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Adjusting audio levels and pan

From: Avid Media Composer 5 Getting Started

Video: Adjusting audio levels and pan

Picture is only half the story; audio's impact on the overall experience is immense. Media Composer provides many tools for manipulating audio clips and tracks. Here, in this Timeline, you can see I've got four audio tracks. You can actually add up to 24 audio tracks to a single sequence inside Media Composer. 16 of those tracks will be available for real-time monitoring and output. When we start to add together multiple tracks of audio, we need to be able to adjust the level of those audio tracks.

Adjusting audio levels and pan

Picture is only half the story; audio's impact on the overall experience is immense. Media Composer provides many tools for manipulating audio clips and tracks. Here, in this Timeline, you can see I've got four audio tracks. You can actually add up to 24 audio tracks to a single sequence inside Media Composer. 16 of those tracks will be available for real-time monitoring and output. When we start to add together multiple tracks of audio, we need to be able to adjust the level of those audio tracks.

Aesthetically, we need to adjust the relative loudness of tracks, so that it makes sense. For example, someone in the distance is going to be quieter than someone closer to the camera. Then technically, we need to make sure that our audio levels are loud enough for the audience to hear, but not so loud that when they're all added together, they create audio distortion. The procedure of balancing at out clip and track levels to fine-tune a sequence is called audio mixing. To help us with audio mixing, we have our audio meters here in the Timeline.

We also have, under the Tools menu, the Audio tool. This gives us a larger version of the audio monitors. Let's play back some of the sequence. Our audio meters are there to help us when we're mixing. They give us visible feedback on the levels of individual tracks, or the entire output of the Timeline. Healthy levels will go up through green, and if are they meant to be loud or noticeable, they will peak up into the yellow. If too much peaking occurs, you can tell, because the audio meter will stay yellow most of the time, and may even turn red on occasions.

We need to avoid this, since distortion will result and detract from what we are trying to accomplish. An important concept to grasp before you start mixing is the difference between clip or track level, and the loudness of your monitoring system. It doesn't matter how high you set the levels in your sequence, if your monitoring is turned down, either on your mixer or on your speakers, you won't hear anything. You should set your audio monitoring up, so that it can be left alone for the rest of your mixing session.

Changing the monitor levels whilst mixing is not advised, since it will make it very hard for you to judge if your mix is sounding even throughout the sequence. I want to come up here and turn off my Audio tool for a moment, because I'm going to go into Settings and bring up the keyboard. The reason I do this is I'd like to show you that this pink button here is mapped to your keyboard. This allows us to add keyframes to our audio tracks. Just so we can see more clearly what's going on though, and to show you another tool you can use, I'm going to go to the Tools menu, and bring up the Command palette.

This has all of the commands and buttons used in the Media Composer interface. Under FX, we have Add Keyframe. If Button to Button Reassignment is switched on, I can hold down, drag and drop this new button into my interface. Let's close the Command palette. The forest floor clip was sounding a bit louder than its neighbors, and was a bit distracting over the top of the music there. So, what I'd like to do is drop the level of the forest floor clip on A1 and A2. To do this, what I'm going to do is activate Auto Gain.

The way I did that was I clicked into this button here that looks like keyframes connected by lines, and then I simply selected Auto Gain. Now, I've switched on Auto Gain for A1 and A2. If I come to my forest floor clip and add a keyframe, you can see it's being added to both tracks. If I want to adjust this, I'm going to have to come over here and activate the Keyframe button. Now that that's active, I can grab, hold and move my audio levels down or up. Let's drop that down to about there, and play it back.

(Clip playing.) Much better! Here down on my music track, I'd like to do something similar. So, I'm going to activate Auto Gain on A3 and A4, like so. This time though, rather than adjusting the whole level of my music track, all I want to do is create a fade on the end, (Music playing.) the moment the music just cuts out. So, to create a fade, what I'm going to do is we're going to park a little ways back and pre-stage my audio keyframes.

I'm going to add an audio keyframe there, and then I'm going to move to the end of the Timeline and add another audio keyframe there. Now, when I drag down the ones at the end of the Timeline, you can see I've managed to create a ramp or a fade. (Clip playing.) Another attribute of my clips, which I can affect using audio keyframes, is panning. If I switch to Auto Pan here on both of these tracks, now, instead of adding keyframes which will affect level, I'll be adding keyframes which affect pan.

In other words, will the music would be coming out of the left channel or the right channel? Let me show you what I mean. If I come here, and I go ahead and add a keyframe now, if I take the keyframes and drag them up, then that means I'm going to be panning them both to the left channel. Let me bring my Audio tool back up for a moment. Now when I playback, let's see what happens. (Clip playing.) You can see the music is all now coming out of the left channel.

We still have Mono here on A1 and A2, so we get a little bit of activity on A2, but most of the audio is coming out of the left speaker, or channel 1. (Clip playing.) If I were to come back to these keyframes here, and pan them down to the right, the opposite would be true. (Clip playing.) Now, the majority of the audio is coming out of A2, or the right-hand speaker. If I turn Auto Pan off now on both of these tracks, you can see that the keyframes disappear, and I'm just left with these little pink triangles, which indicates that there is in fact a change on that track, but that I would have to go into the mode in order to see what the change is.

Audio monitoring is how loud you have your speakers turned up. Audio levels refer to the amount of signal flowing from a clip or track in the Timeline. Audio Pan determines which speaker, or channel, your audio output will come out of.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Avid Media Composer 5 Getting Started
Avid Media Composer 5 Getting Started

36 video lessons · 6082 viewers

Steve Holyhead
Author

 
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  1. 4m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 31s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 42s
  2. 21m 40s
    1. Starting Media Composer and creating a new project
      4m 15s
    2. Understanding Media Composer
      5m 47s
    3. Working with clips, bins, folders, and the Project window
      3m 44s
    4. Saving and backing up your work
      4m 16s
    5. Retrieving a project from the Attic
      3m 38s
  3. 27m 58s
    1. Understanding media formats and the Format tab
      8m 25s
    2. Importing media
      6m 11s
    3. Linking to media using AMA
      5m 43s
    4. Accessing media from other projects
      2m 56s
    5. Working with clips in the bin
      4m 43s
  4. 23m 49s
    1. Getting started with editing
      7m 25s
    2. Creating a new sequence
      5m 39s
    3. Removing material from your sequence
      6m 20s
    4. Editing segments in the Timeline
      4m 25s
  5. 30m 44s
    1. Using Splice, Overwrite, and three-point editing
      5m 25s
    2. Understanding trim concepts
      4m 39s
    3. Working with trim techniques
      6m 6s
    4. Using the Timeline
      7m 49s
    5. Building multitrack sequences
      6m 45s
  6. 14m 21s
    1. Adjusting audio levels and pan
      6m 42s
    2. Diving deeper into audio
      7m 39s
  7. 23m 8s
    1. Setting quick transitions
      5m 33s
    2. Working in the Effects palette
      3m 42s
    3. Keyframing effects
      7m 1s
    4. Setting system performance and rendering effects
      6m 52s
  8. 17m 37s
    1. Creating freeze-frames and motion clips
      4m 40s
    2. Understanding timewarp effects
      7m 15s
    3. Understanding Timeline compositing
      5m 42s
  9. 19m 44s
    1. Working with basic color correction
      7m 13s
    2. Stabilizing shaky footage
      1m 44s
    3. Creating a basic title
      5m 0s
    4. Mixing down video and audio
      5m 47s
  10. 6m 33s
    1. Building the final output
      6m 33s
  11. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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