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Is It Necessary to Normalize?

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Debbie King
Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 21, 2014 at 5:02:23 am

Hi Everyone:

I am confused about something. I cleaned my audio really well and compressed my files. When playing the film, all sounded great. No additional sounds. Then I normalized as a last step and I began to hear noise again, in places I didn't hear it with the compression alone. This is going to take me longer than plan to go over every file again, and clean it up again. So I ask the question, since I cleaned the audio and compressed it, do I really need to normalize?

Many thanks,

Debbie


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Angelo Mike
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 21, 2014 at 7:43:20 am

Probably, yes. You're bringing up the noise floor when you normalize audio and in my experience should have waited to clean up your audio until after it was normalized, since that's where it's going to have more of an effect. Unless someone knows of another way. But that's how I've been editing audio for three years.


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Graham Bernard
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 21, 2014 at 9:55:27 am

[Angelo Mike] " should have waited to clean up your audio until after it was normalized"
Angelo, Debbie has said she had done this. We all need to hear just how clean it was prior to Compression prior to Normalization.

Grazie

Video Content Creator and Potter
PC 7 64-bit 16gb * Intel® Core™i7-2600k Quad Core 3.40GHz * 2GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 560 Ti
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Debbie King
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 21, 2014 at 3:53:03 pm

Thanks Grazie and Angelo:

I used RX3 and I didn't even use my headphones. I watched the graphs which showed that the noise had been eliminated. This is why I felt comfortable compressing. I was told to compress first then normalize. Should I have done it the other way? My thought is that if I had normalized, I would have noticed that noise was still being heard and could have cleaned more. When I went back into those areas that still had noise and opened up RX3 again, a little of noise showed on the graph, but not much. When I deselect normalize and kept the compression then opened RX3, there was no noise on the graph. It took me almost 2 months to clean the audio for.this film. I am so tempted to proceed without normalizing. I just want to get your opinion on whether normalizing is really necessary, although I know that it enhances well. Another thing happened also. Before normalizing I had leveled the volumes to get the audio as close as possible using volume envelopes and the pull down on each clip that needed it. Afterwards, I played the entire film to hear the balance, and it sounded well balanced. When I normalized, it threw everything out of balance, so much so, that I found myself going back to the beginning to level everything again. So, I'm not only recleaning the audio; I'm releveling it also. I have a deadline for this film to be fully completed by end of month, and if I have to redo everything, I will definitely miss it.

My other dilemma is that I am normalizing directly in Vegas, so I cannot determine how much normalization I need or want, as some third party softwares allow. If normalization is necessary, can I normalize directly in RX3 per Track, not clip? I have Cubase. Is it possible to pull the entire audio file into Cubase and normalize there. I have multiple tracks too. Doing it inVegas, has caused problems because where there is noise, I am not in a platform to clean it directly in the software. Also there is another problem that normalizing created. When I cleaned the audio the first time, there was a little artifact on some dialogue, but not audible without headphones, so I kept it. Now, when normalizing, the artifacts are very audible; super metallic without headphones, although no background noise is heard. So, if I decided to normalize that clip first, before cleaning, let's say, I will have more noise to clean and end up with enhanced artifacts worst than what I already have. Catch 22! Right now, at this stage, I really have a problem, but if I normalize I will. Any advise or should I just leave well enough alone and start the final mix.

I am also trying to get my volume measured for theatre volume, and have been advised on what the levels should be; I believe 85 to 105db. Is that for the master volume after mixing the film between -12 to -6? I have to buy a device to calibrate my speakers, but do I need a third party software to set the RMS? Can I do it directly in Vegas?
I see RMS, I believe, in Wave Hammer Sound.

Many thanks,

Debbie



All the best,

Debbie


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Angelo Mike
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 22, 2014 at 4:23:10 am

[Graham Bernard] " [Angelo Mike] " should have waited to clean up your audio until after it was normalized"

Angelo, Debbie has said she had done this. We all need to hear just how clean it was prior to Compression prior to Normalization."


What? She said she normalized audio last, after cleaning it up first.


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Bob Peterson
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 21, 2014 at 3:10:48 pm

Normalization increases the volume of all sounds. If you do it, it should be the first step in your processing of audio. I do not normalize since I like to leave a little headroom, but I do normally increase the volume is much as I am comfortable with as my first step in processing. Then, I denoise it, and I can tell how strong the denoise process needs to be. I apply compression within Vegas which does not alter the audio file. At that point, for me, noise has never been an issue, but the door is still open to make adjustments.


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Debbie King
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 21, 2014 at 4:03:28 pm

Hi Bob:

Thank you. I didn't normalize or raise the volume first, because there was already noise, lots of it, that needed cleaning. Some of it difficult to clean without living some artifacts. So, if I enhanced the volume before cleaning, it would have been much more noise to clean up leaving more artifacts and resulting in me not being able to use the clip. Catch 22! I was given advice to clean first, for that very reason. My thought was, if I am using a software that can see the sound when I cannot hear it, should suffice, and normalizing should not be a problem. I was wrong. Normalizing found the noise that was not visible before in RX3.

