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railroad tracks in city

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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The train is rolling on. We’re now at the point where the text of your interview is basically finished. (For the previous installments begin here and then follow the links at the end of each installment.) Now you’re going to add some intro music and/or outro music by using a second track.

Before you do that, however, we’re going to even out the sound of the interview track by using the Compressor effect. Select the track (click in the left hand area of the track where it says Mono 44100 HZ or the like) and then select from the top menu Effect—>Compressor. You’ll see the following:

compressor

Ignore all the sliders and just click on OK. By simply doing this you’ll have done three valuable things:

1) All your red clipping areas will be toned down slightly so they are no longer clipping, and

2) Your sound levels will be smoothed out; that is, the relative distance between your high and low volumes will be lessened. This is particularly useful for situations with more than one voice or source, and

3) After the first two have been accomplished, your volumes throughout will be relatively increased to the maximum they can go without clipping. This process is called normalization.

I usually use the Compressor effect at this point even if I am not showing any clipping.

Now you’re ready to add your musical intro. You could conceivably just cut and paste a piece of music onto the beginning of your interview track, but it’s classier to have a separate track which will allow some overlap between the music and the interview, as if it were underscoring.

Let’s assume you have an mp3 file of music that you wish to use, or, for example, sound from an mp4 video from YouTube or the like. Your first job is to import that file into Audacity. So, select the file to Import by File—>Import—>Audio:

import

When the import is complete you’ll have a new track underneath your original interview track:

afterimporting.jpg

In this case, the track imported was in stereo, so we’ll change it to mono as we did before—by clicking on the black triangle (just right of where it says “music intro” in the photo above) and then clicking on “Split Stereo to Mono.” That will result in two identical mono tracks one of which you will delete by clicking on the “x” in the upper left hand corner of the track.

If you were to set the Play cursor to the beginning and click on Play you would now hear the music track and the interview track at the same time. If you only want to hear one track at a time, you can click on Solo on the left hand side of the track to make it the only track played (you’ll notice the other track is now grayed out instead of blue). Likewise, if you click on Mute on the left side, the track will become greyed out and quiet while the other track will remain active.

Typically, I like to have 20-40 seconds of music intro before the human voices come in, and then about twenty more seconds of music underneath the voices before I fade the music out. And on the tale end I like the music to fade up as I’m giving the closing credits and then take us out with the music fading out. So, how to do this?

To do this, we use the time-shifting cursor. It sounds much more magical than it really is. It’s just a cursor that moves things right and left. It’s in your toolbar above the tracks:

time shift

Normally, your cursor looks like the “I-beam” in the upper left hand corner above. We are going to change the cursor to the “time-shift” tool in the middle of the second row in the photo above.

Using this tool, I am going to pull the interview track to the right thirty seconds by clicking and dragging on the track. The result should be something like this:

shifted

So now, if we played both tracks, there would be 20 seconds of music by itself and then the interview and music together. Of course, the music would still be very loud and drown out the voices, so we have to lower the volume on the music when the voices come in. Fortunately, Audacity gives us a tool to do that fairly automatically called Auto Duck.

To use Auto Duck, we want to move the music track immediately above the interview track. ( It was difficult for me to get this right at first, because when I think of the “underscoring” metaphor, I think of music below. But in Audacity, the level of the interview track below controls the level of the music track above.) In order for this to happen correctly then, we must drag the music track to a position above the interview track. First, make sure you’re back to the I-beam cursor by clicking its icon on the toolbar. Next click in the left hand area of the music track right where it says Mono 44100 HZ, and drag it upwards above the other track. When you’re finished it should look like this:

after switching tracks

Now in order to “duck” the volume of the music wherever there is voice, you are going to select the music track (not the interview track under it) and then click on Effect—>Auto Duck. Ignore all the sliders and just click on OK. The result should be something like this:

afterautoduck.jpg

Notice that now the music volume is much lower above where the voice track is. You’ll probably want to take down the volume of the music even more which you can do with the Amplify effect, and then fade out the music over the next 20 seconds or so (you can then delete the rest of the music track).

For the outro, you go through a similar process: Import a track you wish to use, time shift it to the area at the end of the interview to the place where you want it to overlap the voice, and then use Auto Duck. Further correct with Amplify and Fade In, and then finally Fade Out as the music ends your piece.

This has been a lot, so save your work, and I promise tomorrow I’ll be back with how to make a final mix down to one track and then export your work. See you then.

The next installment is here: https://jackshalom.net/2018/11/10/radio-interview-production-workshop-13-the-home-stretch/