Audio Mixing


An entire book could be devoted to the art of mixing audio. It can be argued that an audio engineer who specializes in the art should always do your audio mixing. This process is commonly called audio sweetening or sound sweetening . So many different disciplines are involved with quality production that this argument can be made for each of them, but the democratizing nature of what's happening today in the area of video and film production runs contrary to this. It takes more money to hire specialists who might give you a better product. I recommend that you learn these tools and master their use. They can certainly improve the sound you add to your projects.


There is no way to fix truly bad sound. If you have one voice among many (such as at a party) or a voice against wind or traffic noise, nothing can recover it.

The set of audio filters supplied by Final Cut Pro generally is for creating a better-sounding track and correcting errors. One thing is for sure: If you need a fix, there's probably a filter that can help if you learn how to use it properly.

You can hear various sources of audio at the same time by having audio files play "on top of" or "underneath" each other in the same moment, each residing in its own track or set of two tracks (for stereo clips) in your sequence. All frames of video and audio play at the same time if they are directly above or below each other, as you have seen already.

The number of clips you intend to hear at the same time determines how many audio tracks you need to create for them in your sequence. Stereo audio clips need two tracks per clip, and monaural tracks need only one.

Most users will use only two tracks of stereo audio for final output. So you need to determine which channel you want to hear each of your sound clips play from (left, right, or a combination, centered or not centered or even moving from side to side). You also need to determine each clip's volume and whether you want to add sound effects or filters to it. In Chapter 2, "Specifying Setups, Settings, Presets, and Preferences," see the "Audio Outputs" section for more information about setting up a system that uses more than two tracks of audio on output. You can have as many as 24 tracks of discrete audio output. The Final Cut Pro user 's manual contains many pages on the use of multitrack recordings. Rather than repeat them here, I suggest that you read the discussion there. It is quite extensive .

Audio Aesthetics

When you edit audio into your sequence, it absolutely needs to be part of your storytelling. Each aspect of each element, whether audio or video, needs to enhance the part of the story you are telling. If it doesn't, it doesn't belong, and you shouldn't use it. This is one of the "live and die" rules of editing. When editing in additional elements, you must ask yourself if it's needed and if it's appropriate. Just because you recorded it doesn't mean you should use it. The same can be said of video edits.

Beginning filmmakers who edit the material they have shot or recorded themselves are especially prone to using an element that doesn't quite work because it's close, and the audience won't notice. Forget it. If you want a truly professional-sounding and -looking piece, don't show your audience your mistakes. As elementary as this sounds, it amazes me how often new filmmakers make this mistake.

Inappropriate audio elements especially get noticed when they have an unnatural or unsupportive sound or technical problems. For example, the moment you lose sync, you've lost the audience. On the whole, we are used to seeing lower-quality pictures, such as streaming video. We are not, however, used to hearing poor audio. The audience will hear a mistake or an inappropriate piece of audio sooner than they will notice a picture problem, and they won't forgive it as easily. Because you are trying to focus the audience on the feeling you want them to feel, keeping them in a mindset of fantasy or concentration on the subject at hand, don't jolt them back to reality by using audio that's not right or that has problems. It's better to simply leave it out.

Choose your elements solely on the basis of whether they paint a more-detailed picture of the portion of the story they appear in. If you show a mistake, you've blown it. If you don't show it, your audience will stay more focused. Although they won't hear that extra brush stroke of story, it's better than losing them because you used or left in something they noticed (and they always notice).

Sit back a bit from your direction, and tell your story anew when you start the editorial process. Approach the material as if you are seeing and hearing it for the first time. This is exactly why many producers don't allow their directors to edit the film they shot and choose an editor instead. Enhance the moments in your film only with edits that tell more story or add an adjective in film language. The moment you don't, your audience yawns.

Foley is the term used for recording sound effects that might or might not have been recorded when the film was shot. In the case of our movie, the entire sound effects track is either foley or effects taken from a sound-effects library. When you add this realistic and appropriate sound to your picture, it enhances the story. This might be done to get rid of inappropriate sound, such as cars or airplanes, or sync audio recorded with a technical problem. For example, it sure would wreck "The Midnight Sun" if we left in a 21st-century sound like an airplane. It would be better to use a different take or record ADR instead. This is also sometimes called looping .

Jerry Hofmann on Final Cut Pro 4
Jerry Hofmann on Final Cut Pro 4
ISBN: 735712816
Year: 2005
Pages: 189 © 2008-2017.
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