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Mouth clicks / peaks removal

Timo Anttila:
I'm having a project that's requiring large amount of close mic recorded voiceovers. I'd like to find out decent way to remove all the mouth clicks with batch converting. I usually just draw all the peaks with PT pencil tool, but in this case it could take ages to do that.

I'm aware of various noise and crackle removal plugins, but I was wondering if any of you have used such for speech. In this case language is finnish, so I'm a bit worried about how it handles consonants.

Randy Thom:
I don't know of any software or hardware that is likely to remove unwanted mouth sounds without also removing things you want to keep. I would suggest careful volume graphing.

The main reason I'm replying is to say that the "close mic" is not the reason you're having this problem. The problem almost certainly comes from one or both of the following:

1) The voice talent is speaking quietly.

Mouth noises tend to be about the same level regardless of how loud someone is speaking. Ever notice that you don't hear mouth noises when a rock-n-roller is screaming into a mic which is one millimeter from his lips? The reason is that the ratio of the voice level to the mouth noise level is very high. On the other hand, when a voice-over person is speaking quietly the ratio of the voice level to mouth noise level is low, so you hear the clicks, saliva gurgle, etc.

2) Some people do generate more and louder mouth noises than others.

The best solution is rarely to move the mic farther away. The only way in which that will "help" is to pick up fewer high frequencies from both the voice and the mouth noises. So, you're basically screwing up your recording of the voice in order to reduce the clicks, which is probably what you will also do if you try to use a "batch" de-clicker on the recording.

Paul Heitsch:
Just to chime in, here, I agree with Mr. Thom's suggestion that you use volume edits (not EQ), and also continue to use the pencil tool to get rid of the more egregious clicks.

It sounds like you've already recorded the VO for this project, but for future reference, one thing I've found helpful is to have some apple slices handy for the VO talent to snack on. The pectin in the apple helps reduce the mouth noises a fair bit.

I work for a place that does a LOT of spoken word recordings - we make a line of talking books and interactive DVDs for children. If there were a better way I'd like to think we'd have found it by now.

Bob Kessler:
The first thing is to make sure that the talent keeps their mouth moist during the VO/ADR session. Lots of vocal pops and clicks are due to dry mouth. Teaching the talent a little mic technique is a big help too, as well as explaining about plosives, sibilence, etc.

In the editing process I have found that automating EQ rather than volume sounds a little more natural. Also in some spots a little patching can do wonders, just a syllable from another line of dialog or a previous take that matches closely to cover that .23 second of exotic oral noises.

Grant Bridgeman:
I specialise in VO / Spoken Word Recording at the moment and I would love to hear of a product that does this; However, I doubt very much that a product like this would exist, as each vocal click tends to be so different to the last and then the fact that the files would have to be checked for artifacts anyway would mean it may be just as quick to do the job manually.

Thoughts on how to help prevent though:

1. Avoid giving the actors milky drinks. Helps reduce the amount of saliva produced, and can help reduce some mouth noises. Hot water, honey and lemon is a good standby drink - so are herbal teas.

2. A lot of clicks can have the gain pulled right down or just deleted (possibly with background noise put in as a replacement). I personally only use the pencil tool as a last resort.

3. This will sound like recording technique heresy, but it I find it can work quite well. Use some "gentle" and smooth gating as you are recording in (keeping the range to about 10dB reduction). We find the drawmer 201's were the smoothest and the fact these can be used with a frequency filter on the main input. Warning: This can generate more problems that it cures, and it needs very diligent monitoring to make sure that additional artifacts (double breaths are the worst offender, where the gate closes during an intake) aren't generated. I find by carefully listening and following the script, I'm able to markup when and where all the noises occur.

John McClain:
A tart, green apple can also work well in reducing mouth noises. Thereís also a product on the market, an artificial saliva spray that a couple of talent have used effectively when Iíve recorded them.


Peter Henningsen
Yesterday I had a man in the studio for a test speak. He was a rather good speaker, but there was some unwanted lip noise from his mouth. I remembered a post some years ago from this group about this topic, that you should let the speaker eat an apple. We tried it out and it worked!!!.

Stamatia Staikoudi
Sounds really interesting...! I'm afraid I wasn't a member of this group when the "apple effect" was posted, so can you or anyone else give a bit more details? Similar suggestions/experiences are also welcome...

Peter Henningsen
Maybe it's not so much lip noise but more of a `smacking? sound from the mouth usually from to much saliva and/or the tongue hitting the inside of the mouth.

Anyway somehow the apple neutralized that effect.

Tom Hays:
It seems like the problem in question is usually caused by a dehydrated mouth, making the mucus stickier and therefore louder.

Can't say I've ever had the problem clear itself by mere suggestion, but I do keep green apples and a case of apple juice in the studio for such instances. And it works about 80% of the time. For some actors, it solves the problem entirely for the rest of the session. For others, it works for as few as 5-10 lines and then they have to take another bite or drink.

Another thing to try is diet coke, as it helps coat the actor's mouth and hide the noise, too.

Steven Taylor:
Out of interest, does anyone have any suggestions for anything that increases lip noise or even corrupts the voice in some way?

Stamatia Staikoudi:
As far as the corruption of a talent's voice is concerned, when I was singing as a member of a top choir, the conductor was always pointing out some things all the singers should not eat before a performance or general rehearsal, as they cause problems to the voice: chocolate, nuts and extremely hot or cold drinks. It has also been proven that exposure to the summer sun should be avoided by those who want to have the optimum vocal performance(talents included).

Having worked as a talent to make some extra money during my student days, I always sticked to the above and never regreted it; however, when I had to record a dark, spooky, as unfamiliar as possible voice for a sound design project, the chocolate and almonds bar I gave my talent to eat did wonders!

Oh! And don't forget that when it comes to female talents, their performance is affected by the days of their menstrual cycle they happen to be.


Excerpt from thread "mouth clicks etc. peaks removal Apr 22, 2005 and "Hooray for this group " Feb 10, 2007 at Sound Design discussion list

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