26 Replies Latest reply on Dec 5, 2008 3:26 PM by Jim_Simon

    Audio Level for the web

    shooternz Level 6
      What audio level does one set for video files to be viewed on a web page? (specifically Flash)

      I realise there is probably no "Standard" for this but what process/levels have others used.
        • 1. Re: Audio Level for the web
          Jim_Simon Level 8
          I don't do anything different from my normal editing. I do use a Flash player with user volume control.
          • 2. Re: Audio Level for the web
            shooternz Level 6
            This particular project will not have the option of the Player (and its volume control).

            User clicks on a Question on the web page and the Video plays and answers. (without the player visible).

            If I encode the files (50 of them) too quiet or too loud its going to be a problem either way.
            • 3. Re: Audio Level for the web
              Jim_Simon Level 8
              >This particular project will not have the option of the Player

              I personally just don't like such web design. It takes needed control away from the user.
              • 4. Re: Audio Level for the web
                shooternz Level 6
                The user only needs to click elsewhere on the page if they dont want to hear the answer (that they went to the page to get in the first place.)

                It is health information.
                • 5. Re: Audio Level for the web
                  Jim_Simon Level 8
                  Still don't like embeded video without volume. Like you say, there's no way to predict where a users level will be set. In my view, user volume control is a requirement for good web design, not an option.
                  • 6. Re: Audio Level for the web
                    shooternz Level 6
                    good web design...hmmm. I guess you mean "design" in a technical sense and not a creative sense.

                    http://www.tgel.com/US/
                    • 7. Re: Audio Level for the web
                      Keith_Andrews Level 1
                      Craig,

                      Set your audio levels in Premiere peaking just below 0dB. Because your delivery will be via the web, you don't have to worry about the whole -20dB digital to 0dB analog translation.

                      If you aren't going to make volume control accessible to the end user, then make sure they know that audio is going to play, so they know to have their speakers on and up. If it's too loud on their end, it's because their speakers were up too high. The only thing you need to worry about when exporting from Premiere is that the audio isn't distorted on your end.
                      • 8. Re: Audio Level for the web
                        shooternz Level 6
                        Thanx Keith.

                        Thats what I was hoping was the answer.
                        • 9. Re: Audio Level for the web
                          Jim_Simon Level 8
                          >I guess you mean "design" in a technical sense

                          Correct.

                          >If it's too loud on their end, it's because their speakers were up too high.

                          Oh, I just can't disagree with that strongly enough. My speakers are at about middle, and this works good for my mp3 and computer video playback, but there are web sites out there who don't offer any volume control and are waaaay too loud. There are others that are too quite for my "middle road" setting.

                          Thing is, I prefer to change the source volume, which affects only that source, than my speaker volume, which messes with everything.

                          That's why I feel user volume control is a must for good web design.
                          • 10. Re: Audio Level for the web
                            Level 1
                            What we've been doing is edit to -20 as if we were dealing with broadcast (because of the cross platform nature of what we're doing), make sure the content has a moderate level compressor to take out peaks and lift the quiet areas (a limiter would do just as well), then normalise at 85% during compression. If you can guarantee your audio isn't going to have transient peaks thanks to the compressor/limiter, then the normalisation allows for consistency in your output.

                            While it would be lovely for some authority to put out some sort of standard for web video, I look at the situation as it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing. So long as the content on my site sounds good and matches from video to video so the audience isn't having to change their speaker settings over and over again, then that's all I can be responsible for.
                            • 11. Re: Audio Level for the web
                              shooternz Level 6
                              There are ways to control volume.

                              Yes...one can be on the webpage player. The other can be on the Computer (or attached amplifier). Like a TV or a HiFi or your car radio etc

                              Volume is a very strange thing. We make TV commercials and know how to "trick" the broadcast system with compression techniques that playout louder than program. Station Idents do the same. Drives the punters rushing for their remotes. They have no other control of it apart from the remote.

                              Dont see why web site viewers cant use the volume knob if needed. Fact of life.

                              My real issue is that for my client, I want the web site to be both effective and not drive the viewers away thru tech issues. Finding the happy medium. I certainly would not let technical considerations override creative ones.
                              • 12. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                TradeWind Level 3
                                At the very least, I'd say just make sure your levels are consistent, so that if it's too loud/quiet on the first video, they can make the adjustment to their speakers at that point and then be done with it.
                                • 13. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                  Keith_Andrews Level 1
                                  Again, set your levels to peak just below 0dB in Premiere. Plain and simple. That way you are maximizing the range without overmodulating the output. Like I said before, if it's too loud on their end, it's their fault. Those are the facts. There is no way you can output something from Premiere that will in turn create a LOUDER sound on their end to the point where it is blowing them out of their seats.

                                  Let's use an example here. If I have my speakers set very low, like volume position 2 out of 10, and you export a sound clip from Premiere at +10dB, the sound coming out of my speakers is still going to be very low, only the sound that you've exported is now very distorted and has a very low sound quality.

