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STP-Spectrum-View.pngAs a quick aside from my audio sermons, I'd like to take a quick look at something a bit more practical.  In Soundtrack Pro, we're all used to seeing waveforms when we open up clips.  But there's another perspective on the sound that, while it's a little more scary at first, can be almost as useful once you figure it out.  You can separate some sounds from others, spot areas with funny spikes that don't show up in the waveform, and even copy and paste specific sounds from within a flat clip.  With practice, you can even begin to recognize the "fingerprints" of individual words.  They call this view ... Spectrum View.
To activate the Spectrum View, have a clip open and select the Display Frequency Spectrum button at the top-right of the screen.

Your soothing, green waveform will disappear, as you are  cast out into a bold blue sea of grainy-looking spectrum mush.  What you're looking at here is actually a 3-dimensional bird's-eye view of the sound wave.  On the horizontal axis, you still have time.  On the vertical axis, though, you don't have loudness any more - instead, you're looking at the frequency spectrum.  Conveniently, the low end of the view is the low end of the sound, and the high pitches are at the high end of the view.  The color intensity refers to the loudness of the sound in that frequency range at that time: in the default view, blue fades through the rainbow to red as the sound gets louder.

Voice: "Standing underneath this humble oak tree"

In the example clip above, we're looking at a man speaking, with a bunch of cicadas (insects) calling in the background.  We see the contours of the man's voice in the sworls towards the bottom of the screen.  His silibants stick up at four points ("st", "th", "th", "tr").  And that thing that looks like a set of claw marks moving horizontally above the man's voice sworls?  Those are the cicadas.

The sound still behaves normally in the timeline - dragging the mouse across it, for example, still makes selections.  But there's a trick: holding down on the option key while we drag lets us draw a rectangle to select a specific portion of the spectrum across time.  This is very cool.

Here, for example, we've selected only the crickets from the sound in that range.  If we press delete, said crickets magically disappear.  If, say, the man had sworn and we needed to censor him, we could do the same thing with the voice.  Rather than deleting everything - which would be obvious to the viewer - removing the voice lets the rest of the nat sound continue uninterrupted.

Even cooler, you can cut, copy, and paste your specific portion of spectrum.  Be aware, though, that pasting portions of spectrum is just like pasting whole pieces of sound: by default, it will insert the piece at the playhead, displacing the other sound in that area:

If you want to paste the piece so that it lays on top of the sound you're around instead, just use the Paste Special menu, and select Paste Mix. 

STP-PasteMix.pngYou'll see a dialog that lets you specify how much of the original and how much of the clipboard contents should appear in the mix.  This might be one way to, for example, fade down a portion of the spectrum rather than deleting it outright.  Simply select it, Cut it, then Paste Mix right back where you cut it from.


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Clipping, and Limiting Audio 3 (Back to the Basics series) was the previous entry in this blog.

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