Ok, so you have Wind Noise on your recording and it’s distracting you from fully absorbing yourself into the visuals. There’s no chance to re-record, dialogue is suffering from lack of clarity, the scene is more chaotic and it feels amateurish. The fundamentals of Compressors and EQ won’t be covered here, but will get you started working harmoniously with the fundamental architecture of both plugins.
The good news is: some techniques exist in post that can remove wind noise, tame Wind Noise and in some cases mask Wind Noise completely
No. 5 – Assess the Problem
First off, Wind Noise does not always sound the same. If you use your ears you’ll hear it sounding Boomy (bassy sub frequencies) Boxy (Middly and Growly) and/or Sharp (Whistly and Harsh).
- Insert an EQ plugin at the very beginning of the plugin chain on your audio channel.
- Set one of your frequency bands to cut @ -12dB and whilst playing back your windy audio, sweep the frequency control from 1kHz down to 20Hz and back again very slowly.
- Listen to where the Wind Noise reduces the most, look to find the center frequency of which most of your wind noise is comprised.
- Make a note of that frequency (or frequencies) – you’ll need it later
No. 4 – Clean Up
Frequencies below 20Hz are inadible to the human ear and are taking up unneeded space in coded audio information. Subby Wind Noise can also be embellished there. Cutting all frequencies below 40Hz is the first step to opening up your source audio and having it breath
- Using the plugin inserted in tip No 5. Look to the far left of your EQ window and engage the ‘High Pass’ shelf
- Most Equalisers come equipped with ‘shelf’ EQ also know as ‘High Pass‘ EQ (letting high frequencies ‘pass’ unchanged) and this is where you can cut everything below 40Hz
- Set the Center frequency to 40Hz
No. 3 – Dynamic Reduction in Real-Time
Now you have identified which frequencies contain the most Wind Noise in your recording we want to dynamically reduce these levels in real-time. Static alone equalisation won’t do it. An EQ cutting 180Hz at -6dB will cut the warmth and low end from the entire recording. Multiband compression can compress certain frequencies dynamically reducing levels over time.
- Insert a multiband compressor after the EQ on your audio channel or clip
- The 1st and 2nd ‘bands’ are those that reduce the low frequencies where wind noise resides. Essentially you are looking at 4 separate compressors that reduce the level of 4 different frequency bands
- Now set the compressor to reduce only the frequency of the Wind Noise and nothing more.
- Look Top Left of the plugin for ‘Crossover‘ and set the ‘Mid’ frequency from 2000Hz to 800Hz
- Set the ‘Crossover’ Low frequency to the frequency you found in No.5 Assess the Problem above. 250Hz, for example (Boxy, growly wind noise).
No. 2 – Zone In On the Sweet Spot
With the compressor now tuned to only compress low frequencies it can dynamically reduce Wind Noise during playback.
- Reduce the ‘threshold’ control of the lower most band to -24dB
- Reduce the ‘threshold’ control of the mid band to -24dB
- Press play to see the compressor reduce these low frequencies dynamically
- Slowly reduce the ‘threshold’ control of the lower most band back up towards 0db whilst playing back your audio.
- Watch the ‘level reduction’ meters with playback and use your ears – as the Wind Noise blows and growls, watch and listen to the compressor reducing it’s level. Try to aim for -6db maximum reduction on the meters.
No. 1 – Gain Up
Try to think in terms of give and take. When taking away, give back proportionally. With dynamic reduction of 6db due to wind noise your output level will be lower. Adding back 3db will lift into focus all the uncompressed frequencies more pleasant to the ear.
- Using your compressor plugin set the ‘Output Gain’ to between +1.5dB and +3.5dB. Use your ears. You don’t need to use the channel fader for level adjustments in processing – faders are primarily for mixing a number of audio sources together, not level adjustments after processing.
- It’s by no means a rule that follows the mantra ‘louder is better’ but it’s a tool, along with the steps above, that molds audio shedding more light on the things your ears like.
Get to Know Multiband Compression
Ok, there’s a lot of theory coming at you but understanding compression can help you tame problem frequencies in your camera audio. It’s not easy to think about sound in terms of imagery but that is in effect what sound is – the sonic representation of our physical reality, and as such is likewise bound by time (frequency) and space (level). Dynamic reduction of sonic problems can feel more natural and less processed than using static EQs and DeNoise techniques.
I hope these 5 tips get you on the path to taming Wind Noise in your DLSR audio recordings.. tell us how it works out for you!
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