How to Get Better Audio With Essential Sound in Adobe Premiere Pro

The Essential Sound panel in Adobe Premiere Pro offers an easy-to-use set of tools to better adjust audio levels, apply effects, and repair common issues you might face with sound in your videos.

It also gives you the means to create a video product that has a decent balance of music, sound effects, and audible dialog. This can greatly add to the professionalism of a video, as overpowering music or indiscernible dialog can make your work jarring.

This article will examine just how you can use the Essential Sound feature to get your audio sounding more level and professional.

Getting Started With Essential Sound

First, open Adobe Premiere Pro, and head to the file that you want to work on. To access the Essential Sound workflow from your timeline, simply click the Audio tab at the very top of the Premiere window.

From there, navigate to the Edit tab on the right-hand side. This area is where you apply different settings to the audio files in your timeline.

These settings are known as Tags, and they are divided into four basic categories: Dialog, Music, SFX, and Ambience. Attaching these tags to a clip in your timeline will automatically apply a basic volume level depending on which tag you use.

Once tags are applied to your clips, you can add additional effects and filters, as well as make further adjustments to the volume.

Using Tags With Your Audio Clips

Let's imagine a basic timeline, like cutting a video of a group of people toasting at a party. You have three audio clips to use: a woman saying "cheers," a piece of music, and the sound of glasses clinking.

First, select the clip of the woman saying "cheers" in your timeline. Navigate to the Essential Sound panel to the right, and click the Dialog button.

Doing this now applies the Dialog tab to your clip—you'll notice a new set of controls, including a dropdown Preset setting. Because it's a woman speaking, click on that dropdown box, and select the Balanced Female Voice preset.

Doing this adjusts the audio's levels to a preset specifically for dialog. But if you feel it is still too loud or too quiet, you can make further adjustments using the Volume slider at the bottom of the panel.

Now, let's do the same for the other two tracks. The music clip in the timeline (obviously) receives a Music tag. From the dropdown Preset setting, you again have a range of options—in this case, Balanced Background Music would be appropriate. This keeps the music track below the voices and sound effects in a way that isn't too intrusive.

Finally, the sound of glasses clinking receives an SFX tag. Once again, you can adjust the volume of the clip if you feel it is too loud or too quiet after auto-leveling.

Applying a tag to an audio clip opens up a lot more sliders and options, such as dynamics, clarity, speech enhancement, repair, and special effects. Experimenting with these brings the best out of your video's sound.

If you want to practice this yourself, there are a variety of sites available that offer both royalty-free music and royalty-free footage to get started with.

Repairing Issues With Audio

The Repair feature is particularly useful if your audio clips have issues with background audio, as it allows you to pull out voices from noisy environments. Let's take a few moments to run through this.

Say you are editing a video interview shot earlier in the day, but someone nearby started mowing their lawn while it was being filmed. The production team neglected to do anything about it, and now you have a noisy lawn mower in your interview.

Now, it's unlikely you'll be able to remove the sound of the lawnmower completely, but with the Repair option, you may be able to at least reduce or dampen it.

First, select the offending clip in your timeline. If it's of an individual talking, you are once again going to select the Dialog tag from the Essential Sound panel. If it's a man, you'd select the Balanced Male Voice tag.

Now that's done, you can start applying noise reduction from the Repair settings on the right-hand side. Clicking on the Repair tab expands the list of options available—you'll see that one of these options is Reduce Noise, and selecting the checkbox enables it.

Now that's enabled, you can go about adjusting just how much background noise is removed. Play around with the slider to try and reduce the sound of the lawn mower in the background. Beware that overuse of this feature can make your dialog sound like it's underwater.

You'll also notice options for Reduce Reverb. This can be a particularly helpful setting, especially if you're working with audio recorded in a room with a lot of echo. As mentioned before, be careful not to overuse this effect.

Ducking Your Music

One other handy feature to explore within Essential Sound is ducking your music tracks. Simply put, this allows your music to automatically lower and raise its volume alongside other sounds in your timeline.

This is a particularly useful feature when you're working with a music track that plays under dialog, as it reduces the time it takes to manually lower and raise your music volume.

To start, make sure that your music clip has the Music tag applied, with either the Smooth Vocal Ducking or Hard Vocal Ducking preset chosen. These dictate how abruptly the volume of the clip falls or rises alongside other audio.

The ducking settings allow you to determine which tags trigger it—the most common use is to have it duck during dialog. Select the tag icons to determine what you want your audio to duck against.

You can then select how sensitive the ducking process is (Sensitivity), how much the audio should lower by (Duck Amount), and how quick the transitions should be (Fade). Once you are content, click Generate Keyframes.

