How to add sound effects to videos.

Adding sound effects is an essential part of video production. Learn how to add sounds to everything from short YouTube videos to full-length feature films.

The Adobe Premiere Pro Media Browser panel superimposed over an image of a dog sitting in a field, howling

What are sound effects?

Sound effects (sometimes shortened to “SFX”) are any audio a viewer hears that doesn’t come from the recording itself. Movies, TV, and video games would be quite unsettling without sound effects. While on-set microphones pick up things like dialogue, usually all the other audio is added post-production.

 

Sound effects can be anything from the ambient sounds of the wilderness to the loud whoosh of an airplane. Whether they’re almost deafening or nearly imperceptible, they’re always the result of careful creative work.

 

Here’s a brief rundown of the different types of sound effects, and how to add accurate and convincing audio effects to your video in Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Premiere Rush.

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Types of sound effects.

When it comes to professional sound design and editing, audio and sounds are grouped into four major categories.

 

1. Isolated sounds are normal, everyday noises that you hear in daily life. Car beeps, barking dogs, and jackhammers in a busy city are all isolated sounds. Isolated sound effects are usually easy to find in sound effect libraries, and if you want something basic, like the sound of a door closing, royalty-free collections of audio clips will almost certainly have what you’re looking for.

 

2. Specialty effects are new sounds created especially for a production. Specialty effects are especially popular for fantasy and sci-fi. A dragon’s roar or the low hum of a lightsaber are not sounds that exist in the real world, so they have to be created.

 

3. Foley sounds, like specialty effects, are created specifically for a production. Often, Foley artists will time their sounds to whatever is happening on screen. If a character is walking through gravel, a Foley artist will record themselves doing the same, timing their steps with the character on screen. Foley effects are named after Jack Foley, an early sound effects designer who worked during the first years of sound filmmaking.

 

4. Ambience is the background sound of a given environment. The background noise of a city street is different from the background noise of a forest, which is different from the background noise of an office building. Every scene requires background ambience, otherwise it risks sounding unnatural.

 

Sources for sound effects.

There are two major ways to get sound effects for a production: Create them or license them. Most larger productions will create sound effects in-house, employing a Foley artist to create custom effects that match the needs of their media.

 

Smaller productions, though, usually rely on existing resources. Many original sound effects are archived in a sound effects library or bundled into a sound effects pack sold for commercial use. If you don’t have the budget for original sound, plenty of websites offer free, high-quality sound effects under a Creative Commons license, along with other resources like royalty-free music.

The Adobe Premiere Pro Essential Sound menu superimposed over an image a flock of seagulls, flying
Adobe Premiere Pro

How to add sound effects to complex projects.

Before adding any sound effect to a video project, a sound editor should go through the script a few times, talk to the director, and create a cue sheet to indicate when given sound effects will appear on the soundtrack. Follow this tutorial to add sound effects to video in Premiere Pro.

 

1. Drag and drop your sound effects into the Essential Sound panel to upload them.

 

2. Tag each sound effect. The Essential Sound panel allows you to label each sound effect accordingly with tags like “ambience,” “room tone,” “footsteps,” or “dialogue.”

 

3. Make sure every sound effect fades in and fades out. Everything on the soundtrack needs to fade, even if that fade is only for a portion of a second. Abrupt cuts in sound can have a deliberate aesthetic purpose, but otherwise they tend to sound unnatural.

 

4. Adjust the volume. Make sure all sound effects work with each other, and work in concert with dialogue and music tracks.

The Adobe Premiere Rush Soundtrack menu superimposed over an image a person standing on a mountain top
Adobe Premiere Rush

Edit audio projects on the go.

Premiere Rush equips you with the best tools in the industry to create videos on the go, and to add sound effects, music, and dialogue to your mobile project. Adding sound effects to your video in Premiere Rush is quick and easy:

 

1. Click the blue Plus icon (+) and click Media to select a sound effect from your device. Or click the blue Plus icon (+) and select Audio to choose from a library of sound effects offered in Premiere Rush.

 

2. Select the sound effect you want and click Add.

 

3. Drag the sound effect to the appropriate place on the timeline.

 

4. Select Audio to adjust volume accordingly. 

 

Take your sound effects further.

Premiere Pro and Premiere Rush outfit you with all the tools you need to edit video on desktop and mobile. Add sound effects, music, visual effects, and everything you need to make your videos come to life. 

Do more with Adobe Premiere Pro.

Make visually stunning videos virtually anywhere — for film, TV and web.

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