Many thanks,

Debbie


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Debbie King
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 21, 2014 at 4:08:12 pm
Last Edited By Debbie King on Oct 22, 2014 at 3:55:52 pm

Hi Bob:

Thank you. I didn't normalize or raise the volume first, because there was already noise, lots of it, that needed cleaning. Some of it difficult to clean without leaving some artifacts. So, if I enhanced the volume before cleaning, it would have been much more noise to clean up leaving more artifacts and resulting in me not being able to use the clip. Catch 22! I was given advice to clean first, for that very reason. My thought was, if I am using a software that can see the sound when I cannot hear it, that should suffice, and normalizing should not be a problem. I was wrong. Normalizing found the noise that was not visible before in RX3.

Many thanks,

Debbie

BTW: When I compressed, it made the volume much louder, and I didn't hear any noise. So I am not sure where the noise came from, except to say that the clips just weren't fully cleaned. At this stage, I can get more volume through the compression without hearing any additional noise. I'm tempted to stick with this. Thanks DK


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John Rofrano
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 22, 2014 at 4:40:55 am

[Debbie King] "BTW: When I compressed, it made the volume much louder, and I didn't hear any noise. So I am not sure where the noise came from, except to say that the clips just weren't fully cleaned. At this stage, I can get more volume through the compression without hearing any additional noise. I'm tempted to stick with this. Thanks DK"
That is exactly what you should be doing.

Normalization is implemented poorly in Vegas Pro. Unlike other NLE's it normalizes each event individually so that they can be wildly different in volume from each other instead of normalizing across all events to level them out. This causes more problems than it solves.

I would stick with what you have. Normalization is a fix for recordings that are too low. If this is not your current problem, then you don't need to fix it. (i.e., if you are happy with your volume then just be happy) ;-)

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Steve Rhoden
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 22, 2014 at 12:17:17 pm

"Since I cleaned the audio and compressed it, do I really need to normalize?"
The simple answer to that particular question Debbie is No...

Steve Rhoden (Cow Leader)
Film Maker & VFX Artist.
Owner of Filmex Creative Media.
Samples of my Work and Company can be seen here:
http://www.facebook.com/FilmexCreativeMedia


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Debbie King
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 22, 2014 at 3:50:13 pm

Hi John and Steve :

Thank you so much. You have no idea how refreshing it is to hear this. Yes, when I normalized, the levels that I created where thrown off and the levels were everywhere. I literally would have had to go to each clip and make the adjustments again.

Thanks again.

Best,

Debbie


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John Rofrano
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 22, 2014 at 11:33:10 pm

[Debbie King] "Yes, when I normalized, the levels that I created where thrown off and the levels were everywhere. I literally would have had to go to each clip and make the adjustments again. "
That's why Vegas normalize has very limited applicability. I would use it sparingly.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Debbie King
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Oct 22, 2014 at 11:39:54 pm

Thanks John:

Great advice. Will do!

All the best,

Debbie


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Kevin McCarthy
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Nov 1, 2014 at 7:19:14 pm

Debbie,
I have been doing audio for more than 30 years and some of the information you have gotten is completely backwards to the way
I do things. 1st do your noise reduction. Noise is much easier to remove before you boost the noise floor by compressing and normalizing. If you do those first you will be increasing the noise floor and asking your noise reduction program to do double or triple duty.

One thing to remember is that audio recorded in different locations will have different noise levels, so you should do the noise reduction for each location separately.

At this point I render all audio to a single track and go to my external audio editor to work on it as a single file. John is correct that Vegas does normalization piece by piece and that is definitely not what you want to do. It is way too time consuming.

Then I compress the files. Compression levels the audio by boosting low volumes and knocking down high peaks. This reduces the overall frequency band width so I never compress more than a 5:1 ratio. Anything more than that can make your audio sound muddy.

Higher compression ratios will give a thin voice more "balls" but will squish your audio to a point you won't like.

Now is the time to adjust various volume levels within the file to your liking. Do this before normalizing..more on that later. Then IF, and ONLY IF, you have severe noise problems you might try another noise reduction on only those areas. This is very seldom needed unless you have a really poor audio recording, ie; on-board camera mic instead of a lav or shotgun mic.

If the noise source is similar to a "hiss" you may be able to correct this with equalization by rolling off the high end frequencies rather than another noise reduction effort.

If you have done a good job adjusting the volume of the different areas and then the overall volume of the track, you may not need to normalize.

Normalization doesn't make your volume levels go "all over the place" It merely brings all the audio, proportionately, to the max level you set.

If you highest volume in the track is at 75db and your lowest level is at 50db and you then normalize to 90db, the high level will be boosted by 15db to 90db and the lowest level will be boosted by the same 15db to 65db. It bring the total volume to a specific level but it does not change the levels between segments by different amounts.

I then open a new audio track in Vegas and place the single file on it and mute the original, multiple segment, audio track.

Rule of thumb 1. noise reduction 2.compress 3. level your volumes 4. normalize if needed.

Cheers

Kevin



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Debbie King
Re: Is It Necessary to Normalize?
on Nov 8, 2014 at 6:46:08 am

Hi Kevin:

Thank you so much for detailing this for me. Yes, I did the noise reductions, then compressed. Now I'm leveling everything. I didn't normalize, because for some reason there seem to have still been noise on the clip that I don't see on the graph in my noise reduction software nor hear with compression.

It's refreshing to know that I am moving in the right direction.

Again thanks Kevin and everybody for guiding me on this very complicated process. It took me a while to grasp it.

All the best,

Debbie


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