After some calculations from Premiere, you should now have music that automatically lowers alongside other audio tags in your timeline. If you're unhappy with the results, simply adjust the sliders and regenerate the keyframes. The sliders can also be adjusted manually from the timeline.

Taking Your Audio and Video to the Next Level

Essential Sound is a great tool to get your videos' audio sounding level and clearer. If you want to move even deeper into the world of audio mixing for more professional results, there are many tools available to help you get started.


5 Ways to Keep Projects Organized in Adobe Premiere Pro

Organization is the most important tool in any video editor’s arsenal, especially as footage builds up and workflows become more complex. The ability to catalog your footage and respond quickly to requests for changes and content is crucial, particularly if you are working to tight deadlines.

Thankfully, Adobe Premiere Pro has a myriad of features that can help you keep your project organized and ensure your workflow is functional. Let’s take a look at the best tools for the job...

1. Create Bins

A simple one, but if you’re just starting out with Premiere Pro, you might not be aware of the ability to create Bins. Bins are folders you can create in your Project Window, allowing you to organize your footage.

As a baseline, you should be ensuring your sequences and footage are organized in bins. Separate bins for music tracks, graphics, and sound effects help you find items that you need more efficiently.

As edits get more complex and as you begin to pull in footage from multiple cameras and sources, organizing your footage further in bins becomes crucial. The last thing you want is to be searching through a long list of jumbled files for a sought-after shot.

To create a bin, simply right—click in your Project Window and select New Bin. Drag files in the Project Window onto bins to place them inside.

2. Use Labels

Color coordinating is a tried and tested method of organization, and Premiere Pro allows you to incorporate it into your workflow.

Make sure you are in the List View in your Project Window by clicking the List View icon in the bottom left of the panel. You see your files in a list, and a colored square in the far left column indicates the color label they are set to.

Select one or more clips in your Project Window, right click and find Label. You’re given a range of preset color options to choose from—selecting these changes your clips to that color label.

Best of all, these color changes are reflected in your clips in your timeline—so you can make sure that the right footage is being used correctly in your sequence.

3. Track Names

Maintaining a neat and tidy timeline allows you to spot errors in your edit quicker and makes collaborative work far easier. Another feature which is easy to miss in Premiere is the ability to rename your tracks in your timeline.

Naming your tracks allows you to be consistent in deciding what goes where. For example, having an audio track dedicated solely to sound effects means that they are all in one place.

To rename your tracks, double-click the space next to the visible "eye" icon to expand the details, right-click, select Rename, and type in your chosen name.

4. Utilize the Project Manager

While editing, you are likely to be importing footage and audio from a wide range of locations on your computer, or even from external devices or servers. This puts your project at a risk of ending up with Offline Media.

Simply put, when files are moved or become unavailable without informing Premiere Pro of the new location, any files used in your project are thrown Offline.

If you’re moving a project to another machine, or migrating it over an internet connection to send for more editing, the risk of Offline Media becomes even greater. One missing file can potentially render your edit useless on the other end.

This is where the Project Manager can come in useful. It looks at the sequences in your project, determines what files are being used, and copies everything to one location for you.

Simply click File, then Project Manager. You get a new window where you can set a range of options for how your project’s footage is migrated, including which edits to pick and the option to convert footage.

This also creates a new Premiere project file in the folder, so your whole edit can be sent to someone without fear of missing media.

5. Use Subclips

Of all the organizational tools at the hands of any Premiere Pro user, few are as useful as the humble subclip. Using these correctly can vastly improve the quality and speed at which you can edit video content.

Quoting chapters and verses of a book allows someone to find a specific passage without having to skim—read the whole thing. Very similarly, subclips let you define and find specific moments in your footage to catalog and refer to later.

Let’s use this free-to-use piece of footage from Pexels, as an exercise. There are many more websites for free stock footage that you can use instead.

Drag your footage from your Project Window into the Source Monitor. Then find the moment you want to create a subclip of. In this case, let’s isolate the moment in which the female subject whirls around in the street.

Mark an "In" where you want the clip to start, with the "I" key. Mark an "Out" where you want the clip to end with the "O" key. These are the default key commands so if you have difficulties, check your keyboard settings.

Finally, click and drag from your Source Monitor to your Project Window, while holding down the CTRL (Windows) or CMD key (Mac). When you release, a pop—up Make Subclip window should appear.

In this window, you can rename the subclip to whatever you want. In this case, we'll call it "Girl Spins In Street". Et voila, we now have a reference to this exact moment to catalog and use later. It'll appear in your Project Window and acts like any video clip.

Using subclips drastically reduces the time needed to search through footage and also allows you to have the best clips and moments to hand for quick use. The process of going through your footage and making subclips is highly recommended before you start editing.

Harnessing Your Organized Project in Premiere Pro

Keeping your Premiere Pro projects tidy allows you to make the most of your time while editing. And these simple methods will help you do just that.


