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Tutorial: Making Giants Part 10 | Sound Design

Joey Korenman

Learn the power of sound.

It's a shame that we can spend 9 episodes talking about the visuals for "Giants" and only one on the sound, but unfortunately that's pretty much par for the course as far as sound is concerned.  It's often left until the end of the process when, in fact, sound is responsible for half OR MORE of the emotional impact of your work.

In this episode we combine VO, Music, and Sound Effects to create an audio-arc for our film.

There is a TON crammed into this episode, and hopefully you'll come away with some insight into how you might approach sound in your own work.  At the end of this episode... you can see the final film.  We'll be releasing the film on it's own and setting up a proper page for it on the site soon, but I hope it's been an inspiring and informative process for you to follow along with me on this adventure.

Check out the episode notes for links to all of the resources I mention in this episode.  And make sure to download the project files so you can see first-hand the power of a little sound design and some basic mixing.

Thanks for riding along!

Every episode of Making Giants comes with the most up-to-date projects and assets so you can follow along or break apart anything that isn't covered in the videos.

The sound effects for this episode have been pre-mixed for you to download. We can't give away sound effects that are being sold commercially, but you can at least hear them in context and play with mix settings.



Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:

Music (00:00:02):

[intro music]

Joey Korenman (00:00:12):

This is so cliche. So typical, we spend nine episodes dealing with picture and one dealing with sound. And that is not really fair because sound is so important. Probably more than half of the emotional impact from a piece comes from the audio yet. It's often as in this case left until the end. And it's kind of sad really, but what are we going to do? Let's try to make it as good as we can in one episode, let me take a step backwards here. I didn't mention this before, but I've been searching for a good voiceover artist for the past few weeks. Somebody with a more mature, more serious voice than mine. And for some reason, I'm also hearing a British accent in my head. So yeah, British too. I decided to experiment a bit to see how easily and cheaply I could get this done. And I had heard that you can get voiceover artists on fiverr.com. It's a site where you can get a whole bunch of stuff done for five bucks. I wasn't expecting much, but I found a guy that actually sounded decent.

Paul Bailey (00:01:16):

I have over eight years experience of voiceover and I'm born and bred British. So I have an authentic British accent. Giants are not what we think they are the same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness

Joey Korenman (00:01:38):

In the name of science. I also tried a couple of more budget oriented sites like voice bunny and voice jungle. And after pouring over demo reels, which is something you have to do on these sites to find the diamond in the rough. I booked a couple of VO artists and had them send me some reads.

VO Artist (00:01:55):

Giants are not what we think they are. Giants are not what we think they are.

Joey Korenman (00:02:06):

So a lesson I learned is that with voiceover, like many things in life, you get what you pay for. Although the fiber guy was actually pretty good. So finally, I decided to check out a legit VO agency. And since I was hearing a really deep actorly voice in my head, uh, I went to these guys, damn good voices.com, great name. And almost every demo reel I heard gave me goosebumps

Donal Cox (00:02:33):

From a time when modern technology was taking its first steps.

Simon Coates (00:02:38):

Berliner gaunt from short rations and stress, little

Timothy George (00:02:44):

For some, it's a lifelong passion for others. It's something discovered yesterday.

Joey Korenman (00:02:51):

I wish my voice sounded like that. So after an email exchange with these guys, I had demos from a bunch of incredible VO. Artists.

Various VO Artists (00:02:59):

Giants are not what we think they are. Giants are not what we think they are giants. Uh, not what we think they are.

Joey Korenman (00:03:11):

Um, it was really hard to pick one, but this guy build champion what a name by the way, his voice seemed to have the right balance of deepness, but approachability. And it just sounds good. So here's what his audition sounds like in the context of the cut

Bill Champion (00:03:36):

Giants, are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength Are often the sources of great weakness. The powerful are not as powerful as they see No, the weak as weak.

Joey Korenman (00:04:16):

If you take away nothing else from this episode, I hope that you can start to appreciate the difference that a good voiceover talent makes. I mean, come on, I booked bill and we did a live recording session over Skype. So this way I could hear his takes and I could give him direction and an engineer recorded everything on their end professionally. So it would sound great when I got the files. Here's a little piece of that session for these first few takes. Why not just read it naturally with the way it sounds good to your ear? Um, and then we can, we can try and get some that are a little slower. Yeah, perfect.

Bill Champion (00:04:54):

Jonathan's a number we think they are the same qualities that appear to give them the strength are often the sources of weakness, but powerful and not as powerful as they seem and all the weak as weak.

Joey Korenman (00:05:11):

Great. It's sounds even a great voice, man. It sounds awesome. I'd say why don't we bring it even lower into that really soft-spoken graveling this in your, um, you know, in, in the audition it was, it was really, it was a little bit slower and it was even deeper, I think. Um, so why don't we try that

Bill Champion (00:05:31):

And not what we think they are the same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness, the powerful, and not as powerful as they seem, not a weak as weak.

Joey Korenman (00:05:48):

I'm wondering if we can try something that it's a little bit it's, it's, it's more up, right. And, and there's a little bit more movement to your voice. So you can, you can really play with going up and down, um, and not being as, um, you know, not playing it as straight, especially at the end, having almost like you're almost like you're winking at the audience lag nor the weak is weak. You know, you can really kind of play with it a little bit. Just kind of see how that works. I think it could be interesting

Bill Champion (00:06:18):

Giants and not what we think they are the same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness, the powerful, and not as powerful as they seem the weak as weak.

Joey Korenman (00:06:36):

If you want to hear the entire half hour session, download this episode's files and it's in there and you can listen to the whole thing. Now, as you heard, I had bill record the lines a few different ways because I wanted some options after seeing the final picture. I've been thinking about changing up the music maybe and going with something a little less dark in tone. So here's the original music with the deeper raspier VO read from bill

Bill Champion (00:07:09):

Giants of The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness With powerful, as powerful as they see As

Joey Korenman (00:07:50):

In here is a lighter, more storyteller issue read from bill with a different and lighter music track

Bill Champion (00:08:04):

Giants, uh, not what we think they are the same qualities that appear to give them strength Are often the sources of great weakness. The powerful are not as powerful as they say.

