How to Mix Dialogue for Video

Many freelancer video people struggle with audio - we all kind of got into this game because we love the visuals!  So, how can you enhance your dialogue in a project to make everything sound, feel (and even look!) better?  These are some basic steps I use:

1.) COMPRESSION

Compression is very important for dialogue in video.  This tool allows you the ability to "cut" through the mix by pulling back the louder signals and creating a more consistent sound throughout the dialogue.  When the human voice is consistent like this, it will be much easier to mix into the music and sound of your project.  

2.) EQ

Spend a lot of your time dialing in a solid equalizer plugin to bring up frequencies that are soft, or lower others that are problematic in your dialogue mix.  Many times (depending on your microphone) recorded vocals can sound a bit "muddy" right out of the box.  A quick way to take care of that is to bring down the lower-mid frequencies using an EQ plugin.  The goal of EQ is to truly "equalize" your audio across the spectrum.  

3.) DE-ESSER

If you're using compression, chances are you're going to need a de-esser.  De-essers are exactly what the name implies, they lower the "S" sound in speech.  This is known as sibilance.  Just like anything in recording, many sounds we are so used to phasing out in real life can become problematic when recorded.  Compressing your signal can cause the sibilance to stand out in a problematic way.  The de-esser plugin works like a compressor, but it only targets specific high-frequencies where the "s" lives.  Start around 5k hertz and work from there and you'll see a lot of improvement.  

4.) SATURATION

This is a little different from what I think is typical, but I love using a tape saturation emulation to "saturate" and "color" the dialogue.  This is just another tool to help the audio stand out in the mix and enhance your project as a whole!

5.) LIMITING

Limiting is crucial for dialogue!.  Limiters are yet another dynamics processor, but they act like an overall amplitude boost that prevents digital clipping, or distortion.  Use a limiter to bring up your overall volume without destroying the audio.