                                  There is a certain point with any audio clip where the sound stops increasing in volume and begins distorting on output. That is why if you just set the levels to peak right below 0dB you will be fine. Remember folks, the majority of users accessing rich media on the web are using some kind of low quality computer speakers. Not studio reference monitors.

                                  What Craig is looking for is just an everyday, real world solution that will get his video onto the clients site and be accessible to everyone who accesses it. Better to output with a little more juice, then not enough. Unfortunately it will be up to the end user to set the volume to their desired level.

                                  These are the problems all content delivery producers face when creating rich media for the web. It's the same problem with video delivery and bandwidth. No one has the same internet connection, so you just have to do your best with what you have and try to target the majority.
                                  • 14. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                    Jim_Simon Level 8
                                    >Dont see why web site viewers cant use the volume knob if needed.

                                    They can, but that affects the volume on everything. That's not as good as changing the volume on only the one source. It's why most media players have a volume control. This is no different, yours is just an embeded media player. Like the stand alones, it needs volume control.

                                    >I want the web site to be both effective and not drive the viewers away thru tech issues.

                                    Put in the volume control. Not having that is what keeps me away from certain sites.
                                    • 15. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                      Dag Norum Level 2
                                      >I certainly would not let technical considerations override creative ones

                                      And, maybe to do what the clients want is smart, they pay your bills (hopefully).

                                      Dag
                                      • 16. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                                        That's good advice, Dag. But the way I'm reading it, the client isn't fussy about the technical details, but only wants a well functioning site.

                                        To me, that demands user volume control. Not having that makes the site less user friendly.
                                        • 17. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                          Dag Norum Level 2
                                          Craig,

                                          I took a look at the talking doctor (I assume that's your work).

                                          The volume seems a bit low to me, compared to where I usually have my volume control at.

                                          Two questions:
                                          - What bit-rate do you use for your video and audio?
                                          - At what level (dB) have you "normalized" the audio?

                                          Just did a similar job, so I'm curious.

                                          Dag
                                          • 18. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                            Dag Norum Level 2
                                            Jim,

                                            I agree with you, user volume control is nice, and yes, it gets more user friendly with one. But as said, the client is my boss (at least until he pays :) )

                                            Dag
                                            • 19. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                              Jim_Simon Level 8
                                              Agreed. But if the client doesn't care about the technical details, and just wants things to work...
                                              • 20. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                                Dag Norum Level 2
                                                My guess is that Craig doesn't deliver more than the .flv, and then it's up to the web designer to put a player control on it.

                                                Dag
                                                • 21. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                                  Stan Jones Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                                                  Volume also low for me on a laptop that will play loud, but web material is rarely loud enough for it. So volume control wouldn't help. So I would want your material set effectively "louder." But I completely agree that the volume of all the clips needs to be the same.

                                                  My votes: there is already a speaker on/off button; let it popup to be a volume control. I like a "stop" button as well - even though I can use the control to stop the audio, I can't stop each movie. But that is totally a flash design issue here.
                                                  • 22. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                                    Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                    That could be Dag. I myself combine the two into one operation - FLV creation with player. (It's the best way to ensure it get's done right, meaning with user volume control.)
                                                    • 23. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                                      shooternz Level 6
                                                      Firstly - I have followed Andrews advice and peaked to just under 0db. (This is what I would do for a DVD export as well since I am not coping with Broadcast reference levels.) Thanx Andrew (I dont usually do web work so needed some tech reasurance)

                                                      Heres the go.

                                                      No the site I linked to is not my work but I am doing exactly the same for that same client (and a different product range). Just a litle more interactive. User will click on a Q and A and the subjects will answer.

                                                      The client is not only concerned about technical details (which they leave to me), they are also concerned about the aesthetics and design. They did not want a player visible at all.

                                                      The design for all their work is covered by a "style book" so we all follow that for all work. Basically it is "clean/fresh".

                                                      The idea of a clean screen without the player visible fits this concept and it is cool and fun. Suits the target audience. Teens/ youth.

                                                      I deliver flv with alpha (and swf) to the web guys who bolt it into the page and to the Q/A links.

                                                      I shot green screen then keyed the characters. I then composited the two characters beside each other for a large number of clips. The characters give the impresion of interacting with each other. Heads turn to each other at various times. Some of the clips are looped but all needed registration to avoid "shifts". Time consuming but great little project

                                                      The movie can be stopped by simply clicking another Q/A link or other stuff on the page. If this is done the characters simply stay on screen in their "Iddle/Wait" state. They do not dissapear of the screen. This maintains the look and design.
                                                      • 24. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                        >They did not want a player visible at all.

                                                        Volume (and other) controls can be invisible, showing up only when the cursor is moved to the bottom of the playback area. This serves both the client's wishes and the user's needs.
                                                        • 25. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                                          shooternz Level 6
                                                          You are correct. That is up to the web guys.
                                                          • 26. Re: Audio Level for the web
                                                            Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                            Well, if you're handing them an SWF...