Joey Korenman (00:08:40):

Talk about a completely different feel based solely on audio. Now I like this version a lot more. I think that it fits the color palette. It fits the visuals a lot better and it's more fun. So now we need to add sound effects. Let's talk about how we do that. So here's the sequence with the music and the voiceover, and I've locked those tracks. So don't screw anything up and now we're ready to start adding sound effects. The first thing we need to do is get some sound effects, right? If you don't have any sound effects, what are you going to use? So I wanted to give you some resources that, that I use a lot when I'm looking for sound effects. So the first one I want to talk about is sounddogs.com. A lot of sound effects that you're going to need, you know, depending on the project.

Joey Korenman (00:09:26):

And you know, this might be this giant project might actually be an exception, but a lot of projects are going to require very specific sounds, rustling papers, uh, you know, footsteps crunching on the snow and stuff like that. And when you need really specific sound effects, this website is amazing because it's got hundreds of thousands of sound effects and you can type in just about anything, a volcano, for example, and you can see, not only do they have volcano sound effects, they have underwater volcano sound effects and you can type in wiffle ball. If you, you know, if you're working on a commercial that has wiffle ball in it, and look, there's like multiple sound effects for wiffle ball sounds so you can use something like this to get really specific real-world sounds. And as you can see here, this is all very inexpensive. Okay.

Joey Korenman (00:10:15):

Another way to do it is to find, uh, you know, packs of sound effects. So lately I've been using the premium beat library because they're my buddies and they actually have a pretty good library. And since they've redone their website, it's actually really easy to search for stuff. So for example, I needed the sound of the desert, right? And so I typed in desert and look, wind drone desert, and it's this perfect kind of windy sound like you're in the desert, exactly what I needed. Um, and it's seven bucks, right. Really inexpensive. Uh, and there's also, you know, some, some different variations of that. And then on top of that, you can also get some interesting little packs. So for example, one thing that might be really useful would be to get, um, one of these packs that they sell that has a whole bunch of kind of trailer sound, design elements that you might use that aren't necessarily real world sounds.

Joey Korenman (00:11:10):

All right. And I'm going to show you some of these in a minute. My favorite library of sound effects of all time for sound effects that are not real world things, but are more, those, those sounds that you layer and, and you kind of create a mood with, for those types of sounds. This product here from video copilot, my one of my personal heroes, Andrew Kramer, motion, pulse, it's called, and it's a huge collection of all kinds of abstract. Weird sounds. A lot of them are kind of science fiction sounding, but then there's also some really useful low-frequency things. So here, let me, let me hop into, um, let hop into my finder here and show you some of these. All right. So I have, you know, over the years just kind of built up a library of stock elements. All right. So I, you know, I have 3d models and sounds and images and video and stuff like that. This is a very smart thing to do. And so here's the motion, the motion pulse library, by the way, this is another video copilot, it's an older sound effects library that they still sell called designer sound effects, motion pulse. If you're only gonna buy one, that's the one I would buy. Um, and so let's take a look at it. So you've got a lot of different categories and you've got things like bass drops. So let's listen to one of these, this one's called time freeze.

Joey Korenman (00:12:34):

So it's just this low frequency sound. Right, Right. That there's nothing in real life that sounds like that. But you can use these things. Obviously if you watch movie trailers, you've heard stuff like this. Right.

Joey Korenman (00:12:54):

Right. And, you know, I think sound effects like that are really neat. These really low frequency there's, you know, there's a whole thing called subsonic impacts. And these are things that a lot of times when you're watching a trailer or you're watching a show, you don't even hear it. It's a subconscious thing that just adds tension and makes you feel a little uncomfortable. And so you can layer these things at certain moments to create a mood without your audience, even really knowing what's going on. Uh, so this library also has a lot of interesting stuff. You know, one sound effect that I knew was going to be problematic was the way the vines sound when they're growing, because what the heck does that sound like? And so there's a, there's an organic category of sound effects in this library, meat slices, oh man, just gruesome. But there's a section called life forms and there's, there's these sound effects. Now listen to them all by themselves. First, this will be really interesting. See, they sat a really disgusting don't. They it's like oozing, gurgling, sloshing meat crawling across the ground or something. And by themselves they sound atrocious. But when we layer them with the music and the voiceover and we bury them in the mix a little bit, and maybe we layer in some of this, maybe there, maybe some of these techier versions might work better,

Joey Korenman (00:14:35):

Right? Like those are a little bit less gross sounding. And when you put them very low in the mix, you turn the volume way down. You won't hear all that sloshing and gurgling and stuff that makes you queasy, but you're going to hear that the general characteristic of that sound that does kind of sound in my brain, at least the way vines would sound if they were growing. All right. So I've got all of these different, uh, libraries of sound that I can pull from. And so what I've done is I've brought those in and I have, I have my sequence ready to go. So the first thing is right at the beginning here,

Joey Korenman (00:15:13):

Giants, all right. So this song, because of the way that, that it was edited, and it's just a totally different song, there's a gap at the beginning and there's a gap at the end when the song ends. And, you know, I thought it would be cool to kind of have a little bit of an intro and outro where there's really not a lot of sound, but maybe the sound we do here is that that kind of wind sound like you would hear in the desert. So this is that sound effect that I found on the premium beat sound effects library. It's called wind drone desert. And I am just going to drag this right onto my sequence, just like this. All right, let's take a look at this and I'm going to trim it. So it's the right length and I'm going to fade it out at the end. And then I'm going to come into my audio track mixer. And we're going to talk more about mixing a little bit later in this episode, but, uh, you know, for now what I'm going to do is just get very basic levels. All right. And so this is on audio track three. And if I hit play

Joey Korenman (00:16:22):

That wind sound is totally overwhelming. Absolutely everything else. So I'm going to bring that track way down. And the difference between the track mixer and the clip mixer is that the track mixer affects the volume of every single thing that ends up on this track. Okay. If I put new sound effects on track three, it affects the volume of all of them at the same time versus the clip mixer, which only affects the clip that your play head is currently over. And you can actually set individual clips too, which is really useful. All right. So we're going to start with just the track mixer and we're just going to bring this volume way, way down, what we think that

