1 Reply Latest reply on Mar 22, 2013 2:51 PM by Jim_Simon

    Best practise to edit audio for dialogs?

    Marcus Koch Level 1

      I'm editing and producing instructional dance videos. It is not my full time job, but I need to achieve a prefessional result. To save time and money it is important to streamline and automate the editing process as much as possible. For many tasks I worked out macros or programmed little tools that make the editing faster and frees me of stupid and tiring repetitive steps (e.g. I create all titles automatically from a file or add all fades automatically with AutoKey macros, I also add all titles automatically). This way I cut down the editing time to about 15% of before. The one area that I haven't found a time saving solution for is the editing of the dialog audio.


      Usually there are two instructors that both have a mono lavalier microphone. Each mic is recorded on one track. (The material has been recorded with a PDW-700 in HD422.) When one instructor speaks the second mic also records the audio. The volume and clarity on the "off"-mic depends on the position of the instructors. When they are both facing the camera the "off"-volume is lower and clarity worse. When they face each other or are in close position the volume on the partners mic is as loud as the main one. Therefore I'm not able to just mix both tracks. When they are further away the sound on the second mic can be distorted so that a plain mix would significantly affect the quality. The only solution I see is to lower the volume on the off-mic each time only one person speaks and to create a mix when both speak. In my actual project I have more than 6 hours of material. There are different instructors with different dynamics in their voices and the material has been recorded with different headrooms. But even the same instructors changes dynamics and loudness over time.


      To address all problems in a streamlined and time saving way I'm looking for a best practise process. What would you do first, second, etc. The muting of the off-mic is the major problem. It looks like that I should use the clip volume envelope and set handles each time the instructors alternate talking. This can require keyframes every few seconds, but worse it requires to set keyframes on each track. To move an audio section up and another down I always need to add two keyframes 1 frame appart. In very old versions of Premiere I remember a command for placing two keyframes next to each other. It does not exist anymore. Despite CS6s improvments in keyboard handling I still haven't found a shortcut to set a keyframe. I constantly have to switch between mouse and keyboard. It is a real pain, kills the neck and makes my head go numb. Is there a better way to get the alternating audio? Is there any third party software that can detect with one is the stronger singal and mutes the other when it reaches a certain threshold?


      My idea at the moment is to mix the mono tracks into one stereo track first and then use the panning control. This way I would at least need to control only one parameter (Left, Right or Mix). After I'm done I can duplicate the audio and fill it left and right. Any thoughts on this?


      I would think for those steps:


      1.) Create a single stereo track

      2.) Adjust gain for each clipc to bring the audio on the proper level

      3.) Add the dynamics filter to compress voices with a big dynamic range

      4.) Pan

      5.) Duplicate audio, fill left and right. Lower volume by 3 db to compensate for fill


      Would you recommend anything different?


      Working with Premiere I have a few questions, too:

      1.) Create a single stereo track


      2.) Is there any way to see the accumulated effects of the various volume changes (gain, track level, clip level). It would be very helpful to the see the various shares (e.g. gain: 3db, track: 1.2db, clip: -6.3 db). Is there any way to see the gain wihtout opening the dialog for each clip? Are the different volume changes added up or applied after each other? E.g. does a gain of 6db plus a clip volume of -6db not change the clip or may it produce a clipping that is just lower in volume?


      For years I would like Premiere to have an option to mark all peaks. I think it is so important. I thought about writing something, but I never had the time. I just saw that Final Cut pro has this option. Is there any know third party solution for Premiere?


      3.) Is there any way to normalize the audio to perceived level? Normalization to peak level with different instructors and their various dynamic ranges is nonsense. Can anyone recommend best practise for using the dynamics filter for the audio compression? I don't have a feeling for the dependencies of the various parameters. Is there any good book or online explanation?


      4.) If I'm not mistaken the audio mixer can write only volume, but not panning chances. Any recommendations?


      Thank you verry much for any help. I think that anyone who edits dialogs is facing the same problem, if there wasn't a big team with sound engineers that adjusted volume at recording.