Review the questions and answers in this section to try to sharpen your audio-acquisition and Premiere audio-editing skills. Also, take a few moments to tackle my short quiz and the exercises.
When I videotape indoors, my audio has a "tin can" quality. What's going on?
This happens for one of two reasons. The simplest reason is that the mic is too far from your subject and you're in a room with reflective surfaces such as flat walls and an uncarpeted floor. Move the mic closer. The other is more complicated and involves what audio engineers call the "3-to-1 rule." If you use more than one mic for several speakers, as in a panel discussion, you need to place the mics three times as far apart as they are to the speakers. That is, if a mic is two feet from a panelist, the next mic should be at least six feet away from the first mic. Otherwise, they pick up audio at about the same time, cancel each other out, and create that "tin can" sound.
I bought professional-quality mics but I can barely hear them in my headset and later when I listen to my tape. Why?
Unlike with professional camcorders, there are no mic standards for consumer and prosumer camcorders. If you read your camcorder's spec sheet, you probably won't see anything about the mic input, whether it's stereo or mono, and whether it needs external amplification. If you're using a low-impedance mic, such as a professional handheld mic with a cable longer than 20 feet, you probably will need a transformer for most camcorders. That should resolve your low-volume problem. If you're using an unpowered condenser mic, such as a shotgun, you will need "phantom power," either from a mixer or a portable phantom-power adapter.
Your audio and video clips have little red triangles in the upper-left corners. How did that happen? What can you do about it?
The red triangles mean what were once linked and synced video and audio clips are now out of sync. They got that way because you unlinked them and then slid either the audio clip or video clip (or both) along the track. To resync the clips, click and drag a red triangle a short distance into one of the clips and release the mouse button. That clip will jump back to a synced position.
Why use an L-cut or a J-cut? What are the basic editing steps?
In both instances, you are creating smooth transitions to either ease a cut with specific sound into your project or let it fade out. An L-cut starts audio under the preceding video cut (which also has associated audio) and then fades up as you transition or cut to the video portion. A J-cut fades audio under the next clip as a way to ease out of that audio clip. You create both edits by unlinking the audio from the clip you're going to extend under an adjacent clip, moving that audio to a different audio track, extending the audio in the appropriate direction, and then adding a cross-fade (or you can do it manually).
Why should you use external mics?
Your camcorder's onboard mic is a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. It picks up sound all around you, including noise you make when handling the camcorder. External mics capture sound at the source. Using external mics is invariably better and greatly improves the quality of your production.
J-cuts, L-cuts, and cutaways should be a part of every production. The only way that's going to happen is if you get comfortable doing them. Make a few of each.
When using a narration, typically you'll lay down some of that voiceover, put in a clip with some nice natural sound, and then add more narration and more natural sound throughout your story. Give that process a try by cutting your narration with the Razor tool and inserting nat-sound clips at those breaks. Use J- and L-cuts liberally.
I'll cover audio special effects in Hour 9. But you can preview that process by adding an audio clip to the timeline. The best is a narration, because you know what it should sound like and any changes you add will be more obvious. Open the Audio tab in the Transitions palette, open the Reverb & Delay submenu, and drag and drop Reverb on your audio clip. That opens a small effects control window. Click Setup, which opens the Reverb Settings window. Click Preview Sound and then start sliding the four sliders to your heart's content. When done you can erase your efforts by opening the History tab and clicking the item above "add filter."