How to Use Mocha AE: A Beginner’s Guide to Motion Tracking

Mocha AE is a piece of plug-in software within Adobe After Effects that allows for advanced motion tracking. Which allows you to follow a target in a video as it moves within the frame.

This function has a variety of uses, from removing objects in your video, to adding dynamic motion, graphics, and text. In this article, we offer a beginner's guide to motion tracking using Mocha AE.

Getting Started With Mocha AE

Mocha AE is licensed by Adobe and is incorporated inside After Effects. Once you’ve loaded footage into your composition in After Effects, select the clip you want to track and click Animation, then Track in Boris FX Mocha.

This will place the Mocha interface in the Effect Controls window, by default found on the left hand side of the screen. Click the large "Mocha" button to launch the tracking application.

A new window will appear. This is the main workspace for the Mocha AE Plugin. The interface is relatively simple: you have a timeline and a viewer, a series of layers for tracking individual objects in your image, and a set of tracking tools at the top.

Case Study: Blurring A Moving Object

Now that you've seen the basic layout of Mocha AE and know how to access it, let’s see how you can use it in practice.

One of the most common issues as a video editor is with Identifiers: faces, name tags, and writing that need hiding for legal or ethical reasons. Motion tracking and blurring is an efficient way to remove these from your video.

If you want to source your own footage to practice with, there are many sites offering free and royalty-free video footage.

This piece of Creative Commons footage from Pexels is a good clip to practice on.

In this example, the face of an individual in the crowd will be blurred. You can blur photos in Photoshop, but in moving video, blurring faces becomes a little trickier.

First, you follow the same steps as before: load the footage into the composition, apply the Mocha AE plugin, and load up the main workspace.

Focusing on the face of the man in the foreground of the image with the blue coat, click on the X-Spline Pen tool. Clicking to make points, draw a shape over the man’s face, making sure to join up your first and last points.

Once you’re content, it’s time to track the face. At the bottom right of the window, you’ll see a set of track motion options. Click the right "T" Track button and Mocha will go through each frame, automatically tracking the image within the shape you drew.

On your first attempt, the results may not work. For example, the man is turning his head to the side as he moves, so the software may try and fail to account for this.

However, you do not necessarily need to incorporate this head turning to blur his face. The Track Motion buttons at the bottom left let you specify which parameters the software considers while tracking.

These are Transform, Scale, Rotation, Skew, and Perspective. Enabling and disabling these will let you adjust the tracking to better suit your needs.

If you’re still unhappy with aspects of the tracking, you can manually adjust the track with Keyframes.

If there is a place you want to adjust the tracking shape, the Keyframe icon between the left and right frame buttons in the viewer can add or subtract keyframes for more control over your tracking.

Once you’re happy with your track, simply close the Mocha AE Window. In After Effects, navigate back to the Mocha AE plugin in your Effect Controls panel of your chosen clip.

Navigate to the Matte drop down box. You have a series of options depending on your workflow. You can click the Apply Matte checkbox to isolate your tracked shape, or you can click the Create AE Masks button to translate your motion tracking into After Effects masks for advanced work.

In this case, the clip with a tracking mask is placed on top of the original with the Apply Matte checkbox ticked. A blur effect is applied to the face.

Case Study: Copying Track Data To Text

One more use of motion tracking will be covered: copying your track data to other objects or graphics. This can allow you to achieve cool effects with text and graphics that makes them feel like part of the action.

In this case, this aerial footage from Pexels will serve as test footage. The motion of the camera will be tracked and then applied to a new text layer.

After loading up your footage as before, opening the Mocha AE interface, it's time to choose a point to track. In this case, the focus is on large grey building to the bottom right from the center of the image.

Once again, use the X-Spline pen tool to draw around the building and track the motion, closing the Mocha AE plugin when you are content with the track.

This time, in the Mocha AE Plugin in Effect Controls you are going to look at the Tracking Data dropdown box.

Click the Create Track Data box to translate your motion tracking into data that can be applied to other objects. A popup box will appear, so make sure the gear icon is toggled for your clip layer and click OK.

With the tracking data generated, you should now see that the tracking keyframes turn blue in the tracking data list. All that’s left is to apply this tracking data to another object.

Create a text layer in your composition. Back in the plugin, you’ll see two fields for Export Option and Layer Export To. These dictate how the tracking data is applied and where it is applied to.

You have a choice of applying the data as a Corner Pin or as Transform data. In this example, use the Corner Pin option. This will pin the text layer to the corners of the motion tracking shape.

Choose your text layer from the drop down box next to Layer Export To and click Apply Export. Your text should now move in line with the camera, as if it is part of the scene.

