Monitoring sound levels when editing videos

Discussion in 'Video Cameras' started by DavidM, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. DavidM

    DavidM Guest

    When editing and producing home videos I'm having problems
    in getting a consistent audio volume across multiple clips and/or
    videos. The result is complaints from SWMBO about having
    to keep adjusting the volume on the DVD player.

    What would be useful is a program that monitors the sound
    level being output to the PCs audio output and displays this
    either as a graph over time, or just VU meter type display
    of the average over a short period, as the video is being
    played during the editing process. I can then leave this
    running in the background and then adjust the audio
    levels in my video editing program (Pinnacle Studio).

    Has anyone come across something simple like this?

    I've looked at audio mixer/ editing programs and they are
    far too complex, or not suitable for video files (eg .avi).

    Thanks for any advice.
    DavidM, Jul 18, 2006
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  2. Ulead VideoStudio 9 (and 8, freely available now as a demo) has a form of
    instantaneous PPM (sort of VU) with level adjustment. It also has a form of
    rubber banding level control which could be ueful to you. (Edit mode, audio
    Malcolm Stewart, Jul 18, 2006
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  3. DavidM

    Tony Morgan Guest

    Magix Audio Lab might help. It allows you to "normalise" the audio to
    (say) 95% of peak clipping level (you can preset the percentage). You
    will, however, have to pull out your audio, process it with Audio Lab,
    then replace the old audio on the timeline's audio layer.

    Apart from levelling, I've found it very useful in correcting poor room
    acoustics (e.g. some churches).
    Tony Morgan, Jul 18, 2006
  4. DavidM

    Dave R Guest

    Audacity is a sourceforge freeware program that has a normalise option.

    Or if you're using Premiere Pro, there's an audio mixer tool which will
    allow you to view the level of the audio in each audio track as it's
    played, and will red flag anything that clips.
    Dave R, Jul 19, 2006
  5. DavidM

    DavidM Guest

    Thanks for your ideas guys, but I seem not have put my
    question very clearly.
    I do not want another audio or video editing program, I'm
    reasonably happy with Studio and don't particularly want
    the risk/complexity/cost/time of changing, or exporting and
    importing it to another program.
    All I really want is an audio level monitor that displays
    whatever is being pumped out of my sound card (or
    into it), so that I can more objectively assess the sound
    levels and then modify them in Studio while I am
    "composing" my video.
    Perhaps this is too simple and no one has ever bothered
    to do it.
    An example is Netmeter
    which can sit in the corner of the screen and provides a
    display of traffic on the network port, or indeed the
    Performance display in Windows Task Manager (XP).
    Thanks, David.
    DavidM, Jul 19, 2006
  6. DavidM

    John Russell Guest

    Are these of any use?
    John Russell, Jul 19, 2006
  7. DavidM

    DavidM Guest

    Thanks John, the idea's close, but I want to be able to
    monitor the output, i.e. play an avi file in Media Player
    or even my video editing program and see the output
    levels - since I'm often using other video files as an
    input to my final video.
    The meters from Darkwood seem only to monitor
    inputs, unless there's something I need to configure
    to make them work differently.
    DavidM, Jul 20, 2006
  8. David,

    What you really want is a function that normally isn't integrated in an
    entry level program. If you need more functionality, you need to upgrade. I
    have been using Pinnacle Studio for a long time (up to version 7) and
    switched to another program (EditStudio 5 Pro by Pure Motion) just for this
    reason, among other things. I don't know what version of Studio you are
    using. Did you check if the newer Studio versions have this VU meter? (ES5
    Pro does...)

    By the way, good software doesn't have to cost the earth. Check for details about EditStudio 5.
    Lou van Wijhe, Jul 20, 2006
  9. Get a better video editing program. Vegas and Premiere offer full
    control over audio, including metering (though meters are not as
    useful as you might imagine for measuring perceived volume.) I know
    these are expensive programs. Can someone recommend one slightly
    further down the price list that has useful audio features?
    Laurence Payne, Jul 20, 2006
  10. DavidM

    DavidM Guest

    Thanks for the suggestions Lou. I'm currently using Studio 9.4,
    and know how to avoid mosts of it's problem areas. Studio 10
    has had some bad reports re stability so I'm staying clear of
    that for the moment. I did look at EditStudio 5 as it has a
    route mapping feature which I wanted, but I then read quite
    a few VERY bad reports about its speed and reliabilty when
    rendering, so have steered clear of it (solved the route
    mapping requirement another way).
    I'll keep looking :)
    DavidM, Jul 20, 2006
  11. DavidM

    John Russell Guest

    The Output Mix is considered an input for recording purposes by my sound
    John Russell, Jul 20, 2006
  12. My experience (and that of others) is exactly the opposite. EditStudio 5 is
    very stable and the support from its makers is exemplary. I found ALL
    versions of Pinnacle Studio I used (starting from Studio 400...) to be very
    buggy and the support from Pinnacle as non-existent. If you describe your
    experience with Studio in terms like QUOTE I know how to avoid most of its
    problem areas UNQUOTE it really is time for a change.
    Lou van Wijhe, Jul 20, 2006
  13. DavidM

    Netmask Guest

    Has anyone suggested 'normalising' or compressing the dynamic range across
    the whole final edit? Simplistic I know speaking as an audio engineer but it
    might satisfy the requirements of SWMBO!!? Programs like Womble have a
    'normalise' mode. Vegas would be best together with CoolEditPro (or Adobe)
    to pre-process some of the audio to attempt to balance out the perceived
    Netmask, Jul 24, 2006
  14. Normalising the whole file won't affect the relative volumes of
    different sections. Compression can, though it can also add problems
    of its own.
    Laurence Payne, Jul 24, 2006
  15. DavidM

    John Russell Guest

    I "Envelope" the whole audio track and vary the volume as required, even
    within clips. It takes time, but the result is a lot better. Same with the
    music tack.
    John Russell, Jul 24, 2006
  16. That's how to do it. So we're back to "get a better video editor
    Laurence Payne, Jul 24, 2006
  17. DavidM

    DavidM Guest

    So everyone keeps saying BUT why should I shell out £70 - £100+
    when I can achieve the same thing (albeit a bit more agriculturally)
    with my existing editing program provided I can find some way of
    measuring the sound levels being output when I play the video file
    (and preferably when I play it from within the editing program,
    rather than have to export/rip it into another program).

    The suggestion of
    earlier in this thread is closest to the mark, I just can't make it work
    on my PC for some reason. Opens ok, just doesn't seem to find
    anything to monitor. Maybe not compatible with my soundcard.

    Notwithstanding the above thanks to everyone for all the responses.
    DavidM, Jul 24, 2006
  18. What do you listen to your computer audio on? Feed it into your
    hi-fi. Have you got a cassette recorder, or something else with
    meters? Route the signal to it.

    But, as I warned you before, meters are not always terribly good at
    indicating perceived volume. Some sorts are good at the vital
    function of stopping you hitting digital overload.
    Laurence Payne, Jul 25, 2006
  19. DavidM

    ferrymanr Guest

    I often edit audio tracks on CoolEdit Pro. There have seen an excellent
    DirectX plugin that can intelligently normalise an audio track. It samples
    levels over several seconds (adjustable) and adjusts normalising to
    compensate for longer term level changes. I'm not sure if any NLE packages
    can use DirectX plug-ins though.
    ferrymanr, Aug 21, 2006
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