Bill Champion (00:17:00):

Yeah. The same qualities that appear to give them

Joey Korenman (00:17:06):

All right. So not the beginning

Bill Champion (00:17:13):


Joey Korenman (00:17:14):

All right. That sounds pretty good. Right. And we're going to do more mixing later on right now. I just want to sort of build the bed of sounds. Okay. I like how you get this nice wind coming in at the beginning. I don't need a crossfade at the beginning because the sound effect has a built-in crossfade Trait. And then at the end,

Joey Korenman (00:17:40):

I like how you keep hearing the wind after the music kind of dies out. It's kind of neat to me. Okay. I'm going to turn this down probably a little bit more. I'm actually going to just come down here and just type in if like, if I can make my mouse to do it, which I might not be able to, because I have to shrink, here we go. I shrink my screen when I do these screencasts so, uh, let's try minus 21. So it's really pretty quiet. All right. And we're just getting a little bit of level there giants a note per week. Okay. So now let's talk about something more interesting than the wind. Let's talk about something like the vines. All right. So what I'm going to do, I'm gonna hit shift minus. I'm going to make my tracks smaller, and I'm going to lock this track now since the wind is kind of in the right place.

Joey Korenman (00:18:25):

And let's go in and let's start sound designing this moment here. Okay. And let's talk about it. So, so you've got this burst of kind of particles where the, you know, the inside of the plant goes dark. Right? Cause the shadow has been cast over it. So we're going to need something there, but I want to focus on this first. Okay. So I want, first of all, a little bit of a buildup into this moment before the vines come out, this is a really common trick with sound design is you have a sound that plays before the action you're looking at visually actually happens and it's kind of a precursor and it makes it, it makes everything feel choreographed. Okay. So if we come into my sound effects folder here and we go into motion pulse, there's, you know, I brought in every single sound effect and you've got these things like velocity. Okay. And there's a whole folder here of reverse effects. Now, the reason I know this is because I've used this library a lot in any library you buy, you're going to need to get familiar with it. It takes some time. There's no getting around that, but it's really worth it. And yet, so let's listen to some of these reverse effects, right. That's a little creepy.

Joey Korenman (00:19:43):

That's kind of interesting. All right. That one might actually be kind of interesting. So let me, um, let me mark this one. I'm just going to label it with a different color. So I can remember that. I liked that one. That's kind of interesting, too little creepy that one's too short. There's also some ones labeled high down here that see, that's kind of interesting too. It's a little short. Let's see if there's a longer one. I like that. That's pretty interesting. Okay. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to set my outpoint right at the end here, and I'm going to figure out right where we start to see the vines right. About there, and I'm going to place this sound effect so that it ends right at that moment. Okay. And then I can pull that, pull the, this handle out. So we do get that little ending. Okay. Now I need to slip the timing just a little bit. All right. Now that is way, way, way, way too loud. Okay. It just, just all kinds of too loud. So what I'm going to do is start adjusting the individual clip volumes. And the way that I like to do this in premiere is really simple. You just select the clip, you hit G and then you can just type in an amount. Okay. So right now the gain is zero decibels. So it's sort of like the default baseline gain. I'm going to say minus 18.

Joey Korenman (00:21:19):

Okay. So it's a lot more subtle. It may need to be even more subtle, but I'm going to worry about that in the mixing phase. So then the next thing I want to do, let me see what happens if I layer this on there too. All right. So that, that sound ends about there. So I'm gonna do the same thing. I'm going to put this, I need to go to the frame where those things kind of start to come out of the ground, put that here, pull this out and set the gain to minus 18. And now with these layered together,

Joey Korenman (00:21:56):

There's a little bit more going on a little bit more of a character to it. Okay. Now, when these things burst through the ground, you've got all this high frequency sound happening right now. And I want to pay that off with a low frequency sound when the vines kind of break through the ground. So for that, I'm going to go into the impact group and let's see what we have here. So we've got bass drops, crashes, debris. We want some kind of a hit, but I don't want it to, I don't want to really hear too much noise and junk in it. Right. I want more of like a clean sound. So I'm going to check out this Sonic pulse and see what we have here, here, Sonic pulse hit. It's kind of like inception or something, Right? So these are a little too high pitch. Let me try the subsonic impacts and see what that does better. Still a little too much going on. That might be, that might be interesting. So let me, let me label this one, something different. Ah, that's really cool, but it's a little too angry. That's like the war of the worlds spaceship. Same deal.

Joey Korenman (00:23:21):

Now these are really cool, but I don't want to use these here. I want to use these in a different place. So let's, let's take the one that we liked and let's, let's put the end point right at the beginning and line this up and pop it in. All right. And we're probably going to have to bring the game down a little bit. So when to bring it down, negative 12 strength,

Bill Champion (00:23:43):

Often the sources.

Joey Korenman (00:23:45):

Okay. So what we've just done by layering. These three sound effects in there too loud right now, they're too upfront in the mix, but we've, we've given this moment a little bit more drama because we're foreshadowing. Something is going to happen. And then it happens and you get this pulse, this, this deep Basey kind of sound, which, you know, lower sounds just the way humans are wired. The, the sound like bigger things to us, right? If you hear a big Basey sound out in the real world, you assume that whatever's making that sound is really big. And so that can add more weight to a moment like this, where it's literally just some vines coming out of the ground and nothing enormous is happening. But in terms of the story, this is a big moment here. So let's keep going. So let's now let's start working on what we can, what we can do for the actual sound of the vines growing, right? So there's this organic section here, which I played a little bit of that for you earlier. And we've got the life form. So let's listen to some of these. That was way too gross, too gross, too gross, too gross. Let's come down here. Cause some of these techie ones were less gross.

