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TOPIC: Matching audio levels (automatic) in FCPX

Matching audio levels (automatic) in FCPX 24 Apr 2018 15:01 #95279

  • drewchilli
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Hi guys! I'm starting to suspect there's no such option in FCPX as matching the levels of different audio clips (their average loudness or RMS or whatever so they sound about the same loud). Is it true? I'm sure there is such option in Adobe Audition for example and it works really well. Shame if you must do the job manually in FCPX. Any comments?
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Matching audio levels (automatic) in FCPX 24 Apr 2018 18:38 #95283

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You really sure Audition has such a magical button that works perfectly 100% of the time?
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Matching audio levels (automatic) in FCPX 26 Apr 2018 19:25 #95313

  • VidGreg
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Hi Drew
I imagine you are talking about something like "Normalize" audio between clips. There are programs that allow you to do this, but I think audio in films deserves special consideration, especially if sound is worth half the impact of a movie. Also you need to treat dialogue differently than from music and sound effects. Having said this, FCPX has many ways to achieve "matched or balanced" audio. You can also export the audio out to something like Logic Pro for even better tools, but FCPX has really improved in last versions.
My workflow includes many steps just for audio.
1) On set, check audio recording levels for all cameras and independent audio recorders. Good levels, NO clipping
2) After basic timeline editing, I go through and adjust basic levels for all clips and select audio sources. I will also correct any big issues like hum/background noises, select and adjust "Ranges" on individual clips.
3) Using "Roles and sub-roles" in latest versions can really help in manipulating audio. With multiple audio sources you can organize sub-roles/components for say different mics and then using EQ adjust the tonal quality, add other effects as needed and then applying the effects (you can copy and paste audio attributes) to all the clips with same location/mic. This is especially helpful for camera based dialogue. (the EQ analyzer can play a really great role in fixing tonal quality, just like video scopes do) when switching Angles/Mics.
4) Add in Sound effects and any needed VO or ADR
5) Add in Music, adjust levels, add effects.
6) Create compound clips for various roles and apply EQ, Compressors and Limiters to the compound clip. Applying effects to compound clips allows for "Matching/Balancing" audio in all the clips in various Roles. What I do to dialogue Roles will be different than what I do to Music and SFX.
7) Finally you may want to apply a Limiter to a compound clip of all audio to avoid peaks, but I don't find this necessary if I have mixed it right. Watch your meters! If it is a really complex audio, I'll send to LPX and do all the audio there after Timeline/project lock for final mix down. If going to LPX make sure to send roles as separate audio files (stems).

Going back to your original desire for a "one-button" solution, applying a Compressor/Limiter (or even just a Limiter) to a compound clip of audio is basically what a "Normalizer" does. Push some compression, perhaps add some gain for boosting volume, set the Limiter with a "Soft-knee" for -3 to -6dB or whatever you need (web based and broadcast have different standards) (you could even create a custom audio preset(s) for this) and export. Personally, for most projects, I would not use this all-in-one approach as it changes the subtleties' of mixing sound.
Normalizing works great for matching volume of songs on a CD after all the mixing is done.

Hope this Helps, Greg
Happy Editing
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Matching audio levels (automatic) in FCPX 26 Apr 2018 21:41 #95315

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FCPX.guru wrote:
You really sure Audition has such a magical button that works perfectly 100% of the time?
Don't know what you meaning by 100% of the time, but I've used that function couple of times, and it did the job well for dozens or even hundreds of clips. It's not a big deal for a computer to analyse the average RMS of a clip and just match them to some level you want.
Last Edit: 26 Apr 2018 21:42 by drewchilli.
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Matching audio levels (automatic) in FCPX 26 Apr 2018 21:44 #95316

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Thank you, Greg, for such a big piece of useful information. I will analyse that and use in my workflow.
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Matching audio levels (automatic) in FCPX 27 Apr 2018 02:37 #95317

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Different sounds have different characteristics. I can play two audio clips, you'll swear they're the same volume level, and they won't be. So an automatic level function would only help within a specific range of audio, and for specific types of sound. I don't know a professional audio engineer (including myself) who'd be caught dead using an auto-level function. You don't want everything at the same level, that's not realistic sound.
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Matching audio levels (automatic) in FCPX 27 Apr 2018 03:35 #95318

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Compressor/Limiter affect only levels, not loudness (LUFS)…
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Matching audio levels (automatic) in FCPX 28 Apr 2018 21:09 #95322

  • drewchilli
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FCPX.guru wrote:
Different sounds have different characteristics. I can play two audio clips, you'll swear they're the same volume level, and they won't be. So an automatic level function would only help within a specific range of audio, and for specific types of sound. I don't know a professional audio engineer (including myself) who'd be caught dead using an auto-level function. You don't want everything at the same level, that's not realistic sound.
I've used it for speech if it matters. Was not very good organized in my workflow and first made a lot of short clips in multitrack project sounding differently volume wise.
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