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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.
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.
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