vid: Great Final touches on Final Cut Pro with Faux HDR, Voice Isolation and De-ess in Final Cut Pro

I think I finally have a handle on most of the Final Cut Pro features that I need but didn’t understand six months ago. Here’s a great list that I haven’t found compiled on the Internet somewhere.

Faux HDR from SDR video

This is copied from the work I do typically with photographic images where you want to increase the dynamic range of an image with Color Adjustments. There are a few steps:

  1. After you import your clips and put them into a project, select a clip
  2. Now go to Effects select HDR Tools and then in the properties window at the upper right click on the film icon and we will see the effects you’ve applied to the clip. Go to HDR Tools and select SDR to HDR(PQ) if you are using Rec.2020 PQ (Picture Quality). Now you boost the peak brightness in nits to say 600 (this is the max of an LG screen).
  3. Now look at this on an HDR screen (like your MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon to see how it looks). And also select at the upper right of the view windows View > Show as HDR Tonemapped so you can see how the image looks in both HDR and SDR.
  4. On my Logitech BRIO, everything tends to look too bright and washed out. With my Sony A7R3, I get a low-contrast look
  5. Turn on the Color scope with ⌘6 or go to the preview window and at the lower left, you will see a magic wand icon and select Show Color Inspector. Now to the Exposure tab and for the black icon which represents shadows drag it down until the lowest color is at 0 nits (that is completely black). Then take the Midtones typically way down to increase contrast and it should look more natural. Finally, take a look at the Highlights, it should not exceed say 1K nits (1.6K if you want to use the entire range of an iPhone or MacBook Pro). Now look at it in both HDR and Tonemapped mode to make sure it looks good.
  6. Now look at the colors, for my Sony A7R3, I find that it is pretty flat, so I normally go to Saturation and move the midtones up a bit. For the BRIO, everything just looks so washed out, so I take the Global control at the left and move it up a bit.
  7. If you want to move to the next clip, it is ⌘ and a left and right arrow which is convenient to move around. You can also batch copy effect on each clip as well, although I typically do things in a single take so don’t need this.

Post Processing the Audio with built-in tools

If you didn’t quite set the levels and things right in OBS Studio then you can fix quite a few things here, here are some things to look at:

  1. Go to the upper right and click on the speaker icon and you should see Audio Enhancements and a volume control.
  2. If you click on Audio Analysis, Final Cut Pro will go in and analyze the audio and add Loudness, Noise Remove and Hum Removal automatically. After you click on the magic wand icon there, it will automatically detect problems and then click on the filter you should use. Hopefully, if you did the right things in OBS, you won’t need to increase the volume nor will you need to turn any of these on. But, equalization is useful as it is the Audio analysis.
  3. If you have lots of wind noise you can try Voice Isolation which helps quite a bit get rid of that.

But for more advanced things, you will need some plugins.

VST vs AU and Remove Esses at Source or with a filter

One thing that you can’t get rid of with a pop filter (which you should have on your mike) is the “s” sounds which are rough. The solution is a little unintuitive, just make sure there are about 8 inches (20 cm) between you and your condenser microphone, and also try to have the microphone off axis, that is don’t talk directly into it. This will remove the sibilance sounds naturally.

You can add a filter directly into OBS if you are live streaming and there are free plugins for this.

But if you didn’t do either the microphone trick or OBS, then fortunately, there are Audio Effects from Final Cut Pro itself, Logic Pro plug-ins, and a free set of tools called Airwindows that take care of this problem.

There are two standards for plugins, the VST comes from Windows, and AU is Mac only. I decided to use AU because, heck this is a Mac. If you look for free plugins, you will find Airwindows. This has to be done manually by downloading the DMG from the site and then manually copying the component files in the ~/Library/Audio/Components

Once you do that, then when you start Final Cut Pro and go to the effects button at the lower right, you will scroll down and see lots of Audio effects, they will tell you which are included in Final Cut, which are from Logic Pro.

Now scroll down and you will see DeEsser 2, just drag and drop it on the clip and magically those sibilants disappear. You can go to the upper right window and you will see the parameters for DeEsser 2 and these work great! I used just the base Logic Pro one, but the DeEss from Airwindow is supposed to be better. What’s happening is that it’s looking for sound in the 4-6KHz range and modifying it.

I found both DeEss and DeEsser 2 to work equally well. At least I couldn’t hear the difference.

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