Joey Korenman (00:25:01):

This one's got some gross in this to it, but it's not as bad. So let's, let's mark that one. All right. Let's start with this one. Okay. So right when this thing starts to come out of the ground right there, I'm going to take the sound effect and we're going to knock it down to minus 12 and let's see what, what this does. It's way too loud. Let's go another minus 12. So you see, I did minus 12 the first time. And now when I do it again, the gain gets set to minus 24. So it's really bringing the levels down

Bill Champion (00:25:44):

Often the sources,

Joey Korenman (00:25:45):

Of course, all right. Now, even, even buried like that, that sound effect is way to grow. So I'm going to try and find a better one. And I'm going to try this one. Here we go. This one, this one, it kind of sounds like tape

Speaker 11 (00:26:08):


Joey Korenman (00:26:09):

And so I think this one might actually be kind of interesting buried in the mix. So let's do minus 24 on this

Bill Champion (00:26:20):

Often the sources of great weakness.

Joey Korenman (00:26:24):

Cool. All right. So I, you know, I'm going to have to play with the mix quite a bit so that this doesn't sound like, you know, too, I don't want it to be so noticeable, I guess, is what I'm getting at. I want it to, I want the audience to subconsciously hear it and just kind of be an audio cue that the vines are growing, but I don't want, I don't want it to be something that you're paying too much attention to. And I think I'm probably gonna end up, um, layering a little bit more on there too, because this sound has a lot of high-frequency to it. I want something also with a little bit of low frequency

Bill Champion (00:26:58):


Joey Korenman (00:27:00):

Now let's talk about something really important here. And that is when you're, when you're adding sound effects. You want to be conscious of the point of view that you want your audience to have. So what I mean by that is here we are right up next to this. We are literally like, you know, a few feet from this plant in the next shot. We're way up in the sky at that moment. These sounds, if we're pretending that the audience has now moved up here with us, then these sounds can not be that loud anymore. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to command K, I'm going to cut these sounds right there. And what I could do is, um, just hit G and subtract. I don't know, like another 20 decibels from them

Bill Champion (00:27:47):

Sources of great

Joey Korenman (00:27:49):

Weakness, right? So when we cut to it,

Bill Champion (00:27:52):

Sources of great

Joey Korenman (00:27:54):

Weakness, you get that sense that whoa we've moved. Okay. And if it sounds too jarring, I could always add a little bit of, um, I could select the transition, just control, click it and say, apply default transition and add like a really short dissolve, like a four frame dissolve or something to it, which will just help transition us in as far as the sound goes,

Bill Champion (00:28:22):


Joey Korenman (00:28:23):

Of great. Right? And maybe I took it down a little bit too far, so maybe I should add back like 10 DB to it. Sources

Bill Champion (00:28:30):

Of great weakness.

Joey Korenman (00:28:32):

There we go. And you can see that this sound effect doesn't actually go far enough. So I'm going to, um, I'm going to grab my slip tool and I'm gonna slip this audio over so that then I can actually extend it all the way to the end of that shot. Okay. Sources

Bill Champion (00:28:47):

Of great weakness.

Joey Korenman (00:28:49):

All right. So I'm paying attention to where the camera is, which is also technically where the microphone is the pretend microphone that is recording the sounds that's being made by the plant. All right. So then on this next shot here, this is a big shot because this is where we see what really is going on. This plant is beginning to overwhelm the building. So on this shot, you know, I may want to start these sounds over and I just, I basically just copied these because they're going to be loud again, but I'm also going to want some of that low frequency. Um, you know, that subsonic kind of feel which it's gonna, it's gonna be almost unnoticeable. You're not going to consciously really hear it. It's just going to add this sense of bigness. You know, something like that. Let's just try putting this at the beginning here. It's going to be too loud. So I'm going to bring it down minus 12. All right. So you can see that you, you go from close up wide

Speaker 11 (00:30:00):


Joey Korenman (00:30:03):

Right. And this impact, it is too much, you know, I want something that doesn't have such a, maybe like that. I think this is the winner because it doesn't have a hit on it. I don't want it. I don't want it to sound like someone's hitting a drum. Right. I just want a little bit of a deep noise to happen around the same time. Yes. Okay. So, you know, and I think that also the sound that I'm hearing, that I'm not liking, it might actually be this sound here. Right? If you remember, we at, we layered a couple of sounds to get this right. So that's one sound. So let me get rid of that. Uh, let's see what happens. Make this one a little bit louder now. All right. What also might be cool at this moment is to really amp up the drama, uh, would be to layer in not just this low frequency sound, but also a really high frequency sound. So you've got, you've got some of those in this toolkit too. So if we go into signal, uh, sorry, not signal. I think it's velocity. Maybe let's see here. So you've got gleams right. You've got these really high frequency kind of things like this. And what's cool is when you layer those in with the low frequency sound,

Joey Korenman (00:31:37):

You get a lot of drama. It kind of adds this extra layer of, of, um, contrast. All right. So I'm going to, uh, what I need to do is actually add some more audio tracks. So I'm just going to go to my sequence and I'm going to say, add tracks zero video tracks, and I'm going to add four more audio tracks, just so I have more room and then this gleam can start here and we can bring the gain way down.

Joey Korenman (00:32:08):

All right. And it's just that mystical kind of tone. All of a sudden this shot has a lot more meaning to it because you've got this other worldly kind of sound thing going on. All right. So these are the kind of things that I think about when I'm sound designing. Okay. And this is just one moment here. I also may, on this shot need to layer on like another sound effect. Cause there's a lot of leaves kind of flapping open really quickly right in the face. And I want to hear those, you know, I kind of want to feel them flying past us. All right. And so I'm going to work on that. I'm going to work on, you know, what this thing is going to sound like as well. Um, and other than that, once we get to the top, the big, the big pay off is going to be this wall of sound, the vines and the high frequency in the low frequency.

Joey Korenman (00:32:55):

And then right at the end almost goes to silence, right? The music finishes and all we hear is that wind. All right. So what I'm trying to do is, you know, we've built kind of a story arc visually. I'm trying to do the same thing with audio. We start with just wind it's quiet. Okay. The intensity builds really starting to build here. It builds to a crescendo as we go up the buildings and then it dies out there and we come back down. Okay. That is what I'm going to do with the sound effects. Um, so yeah, I'm going to do that right now. I built up the sound design for the rest of the piece, the same way, paying attention to camera distance, to vary the volume and intensity of the sound. I wanted a big sort of quiet to fall over the scene at the end, maybe with some light wind sounds. And after it's all done, let's check out where we ended up,

Bill Champion (00:33:58):

Uh, not what we think they are the same qualities that appear to give them strength. Often the sources of great weakness, powerful as powerful as they say.

