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In Avid Media Composer 5 Essential Training, author Ashley Kennedy demonstrates basic and intermediate editing techniques in Media Composer, one of the most widely used nonlinear, video editing systems. This course covers how to build sequences, mix audio, color correct footage, apply effects, and troubleshoot common post-production issues in Media Composer. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now that you've got a good handle on editing video, it's time to launch into some basic audio editing. Believe it or not many editors consider audio even more important than video. Because audio has the ability to reach into the subconscious and affect parts of the brain that viewing images can't. In short good audio is crucial and in this movie we will explore audio levels and pan and how to read them via the Audio tool. Let's take a moment to open up a very important tool, the Audio tool. It's also accessible via Ctrl+1 or Command+1 on the Mac.
The Audio tool is a device where you can measure the levels of the audio in your sequence and clips. Levels unlike volume are a constant value of the power or intensity of sound. Now this measurement, which is measured in decibels, is actually relative to a reference audio level, which is typically set at the threshold of perception of human hearing. Therefore, to a human, normal sounds like the human voice should peak right in here. Loud sounds will peak higher and quieter sounds will peak lower.
But in the clips and sequences that we are looking at today, most of the clips and sound should peak right here in the normal range. Let's play some audio to see where our audio is peaking. I've got Dr. Shannon loaded up and I'll go ahead and press Play. And let's look and see where he is peaking. (Male speaker: So it's almost like a thread that keeps all of the pieces together and keeps the magic throughout it.) Dr. Shannon is mostly peaking in the right area.
He has a couple of quieter moments, but for the most part he is pretty good. Another thing we noticed is that his audio is panneded correctly from left to right. That means that both the left channel and the right channel are at the same level. Let's look one more time to verify that. (Male speaker: So mysterious person, capable of doing magic, master of space and time.) So we have even pan from left to right.
He did get higher there in a couple of places, so we'll just have to keep our ear open as we are adjusting Dr. Shannon's audio. Let's go ahead and load Tony and let's see where his levels and pan are falling. (Male speaker 2: You have the mentor and the apprentice, Drosselmeyer and Mini-Meyer.) (Male speaker 2: And that's one of the themes.) Both the left and the right channel of Tony's audio is too low. Nothing is peaking at the level it should.
And another thing is that they are mispanned. We've got the left channel, which is much lower than the right. And that probably indicates that the right channel is represented by a Lavalier mic clipped to his shirt. And the left channel is probably the onboard camera mic. If I want to listen to one or the other of these channels independently, I certainly can. I can take the Solo button here and press it. And now only my audio 1 is going to play, which means only my left channel is going to play.
Let's go ahead and Play. (Male speaker 2: In the story is like you know the apprentice is trying to learn how to become a magician.) Again much too low, and let's go ahead and Solo the right channel. (Male speaker 2: He makes mistakes all the time and?) And again now audio is going to be just fine. We just need to raise the level a little bit. Let's load a sequence and check that out.
Now we have a couple of things to know about the audio in a sequence. The first is that left panned audio is represented by the odd tracks. So A1 and A3 represent left panned audio. Right panned audio is represented by even tracks. So A2 and A4 represent right panned audio. Let's go ahead and play through the sequence and see what level and pan issues we encounter.
(Music Playing.) Just stopping there we have some mispanned music and we'll probably have to adjust the level a little bit. Let's keep going. (Music Playing.) (Male speaker 2: You have the mentor and the apprentice, Drosselmeyer and Mini-Meyer.) Besides needing some mixing there we have some other issues. When Tony starts talking again we have some pan issues as well as some level issues.
But it gets a little bit cluttered. I think again we should Solo A1 and A2, and let's play that out. (Male speaker: ?the apprentice, Drosselmeyer and Mini-Meyer.) It looks like we have again mispanned audio and we have much higher audio levels here that we will need to fix. When we have overlapping audio between the first part of when Tony talks and the last part of the music the levels get really high.
So what we'll probably end up doing is fading the music out underneath Tony as he begins to speak. We'll look at that in a later movie, but it's just good to know that we definitely have some level and pan issues at this point in the Timeline. Let's go ahead and Solo the music at this point and play out. (Music Playing.) Again we are going to need to look at that pan and adjust the level as needed.
So as you can see we have a few things to consider when setting the audio levels and pan within a sequence and within clips. We will need to use the Audio tool to make sure the audio levels fall within acceptable limits. And we will also need to make sure that the audio is panned evenly from left to right. We will take a look at how the Audio Mixer can help us achieve both of those goals in the next movie.
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