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audio levels in FCP 7

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Oscar Gotti
audio levels in FCP 7
on Mar 16, 2013 at 12:13:51 pm

Hello,

I have recently edited an interview which has been put online.

While editing, I kept the interviewer levels at around -12db (which is what I thought the standard was according to a tutorial from Lynda.com). The audio was fine while I was editing (there were speakers).

Now I am back home and watching the interview again on my macbook pro (using the in built speakers) and it seems like it isn't loud enough despite having my mac AND the video on full volume!

I guess I will have to re-export it when I go back to work on Monday... What levels would you guys set the audio at? I was told NEVER to go above -6 is this true?

Thanks


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Spencer Averick
Re: audio levels in FCP 7
on Mar 16, 2013 at 6:28:30 pm

I don't think there is a specific level that you are suppose to hit for web like there is for broadcast, but yes you definitely want to raise levels a bit more than normal (what Lynda told you/broadcast standards). Honestly the best test you can do is to listen on a laptop and just assume that all of your audience is listening on a laptop with tiny speakers. They shouldn't have to crank the levels to try and hear what's happening. They also shouldn't have to turn it way down because it's annoyingly high and distorted. In my experience, the laptop test is most accurate.


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Oscar Gotti
Re: audio levels in FCP 7
on Mar 16, 2013 at 8:08:10 pm

thanks bro, I wil try this in the future!


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Oscar Gotti
Re: audio levels in FCP 7
on Mar 16, 2013 at 8:17:57 pm

this is the interview here...





what do you think? volume needs raising up a little correct?

Thanks


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Spencer Averick
Re: audio levels in FCP 7
on Mar 16, 2013 at 8:52:57 pm

Yea man, really close. It's not terribly low or anything but definitely should be up a few notches. It sounds perfect when I have my laptop internal speakers cranked at full bars, so if you raise it up a bit and get it sounding like that when the laptop speakers are up to like 60-70% bars, I think that would be perfect. I doubt you will be dealing with any kind of crazy peaking or distortion but keep an eye on it. Nice video!


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Oscar Gotti
Re: audio levels in FCP 7
on Mar 16, 2013 at 9:05:50 pm

thanks i appreciate the feedback! :)


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Tom Valens
Re: audio levels in FCP 7
on Mar 16, 2013 at 7:39:50 pm

What Spencer indicated was that the -12db and -6db guidelines refer to films destined for broadcast, not necessarily for the web. What I do is edit with a similar setting to what you do, putting the interviews at around -12, But I also try to keep the highest levels (a particular word, or maybe a background distraction) at no more than about -10 or -8 at most. This sometimes requires tweaking levels at particular points on the FCP timeline. When I'm done and satisfied with how the whole thing sounds on my good headphones or sound system, I do a File>Export to Quicktime Movie. Then I create a new timeline and put in the new Quicktime movie (which now only has 2 audio tracks). I select the audio tracks and send them to STP (File>Send to>STP Audio File Project). In STP select All and then Process>Normalize, and set the Peak Level to -1db. Save the result in STP, and return to FCP. The 2 audio tracks for your Quicktime Movie should now have the appendage "(sent)" at the end. Copy these, and paste them to the bottom of your original FCP edit. Then disable all the other tracks, You now have the timeline that you use to post to the web, but at the same time have the original tracks in place in case you need to make changes at a later date. That's seemed to work for me, anyway.

- Tom Valens
Tamalpais Productions
Forest Knolls, CA



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Michael Gissing
Re: audio levels in FCP 7
on Mar 19, 2013 at 2:32:07 am

There is always confusion about digital full scale levels and loudness. The two do no necessarily co-relate.

Highly dynamic material like interviews can be set to their maximum peak. After dynamics compression and peak limiting they can meter 6-10 db lower whilst sounding the same volume.

Without dynamics processing by decent compressor/ limiters you can match the standard digital peak levels and produce a product that sounds much quieter than it's properly mixed and processed counterpart by a sound post person. EQ makes a difference. Microphones make a difference. Good plugin processors make a huge difference.

There are much better ways to measure perceived loudness and broadcasters are now requiring the use of these sorts of loudness meters. Learn to use the dynamics plugins in Sound Track pro if you want to get a perceived loudness that matches, rather than pure db peak metering.


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Tom Valens
Re: audio levels in FCP 7
on Mar 19, 2013 at 4:17:05 am

Thanks for the information, Michael. Something (once again) I need to find out more about.

- Tom



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