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In Avid Media Composer 5 Getting Started, author Steve Holyhead explores the tools and techniques in Media Composer for producing great looking video, as well as the basics of high definition media formats. This course walks through the video production workflow from input to editing to output, covers key information such as trim concepts and frame rates, and introduces techniques such as color correction, footage stabilization, and real-time audio effects. Exercise files accompany the course.
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.
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