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How To Make Your Videos Better With Sound Effects In Premiere Pro

Introduction

Hi guys! Jordan with Motion Array and today we’re going to be taking a look at SOUND DESIGN!  We’ve said it before, but Audio might be the most underrated element of a great video. That opening you just saw, had a lot of sound effects and elements scattered throughout, so, let’s quickly take a look again and see what it feels like with those sound effects removed.

So...it’s okay, but nothing compared to what it was before right?  Well I’m gonna show you how to use sound effects to make your videos EVEN BETTER! So let’s jump into it!

How To Make Your Videos Better With Sound Effects In Adobe Premiere Pro

This video has been transcribed for optimal reading

Check out this video on how to use speed ramping in premiere pro to see the effects we showcased in this video!

Okay so let’s start it off at the beginning.  WHY? Why do you want to even invest in good sound effects and sound design?  Well I hope the before and after showed you why. Video isn’t just a visual experience.  It’s also auditory. If you think how many different facets you put into the visual elements, base footage, color correction, VFX, etc., Everything that you do to the visuals, you’re doing to create either a feeling or to convey information to the fullest extent possible.  That same depth and care you put into the visuals should be present in your audio as well. Not only does it just help to make the whole piece feel more professional, but it can also help to convey either new information, or translate the existing information with more clarity. For example.  If you have a car going from right to left. You get what’s going on, but if you add in an audio pan in the same direction. It feels a lot better!

So that’s the why, now let’s go over the how. And the first step is to  

CAPTURE YOUR SOUND

Once you’ve got your visuals in place and you want to enhance them with sound it’s time to break out a microphone and record.  When capturing Sound Effects or Foley, typically you want a directional microphone, (switch to microphone) something that captures sound in the direction that it’s pointed, AND DOESN’T PICK UP WHAT IT’S FACING AWAY FROM!  which in our case is a standard shotgun microphone. I’ve got the Rode NTG 2, but other shotgun mics like the Sennheiser MKE 600 or ME66 are totally do-able too. And these are pretty standard around rental shops, so if you’re on a paying gig, it’s probably worth the rental cost of $10-15.  That’s a small price to pay for upping your audio quality.

You’re also going to need something for it to plug into for recording. I have mine hooked up into a scarlet 2i2 for recording right into my computer, but if you’re out in the field, Zoom is kind of the king of indie recorders.  Their H4n version is available pretty much anywhere and you can rent for less than $10 a day!

Okay, so now you’re ready to record.  Let’s go over an example. Here I have a bunch of coffee beans being poured into a grinder.  The grinder outside looks plastic, so I’m literally just going to grab coffee beans and a plastic cup.  Test your mic to see if it’s at a good volume, then record and make that sound

Make the sound with relatively close proximity to the microphone.  Test it out a couple of times and see what sounds the best, and it’s really helpful to try and wear some good headphones to really hear the sound as it’s being recorded, and see if you need to make some changes.  Even if you think you’ve gotten a good take, do it over and over just a few more times for variation. Then drop it in and see what it sounds like! Cool! Now find the other elements that you can add your own sounds to and rinse and repeat!

So once you’ve got a bunch of sounds that you’re happy with, you’ll probably realize, oh, there’s a few that I don’t quite know how to make the sounds for.  Like here. Roots stretching down into the ground. I can’t record that just by pointing my mic at the dirt so, what should I do.

The answer is GET CREATIVE!

You want to know what I used for this sound?

Cling wrap.  I took some of this right next to the mic and for about 2 minutes solid just explored all the different sounds that I could make with it.  THIS part will require a lot of trial and error, and you probably won’t choose the thing you think will work best first try. I thought at first “oh for sure a pair of rubber gloves would give me the squeeking stretching sound that I was looking for” but surprisingly it didn’t make any of the sounds that I thought would work for this image.  

But i didn’t just use 1 sound from the cling wrap.  I actually used 3. And when all 3 are placed together.  You get this. A fuller richer sound. This is what’s called layering your sounds.  Getting not only 1 version of the thing you’re recording, but maybe multiple takes placed on top of each other.  What can really help is to make these each play a unique part. I had one focus on the high frequencies here. And then for another one I focused the audio on the low end with a simple low pass filter.  

But layering doesn’t have to be for just the same type of sound though.  Layering sounds can be adding multiple different sounds to create a better fuller world.

Take the opening forest sounds for example.  You’ve got just the general forest ambiance. Then you’ve got the birds layered on top.  Maybe you’ve got a creek in your shot, that might sound nice. But once you’ve got a few more sounds layered on top of each other, we get something like this.

But even the biggest pack rats among us might not have the right combination of objects to create the sounds that we want.  Take these shots. How would you create sound for Space? I thought it was literally supposed to be a silent vacuum of emptiness?  Well you might have noticed that in the video I had a moment where you could hear Neil Armstrong's famous words after stepping foot on the moon.   

That recording is actually in the public domain, meaning that you can use it for whatever purpose really and it’s not under any copyright restrictions.  There’s a surprising amount of material from NASA in specific, that’s just available for public use.

But after you’ve sourced the internet, raided your house, and you still can’t find something to make your sounds, this is where we turn to: 


MODULATION

Here’s a shot of the moon descending over the horizon. And here’s the audio that I placed along with it.

You ready for this one?  This is what I did. I made a humming noise with my mouth.  From there you take your noise and if you’re in premiere pro, you can just add a studio reverb, tweak some settings to make it have a BIG amount of reverb and you go from this.

To this

To finally this

Sometimes the best solutions are found by just literally playing around and seeing what happens.  Like, what happens when you take this sound we just made and play it in reverse.

….I think I know where we can put that

And in context that then sounds like this

Boom! That’s so much fun!  But guys when it all comes down to it, there’s a chance your creativity won’t be able to take you through your whole piece, so when that moment hits you, you can always go to Motion Array and grab some sounds effects to boost your piece.  

And keep in mind that you’re not limited to using the sound effects you download as they were recorded.  I grabbed these church bells and used the pitch shifter audio effect in Premiere to make the tones line up a little bit more, so that they almost sounded like a part of the song.

And I even did that same thing with the sawing sound effect I downloaded.  I added two different versions and gave a low pass filter to one of them, so that they would each be focusing on a different frequency.  Then I added a pitch shifter effect to each of them and turned them so that they were a little more in tune with the song.

But if you open up the audio effects panel in premiere you can see that there’s pretty much no shortage of effects you can throw at footage you download to truly make it your own.  And if you have the full creative cloud suite you can open up audition for truly unparalleled audio capabilities.

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