Okay. Deep Breaths.
This was a live, backstage video; that should get us some leeway regarding the parts that are out of control.
It’s not like we had anyone run in front of the camera screaming obscenities or completely nude, so we’re already doing better than most live, local newscasts that end up on YouTube.
Plus, if we’re smart about this, we might actually be able to clean it up without anyone noticing, and that’s almost like it never happened, right?
Where Do We Start?
Since we’re audio engineers, we’re trained to listen closer than most other people do, and this critical listening is imperative when cleaning up unwanted audio in videos. It’s nearly impossible to account for the sound in your surroundings when filming on-site, so a lot of the time some post-production will be necessary.
Whether you’re struggling with an unruly air conditioning/heating system like we did, or you need to remove some of the piercing clinks of a hammer in the background, there are hundreds of situations where your recorded audio is less than ideal.
Fortunately, you don’t always need to go out and purchase audio restoration software to clean up your recording.
All too often, you’ve probably already got some music production plugins that’ll get the job done just as well as (if not better than) that overpriced, overpowered audio restoration suite.
What You’ll Need
To clean up your video, you’ll need something that can:
1. Handle audio & video
2. Support any 3rd party plugins you’d like to use
3. Save your settings in case further processing is needed later (not required, but highly recommended)
Most of today’s DAWs allow basic video import if you’re just looking to focus on the audio. If you’d rather work on both the audio and video in a single platform, video processing applications like Adobe Premiere support VST & AU.
Before committing to any one platform, it’s important to check with formats are supported and what formats are offered by your plugin manufacturers.
Most JST plugins are available in VST2, VST3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
How It’s Done
Video clean-up can be done with most standard plugins when you identify your goal and execute on it. For the most part, the goal will be isolation and volume reduction. While further processing may be needed to enhance the recorded audio, we’re focusing on the removal of unwanted sound.
For clean-up, tools like JST Transify can effectively remove things like the hiss associated with lower quality built-in mic audio, as well as low-end rumble that builds up when filming in large enclosed spaces:
It makes complete sense why Transify works on video audio – the plugin is already broken up into frequency bands. While the original design’s intent was to act on transient musical elements, there’s no reason to limit its use when it clearly shines as a technical tool as well.
What Other Plugins Work on Video?
I recommend any engineer looking to get into video post-production evaluate their current plugin collection before spending a dime on any audio restoration software.
Look at each plugin and ask yourself “Can I use this for video work?”
Things like basic EQs and compressors are going to be pretty straightforward in the video realm, but what about getting more creative?
Plugins like Gain Reduction and Pixelator are great in sound design situations.
Have your own unconventional plugin recommendations for audio post? Share it with other like-minded engineers in the Joey Sturgis Tones Forum.