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Thread: Audio Editing Troubles

  1. Exclamation Audio Editing Troubles

    I just recently got into video editing and am having a lot of trouble with the audio side of things. I'm recording me and a couple friends playing games so there are usually three audio tracks; mine, my friend's, and the game's audio. With the game audio there's no problem I adjust the volume to wherever I want it. Mostly the same with mine too. But my friends have an awful habit of talking like church mice and then screaming. I've adjusted the microphone to record at a low level so that even when they scream there isn't any clipping but I can't figure out how to properly adjust the audio so that I can hear him talk normally and not have the scream blow my speakers. Right now he's talking at around -30dB and his yells reach up to -2dB on average.

    I've read about normalization and tried it six different ways but normalizing all peaks doesn't seam to bring up the low audio and everything else is already loud enough that nothing really happens. I've tried normalizing it downwards but then everything goes down. I also read up on dynamic range compression and was trying that but the best I've managed there is getting the vocals at -15dB and the shouts at -2dB. It's an improvement but not enough.

    I'm sure there's some easy solution I'm missing and if I can find it i can just use it as a preset and hopefully not have to worry too much about it. Either way, I'm using Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 for the video editing and I record commentary through Audacity using two AT-2020's running to two separate computers.

    Please help. I'm losing my mind. I've been wrestling with this for weeks and now have a backlog of things to do that I can't move forward on.

  2. Default

    You need to automate levels, compress or both. I usually end up editing the gross volume differences and then adding compression to that.

    My typical procedure (for music vocals, using Sony Vegas) is to cut the audio up into parts and adjust the "gain", or level of the signal before processing (compression, volume fader etc.). Low parts may need normalizing before adjusting the gain. In Pro Tools you don't need to cut the audio up because they (finally) included a fantastic gain automation tool using an automation envelope. Once the basic gain is evened out I'll generally apply compression. For light compression 1.6:1 or 2.4:1 might work but for more aggressive compression I might go to 6:1 or even higher. Attack and release control the character of the compression by altering how fast the level can increase or decrease. For your purposes I would think 6:1 would be a good starting point, with fairly fast attack and release.

    Once levels are in control I can use the volume automation (gain is at the beginning of the chain, volume is at the end) to tailor the vocal track to the rest of the mix. Most of what I do should be applicable to what you're doing.

    I don't know CS6's audio editing capability but it may not be up to it. If you want to stay with Adobe (I wouldn't, but that's me) maybe look into Audition. Better yet try Reaper, a fully functional digital audio workstation (DAW) that you can try for free and buy for not too much money. I use Sony Vegas because it's a complete video and audio production tool in one.
    Last edited by bouldersoundguy; 01-01-2016 at 08:47 AM.

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    You need to automate levels, compress or both. I usually end up editing the gross volume differences and then adding compression to that.

    My typical procedure (for music vocals, using Sony Vegas) is to cut the audio up into parts and adjust the "gain", or level of the signal before processing (compression, volume fader etc.). Low parts may need normalizing before adjusting the gain. In Pro Tools you don't need to cut the audio up because they (finally) included a fantastic gain automation tool using an automation envelope. Once the basic gain is evened out I'll generally apply compression. For light compression 1.6:1 or 2.4:1 might work but for more aggressive compression I might go to 6:1 or even higher. Attack and release control the character of the compression by altering how fast the level can increase or decrease. For your purposes I would think 6:1 would be a good starting point, with fairly fast attack and release.

    Once levels are in control I can use the volume automation (gain is at the beginning of the chain, volume is at the end) to tailor the vocal track to the rest of the mix. Most of what I do should be applicable to what you're doing.

    I don't know CS6's audio editing capability but it may not be up to it. If you want to stay with Adobe (I wouldn't, but that's me) maybe look into Audition. Better yet try Reaper, a fully functional digital audio workstation (DAW) that you can try for free and buy for not too much money. I use Sony Vegas because it's a complete video and audio production tool in one.
    Okay, just reading what you wrote made me realize I am in over my head far worse than I originally anticipated.

    From what I understand of what you're saying I should start by adjusting the gain. I'm assuming you mean adjust it so that my friends normal speaking levels are in the range that I would like them to be. Then I may need to cut up the audio into smaller chunks so that I can edit them piece by piece, which would be a LOT of separate pieces considering we're talking three hour chunks of audio. Or I should download a different program called Pro Tools because they have some wonderful process and that part was lost on me.

    After the basic levels are evened our then I apply compression which I had tried but I guess will be more successful now that everything is generally more even.

    I had been using an 8:1 Compression with the smallest attack time it allowed me to do and no make up gain to get it to the best point I had. I hadn't messed with the release though because I figured with how short the bursts of noise were it wouldn't matter very much.

    Then you want me to use Volume Automation, which isn't an effect I see in Premiere but maybe you're referring to pro tools, to make it fit with the rest of the audio, which is what I thought we were doing in part one by adjusting the gain...

    I realize that I may come across as completely idiotic, because I am so very new to this, but could you try explaining things in a bit more detail for me please? Per instance do I actually need to download Pro Tools? If it will make it so I don't have to cut the audio into 300 pieces like I'm thinking you meant, but still do the rest it sounds like I would want to do that. I figure if I have to through the whole clip and cut it up into parts like that my editing time might go from the five or so hours it usually takes to 10 for a three hour clip.