Joey Korenman (00:34:35):

So now that all the sound is in, I need to mix the piece. And I like to do that in premiere. It's got some really great audio features and it's a really easy way to work for someone like me, who is not an audio professional. Let me reiterate that I am not an audio professional. So let's take a quick look at the non audio person sort of hacky way of mixing. That actually sounds pretty good when you're mixing something, you're adjusting the relative levels of everything, the voiceover of the music, the sound effects, so that you can hear what you're supposed to hear at the right time. But you're also applying some processing to those things and each cue, maybe some compression. And if you want, you can apply effects and all kinds of stuff. And in order to do that in the most efficient way, you need to understand just a little bit of how audio works.

Joey Korenman (00:35:20):

So I'm going to show you by drawing a little diagram and Photoshop and what I'm hoping you'll you'll see is that audio works a lot like compositing in, in a strange way. So for example, what we have is we have a music track, okay. And then we've got a voiceover track and then we've got a bunch of effects, right? And we've got, you know, several tracks of effects. So let's just say effects one effects, two effects, three and so on. And all of these tracks get mixed together, right. They sort of get piped into the main mix. So what happens is if I apply an E Q effect to my music track, okay, like this, it doesn't affect the Veo track. And so if I want to add ETQ to the VO, I can add, you know, maybe some IQ and then maybe some compression, please, pardon my terrible handwriting.

Joey Korenman (00:36:14):

And you, you basically apply effects to each track individually, and then they are mixed together in the main track. So the relative volume of these things is also controlled on a track basis. So the music volume might be, you know, minus 12 DB and the voiceover might be zero DB. And then each of these effects, remember we really mix them low. So they might be, you know, something like this. And it gets really confusing, especially if there's different volumes on different effects, tracks. And so it would be handy if there was a way to group things together that are like, you probably want to treat the sound effect, tracks mostly the same, and then apply that the result of that to your main mix. And then on top of that, you may want to take your main mix and apply some last minute ETQ and compression to it, which sometimes is referred to as mastering.

Joey Korenman (00:37:06):

Alright, so let me show you just basically how this works. So we have our individual tracks, right? So you've got your, your music, voiceover, all your effects, tracks, and eventually they need to end up in the main mix by default, they all go directly into your main mix. What we can do is we can create tracks special tracks and premiere called sub mixes, right? So if we create a sub mix track, all right, so this would be our sub mix for effects. And instead of piping these tracks into the main mix, you pipe them into the sub mix. So they all go into a sub mix like this, and then into the main mix. So now your chain looks like this. And the reason this is really great is because now you can affect the volume of the sound effects as a whole really easily keep in mind.

Joey Korenman (00:37:58):

I think we have something like six or eight effects tracks. So, you know, you've got many more tracks going in here and then you can eat queue and compress them. However you want as a group, send them into the main mix. And you basically are taking all of those sound effects, pre mixing them. That's basically what a sub mix does. And it makes everything a lot simpler. So let me show you how to set that up inside of premiere. So here is our track mixer, and you can see we've got all these tracks here and we haven't labeled them at all. So let's start just by making our lives a little bit easier and labeling some of these. We don't need to label them all, but this first track here, I'm gonna hit the S button to solo it, track one, a one that's our music. So I'm going to come here and just select the track name and type in music. All right. So now I, you know, in my, in my mixer, at least I'll be able to see what I'm, what I'm working on here. Okay. Then track to

Bill Champion (00:38:52):

The same qualities that appear to give them

Joey Korenman (00:38:55):

The strength. That's our voiceover. All right. So I'm just going to name this VO. The rest of these are all effects. Okay. So I don't really need to label them. I mean, I could take the time and go through effects. One effects, two effects, three. It's not really that important. Now what's important is this little section here. This is the track output assignment. And by default, they're all going to the master track, which is basically your main mix. If I scrub all the way over here, you'll see at the very end, you've got this master track. You can actually apply a volume control and any effects you want compression, EKU, anything else to the master track, and it affects your entire mix. So we can do individual tracks. We can also do the main mix. Now we need to set up the sub mixes. Okay.

Joey Korenman (00:39:41):

So, you know, the way to do this is you go up to sequence and you say, add tracks and we want zero video tracks. We want one audio, sorry, zero audio tracks. And then we want one sub mix track. Okay. And so what this is going to do is now next to our master, we're going to have this sub mix track. So I'm going to call this sound effects SFX. Now basically every track except for the music and the video tracks should be going into this sound effects sub mix. So by default, they're not okay, let me turn off the solo here.

Joey Korenman (00:40:22):

So if you look at the levels of the sound effects, sub mix of great, there's nothing going in there. We need to actually route the signals properly. So I'm going to go to each track and I'm going to click on this master. And now we get this option for SFX. So I can just click quickly click through all of these. And I'm routing each of these sound effects, tracks to the sound effects sub mix. And then the sound effects sub mix is routed to the master track. So now watch this. What's great is now this one control controls all of the sound effects. If we come back here, great

Bill Champion (00:41:00):


Joey Korenman (00:41:05):

Right? So you see, so now you have one slider and any effects you put here are applied to every single sound effects track simultaneously. So this is a great way to now make our mixing really only, uh, you know, we're really only talking about three tracks, the music, the voiceover, and the sound effects sub mix. Alright, so let's start by getting the music and the voiceover to sound the way we want. So I'm just gonna solo those two tracks giants. Now I like to keep it simple. I, as I've, as I've said before, in this episode, I'm not an audio guy. I know just enough to make things sound a little bit better and hopefully not ruin them. So here's a couple of things you need to understand about audio. All right, let me, uh, let me just go ahead and clear this out. So when you, you know, have any sound, there are low frequencies at one end high frequencies at the other.

Joey Korenman (00:42:00):

And depending on that sound, you're going to have more volume in the low end, less volume in the high end or vice versa. So for example, the human voice, doesn't, you know, most voices like mine, for example, doesn't have a ton of low end, but then as we get into the mid range, it there's more right. And then depending on how high your voice is, it may, you know, you may have a little peaks here and there, but basically you have this mid range sound and then it goes down right at the very high end. There is no volume because your voice isn't that high. All right. Then on the other hand, you've got music. Now music is going to have instruments that have a lot of bass to them. So you might have much more volume in the base. And then, you know, let's say, you're talking about like a, a piano or a guitar, something like that.

