Every filmmaker, video editor, or casual moviemaker runs into bad source audio from time to time. There is plenty that can happen during production that will compromise the quality of your audio, and luckily there are some things you can do in post-production to improve it. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned working in Premiere Pro:
1. Noisy Audio
Premiere Pro has an effect that will reduce noise called the DeNoiser. It does work, but it has one major issue- if you apply it to individual clips, and play it back, there is a significant delay before it will kick in. Applying it to an audio track in the Audio Mixer helps reduce the delay, but in many cases it will still be there. I find the best way to reduce noise is by exporting your audio to Adobe Audition. You can easily export your audio by right clicking on the clip, and selecting ‘Render and Replace with Audition’.
Once in Audition, there are a few ways to reduce noise. There is the ‘Noise Reduction (Process)’ effect, which requires you to capture a Noise Print from your audio. Just select a part of the audio that has just the noise, and go up to Effects > Noise Reduction > Capture Noise Print. Once you do that, you can start the Noise Reduction process. Be careful with how much noise you remove; this will affect the quality of the vocals in the track so don’t go too crazy! Another useful effect is the Parametic Equalizer in the Filters & EQ menu- this works similar to the Lowpass effect in Premiere Pro, but provides more options.
2. Quiet Audio
To amplify your audio, right click on the track and select “Audio Gain…”. The amount you adjust the gain depends on how quiet your audio is; use your best judgment. The levels should be hitting 0 dB ideally, so play around until you see the levels going to 0 dB. If you’ve generated some noise, you can easily fix it with the tricks above!
Of course, there is only so much you can do in post-production. Make sure to test all of your equipment before the shoot and, if possible, scope out the location beforehand. Spending time to ensure the quality of your audio before and during production will save you many headaches later on!