Using Premiere part 2: Adding audio

In the first assignment, we didn’t concern ourselves with audio. We just shot some video introducing a scene and highlighting an action. Today, we will look at how to add audio and turn our scene into a story.

In the clip above you’ll see that I mixed some b-roll video(w/ natural sound) with a sit-down interview. I used the b-roll to introduce the character and to cover an edit. The b-roll was comprised of five shots.

  1. A wide shot of him teaching
  2. A medium reaction shot of students learning
  3. Another wide shot (including the people in the reaction shot)
  4. A medium shot of him teaching
  5. A tight shot of him teaching

Through these five shots, we get a clear understanding of the scenes and the characters: 1) the teacher, 2) the executive director of Bridge Refugee Services (the woman in the blue dress in the foreground of shot three), and 3) an individual in the class (the man in the gray shirt in shot 2 and 3).All of these shots were from one camera location and were collected in about 4 minutes.

In the final clip, you should see that I use a b-roll clip with full audio, then fade the audio, cut to another b-roll clip with no audio, bring in the interview audio full and finally cut to the interview video.

This is what the sequence looks like on my Premiere timeline. We’ll go through this step by step, but first here are a couple editing terms.

J-cuts — In this project I use what is called a J-cut. In a J-cut, we cut to the audio before we cut to the video. So the viewer hears the speaker before they see them. Below is a very simple example of a J-cut.

L-cut — An L-cut is the opposite. In an L-cut we cut to the video before we cut to the audio. Below is an example from later in the refugee storytelling piece. We cut to the video (i.e., see the person) while Drocella is still talking. Then we cut (or bring audio full) to the audio of the person.

Now lets talk about how to do this. It is actually pretty simple. For this project, I had a loose script I was working from. Soundbites were called, but specific b-roll was not called.

I started by cutting the soundbite. As you can see in the script, it is actually one bite with some sections cut out. So I pulled down the whole clip on to the timeline (like you did in assignment 1). Then I used the razor tool to cut out the sections I didn’t need. The razor tool works exactly how you would think. Put it on the timeline where you want to cut the clip and click. Once you have the section you want to remove cut on both sides just select it and hit delete.

So I have the final interview audio complete. Now I want to introduce the subject with some b-roll of him teaching. So I find the clip I want and bring it down on to my timeline. I dropped it on to track 2 for both the video and audio.

My timeline should look something like the above timeline. Now I need to do two things: 1) Decide where I want the interview audio to come and 2) fade down the b-roll audio.

First, I am just going to listen to my nat sound clip and find a good, natural pause. If you go back up to the clip at the top of the post you’ll see, I decided to go to the interview audio right after Adamou says, “we’ll be able to pair up.”

So step one is to drag all your interview audio down to where you actually want it to start.

Now I want to fade my natural sound audio under the interview audio. There are numerous ways to do this. Personally, I like using the pen tool right on the timeline.

Using the pen tool, you can add keyframes to your audio track. The keyframes can be pull up or down in order to fade the audio up or down. In this case we will want to use the pen tool to put keyframes on each side of the point where the interview audio comes in. Then we will want to drag the second point down until it says about -14 db.

Then I added a second clip of b-roll (the reaction shot) because I thought the opening shot was getting boring and I wanted to show that people were paying attention. Bonus: The reaction shot I used included a person I talk to later in the video.

The only tricky part of adding this clip is that we don’t need the audio with it. We want to keep the audio from the introductory clip. To do this we just select our ins and outs in our source monitor and then use the “drag video only” button.

The “drag video only” button is the one just under the source monitor that looks like a film strip. All you have to do is grab the film strip and drag it down to your timeline.

All that we have left to do is bring in the rest of the b-roll. It will be easier than the first set, because we don’t have to do as much with the audio. All you have to do is select the b-roll and bring it down to the timeline. Remember to drag it to video and audio track 2, so it doesn’t overwrite the interview audio.

The last thing we’ll need to do is bring down in the audio in all three clips to about -14db. Since we don’t need to fade or anything, we don’t need to mess with the pen tool. We can just mouseover the audio track and when we go near the horizontal line we should see our cursor turn in to a up-down arrow. Then you should be able to drag down the volume to about -14db.

Once we put in the three clips, we are done. Easy peasy.



Associate Professor of Journalism and Director of Land Grant Films (@LandGrantFilms) at the University of Tennessee.

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Nick Geidner

Associate Professor of Journalism and Director of Land Grant Films (@LandGrantFilms) at the University of Tennessee.