Motion Tracking With Mocha AE

The Mocha AE plugin opens up a lot of opportunities for pulling off some very cool visual work within After Effects. So we hope this beginner's guide to using the plugin helps you get to grips with the basics.


How to Use Mixamo to Animate Custom 3D Models | MakeUseOf

3D characters can be used in all sorts of creative work, including photography, film, drawing, and much more.

Here, we'll go through the process of using Adobe's Mixamo software with a 3D character, applying poses and animations. We'll also cover exporting animated models so they can be used in other applications that support 3D models.

Getting Started With Mixamo

Mixamo from Adobe is a piece of software that takes human 3D models and "rigs" them. This creates the digital "skeleton" that allows them to move and perform stock animations.

These models and animations can then be exported for use across a wide range of software, including Blender and Adobe Photoshop.

Related: Adobe Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts 101

The best part is, you don't need a subscription in order to use Mixamo. To access its full range of features, all you have to do is sign up for a free Adobe account.

1. Pick Your 3D Character

As we mentioned earlier, you must be logged in with an Adobe account to access Mixamo's character tools. These tools can be found on Mixamo's homepage.

There are premade characters for you to use if you don't have a custom one available. Click on the Characters tab at the top of the screen to access the selection. Once you've picked one out, check further down this article for details on how to add animation.

If you do have a custom 3D character you want to use, click the Upload Character button on the right side of the screen. The tool will accept OBJ or FBX 3D files, as well as ZIP packages. Simply drag your file into the upload window to start the process.

For the tool to work, you must be using a human-like model, standing in a standard "T" shape.

In this example, we'll be using a custom character we put together using a free 3D modeling software. If you want to give yourself more options, you can also find 3D models for animating available online.

Uploading a 3D character model to Mixamo will bring up the Auto Rigger window. You'll be prompted to rotate your character so that it faces you. To do this, use the buttons in the bottom left corner of the viewer to rotate your character.

When you've done this, click Next.

Now, you'll need to tell the tool exactly where to place points to create the "skeleton" for the model to be generated. Drag the circles to the areas of the chin, wrists, elbows, knees, and groin of your 3D character model. Click Next when content.

Mixamo will do some calculations to create the skeleton—this can take up to two minutes. Once finished, you should now see your model moving. Click Next to confirm that you are happy with the result.

If you see any odd animations or strange glitches, you may want to go back and re-adjust the position of the circles in the Auto Rigger.

2. Adding Animations and Poses to Your 3D Character

Click the Animations tab at the top of the screen to start animating your model. To view your model from all angles, click and drag around the model to move the camera, and use your mouse's scroll wheel to zoom in and out.

With your 3D character now loaded into the Mixamo tool, you can start customizing the way it moves or stands. You have the choice of applying moving animations or static poses to your model.

The left-hand window has a searchable catalog of animations and poses—Red models are female actions and Blue models are male ones. These differences can drastically alter the way a model behaves.

Use the search bar to explore your options—you'll find a variety of animations such as walking, running, dancing, using equipment, and much more.

Click on an animation to apply it to your model. Use the timeline and the Play/Pause buttons to view the animation in progress. You can also click and drag the circle playhead to rewind and fast-forward the animation.

Once the animation is applied, you'll see sliders on the right-hand menu that adjust the settings of the animation. In this example, we have applied the "Macarena" animation to our custom model.

Certain animations will have their own settings—keep an eye on the sliders to see what options you have. For example, the Stance slider on the Macarena animation we've applied determines how far the businessman bends his knees while dancing.

Although you might see different settings for each animation, there will always be two options that you can adjust on any animation: Trim and Overdrive. While the Trim function allows you to cut out elements of the animation you don't want, Overdrive will adjust the animation's speed.

3. Downloading Your Animated Model

Once you're happy with the animation, it's time to take it out of Mixamo and use it in your creative projects. This can be achieved by clicking the orange Download button on the right side of the screen.

You'll be given the choice of exporting in two formats: FBX and DAE.

If you want to bring your model into more advanced 3D software, either of these should be supported. However, if you want to bring your animated model into Adobe Photoshop for graphics or artwork, the DAE format is the only one that works.

Make sure you choose how many frames per second the animation will use. You can set this from the dropdown menu.

When you're happy, click the Download button. Keep in mind that this may take some time to download if your animation is quite long. And that's it—you've applied a 3D animation to your model, and you can now use it in a wide variety of creative products!

For example, you can now take your animated model into Adobe Photoshop by importing it as a DAE file. Once in, you can apply custom backgrounds, lights, and other features to really bring your character to life. You can also produce posed stills or animations for use in your work.

Learn More About Using and Creating 3D Models

Mixamo's wide choice of stock animations and ease-of-use make it a solid first choice if you're looking to experiment with 3D models. But if you want to delve further into 3D modeling, you should think about using a more advanced 3D modeling software.