It can be serious challenge to record clean audio tracks in the field at the speed modern production moves. Unforeseen aspects of a location may make it seem suitable for recording while scouting, only to show up on the day with no choice but to shoot in less than ideal conditions. Talking hands may unintentionally touch Lavalier mics when shooting reality, or maybe you just get hits from radio interference on your wireless gear. Thankfully a relatively new method of audio repair and restoration is making it easier to deal with these problems.

Enter spectral repair.

We have all seen an audio wave form, that graph that shows the amplitude of the sound over time. An audio spectrogram not only displays the amplitude, but also the frequency content. This makes it possible to select unwanted components of a sound and remove them almost entirely. Mic hits, clicks, pops, lip smacks, birds chirping, background noise… If you can see the problem, you can repair it. It’s very similar to forensics. Reviewing the amplitude and tweaking it very carefully. “The craziest thing I’ve ever done within a spectoral repair is completely remove howling wind from an almost unusable interview,” says Studio Post sound engineer Jesse Luce. “It took a lot of time but in the final product you would never know anything was wrong.”