Joey Korenman (00:42:44):

Well, those have mid range frequencies like this, and they have some high-end and then they come back down. Now we want the voice to show up. Okay. And remember that this first curve is the frequencies of my voice, and this is the frequencies of music. This is very non-scientific by the way, this is not drawn to scale. But the idea is, if both of these sounds have overlapping frequencies, it's going to start to sound muddled. All right. And so, Y you know, for example, you can have music and voiceover, that sounded great all by themselves. You put them together. All of a sudden the voice gets harder to hear. You're harder to understand. So the solution is you can use each queuing, uh, you're basically adjusting the volume of certain frequencies of a sound, and you can pull down certain sounds and pull up other sounds.

Joey Korenman (00:43:32):

So what I might do is take my voice right. And boost the mid range, right? So I might add a little bit more of a peak here, and you need to know what frequency this is and depends on whose voice it is, but generally, you know, your voice lives in around the, uh, you know, the one K to maybe six K range. Okay. This is all stuff you can Google by the way. Um, this is how I learned it. And then the music, right. Well, you can do with the music is actually decrease the volume of the frequency there. So I'm bringing the voice up. I'm bringing the music down about one K six K. Okay. And so what I'm doing is I'm creating a little more separation between the voice and the music, and that's how you can hear the voice better. And it doesn't really sound noticeable. Like it's not like someone's going to notice that those frequencies are now dipped in the music. It just makes the voice sound clear. That's all it does. Okay. So that's the first thing we're going do. This is E

Joey Korenman (00:44:32):

Queuing. And then on top of that, there's a step called compressing. And when you compress something, typically we compress first, but basically the way compression works is if you have a, you know, a sound that has no low, very little low end, and then a lot of mid range and then no high end, right? Like, so here's your frequency chart? What compression does is it basically takes, you know, the range of this sound, all right, which right now is like this and it literally squashes it. So it makes the volume of, you know, the highest volume frequency. It makes that a little bit lower, and then it makes everything else a little bit higher. And so what you end up with is the same sound with the frequency volume sort of leveled out. And, you know, you don't really need to know too much about the technical ins and outs of it. What you need to understand is the result. It has. It makes voices sound punchier. It that, I guess that's the best way I can describe it. It makes things sound punchier. So let's go into premiere and let's talk about how to use this stuff. So I'm going to start with actually just the voiceover. All right. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to set an in and, and out, and I'm going to come over here and I want to set this to loop. So I'm gonna turn on my loop, option Jaya,

Bill Champion (00:45:44):

Uh, not what we think they are giants, uh, not what we think they are.

Joey Korenman (00:45:49):

All right. So this was recorded very well, so it doesn't need a lot. So the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to come into my effects. I'm just going to click this little arrow up here on my VO track, and I'm going to go to amplitude and compression, and I'm just going to use a single band compressor. Okay. And then I'm gonna double click. Did I say compressor? It's compressor. So there's all these presets and you can try them. So we could just try, you know, like a voiceover compression. Let's see what that does.

Bill Champion (00:46:15):

Uh, not what we think they are giants, uh, not what we think they are giants. Uh, not so that's often they are giants. Uh, not what we think they are.

Joey Korenman (00:46:28):

So it just punches it up a little bit and you can, you know, we could play with some different presets and see what, what happens here. What's voice thickener,

Bill Champion (00:46:36):

Giants, a note, what we think they are,

Joey Korenman (00:46:39):

Right. That, that sounds much thicker. And the reason that that's happening is there's a lower threshold. If you look at these threshold settings, uh, you know, this is basically, this is setting the volume. That is the lowest possible volume that is going to actually turn on compression. And if you lower that, you're going to get more compression across the entire range of the, of the sound. Now, I don't want to mess with this too much. This actually sounds pretty good. I just want a little bit of compression on it. Then I want to come here and I want to go to filter ETQ and I just want to put EKU on there. Double-click it. And there's also presets for this. I'm a big fan of presets, right? I'm not an expert. The people who made the presets are experts. And what I want to do is add a little bit of presence, right? And if I select the warm presence, preset, you'll see what it's doing is it's a few select frequencies. Now, as I said, your voice typically falls between maybe one K and six K seven K for female voices. It might go a little higher. And for male voices, it's lower. And you know, there's also a, you know, this really low frequency here being affected, which I don't want. Um, and so all this is going to do is boost certain frequencies of the

Bill Champion (00:47:52):

Voice giants, uh, not what we think they

Joey Korenman (00:47:55):

Are, right? So now a frequency I always hit is 1000. And let me really crank this and you'll see what it does,

Bill Champion (00:48:02):

Giants, uh, not what we think they are,

Joey Korenman (00:48:05):

The 1000 range of your voice. It's sort of towards the lower end. And it's, it's what gives you that body to your voice. And if you go too far with it,

Bill Champion (00:48:14):

Childs, uh, not what we think they

Joey Korenman (00:48:16):

Are. It kind of sounds like you're talking to a shoe box or something. So we don't need very much there. I usually add maybe like between three and five decibels

Bill Champion (00:48:24):

Giants, uh, not what we think they are.

Joey Korenman (00:48:27):

All right now, the higher frequencies. And I usually start about 5,700. And if I crank that

Bill Champion (00:48:32):

Giants are not what we think they

Joey Korenman (00:48:34):

Are, that adds clarity to the voice. Okay. Um, now another thing you'll notice is as I crank this setting here, uh it's you know, I can also just kind of interactively grab it here and move it around. Um, what's happening is it's creating this giant mountain here. There's this queue setting. And if I turn the Q setting up, it makes that adjustment effect more of the range of that frequency. And if I turn that Q setting down, then it creates a really thin peak here. Okay. Um, and so I'm going to set this to like, I don't know, maybe 0.5 so that it doesn't affect these frequencies too much.

Bill Champion (00:49:13):

Uh, not what we think they are. Giants are not what we think they are. Giants are not what we think they are.

