Editor’s Note: “28 Weeks of Post Audio” originally ran over the course of 28 weeks starting in November of 2016. Given the renewed focus on the importance of audio for productions of all types, PVC has decided to republish it as a daily series this month along with a new entry from Woody, which is below.
I edit and mix audio for the most part using Avid’s Pro Tools. I’m often asked what plugins I typically use, so here I’ll detail some of the go-to plugs for me. I hasten to add that this is my own personal list, arrived at in my particular workflow, in my particular situation. Every mixer has their own set of tools that they have used for many years, are familiar with and like, so this is merely a snapshot of what I’m using at the moment. We invest a lot of time and money in our own sets of plugs and get used to using the ones that are readily available. Your mileage may vary.
It’s a really intuitive, advanced listening tool, that also happens to be very easy to use. It gives me an LKFS readout as well as true peak. I also use it for measuring the sound field as well as the phase. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
A fine meter, extremely easy to use, the industry standard. I have the full mix being measured by both of these meters in some combination at all times.
I discussed some of this in a post here. It offers versatile set of audio processing modules, I can’t imagine that are very many professional post audio mixers who don’t use it. It’s comprehensive, sounds amazing and it’s very affordable. There are too many modules and too many uses to go into detail on RX 6 here. However, for television mixing I can talk about a few specific ones.
I remember the days of zooming into waveforms at the sample level and then using a pencil tool to draw out the anomalies. These tools are not only useful in removing digital artifacts but also remove things like saliva noises, hand or body pats, off-screen bumps and taps. This is a desert island tool!
Room tone, room tone, room tone. I dedicated a whole post to it here. This tool allows you to create room tone from other recorded material from the location. It is an essential element in our dialog editing process.
Noise reduction is a process that must be used carefully and with a light hand. You can easily over reduce noise and make tracks unusable. I hear instances of it all the time in random programming I may be watching when at home. However, this tool can really help reduce noise on dialog tracks when needed. Used in combination with other tools it can really clean up the tracks.
I’ve been using Waves forever it seems. It’s pretty expansive and although I don’t use many of the bundled plugs anymore, several are on all of my Pro Tools templates, baked into the mixer. I know them, I know their strengths and limitations, and the control interfaces are generally intuitive.
I use this both as an insert on a track as well as an audiosuite file processor. The controls are well laid out and it has extensive automation parameters.
Easy to use, intuitive controls and transparent sounding. There are a great many of plugs out there that can imbue the processing with characteristic traits, typically emulating the original hardware device that it’s modeled after. These are more transparent and are used for simply keeping levels in the right place.
This is a simple but very powerful brick wall limiter. I use it on the aux sends prior to output. It is a transparent limiter, simply doing its job and has a great sounding dither if that is required.
I use these on my futz tracks, inserted right on the track, not used as a send and return. Simple to use, great sounding and highly automatable. Great for use as a part of a telephone futz, or an on-stage microphone futz or a “person in another room” futz.
This is a very powerful reverb with some wonderful surround control adjustments. It is not simple to use but its advanced features are what is needed on more complicated reverb requirements.
This is the behemoth of convolution reverbs and it has an exhaustive set of impulse response reverbs from a wide array of sources, from the world’s best halls and auditoriums, to car interiors, forest exteriors and all sorts of things in between. This is not a simple tool or an inexpensive one, but it offers so many controls and verb sets that it makes it an indispensable tool.
Another feature packed set of modules from the brain trust at iZotope. These are my go-to plugins for any sort of deep mastering. I am the supervising sound editor and rerecording mixer for Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour, this season they’ve featured various bands playing Ozzy’s songs – from Mariachi bands to bluegrass to marching bands to choirs. Using Ozone’s various processes on separate tracks, allows me to dial in exactly what I need to make each of these live performances pop.
An easy to use Dolby encoder that sounds good and works offline as an audiosuite plug in. My go-to when I have to deliver Dolby encoded Lt Rt files.
These are various wave shaping tools that are my first round, go-to plugs, when designing sounds. There are dedicated tools for echoes and delays, and various filtering apps, that with a bit of time and imagination can transform tracks into whatever you need to create.
Many of these plugins get baked into my templates so that everything is ready to go once the media is cut into it. So for instance, I might have all of the EQs with predetermined automation parameters pre-set, typically the low pass and high pass frequencies, as well as the master bypass controls.
Processing the audio is part of the art and craft of audio editing and mixing. The right tools, in the right hands, with just the right amount dialed in, is the magic of the mix. These are a few of the software tools that help me deliver great sounding mixes to my clients.
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