.

So if I go up to the top right of the DigiBase browser and I say new catalog, I can name it, let's say, race sounds. If I open up the catalogs, I should say race sounds in there. Now I can grab all of these race sounds I just found and drag them up into that race sounds folder. So this is the favorites of all of my race sounds. Now from here we can audition them. Let's listen to a couple of them. I'm going to drag this windowpane out, so I can see the full names, and let's listen to a couple of them. (motorcycle revving) So you can click on any of these speaker icons and the Digi browser will play back the sound for you.

To get it into Pro Tools, it's really easy. So let's say I wanted to add some background ambience of a race over this beginning scene here, where these guys are talking. I'll play it for a second. You will see that it's kind of empty. (Vietnamese dialogue) (motorcycle revving) So let's add some ambience down here on our ambience tracks of a background race. So let me get back to the DigiBase browser, and I'm going to drag and drop this into our ambience tracks, and we will see if it works. So just dragging it. I can watch the video and find the end point, about there looks good.

Do a quick little fade in and a quick little fade out, and let's see if that works. (motorcycle revving) That's great! It provides a background racing sound for that scene. So, working on sound effects is a very fun part of audio for video. If you're really into it, you should start building your library as soon as possible. The more sounds you have to work with, the better, and you can use the DigiBase browser to help you manage it all.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools.


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Q: This course was updated on 4/04/12. Can you tell me what changed?
A: This update was initiated when Avid released Pro Tools 10. It explains that this course can be taken with either Pro Tools 9 or 10 (the exercise files are compatible with both), and we also added movies that explore the enhanced clip-based gain and Audio Suite features in Pro Tools 10, both of which are useful when building a soundtrack.
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