Although Premiere is known mainly as a video editor, a big part of making finished productions is ensuring that the audio side of things is nicely put together, too. And so it is that Premiere has a number of built-in audio filters to help you work with sound in your projects, whether it’s location sound, foley, ADR or even music.
In your Premiere project, select an audio clip in the timeline and then go to the Effects bin located in the bottom left corner of Premiere’s window. Click on the Audio Effects folder to expand it outwards:
Locate an effect you want to use (here we’re choosing a de-esser) and drag and drop it onto the audio clip you want to apply it to. Then double-click on the clip and it should appear in the Source viewer window. Click on the Effect Controls tab to access the effect controls.
What you see next depends on the effect that's been applied. This one happens not to have many controls but if you click on 'Custom Setup', you can open a dedicated control window for the effect. In this case it lets you set the threshold for de-essing a vocal track such as a voiceover. You can set a male or female voice, and tweak the threshold while playing back until you reach the correct level of de-essing. There’s a tiny button at the bottom of this window that lets you play back just the audio and not the video.
To change an effect’s settings over time, go to the Individual Parameters field and click to expand it. Now you can use the keyframing tool to put in different values at different points in time. This is a form of automation and is really useful when, for example, one part of a sentence needs heavy de-essing, but another part is muffled by the same level of de-essing. Using keyframes you could easily turn the threshold up and down over time. The same technique applies to any effect that needs to change over time, such as a reverb getting larger and larger in size to simulate the sound of someone getting further away.
To edit keyframes you can simply click on them and then move or delete them. To remove an effect altogether, right-click on it and choose Cut or Clear. Click the tiny FX button to the left of an effect’s name to temporarily turn it off.
As well as some good stock built-in effects like declicker, EQ and reverb, Premiere can also see third party audio plug-ins installed on your Mac. If you have any they should appear in the plug-ins list.
You apply external plug-ins in the same way as you did Premiere’s own. Bear in mind that if Premiere won’t allow you to drop an audio effect onto an audio clip, it means that the two have mismatched formats. A stereo effect can’t be dropped onto a 5.1 surround track, for example. If you need to do this for some reason you can always right-click on the audio clip and choose to edit in Audition, then have it sent back to the Premiere project.
Premiere sometimes has trouble displaying third party plug-in interfaces so if you need to do this you can always switch briefly to Audition. Otherwise, use the Individual Parameters lane to access each control and keyframe it over time if you like.
Most audio filters and plug-ins should run happily in realtime but if you are experiencing problems you always have the option to render the audio clip down to a new file, complete with the effect applied to it. To do this, simply go to Clip > Audio Options > Render and Replace. Premiere will create a new copy so your original audio remains safe and unchanged.
Want to learn more about Premiere? Aside from the free articles here on The Hub, do check out this Premiere tutorial-video.