9 Replies Latest reply on Nov 26, 2012 12:32 PM by joneisele

    Balancing audio levels for multiple tracks in PP CS6 ...

    joneisele Level 1

      I have a relatively long home movie (1:50) with clips from multiple cameras dispersed throughout.   One of the camera's audio is far lower than the rest.    What is the easiest/fastest way for a consumer editor to get a reasonable result?  Doesn't have to be perfect, but eliminating the need to hold the TV volume button is the goal.   I'm guessing some of you out there have dealt with this issue a few times and can give me a boost.

       

      I've seen some tutorial videos on using the Audio Mixer, but that appears to adjust volume for an entire track.   I suppose an option here is to manually move all of the quieter clips' audio tracks to a different track number and then use the mixer to adjust.   Trial and error I assume to get it right.

       

      Another video I found shows balancing by pulling up clips one by one into Soundbooth and then processing them together.  I don't own Soundbooth unless it ships with CS6 and I didn't know to install it.  I like the concept though - some way to normalize (if the right term) the volume, although certainly I want some variance so that when someone is shouting or screaming the volume is still higher.

       

      Other videos show adjustments to the volume level by dragging the little yellow volume line on a clip by clip basis inside the track display.   Easy enough, but if I end up deciding I want to make further adjustments I have to go back through all the clips again.   I suppose one advantage here is that those quieter clips sometimes run in batches so could use key frames.

       

      Feedback?

        • 1. Re: Balancing audio levels for multiple tracks in PP CS6 ...
          Peru Bob Adobe Community Professional & MVP

           

          joneisele wrote:

           

           

          Other videos show adjustments to the volume level by dragging the little yellow volume line on a clip by clip basis inside the track display.   Easy enough, but if I end up deciding I want to make further adjustments I have to go back through all the clips again.   I suppose one advantage here is that those quieter clips sometimes run in batches so could use key frames.

           

          Feedback?

          Once you get the all of the audio clips balanced, nest the sequence in a new sequence and you can adjust the single audio track with the all nested clips at once.

          • 2. Re: Balancing audio levels for multiple tracks in PP CS6 ...
            the_wine_snob Level 9

            Personally, I like locating all of the offending camera's footage onto a separate Audio Track, and then making the adjustment at the Track-level.

             

            This is not unlike what I do, when I use dozens of SFX files. As an example, I had one recently, where I had Frogs Front, Frogs Rear Left and Frogs Rear Right. Along with those, I had Loon 1 and Loon 2, plus three Ambiance Tracks, plus some other SFX Tracks. It was simple to set up, and just as simple to make critical adjustments for each set of SFX.

             

            Good luck,

             

            Hunt

            • 3. Re: Balancing audio levels for multiple tracks in PP CS6 ...
              josephs51576386 Level 3

              For what you're desribing I would recommend just placing all the clips inside the timeline and viewing their waveforms and then simply right clicking the clips and selecting the audio gain option and then either raising the gain or lowering the gain until all the clips appear roughly the same. This will allow you avoid the need to raise the volume as you're describing. If the videos were for sale or TV I'd recommend using a dynamics filter but for your scenario I feel the option I have mentioned should be sufficient. When using the audio gain function it adjusts your waveforms so you can actually view the changes made which makes it fairly easy and straightforward to be able to check if all the clips have solid audio levels.

              • 4. Re: Balancing audio levels for multiple tracks in PP CS6 ...
                joneisele Level 1

                Thanks for the feedback.  I'm playing with both methods and had a few more questions.   By the way it became apparent in analyzing the waveforms that one camera is just way too low in volume, but another is too loud particularly when the person filming speaks.  On the latter if I was truly motivated I would go through and use key frames to adjust, but that may be too much.    Anyway ...

