Learn to Create 3D Audio in Premiere Pro (Surround Sound FX)

Premiere Pro 16/02/2022 3 min read

Sound editing and mixing are an integral part of the editing process, but it is often left to last or not given the attention it deserves. Aside from telling your story, your sound design should build atmosphere and engage your audience. 3D audio in Premiere Pro is a piece of cake and can take your sound design from a flat audio track to a 3D environment.

Part 1: What is 3D Audio?

3D audio is the method of creating surround sound, similar to how you’d hear audio through your headphones. You can create this by adjusting the panning on a track to make it seem like a particular sound effect is coming from a specific direction.

An excellent example to look for is car and traffic sounds in movies and TV. If the car travels from left to right, the audio will often travel from the left speaker to the right to mimic how the human ears hear an actual vehicle passing by.

3D audio creates a better, more engaging sound design for your audience but can also be used for stylistic and expressive purposes. In horror, for example, the 3D sound is often used to build tension and create dramatic jump scares.

Part 2: Create 3D Audio Effects in Premiere Pro (Audio Panning)

Creating 3D audio in Premiere Pro is easy and doesn’t take long to make. Audio animation requires Keyframes, but fortunately, the process is the same as footage. When you’re editing your audio, it is best to use Headphones.

  1. Edit your footage and audio in the timeline until you are ready to edit the sound.
  2. Right-click on the sound clip and choose Show Clip Keyframes > Paneer > Balance.
  3. Drag the line in the Audio Track up and down to change the direction it is coming from.
  4. Grab the Pen tool and create keyframes by clicking on the audio line. 
  5. Adjust the Balance to match the sound effects direction.

Part 3: Top Tips for Creating Dynamic Audio Design

Great audio design takes time and patience, but your audience will appreciate your efforts when you can create an exciting 3D environment. Here are a few top tips for creating a stunning sound design.

Clean Your Audio First

Before adding audio animation and panning effects to your clips, it is vital to make sure your audio is as good as possible. Similar to how you should Color Correct footage before grading it, audio scrubbing and background noise removal should be done before animating.

Build Your Sound in Layers

Great sound design is created using layers upon layers of audio, carefully mixed to make the world of your film. When adding 3D Audio animation, you should treat each sound effect individually, adding the panning effects before mixing your audio.

Off-Screen Audio

One of the primary uses for 3D audio is to create the effect of something moving toward or past the camera. It is essential to remember your sound effects need to cover the whole sequence. 

For example, if a car passes the camera in a 3-second shot, the car’s audio will need to start before the viewer sees it and after it has left the screen. When searching for sound effects, remember that you might need a longer SFX than the clip.

Don’t Overdo It

Once you start using 3D audio, it can be easy to get carried away and apply animation to every effect. Sound design is a delicate balance, and while subtle movement matches in your visuals and audio can create a fascinating world for your audience, too much movement can become overwhelming.

Creating 3D audio in Premiere Pro is super easy and doesn’t take very long, but it is time well spent. Surround sound can improve the quality of your project and help create a better viewing experience for your audience. Check out our handy articles to learn more about audio in Premiere or if you’re having problems with your audio not playing.

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