You may know that you can keyframe audio levels in the Effect Controls section for an audio clip (as with almost property in Premiere) but you may not be aware that if you zoom in a little way in the main timeline window you can also do it there too, and it’s quicker than moving to a separate window. Zoom in until you see the audio level displayed as a grey line. Now by using the Pen tool from the tool palette you can add keypoints over time. Switch back to the Selection tool and you can move any of these points in any direction, automating the volume change very quickly.
Taking the previous tip a step further, you can actually access all kinds of audio parameters in the Sequence window – it’s just that they’re not visible by default. Right click on an audio track and select Customize, which opens the Button Editor panel. From here you can drop in different elements including level meters, panner, keyframe controls, sync lock, mute, solo and more. These work on a per-track basis so you can have different setups for different audio tracks. This is handy when for example one track needs to be repeatedly unsynced while editing, but others don’t so you don’t need that control present.
You can record voiceover directly into a sequence. If you right click on an audio track’s Button area you can choose to customize the recording settings including checking the level, specifying an input microphone and choosing pre and post roll times to count you in. Then simply activate the voice recording by clicking the small microphone icon on any track and you’re good to go. It’s stored in your project bin like any other media.
Premiere has some audio effects of its own but can also load third party VST plug-ins installed on your system. Initially however this may not be activated so you have to go into Preferences > Audio and click on the Audio Plug-In Manager button. From there, make sure it’s pointed correctly at your plug-in folders (you can add more custom folders here too if you like) and press Scan. It might take a few minutes but once complete you will find that these plug-ins now appear in the Effects > Audio Effects bin for you to drag and drop onto audio clips. The wide range of effects available means you should be able to do much more than Premiere’s standard plug-in set allows.
When you drop a third party audio effect onto a clip you can go into the Effect Control section to locate it and then press the Edit button to open its interface. Premiere’s own plug-ins have their own interfaces too, but third party models all have their own design, some of which are complex. Plugs are actually required to present all their parameters to the host application as a simple list of controls and if you click the “Individual Parameters” section here you will see all the stages of the effect listed as simple text, with the ability to be set and keyframed like any parameter in Premiere. So however advanced your audio plug-in’s interface you can always use this view to locate, set and automate just the things you need, with a minimum of fuss.
You can actually do some processing of audio clips from the Preview window without going near the timeline or the mixer sections. Select a clip and right click in its waveform view. From the resulting dropdown menu, choose Audio Gain. This produces a small window where you can perform several actions. Set Gain lets you force the volume to a specific value. Adjust Gain By allows you to take the volume of the whole clip up or down by the specified amount. Normalize Peaks will look for the loudest part of the clip and adjust the overall volume relative to that peak value. Normalization is useful when a clip is a little on the quiet side and you don’t want to do too much fader-pushing in the mix.
If you right click in the sequence window on an audio track you can choose to add a Submix Track. When you then go to the Audio Track Mixer window (not the audio clip mixer) you will see all the audio channels available in the project, including the new submix track you created. If you click on the output assignment menu for any audio track you can choose to send it to the submix, or any of the submix tracks you may have created, as well as to the default Master Out channel.
The reason you might want to do this is if you for example had multiple tracks of location sound or dialogue and wanted to fade them all up or down at the same time. Instead of automating multiple source tracks, route them to a submix and just automate that track once. It’s the same principle as mix bussing in audio production, and it can really help to simplify mixes which may otherwise start to become unweidly.
The Audio Track Mixer has some powerful tools hidden just out of view. If you click on the tiny arrow at the top left you can reveal the Insert and Send effect panels. Click on an insert slot and you are able to choose from any available plug-in on your system. From the Send section you can also choose to create alternative mono, surround and other kinds of submix for testing alternative treatments.
The area at the base of each column is reserved for a Quick Control slot and if you click on this you can assign any of the available parameters for that effect to this one slot, for quick tweaking. A typical example might be a noise gate threshold control, a compressor input drive or even a reverb level. Quick access to these while mixing means you don’t have to wade all the way back into an effect’s own interface to change things.