Adobe Creative Cloud

Digital Video & Audio

November 2, 2017 /

Audition Deep Dive: Auto-Ducking music

One of the most time-consuming tasks that any editor faces is ensuring the different elements of their project blend well and get out of the way of everything else.  The art of mixing, of adjusting the volume of background music so that dialogue or sound effects are clear and audible, is often what separates the professional-sounding projects from amateurs.  Audition already offers several methods to suit individual tastes and styles: manually adjusting clip volume keyframes, riding a volume fader up and down and capturing these movements as automation, or even setting up a complex side-chain input compressor chain.  These methods can usually achieve the best results, but they also take a lot of work, a lot of time, or a lot of technical know-how.

With this release of Audition CC, we’ve introduced Auto-Ducking as part of the Essential Sound workflows.  Powered by Adobe Sensei, our artificial intelligence and machine learning initiative, Music clips can now automatically generate clip volume keyframes that automatically reduce the volume when dialogue, sound effects, and other audio elements are present.  Instead of just looking at the in and out points of each dialogue clip, Auto-Ducking analyzes the audio signal inside each clip and adjusts the music appropriately.  It continues working in the background so as you add, delete, or move clips around the timeline, the volume envelope will adjust by itself.

Auto-Ducking automates volume changes so that background music doesn’t interfere with dialogue and other audio content.

Enable Auto-Ducking

Quickly enable Auto-Ducking by selecting your music clip in the timeline, then assigning it the Music audio type in the Essential Sound panel.  You’ll immediately see a new parameter group, Ducking, in the panel.  Check this option to enable Auto-Ducking, and clicking the text to expose the parameters.  (Toggle this checkbox on and off to temporarily disable ducking, without losing your settings.)  You’ll see a handful of parameters, Duck against, Sensitivity, Reduce By, and Fades.  Lastly, you’ll see options to Monitor clip changes or Re-analyze your content.

Ducking parameters make it easy to fine-tune your adjustments

Duck Against

Select the icons for the audio content types you wish to duck against.  Dialogue, Music, Sound Effects, Ambience, or un-tagged clips.  Choose one type, or several.  You’ll see the new dotted keyframe envelope appear on the music clip.

Sensitivity

This parameter adjusts the threshold at which the ducking triggers.  Higher or Lower sensitivity settings will both result in fewer adjustments, but will focus on maintaining a lower or louder music track, respectively.  Middle-range sensitivity values will trigger more adjustments, giving more of an “FM-Radio” type of ducking, where the music comes in and out quickly between pauses in speech.  (Note in the screenshot below that the dotted volume adjustments don’t simply happen at the start and end of the green dialogue clips, but are actually aware of the audio within each of them and adjust for the best results.)

Reduce By

This parameter selects how much to reduce the volume of your music clip.  Adjusting this setting to the right will reduce the volume more dramatically, towards the left for more subtle volume adjustments.

Fades

Control how quickly the volume adjustment occurs when triggered.  Faster fades are ideal when mixing fast music with fast speech (Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!) while slower fades are more appropriate when ducking background music behind voiceover tracks.  But feel free to use your ears and find the right responsiveness for your project and tastes.

Monitor Clip Changes & Re-Analyze Clips

While this box is checked, Audition will continue to update the auto-ducking volume envelope even when you’re working on other parts of your project.  As you move dialogue clips around, add or delete content,  or adjust the volume and effects of other clips, your music ducking will update quietly and accurately.  Uncheck this box, and you’ll see the dotted volume keyframe switch to a standard keyframe envelope.  This way, you can use Auto-Ducking to get the basic keyframes in place, then make manual adjustments and really customize your results.

Auto-Ducking is going to save minutes or hours for every production, meaning you’ll have more freedom to focus on the creative and storytelling aspects of your productions.  Whether you use it as a single-click or preset, or to do the busy work of drawing keyframes which you’ll manually adjust further, let Audition be your production assistant, doing the heavy lifting and repetitive tasks that can take up so much of your time.