Joey Korenman (00:49:22):

All right. So this is without

Bill Champion (00:49:24):

Giants are not what we think they are. Here's with giants are not what we think

Joey Korenman (00:49:30):

They are. All right. It's very subtle giants.

Bill Champion (00:49:34):

Uh, not what we think they are. Giants are not what we think they are

Joey Korenman (00:49:40):

Just adds a little bit of clarity to it and that's all I wanted. Okay. All right. So now let's turn the music on.

Bill Champion (00:49:46):

Brian's, uh, not what we think they are giant.

Joey Korenman (00:49:50):

Let's go to like, it's good towards the end. When the music gets a little, a little bigger,

Bill Champion (00:49:55):

Powerful. I'm not as powerful as they say.

Joey Korenman (00:49:59):

All right. So the first thing I want to do is turn the level of the music up a little bit, because it's just, you know, this music is pretty powerful towards the end. I want to feel that. So let me start by just putting the music down to zero and finding a decent base level for it.

Bill Champion (00:50:15):

Oh, from the sources of great weakness, Powerful, powerful. [inaudible]

Joey Korenman (00:50:33):

All right. So this is close. Now when you have music and voiceover, and especially when you then add sound effects, it's almost impossible to just set the level of the music and forget it. You need to manually adjust the volume, especially think about this at the beginning here,

Bill Champion (00:50:51):


Joey Korenman (00:50:53):

The songs, very quiet, but then in the middle,

Bill Champion (00:50:56):

It's powerful.

Joey Korenman (00:50:58):

It's much louder. And so we need to increase the volume at the beginning, decrease it in the middle. And then on top of that, we need to increase the volume a little bit in between these gaps in the voiceover, especially right here,

Joey Korenman (00:51:14):

Right? Because of volume increase when the music changes there that can really add to the impact too. All right. So let's start out by just trying to ride the levels of the music and getting a decent, basic level. And the way that I'm going to do this is I'm going to go to this setting here, the automation mode it's set to read by default, which means that if you adjust this, then it just basically sticks there. And there you go. Um, if you set this to right and I hit play, I can literally click and interactively drag this, and it's going to record key frames as we go. And I'm going to do my best and try and actually mix this thing in real time. Let's see how this goes,

Bill Champion (00:51:59):

Giants. Uh, not what we think they are the same qualities that appear to give them strength. Often the sources of great weakness, Powerful, not as powerful as they say

Joey Korenman (00:52:35):

So that was not bad except here towards the end. I think I need to bring the music even lower because it got a little bit hard to hear the voiceover,

Bill Champion (00:52:44):

The powerful, as powerful as they say.

Joey Korenman (00:52:52):

So what I'm going to do is I'm just going to come back here by the way, notice that this is automatically moving. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to set this. I'm going to go to a point where I want to start recording again, I'm going to set it back to right. And I'm gonna hit play, and I'm just going to do the ending

Bill Champion (00:53:10):

Powerful, as powerful as they say,

Joey Korenman (00:53:26):

There we go. All right. So now we've got a basic music level set for the entire thing. And so now what I want to do is do a little bit of [inaudible] to that music. All right. So the first thing I'm going to do is add another single band compressor to it. Um, the same way we did with the voiceover. And I just want to basically beef up the music a little bit. So let's see if there's any, you know, good looking presets, um, more punch metal face appeals to me, but I'm going to try more punch just to give that music a little bit, literally more punch. Um, and let's unsold the voiceover here.

Joey Korenman (00:54:08):

So this compression on the music, all it's gonna do is it's gonna, it's going to do a couple of things. One it's going to help it sound better on more speakers, like crappy laptop speakers, crappy headphones. It's gonna enable speakers with less range to be able to play that music and have it still sound okay. Um, and it's also just going to help the music B I don't know, it's really hard to explain, but it sort of makes it a little bit more apparent in the mix, even at a lower volume. So then I'm also going to add, uh, EEQ to this. And so what I want to do here is come in and I want to take those same frequencies that I boosted on the voiceover, and I want to dip them a little bit. Okay. And not a ton, like maybe minus five or something. Okay. And then, uh, I think it was 5,700 that we hit. So let's, let's do that on the music and drop that by five DB. All right. And I don't think I actually enabled that if then you have to enable these channels, otherwise nothing happens. And so now, if we turn everything on music and voiceover

Bill Champion (00:55:17):

Giants, uh, not what we think they are The same qualities that appear to give them strength Are often the sources of great weakness. The powerful are not as powerful as they seem, nor the weak as weak

Music (00:55:50):


Joey Korenman (00:55:52):

Now, what I noticed that time was the volume of the music sounded like it was getting a lot quieter during this section than I wanted it to. And I think what's going on is the compressor, um, may have too high of a ratio on it. You see how high that ratio is. That's extremely high. So I'm going to set that down to like five, and let's see if that makes the volume any better for us.

Music (00:56:17):


Bill Champion (00:56:18):

As powerful as they say,

Joey Korenman (00:56:21):

It's still a little bit quiet. Let me actually turn that off for a minute.

Bill Champion (00:56:26):

The powerful, as powerful as they say,

Joey Korenman (00:56:37):

All right. So this more punch preset, it's doing something weird to the music. It's basically because of the way a compressor works, it can actually decrease the volume, uh, through compression. And so what I'm going to do is I want something a little bit, um, you know, just something really light. Let's just say light mastering. I want a low ratio, a high threshold. This shouldn't really touch it too much.

Bill Champion (00:57:06):

Powerful, powerful.

Music (00:57:19):


Joey Korenman (00:57:19):

Great. That's much better. Okay. Now I may have to tweak the levels once again, after we get the sound effects in there. But so far our mix is working pretty well for me. So the next thing I'm going to do is unsold everything else. So now we've got our sound effects. Okay. So let's start by, um, let's actually do the sound effects a slightly different way. So what we did with the voiceover and music was we, we did a compression and then an EKU. Now you can also do this a different way. There's a very cool effect. If you go into the effects here and you say special mastering, and the mastering effect is kind of this one-stop shop for compression, Andy Q plus, some other effects that are typically done in the mastering process. And remember mastering is sort of the finishing touches on your main mix, but you can also use this effect on sub mixes or even on individual tracks. And let me show you kind of what it does. So if I turn this off and I played this section right here, Powerful, we're not hearing very much. So let me just go ahead and mute a track one and two temporarily, listen to this.

