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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Watch Those Audio Levels

A lot of you folks out there work with video editing software, so I'm going to use my expertise to offer some advise.

You may put a lot of stress on video and visual appearance, but be warned that the far more important aspect of your project is the audio. Most of us can forgive substandard lighting, bad framing, or a blank set, but bad audio will make your audience run away and never return. When I started making videos (re-cut home movies), I didn't realize this until I finished my first project. The video was quite fine, but I couldn't watch it because the audio popped and shifted dramatically.

If you use a nonlinear editing software, you can modulate the volume by adjusting the rubber band on the waveform. I'm not going to go into specifics because this method changes between every interface, so I'd be writing pages and pages. But for the most part, most audio layers look like this:
The pink lines represent the volume. The dots are the keyframes you set to control the decibels. (I have no clue why the person who made this picture used so many!)

No matter what you do, make sure all your audio is consistent. You can check this by watching your audio levels: raise and lower the clips as necessary. Oh, how often I am watching a video with quiet audio that uses loud media clips that blast my eardrums. Don't forget to lower any audio that comes in hot. Most clips off Youtube tend to be over-modulated.

Finally, if you are using audio from multiple sources (say, from two different cameras) you can smooth out any audio pops by adding an audio transition. This may seem like a small detail, but it goes a long way in creating a better pace to your sequence.

I hope this helps and gives you some ideas. I look forward to HEARING you filmmakers.

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