Stereo Awareness, Audio Effects and DirectX Plugins

Stereo Awareness

A lot of songs have little stereo effects that are great things to coordinate visuals with. Unfortunately when Premiere displays a wave you can't separate that display into its 2 channels.

Sure, you can mute one channel or the other but all you will ever see on the timeline is the mono display of the original file.

So, to visually reveal what's going on in each speaker we need to separate the audio into two wav files - one for each channel. This is really easy to do with the freeware program Audacity that I mentioned in the audio editing guide.

Audacity - Split Stereo Track option

1) Load up Audacity and open your source wave file. Now, click the arrow that is on the bar next to the name of your wav and select Split Stereo Track:

2) Click the sidebar for one of the channels and you will see that the waveform for that channel has been selected.

3) Now choose File -> Export Selection as WAV and save the file as Yourfile-left.wav or similar.

4) Do the same for the remaining channel.

5) Now that you have your two audio files, you can then import them into Premiere. I personally prefer to have the left channel above the right on the timeline but it's entirely up to you. When Premiere plays these back it will be identical to loading the normal wave version but you can always keep the stereo version around just in case you want to use it for exporting or whatever.


So, how does this look on the timeline?

Well, as I was getting some "We Will Rock You" earlier on, I thought I'd get some "Now I'm Here" as well which is a Queen song that fully takes advantage of stereo sound as you can see:

Queen - Now I'm Here stereo waveforms

This section of the song goes:

1) Now I'm here

2) Now I'm here (with two drum/cymbal hits)

3) Now I'm there

4) Now I'm there (two drum/cymbal hits in the other speaker)

5) I'm just a.... (just a new man!) etc.

So for this particular song you might, for instance, want to use clips that have images on one side of the screen to match with the audio - say having a person fading in at various places on the screen. You can also have an image or effect occurring on the drums on the other side of the screen for part 4 and so on.

Fairly simple stuff. To be honest, for this particular piece of music the separated stereo tracks aren't all that necessary because it's so simple. However, I can imagine times where there could be very subtle changes or where the audio in one of the speakers was sufficiently loud so that you couldn't see the thing you are timing due to both channels being shown as one in Premiere. So, it's a useful technique to have if you have lots of stereo separation in your song.

Audio Effects and DirectX plugins

Well, it's unlikely that you will really want to add too many effects to a song. After all, it's the video you are putting to the music, not the other way around.

However, you may well want to mess around with your song, emphasise certain things and so on. Perhaps there is a stereo effect that happens in the wrong speaker to be useful for your footage... you could then use the razor tool on that section and apply the Swap Channels filter. Simple. Similarly, by clicking the blue button on your audio on the timeline you can then directly edit the balance of the audio and change the stereo bias.

Premiere has a few interesting filters - mainly of the reverb and frequency filtering type. I think the best thing to do is just play around with them. However, there is one filter that lots of people ignore because by default it doesn't do anything. That's the DirectX audio filter.

DirectX audio plugins are filters that are designed to be added to DirectSound playback. They are effects that can be used in any program that support this type of filter. Many other editing programs can - such as CoolEdit2000 and Soundforge. Audacity can as well if you download a plugin wrapper.

As with lots of filters that are designed for commercial programs, there are a lot that you have to pay for. If you've ever looked for video filters then you'll know what I mean. Thankfully, there are a fair few free ones and even the commercial ones can often be quite reasonably priced at times.

Anyway, there are various places to get these from. One website with a particularly good list and a very catchy title is which has a list of DirectX audio filters here and they even tell you which ones are free.

One of my faves from that list is the vinyl filter which can make your audio sound like an old record. The main thing, as with all filters, is to experiment - see what works best for you.

Now, you may be wondering how you get these things to work. It's fairly easy - each one will have an installer which will then register the filter (much like a codec, in a way). Then when you use the DirectX plugin filter in premier a little box will appear asking you to choose which DirectX filter you want to use on your audio.

That's it basically. Have fun ^_^

AbsoluteDestiny - June 2002