OK, Adobe Premiere Pro fans. We’ve been talking video. Right now, I want to cover something just as important as your project video: Your project AUDIO. If your work doesn’t SOUND good, it also makes your work not LOOK good. How many videos have you come across rendered out in Stereo, with no EQ, no compression applied, and one microphone in one channel, and the other mic in the other? Professional sounding? No. Even though it looks good, you’re turned off (no pun intended) by the distorted audio. If the general public complains about a crummy YouTube video, imagine your viewership’s reaction!
Here’s an “on-the-fly” production trick that works with any audio source: from voice to music to tone.
OUR SCENARIO IS: A segment needs to be on air in 23 minutes, and you still need time to for the edit, export and upload.
A simple on-camera interview is being shot. You are recording 2 channels of audio (L + R) using unbalanced XLR connectors, which come standard on most pro-line HDV cameras.
You’re not using a pre-amp or exterior audio console, you’re simply DI’ing (Direct Input) your sound sources into the camera, and your camera has internal controls for your levels. Your on-screen subject is wired with a wired lavaliere, patched in on the Left channel, your shotgun microphone on a boom is your Right channel. You already know that you’re going to have different results from each of these microphones, solely due to the types of mics and their positioning.
The audio track from the interview video looks something like this:
What’s wrong with this waveform? The track is in Stereo, and the channel you need is the Lavaliere on the Left. You can’t put this on the air sounding like this: the Right channel has too much reverberation, it’s distorted, and your crew is audible, muttering about your subject’s cologne. You also can’t have JUST a Left channel as your station’s Master Control is Full 5.1 Surround Sound-ready, and it will sound off balance. This segment is also scheduled to be archived on the station’s website, where it will be available to a global audience.
Here’s what you do. In your Premiere project, mute all audio tracks except the one that needs to be reformatted.
Go FILE –> EXPORT —> AUDIO. Save the WAV file out as STEREO to isolate the two channels and choose your file location.
Once that step is completed, open up your favorite Audio NLE, Adobe Soundbooth or Audition – there is freeware out there for download, but whatever NLE you feel comfortable using as long as you can export the one audio channel will be fine. I use Soundbooth myself.
Import the file that you exported from Premiere. Notice your Left channel (green) is much hotter than the Right (blue).
Go FILE —> EXPORT —> CHANNELS TO MONO FILES. The rendered files will be noted with”_L” or “_R” to denote which channel is which. Choose the location where you want the files to be trans-coded and sent to, and click OK.
Go back to Premiere. Import the file ending in “_L”, and drag it to a mono audio track. Be sure it syncs up. Mute all other audio tracks but your latest one. EQ, balance, and optimize as necessary. Save and render.
Your waveform will look like this after all of your hard work and effort:
Play the project. Your interviewee’s voice is out on both channels. If necessary, clean up the rest of your audio, and upload for air. Mission accomplished!
Author’s Note: If a camera being sold as ‘professional-grade’ has no XLR connectors at all, walk, don’t run, to find another seller post haste – that camera is NOT professional-grade. You are being mislead and possibly bilked out of a lot of your hard-earned money (or draining your studio’s budget).