    Also, I get what you mean by Compression Ratios, Attack, and Release times but why would a fast release help? The default for Premiere's presets are 100 ms.

    And what is Volume Automation, what does it do? Is it a part of Pro Tools like you were talking about or is that completely separate?

    Once again, I apologize for asking so many questions but I didn't realize I needed this much knowledge to properly edit videos for YouTube. Then again, this knowledge can only help me in the future so I'm happy to learn.

  4. Default

    Well, the procedure I outlined is when I use all my tricks. I might only do some parts of it. It may be that you can get this done with compression and save yourself the editing. But it's true that I have cut a lead vocal into fifty or more little sections over a four minute song just to even out levels.

    Fast release means that the volume is restored to normal more quickly, for example in time to get the level up for a whisper that follows a yell. That 100ms setting should be fast enough but listen for "pumping", when you can hear a noticeable and unnatural rise and fall of levels. Maybe you just need to be more aggressive with the threshold. Set it low enough to barely affect the low parts so it really stomps on the loud parts. Try the ratio at 20:1. If your compressor has a peak/RMS option choose RMS. Sometimes people use more than one compressor on a track.

    If you decide to get a separate audio program you don't need Pro Tools. There are other options that are just as good, like Reaper.

  5. #5
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    Another option that I have found useful in the past is the free software Levelator. This uses a combination of gain and compressor tools to try to balance out the audio. It was originally developed for podcasts where there is a difference in level between different people speaking. It's no magic bullett, but it may just be of help to you - even if it only gets you part of the way there.
    http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator
    Tim

  6. Default

    Okay, so I tried using Levelator because I figured if it could save me some time all the better but now I'm realizing I have another problem. Since my setup has two microphones within 10 ft of each other, even though I have them both recording at extremely low levels and we are eating our mics, when I use the program or normalize I end up with echoes. And the tracks are synced completely together down to the hz from when I clapped equidistant from both microphones. But no matter how synced we are there is still a delay in between when my mic picks up my voice up and when my friend's does. The normalization or compression will bring my voice on his mic so far up that you can clearly hear the echo. Although I will gladly admit that the Levelator did fix the screaming problem wonderfully! Now I just have to fix the new problem and it will be solved! Except I doubt it's that easy...

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    There must be other echoes or some other phenomenon. The speed of sound in air at room temperature is something over 1000 feet/sec which means the delay between the two mics is less than 1ms. I don't know but I doubt that is audible to my ears at least.
    Tim

  8. #8

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    I'm no tech guy but I've edited a lot on audacity and I think you should be able to get it done ...albeit a long, tedious way. With the track your editing in audacity just start at the beginning & highlight the 1st problem ( quiet or loud but do them 1 at a time), go to amplify under effects. This works both ways, you can raise the quiet parts and lower the loud ones. By just highlighting the individual sections you can avoid cutting up the audio. once you have evened out your audio you could hit it with the leveler, then normalize.
    I was having a similar discussion with a buddy last weekend and he was telling me to use the Hard Limiter, it's at the bottom of the effect list. Not sure how to use it but it apparently can be used to get rid of all your peaks & valleys.
    For the future , what mics & how are our friends recording themselves? Tell them to talk normal so you don't have to do this ever time. Have them edit their own audio, audacity is free.
    Good luck & Rock On!

  9. Default

    The echoing might be from it hitting the other end of the room and coming back, the room is pretty long. Or maybe it just sounds weird because there are two audio tracks with the same recording playing at two different levels of volume. And don't worry I've yelled at my friends for this, but since this is my channel that everything's going up on and they don't have their own then it's just me editing. Plus they wouldn't be nearly as patient as I, and therefore it would never get done. I'm highly considering just using one microphone with that friend around.

    The microphones I use are two USB Audio Technica AT2020's each with a pop filter, held about two inches from our mouths and about 7 ft apart.

    I will try the hard limiter and play with that. The obvious goal here is how do I do it the fastest with the greatest amount of sound quality. Unfortunately my editing process is far longer than it should be already. First I make sure all the sound is at good levels, then go through three hours and mark where to cut every ten minutes or so, then I copy those chunks into a new sequence which get's rid of the whole audio fix I had going before because all new sequences revert files back to their base forms, redo the audio stuff, add an intro here, some fades, and anything extra that I can think of before I export it. For a three hour chunk of footage I'll usually keep an hour to an hour and a half of the footage cut down into episodes. in the end I probably spend about 6 hours just watching and then another hour adding in all the effects. But if I didn't have to deal with the audio issues any more I can guarantee that would cut three hours off my editing process.

  10. #10

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    Well I think your problem is mic placement, they are far to close. Those are condenser mics and for your purposes you should put them on the coffee table in front of the couch your sitting on. Crank up your gain so you can hear your conversation and keep the Tv down a bit. The bleed through of the game sounds would add to your ambiance I would think. You can still uses the pop filters if you want but I probably wouldn't. You could get or make some small mic shields and that would block much of the tv out.

    If you feel the need to have mics that close to your mouth you need some lavelier mic or headsets. Audio technica makes some relatively cheap options as does digidesign. You could also invest in a pre amp with some settings that might help you control the room but I think if you try the coffee table and crank the gain. Have him do his screech and take your your level as high as you can without clipping. Spread the mics out so you have a decent stereo field and pan the 2 tracks hard right and left.
    good luck.
    rock on!

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