                 

                1. What does the Sequence.Normalize Master Track Option do?  I'm still confused on exactly what is normalization, but looks like it just adjusts the peak level for the master track - sort of like a volume limiter if decreased? 
                2. In this scenario - is increasing a bunch of clips on a track by +1dB going to achieve the same result as leaving the gain alone and increasing track volume in the audio mixer by +1dB?   I am assuming so, but want to make sure.  I realize there are there may be other implications with one vs. the other.
                3. On the Audio Mixer, I found that I can only increase the volume by +6dB.    Am I missing something here?   I need to go louder.   I noticed the same thing if I try to increase volume level via the Volume audio effect in the EffectControl panel or pull the yellow volume line up in the waveform.
                4. Is there a way to select all clips on a particular track (besides shift-clicking)?   If I end up having to use the Gain adjustment on all the quieter clips it would be nice to have a way to quickly make adjustments to those clips.  If I put them all on a separate audio track then had a way to select them all - quickly - then I could adjust the Gain for all clips at once. 
                • 5. Re: Balancing audio levels for multiple tracks in PP CS6 ...
                  josephs51576386 Level 3

                  If you need to raise it more than just 6db then you can use the right click audio gain method I described. It will allow you add much more than just 6db. Also the method I desribed updates your waveform view while the track method doesn't.

                   

                  If you want to take all the loud clips and stick them on one track you could consider using the dynamics effect and placing it on the corresponding audio track. This effect takes some getting used to though, so honestly for what you're wanting to do I'd recommend simply using the audio gain function I described or if you don't need more than 6db just using the audio mixer level controls.

                   

                  I emailed you about how normalization works. Also to answer your question about if using 1db of gain with one method vs another method being different other than the waveform being updated after adding the extra volume boosts there shouldn't be any difference. 

                  • 7. Re: Balancing audio levels for multiple tracks in PP CS6 ...
                    needles27 Level 3

                    The professional and best way to accomplish what you are looking for is to use a combination of a compressor and possibly limiter.  (touched upon by the mention of the dynamics filter.)  It can get complicated, but in a very simple description, the compressor will use an effect to make the quiet and loud parts closer together so you can have even levels which won't peak. 

                     

                    There is a compressor in the dynamics effect, but to do it right, you should send your audio over to Audition (included in the suite) to do the work.

                     

                    This is not too complex once you learn it, and it is the best and most pro (and in my opinion, the right way) to do it.  Search free tutorials on working with audio in auditon, and compression/limitors.

                     

                    Good luck!

                    • 8. Re: Balancing audio levels for multiple tracks in PP CS6 ...
                      Richard M Knight Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      As a quick work around, select all the audio and right click select 'audio gain' click on 'Normalize All Peaks to:' and set -5db in the box. Click OK. This will set the maximum peak in every clip to a bit below maximum. If you want it quiter chose a larger negative number (-10 db perhaps).

                       

                      RMK

                       

                      PS to select all the clips just click on the timeline and drag the mouse to include them all.

                      • 9. Re: Balancing audio levels for multiple tracks in PP CS6 ...
                        joneisele Level 1

                        Just closing the loop here ...

                         

                        I ended up doing the separate track and audio mixer volume adjustment with some individual clip gain tweaks.   Turns out one of my cameras was quiet and another loud, so I used three audio tracks in my movie, one for footage from each camera (luckily the two offenders were more limited).   The nice thing about this approach is that adjustments are easy to make across the board.

                         

                        On the 6db volume gain, turns out that was enough.  Maybe someone has some input here, but I find that watching video on my TV with my surround sound system the volume levels are way more sensitive than my PC.   Ok, not 100% - there were a couple of clips where I upped the gain as well.

                         

                        The gain adjustment and looking at the waveform diagram is very useful for getting an idea of what level of adjustment is required.   So I did make use of this feature to get feedback on how to adjust the volume level noted above.

                         

                        If I was really serious, I would have done a bunch of marking key frames and adjusting the volume within the clips.   One of my cameras is really loud when the person filming speaks but the other subjects are much softer.  But I took an 80/20 approach and the movie is a little loud in some spots and a little soft in others, but not so much that I have to adjust the volume button.  It would be tedious to edit all the footage in this way.   Although I did make use of the key frames for some background music.

                         

                        Needles: I was looking for a consumer level solution, although admittedly didn't investigate what you suggested.