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Stripping silences

 
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Foog
Cinquecento


Joined: 27 Oct 2013
Posts: 599
Location: Upper Canuckistan

PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 12:29 pm    Post subject: Stripping silences Reply with quote

I've been using a home studio for 6 years now, but until this year all my work has been for clients that wanted raw voice tracks - no stripping out room noise, no EQ, no limiter, no nothing, not even normalizing! So after years of working with Pro Tools, to my shame I still have nary a clue how to use it other than record, bounce, and collect cheque. Not that there is a darned thing wrong with that lovely arrangement!

But these days I find myself having to roll up my sleeves and actually work with the files (the horror!). Using the "Strip Silence" option in Pro Tools has proven handy (though if there is any advantage the noise gate has over strip silence, please let me know), but I find that unless I do a fade-in and fade-out on each and every little isolated segment of voice, there is a bit of a pop or click whenever the voice comes on. Doing these fades every few words on longer recordings is awfully time consuming. Is there any way to automate the process, i.e. set some trigger details, fade-in duration, fade-out duration, whatever other parameters are relevant and click... done!

I don't want to limit this question to Pro Tools, so if anyone knows of any way - whether a plugin or separate bit of software - to avoid doing these manual fade-in and fade-outs, I'm all ears!

cheers,
Andrew Fogarasi
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Foog
Cinquecento


Joined: 27 Oct 2013
Posts: 599
Location: Upper Canuckistan

PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How gauche, replying to my own thread!

Still, I feel compelled since I finally discovered the solution, and thought I would share in case anyone else was wondering hot to do this...

Once you strip the silences, but still have all the segments highlighted, the edit menu has a batch fade that can be used to affect every segment. Set the duration, shape, then click ...and boom! An automagical fade-in and fade-out for each little snippet. And a great deal of time saved by my noobish self over manually fading each and every section in and out.

I'm still trying to figure out optimal fade durations though: too long and the fade might be noticeable, too short and things sound artificial or even get cut off.
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Frank F
Fat, Old, and Sassy


Joined: 10 Nov 2004
Posts: 4119
Location: Park City, Utah

PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are tons of so called automated breath silencers available today - most do not work well.

In many cases stripping the breaths is not always desired. Quieting down the breaths is often a good thing. As for a simple way of quieting down things there are three schools of thought.

One: Build a better room, use acoustics, traps, and clouds to keep your recording area quiet.

Two: Look at the self noise of the microphone, preamp, soundcard, software, etc. you are using. Fix or replace where necessary.

Three: Use a noise gate, However there is a caveat warranted : Do not over process and take out the subtleties of your voice with a gate. (Noise Reduction is another process available, but it can be very tricky for new users).

Hope these thoughts help.

Frank F
_________________
Be thankful for the bad things in life. They opened your eyes to the good things you weren't paying attention to before. www.frank-thevoice.com
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MBL



Joined: 03 Dec 2013
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:19 am    Post subject: Re: Stripping silences Reply with quote

Foog wrote:
I've been using a home studio for 6 years now, but until this year all my work has been for clients that wanted raw voice tracks - no stripping out room noise, no EQ, no limiter, no nothing, not even normalizing! So after years of working with Pro Tools, to my shame I still have nary a clue how to use it other than record, bounce, and collect cheque. Not that there is a darned thing wrong with that lovely arrangement!

But these days I find myself having to roll up my sleeves and actually work with the files (the horror!). Using the "Strip Silence" option in Pro Tools has proven handy (though if there is any advantage the noise gate has over strip silence, please let me know), but I find that unless I do a fade-in and fade-out on each and every little isolated segment of voice, there is a bit of a pop or click whenever the voice comes on. Doing these fades every few words on longer recordings is awfully time consuming. Is there any way to automate the process, i.e. set some trigger details, fade-in duration, fade-out duration, whatever other parameters are relevant and click... done!

I don't want to limit this question to Pro Tools, so if anyone knows of any way - whether a plugin or separate bit of software - to avoid doing these manual fade-in and fade-outs, I'm all ears!

cheers,
Andrew Fogarasi


The batch fade option that you found is definitely a good solution for your issue, I was going to recommend that. I believe once you find a good "average" length to use for the fades, you can then go in and manually adjust specific fades that may be too short or too long.

Another good option you may want to check out is to use Pro Tool's DYN3 Expander/Gate Plugin. With this, you can actually bring the level of the noise floor down relative to the level of your recorded voice. What you will basically want to do is leave a small amount of room tone at the start of your recording, highlight it, open up the plugin from the Audiosuite menu and hit the "Preview" button, now you should see a bit of level jumping up on the "In" meter. Adjust the pointer on that bar so it is just above where the level hits. Now you have you level set. So unclick the "preview" button, and now you can highlight your entire recording, and process it with this plugin.

You can see the results of this visually if you maximize the size of your waveform up to the point where quiet passages are not flat lines and actually appear as a waveform, then apply the plugin, and you should notice those quiet passages are now a flat line or just about a flat line, even with the waveform expanded so greatly.

This process as well as the batch fade process and some other helpful tips can all be found in this article:

http://nuancetone.com/articles/vo-mastering-in-pro-tools/
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Foog
Cinquecento


Joined: 27 Oct 2013
Posts: 599
Location: Upper Canuckistan

PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:55 am    Post subject: Re: Stripping silences Reply with quote

MBL wrote:
http://nuancetone.com/articles/vo-mastering-in-pro-tools/


Thanks for the link. I must be on the right track since my workflow has turned into something very close to what that article suggests. The only differences being that I do the downward expansion before I normalize, since this way I am working with the same noise floor regardless of how loud/close to the mic I happen to be on a particular take. This lets me use a custom preset as a quick default setting (great for quick audition stuff) and still allows me to further polish things after normalizing if need be. Also I avoid compression, and only do it on isolated spots if I notice a big spike in volume on a specific word or syllable.

...Oh! And I've taken to only cutting the horrible ragged breaths where I'm taking a running start at a passage, and just reducing volume on any breaths that sound "natural". (something I still have to work on though. Too little long form work and too much deep-sea diver breathing when reading copy has given me some bad habits!)



cheers,
Andrew Fogarasi
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MBL



Joined: 03 Dec 2013
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No Problem Andrew. It's easy to get carried away with all the processing you can do to your audio, but what I find helps is to listen to some demos of some successful VO talent with your eyes closed, then listen to some of your stuff with your eyes closed and just try to notice what's different between the recordings and go from there. Rather than just assuming "ok I've recorded the audio, now I need to Gate, EQ, Compress, Normalize, etc..etc..."

Sounds like your on the right track, and setting up presets will definitely go a long way in saving you time.
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