Tips to help abrupt dialog edits


We’ve all had the misfortune of having to cut off the end of a piece of dialog very abruptly in order to avoid an issue of some sort; there’s a clunk in the track, or the thought needs to be cut off for the sake of story, or someone else starts speaking over the first person, or any of a million other reasons.  Here are a few edit and mix tips to help resolve the issue.

Continue reading ‘Tips to help abrupt dialog edits’ »

Depth Control: my favorite parameter on Avid Dynamics Plugs

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Avid produces several great dynamics processors for use in Pro Tools, from the included Channel Strip (with its roots in Euphonix boards) to the Pro Series Compressor and Multi-band Dynamics.  Each of these dynamics plugins has a parameter that makes them stand out in a crowded world of compressors and limiters; the depth control.  Let’s take a look at what it does and why it’s great. Continue reading ‘Depth Control: my favorite parameter on Avid Dynamics Plugs’ »

use empty clip groups for easy notes

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Normally we leave notes in our sessions using markers.  It’s what they’re for, after all!  But one big problem with markers is that they aren’t specific to any track; they just mark across the entire session at a given time.  Also, you can’t stack two or more at the same exact timecode and read them easily.

So here’s a quick tip I got from an FX editor that I work with for leaving notes in sessions using clip groups. Continue reading ‘use empty clip groups for easy notes’ »

Quickly pan car-bys and other effects in surround mixes

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There are a limited number of good tools for panning in surround.  At the top end of the spectrum are fancy dedicated surround panner sticks like the JL Cooper AXOS panner for $800+ each.  At the bottom end is the trusty mouse.  In the middle are things like Neyrinck V-Control Pro for iPad.

But these are all methods of writing pan automation in real-time, while watching action on screen.  With practice you can get pretty accurate with these, but it can still be a somewhat sloppy experience.

When tracking a steady-speed moving object on screen like a vehicle pass-by, precision is key.  Here’s my method for quickly and easily doing smooth and accurate pan moves in surround sound. Continue reading ‘Quickly pan car-bys and other effects in surround mixes’ »

Loudness Compliance Plugins, A Fatal Flaw


The CALM Act was passed in order to address the constant viewer complaints that commercials were louder than the programming, and that levels fluctuated wildly from channel to channel.  People were tired of constantly grabbing the remote to turn things up and down.

Now mixes delivered for broadcast have to meet a precise spec to address this issue.  (For the driest reading of your life, head over to the ITU’s website and read about the current international standard, BS-1770-3). While this spec is generally a good thing, it can be hard to precisely nail the exact required level with every mix.  This leaves us open to rejection at QC.  Not fun.

Today we finally have a variety of hardware and plugin options for automagically adjusting our final mixes to meet broadcast loudness specifications.  Options from iZotope, Flux, and Nugen are available to render our composite mix faster than real-time and make tiny level adjustments throughout to guarantee compliance.

But currently they have one fatal flaw… Continue reading ‘Loudness Compliance Plugins, A Fatal Flaw’ »

Scrub to solo: an easy way to isolate elements in your mix

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Being able to focus on a single element in your mix quickly and easily is vital to a speedy workflow.  Traditionally solo is the tool for this.  The key command “Shift-S” to solo any currently selected tracks is one nice option.

But as with all aspects of Pro Tools, there are only 10 ways to do everything.  Here are a few ways to effectively use scrub as a means to solo.   Continue reading ‘Scrub to solo: an easy way to isolate elements in your mix’ »

iZotope RX 4 Advanced: tying stand-alone app into Pro Tools


iZotope RX 4 has released, bringing even more fantastic new noise reduction and audio repair tools targeted at post production audio professionals.  Sadly, all the new enticing features only exist in the stand-alone application, not as plugins within Pro Tools.  However, iZotope has developed a clever way to “round trip” your audio from Pro Tools into the stand-alone RX application and back.  Read on to see how. Continue reading ‘iZotope RX 4 Advanced: tying stand-alone app into Pro Tools’ »

Pro Tools 5.1 audio track channel order

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Pro Tools supports a variety of surround sound formats, but of course the most common is still 5.1 surround.  This breaks down into the standard channels of Left, Center, Right, Left Surround, Right Surround, and LFE.  There are several different standards for how we can order those 6 channels.  Let’s take a quick look at how we deal with this in Pro Tools. Continue reading ‘Pro Tools 5.1 audio track channel order’ »

Wash away clicks and ticks from your whole dialog edit at once with iZotope RX3

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There’s nothing worse than having your show fail quality control due to a tiny tick in the dialog.  What a silly thing to reject an entire episode for!  But sadly, it happens.  And once the QC operator finds one tick, suddenly they are hearing ticks and clicks everywhere in your mix!  Fortunately we now have tools to easily pre-empt such rejections before they even have a chance.  Just combine some iZotope RX and some AudioSuite handles and you’re good to go!  Let’s check out an example workflow. Continue reading ‘Wash away clicks and ticks from your whole dialog edit at once with iZotope RX3’ »

Quick and easy loudness compliance with Avid’s new Pro Limiter

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These days the CALM Act mandates that TV programs and commercials all adhere to a standard specification for average integrated program loudness.  That spec is -24 dB LUFS, where LUFS stands for Loudness Units Full Scale.  It can also be referred to as LKFS.  If you’d like to dive deep into the details of this, here you go.

But suffice it to say, we have to meet this spec with the audio that we deliver.  And frankly, it’s a pretty good spec; it retains a healthy amount of dynamic range potential for “brief excursions” above and below the spec, and also keeps things focused around dialog level in a pleasing way.

The most important means of meeting the spec is simply to mix to the spec.  However, mixes often end up a little low or (more commonly) a little hot.  So let’s look at a quick and simple method to push the mix back into spec using a component of Avid’s excellent new Pro Limiter plugin. Continue reading ‘Quick and easy loudness compliance with Avid’s new Pro Limiter’ »