How To Use Noise Gates In Video Editing.
This tutorial is in response to a question I saw on a Facebook group recently. Someone had a long piece of dialogue that had some unwanted background noise when the person stopped talking and rather than go through a whole long clip and cut out each section individually, they wanted to know if there was an automatic way of doing it and thankfully there is!
This technique comes from the world of sound engineering and music recording and it’s a thing called a Noise Gate. In Premiere Pro they’ve called it the Auto Gate, just to confuse you a little, but it’s a plug-in which will automatically cut out any unwanted background noise when your speaker stops talking.
So in Premiere Pro here we’ve got a clip of me from a previous video and as you can see in the audio file I talked in the middle section but there’s sections where I’ve stopped talking where there is some unwanted background noise. It might be some noise from the microphone, might be me shuffling around or breathing, it’s noise that we want to cut out and we want to cut out automatically.
Firstly let’s get the plug-in on the clip and let’s have a look at how it works. So we select the clip, go over to the effects window in the search bar we’re going to type in and dynamics. We’re going to drag that and drop it onto the audio track. Go up to the effects control window and let’s click Edit on dynamics and open it up.
Now all you have to pay attention to is these four controls; threshold, attack, release and hold. Before we use those you kind of need to understand how they work.
So the best way to think about a noise gate is like an on and off switch which automatically turns that channel on or off once the volume reaches a certain threshold. So we set that threshold to a figure that once the voice breaks it then the channel is switched back on and you can hear it and once the voice dips back under the threshold (there’s no talking) then that channel is switched off.
So the threshold is at what volume the noise gate will start working. The attack that’s a little bit more self-explanatory, that’s how quickly the channels are turned back on, once the threshold is broken. The hold is how long it will stay open once the threshold is broken and the release is how quickly it will shut again, once the volume drops below the threshold.
So by playing with these different parameters you will hear how it affects the voice and how we need to be very careful of how we set them. So if the threshold’s too high you’ll get this kind of stuttering effect. That’s where it’s switching on and off too quickly. Pay attention to setting the threshold too low as some of the noise will trigger the auto gate to turn on, because it is a higher level. So you need to find a delicate balance between letting the voice through and cutting the noise out.
There’s no quick way of doing this, it is just paying attention, listening to how the gate is working, you want to try and recreate a natural sound to this.
So once you’ve spent that time with some trial and error setting the Threshold First, then slowly effecting the Attack Hold & Release to ensure it’s a smooth sound there’s only one job left… RoomTone!!
Yeah this is really important in my opinion. When you cut to silence your ear really notices it and room tone is your mask for that. Place your pre-recorded room tone underneath and use this as a bit of aural glue.
There we have it, we’ve automatically cut out the background noise from that video clip without distracting from you too much by using room tone. It’s a great little tool which will hopefully save you a whole bunch of time.
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