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How to Get Rid of Mouth Clicks in Speech Using Fairlight in DaVinci Resolve

Wouldn't it be great if capturing amazing audio was as simple as pointing a mic in the right general direction and hitting record? In this tutorial you'll learn how to use DaVinci Resolve's Fairlight tab to manage those pesky mouth sounds and clicks that can get into your recording.

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Recording

If you're about to record some dialogue, try paying some attention to the state of your mouth, particularly whether it's wet or dry. The clicks we hear are generally caused by saliva trapped under the tongue — I know, a little gross. The question now is, how do we manage the weather in our mouth? Here are some tips to prep your mouth for best recording.

  • Eating Fruit: try eating a slice of a crisp apple or another tart fruit. 
  • Drinking water is great way of clearing saliva that's under the tongue. Feel free to try other liquids, like tea.
  • Sometimes you'll find having a mouth that's too dry will be just as bad or even worse for mouth clicks. You could try using a moisturizing mouth wash to help find a middle ground.
  • Practice speaking and make practice recordings, learn about your voice and how to use it.

Continue try different things to see what works for you. These preventive measures can really speed up the editing process and post-production.

Editing Out Mouth Clicks in Fairlight

Once the unwanted noises are set in a recording, the only option you have to remedy the problem is to either rerecord the track, or use editing software to touch things up. In the tutorial we're using Fairlight, though the principals are universal. If you have a lot of clicks and mouth sounds in your recording and you have option to record the take again, do.

The easiest noises are clearly separate from the rest of the sentence or word. For this case it's as simple of cutting out the problem area  or trimming the ends up to remove anything before or after the dialogue begins, then replacing with a sample of clean audio with room tone.

But what if the clicks are pretty much entwined with the dialogue? For this we can use the equalizer. Before we jump in, go ahead and read the article How to Sweeten Spoken-Word Audio and Dialogue in Resolve Using Fairlight so that we're on the same page.

Using EQ As a Surgical Tool

The first thing you'll want to do is go through the clip and mark the problem areas. Doing this is really easy. Select the track you'd like to mark, listen back and while the song is playing use the hot key "M" to place a marker.

Something I like doing to stay organized is to change the colour of the markers as I progress; first using red to mark noises that haven't been edited, and then I switch over to green after a fix has been applied. To change colours of the marker you can simply double click on the mark on the timeline you want to change and use the pop-up menu.

We're going to minimize to reduce the spit sounds, and we want o be precise about it so that we don't make the rest of the audio muffled.  Your best friend for this is the Range Selection Tool (R).

Figure 1

Next, work through your markers and apply the equalizer. Band 6 is the low-pass filter and the frequencies we want to remove is around 6000Hz (6KHz).

You'll find using the loop feature very handy for this. First turn on the loop feature, using your keyboard select your in (I) and out (O) positions on the timeline and then use Option + / (forward slash) to start the loop (on a Mac). Use this to fine tune your frequency, remembering that precision is the key here.

This is procedure is very time consuming if you're trying to remove a tonne of artifacts, but it is doable. Always try to record and perform with this in mind and you'll find your audio much easier to work with.

Third Party Plug-ins 

If you try the technique above and still can't get the audio to be what you want, try a specialized tol. There are many wonderful audio restoration plug-ins available to aid with your editing process:

  • Software maker Izotope have  a powerful plug-in called RX9 that is widely used by audio professionals for audio cleanup. RX9 is fairly expensive.
  • There are a few alternatives out there with various prices and feature-sets; an inexpensive but well-made one that we've used, with a good balance of easy-to-use tools, is the Acon Digital Restoration Suite.
  • A great free alternative is the ReaPlugs collection of tools from Cockos, especially the ReaFIR plugin.

More Tutorials

Keep learning about audio production with these tutorials.

Share Your Craft on the Envato Forums

Have you used these techniques and tools? let us know by joining the Envato forums.

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