Mixing audio tracks manually and with the SmartMixer
Video: Mixing audio tracks manually and with the SmartMixerAt some point in your video production process you'll probably end up with a project looking something like this. You'll have some video clips here that have audio associated with them, you might have little bits of narration that I created for this project and you might have some music, music data, soundtrack down below here. The thing is you want all those audio tracks to cooperate with each other to blend together. You could be pretty sure that right off the top they won't. So, let's just see what this one sounds like when I go up here with everything working together. Let's see what that sounds like.
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In Premiere Elements 9 Essential Training, author Jeff Sengstack breaks down the editing workflow into bite–sized pieces, covering topics from setting up a project to exporting the final video to any format. The course also covers the basics of editing and advanced features like picture-in-picture overlays and audio and visual effects. Exercise files accompany the course.
- Touring the interface
- Creating a new project
- Capturing video
- Downloading assets and importing media
- Arranging, rearranging, and deleting clips
- Adjusting clip lengths
- Applying video transitions
- Working with video effects
- Animating effects
- Recording, editing, and mixing audio
- Automating edits
- DVD authoring
- Saving and sharing movies
Mixing audio tracks manually and with the SmartMixer
At some point in your video production process you'll probably end up with a project looking something like this. You'll have some video clips here that have audio associated with them, you might have little bits of narration that I created for this project and you might have some music, music data, soundtrack down below here. The thing is you want all those audio tracks to cooperate with each other to blend together. You could be pretty sure that right off the top they won't. So, let's just see what this one sounds like when I go up here with everything working together. Let's see what that sounds like.
(Video playing) So, here we are going a little grocery shopping adventure, my good buddy Richard helping me. Not good, we need to fix that. Well, there are several ways to go about fixing that. Let me show you the first way that some people might approach but it's not really a very effective way if you want to control the audio within a track. Let's say a little bit louder here, a little quieter here, louder here. This won't work but over here in the Sceneline let me just show you what the options are. The Sceneline has these little icons that tell you that this is audio, audio, audio. You click on the icon that opens up this little volume marker and you can drag the volume level for the entire track up or down.
You can't adjust it, let's say, within the track. Same is true for the Narration track and the Soundtrack they are all set to the same default level, they are a little bit above half way as you can see. But this really is an ineffective way to deal with something like this where you want to adjust the volume throughout the project. Just to let you know that it's there. Let's go back to the Timeline. Now, you've seen these little audio volume graphs here, the volume graphs in each clip. You could adjust each clip. Ugh! That would just be way too much work, we don't want to do that.
What we want to do is we want to adjust the audio within an entire track, not worrying about the individual clips. The way you do that is with a very cool tool called the Mixer. Anything that has to do with audio you can find inside this little drop down menu. So, I am going to click on the Audio tools drop down menu and there are two things that say mix: Smart Mix and Audio Mix. We'll talk about Smart Mix in a moment but Audio Mix opens up the Audio Mixer. And isn't that slick? You're probably going, Whoa! I didn't expect to see that here inside Premiere Elements. But there you go, this is an Audio Mixer very much like a production studio audio mixer.
What you are going to do is you are going to adjust these controls as you listen to your audio. Then you can make some decisions here on the fly and then go back and make even more decisions. You can fine-tune it as you go along. So let me take this guy over here to the left and talk about this little bit briefly. Audio 1 is your video track with the audio associated with it, Narration it's obvious, here's the narration track, Soundtrack here is the music, and then 2 and 3 have nothing on them. Now, you could delete those tracks if you wanted to but let's not worry about it, they'll just sit there and not do anything.
What I want to do is I am going to play this and start adjusting levels here. I won't be talking during this time because if I talk and try to adjust them at the same time then audio from the project will step all over my narrations. So, I'll just play this guy and make some adjustments as we go along here. Here we go. (Video playing) There you go, I just made some adjustments there.
You notice as I make the adjustments, keyframes start showing up here in the clips. Now, I didn't have to adjust those keyframes within each clip. I am doing it here automatically as I change these things. Let me open up these views as well. You'll see that keyframes are added to them, lots of keyframes, many more than you ever want to add manually. So, this is basically how you use the mixer. As I go forward now I would raise the level of the Soundtrack a bit and lower the Narration even though it's silent at that point. Maybe adjust the natural sound of the background as Richard moves the cart through the grocery store.
When I come back to the narration I would drop the Soundtrack a bit and raise the Narration to compensate. Again, if you don't like how it worked the first time through you can always back up and make some adjustments on the fly. So, that is the Audio Mixer, a very slick little tool. I am going to undo what I just did. Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac, go back here to Audio and select Smart Mix. Before I click Apply I need to set the Options. Smart Mix will analyze your audio and try to take things that you think should be in the foreground and make them louder whenever they are present, and things that should be in the background it will try to make quieter.
It's not a bad little tool. It works pretty well but you'll see that the manual method is much more effective. Let's just think about this for a second. Here is the audio from the grocery store where Richard is pushing the cart around. Do I want that audio in the foreground? Not really. It's natural sound, it's in the background, so I am going to change that to Background. And the Narration, definitely that should be in the Foreground, and the Soundtrack should be in the Background. So the Narration should always win whenever we are trying to mix this thing using the Smart Mixer. So, that is your first step when you are making some adjustments. Now, you click Apply and it's going to go through and it's going to go through your entire project and analyze the audio and try to get it to mix nicely.
Notice the keyframes that show up here. When I talk, yeah, Shopping music drops. If I roll-up a little bit here you see that the grocery natural sound dropped as well. So whenever the narration comes on, it's tried to make an adjustment to make sure the Narration is on top. Let's see how that works. (Video playing) So, that's pretty slick.
I think that does a pretty good job, if you have things organized the way I've organized them here, where you've got Narration on a separate track and two other clips of audio, which will almost always be in the background. So, that's Smart Mix, and then the manual Audio Mixer.
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