Ducking Music With The Essential Sound Panel In Premiere Pro and Audition
It was right there the entire time.
As a podcaster for fourteen years, I find that some habits are hard to break when it comes to editing sound. I tend to trust my ears rather than let something process automatically. That’s fine as far as it goes, but manually adjusting things as you go is a time-consuming process. I’ve spent more hours than I care to count, adding keyframes to a music track in Audition and Premiere Pro to get the music to duck under dialogue. The result sounds alright, but it’s tedious and headache-inducing.
Recently I’ve been taking some time to ‘sharpen the saw,’ as they say. Like many others, my job did not outlive the pandemic, so I have some time to get better at shooting video and editing audio. I’m putting in a lot of learning time, and as a result, I’ve found a better way to duck that music track. It’s been under my nose the whole time, and when I used it for the first time, I was amazed at how good it was.
In Premiere Pro, you need to access the Essential Sound Panel.
If you don’t see this panel, you can go to the Window menu, and put a checkmark next to Essential Sound.
On the Essential Sound panel, you’ll see four items: Dialogue, Music, SFX, and Ambience. You’ll need to tell Premiere Pro what each audio clip is. Highlight the clips and click the Essential Sound item it fits.
Next, let’s look at the Essential Sound panel for the music clip your dialogue is talking over.
Place a check in the Ducking box, and tell the clip what it should duck. You’ll see a set of five icons for Dialogue, Music, SFX, Ambience, and anything not tagged.
Under that, you’ll see three settings for Sensitivity, Duck Amount, and Fades. You’ll want to play around with these settings and get used to how they work with the voice and music together. Some minor adjustments to these three settings may be required, but that’s nothing compared to the carpal tunnel marathon that is manually keyframing everything.
In Audition, the panel is the same, but how you get to it is different. Go to the File menu and select New / Multitrack Session.
The New Multitrack Session Dialog Box will appear. Name the file, tell it where to save, and then in the Template drop-down menu, select Radio VO with Music Ducking.
Your session will be created with three tracks: Voice Over, Music, and Master. Go to the Multitrack menu and select Tracks, then select whatever kind of track you need.
The Essential Sound panel should be over to the right. Again, If you don’t see this panel, you can go to the Window menu, and put a checkmark next to Essential Sound.
If this is new to you, I hope you can get great use of this method and that it saves you tons of time on your next project.