Q The sound-editing tools included in my video-editing software package are pretty rudimentary. What do you recommend if I want to take up the audio quality on my editing system a few notches?
A With all of the advances in video and film gear over the past few years, one facet of production that hasn’t changed is the need for high-quality sound. It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting a feature film with a RED ONE or an ARRI ALEXA or home movies with a DSLR; the need for high-quality sound is a constant.
Just a few short years ago, it was typical for most video and film producers to use an audio post facility or an in-house sound mixer to perform the audio postproduction for their projects. Sound for picture is a subset of audio engineering, and it has unique requirements that aren’t often encountered in studio sound mixing that many music and spoken word sound mixers are used to. When compared to mixing for music, sound for picture usually requires more attention to noise reduction, an increased need of EQ and compression, and an ability to seamlessly match looped and post recorded sound with the sound that was recorded in the studio or on location.
With the addition of more sophisticated audio post tools and plug-ins, you can increase the overall sound quality of your production, but keep in mind that acquiring better audio post tools is just the first step of the process. The most important factor is to obtain the training, knowledge and experience that will allow you to intelligently utilize more sophisticated audio tools. To begin, there are hundreds of audio plug-ins and tools on the market, so how do you know which ones are right for you?
Waves Audio may be a good place to begin (www.waves.com). They recently introduced an audio bundle, Video Sound Suite, aimed specifically at video editors. I had an opportunity to audition all six of the audio plug-ins included in the bundle on a cable spot and a corporate video that my company recently produced. Waves has been a leader in audio post tools since 1992, and I’ve used various Waves audio tools over the years; they have always been impressive, so I was looking forward to hearing what they offer for video editors.
The Video Sound Suite includes six different plug-ins, each designed to provide the most commonly needed audio modifications when editing sound for picture. The Video Sound Suite is only available as a native version, meaning that it can be used with Avid Media Composer, Soundtrack Pro (part of Apple’s Final Cut Studio), Sony Vegas, Nuendo, Logic Pro and others. You can see a full list of compatible programs at www.wavesupport.net.
W43 Noise-Reduction Plug-in
Probably one of the most common requests in sound for picture editing is noise reduction. Shooting on location often results in excess ambient noise, 50/60-cycle hum, hiss or wind. The W43 Noise-Reduction Plug-In is designed to transparently reduce unwanted sound while not adversely affecting the desired sound quality of the voice(s) in your footage. It was fairly easy and straightforward to use.
I utilized the plug-in for an interview that was shot with excess air-conditioning sound in the background. The plug-in was relatively simple to use, and the end result was significantly cleaner than the same clip that I ran through the stock noise-reduction plug-in included in my video-editing program. Like all of the plug-ins in this bundle, the W43 plug-in is PC- and Mac-compatible.