Joey Korenman (00:58:31):

Okay. And then with this effect on,

Joey Korenman (00:58:42):

All right, so with this preset, what it's doing is it is compressing. This that's what this loudness maximizer setting is doing is it's applying compression. And then the, um, you know, there's, there's some other bells and whistles here. You can add reverb and exciter, which basically just brings the high end up. It makes it a little crisper. Um, and then there's an ECU here. So you can kind of do a lot all in one sort of plugin. And there's some different presets here, including one make room for vocals. And if you click that, uh, watch what it does. It drops a little notch there, right? Here's about 1000 and somewhere over here is like five or 6,000. And look at that takes a little notch out for you. It literally makes room for the vocals. Um, so what I want to do, I actually liked this bright hype preset.

Joey Korenman (00:59:27):

I liked what it was doing. Um, but I want a little bit more low end and a little less high-end okay. So what I'm going to do is I'm just going to adjust this EEQ, um, and actually bring some of that low end back up, and then I'm gonna come here and take some of that high-end out. Um, and actually I can add another control point and kind of do it this way. I actually liked the way the CQ works, where you can grab these little brackets and have the IQ effect more or less. And I want, I want that low end to, to still be in the mix. So let's listen to this. All right, I'm going to turn up the loudness maximizer to, And by doing all of this, look at the levels that we're getting here. If I turn this effect off,

Joey Korenman (01:00:17):

It's hanging out around negative 12, but when I turn it on, it goes way up. Right. So you may have to adjust the gain down a little bit. Cool. So now in this one effect, we've kind of brought out a little bit more of the high-end of the sound effects and we've brought up the low end and it just sounds a little bit fuller and there's more impact to it. All right. So let's listen in context with everything, and I'm gonna just kind of adjust this output, gain on the fly and try to find like a good base level for it.

Bill Champion (01:00:53):

Uh, not what we think they are The same qualities that appear to give them strength. Often the sources of great weakness

Bill Champion (01:01:14):

As powerful as

Joey Korenman (01:01:27):

All right. So this actually worked out pretty well. What I'm going to need to do is I'm going to need to go through my entire cut and put little cross fades on almost every single sound effect that starts and stops or changes volume drastically like here. Remember when I was showing you how I approach sound design, sometimes even when you're cutting from a loud sound effects to a quieter version, because we're changing camera views. It's nice to have that little dissolve in there. It just helps kind of massage the edit. I need to do that across the board. And then I also probably need to do a pass in write mode with this sub mix track. So I can also ride the levels of the sound effects. Okay. So I need to do that. And then the one last thing I want to show you before I actually go through the process, do all this is I want to actually apply mastering to the final piece. Okay. So, because I'm going to do that, let me come back here to my sound effects. Let me mute voiceover and music for a minute. And one thing I'm probably going to need to do is bring the loudness maximizer down and the exciter down. Okay. So I'm going to bring the exciter way down and I want to show you what this does.

Joey Korenman (01:02:37):

So that's what, with the exciter down, that's with it up, it just really hits the high end and brings the high end up. And if we're going to have mastering effects on the actual main mix, I want a little less happening on this track. So I'm going to bring the loudness maximizer back down to 20 and maybe boost the gain a little bit. Okay. So now we'll turn everything back on

Joey Korenman (01:03:08):

And now I'm going to apply that exact same mastering effect to my master track. So we've got effects happening before and then another set of effects happening after all of the mixing, right? So with this mastering effect, you can come in here. And I usually start with something like bright hype, which is a really kind of heavy effected mastering setting or subtle clarity is another nice one. Right? And all it does is it adds a little bit of compression. It boosts the high-end, it uses this exciter to add a little bit of that crispness to the top, the, the really high frequencies and, uh, and the loudest maximize, or just sort of adjust your levels overall and helps you level things out. And so now without doing all of the little S you know, tweaking and editing that needs to happen, this is what our mix sounds like right now.

Bill Champion (01:04:02):

Uh, not what we think they are The same qualities that appear to give them

Music (01:04:08):


Bill Champion (01:04:13):

Often the sources of great weakness. That's powerful.

Joey Korenman (01:04:38):

All right. So there's a lot of little things that could be improved. Some, sometimes some of the sound effects, individual sound effects are sticking out too far in the mix. So I want to bring those individual things down, but now you see the workflow. We've now got a pretty good working mix. And just to show you how big of a difference that made listen to this section,

Bill Champion (01:05:01):

Oh, from the sources of great weakness.

Joey Korenman (01:05:08):

And now we're at

Bill Champion (01:05:11):

The sources of great weakness, Powerful, powerful.

Joey Korenman (01:05:25):

All right. So we've got, you know, basic levels. We've got our EEQ and compression set up, and now we can really get in there. Nitty-gritty make sure we're happy with the relative level of everything. I'm going to do a pass with the in write mode on the sound effects sub mix. And then we are going to have a final mix. And now gird your loins. Here. It is giants,

Bill Champion (01:05:57):

Uh, not what we think they are The same qualities that appear to give them strength. Often the sources of great weakness.

Music (01:06:16):


Bill Champion (01:06:16):

Powerful as powerful as they say

Joey Korenman (01:06:34):

So there it is. Piece of cake, right? It only took about 10 hours to get to this point. And actually didn't really take 10 hours. It's about 10 hours of behind the scenes, but really more like, I don't know, two and a half months of work slaving away, but I really hope that if you've actually watched all 10 episodes of making giants, you've at least gotten an appreciation for how much work goes into something like this. Even a relatively simple piece, like giants takes a lot of work, a lot of thinking, a lot of trial and error. I really hope you learned something. And if you did, you know, maybe you want to join the school motion mailing list, follow us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and help spread the word about what we're doing here in these really in-depth absurdly long sort of learning video series a and there are many more of these plans. So thank you for being a part of the school of motion community. Thank you for following the making of giants. I hope you enjoyed it, and we will see you later.

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