The Sound Mix – Final Cut Pro 10.3 FCPX Tutorial – Part Fourteen

If you’ve ever tried recording a voiceover, you know how hard it is to keep the volume level consistent. If you move too far away from the microphone, get excited and raise your voice, or start running short on breath, the volume level is always up and down. This may not be noticeable at the time, but when you playback the video on a device with a limited dynamic range, this becomes a problem. Welcome back to my FCP tutorial, this is part 14 of my series. If you haven’t watched my previous videos, go check them out. I’ve included all the links in the description, and I’ve linked the full playlist up top. If you find these videos helpful, don’t
forget to like, comment and subscribe. Also, please share this across your social
media networks to help me reach a wider audience. So, lets get started. In part 5 of my tutorial I went over how to adjust the volume on individual clips. Thats a good start, but over the next few
videos, I’ll show you how to perfect your sound
mix. Sound is said to be one of the most important parts of the video. If people can’t hear or understand whats going on in the video, they loose interest and move on. My video has a voiceover based storyline, so thats where I’ll start. If you look at the waveforms in my voice over, you can see that some passages are soft, some are loud, some even have red peaks on
them. The best way to fix this in FCP that I found is using the limiter audio effect. What the limiter effect does, is boost the softer passages in your audio more than the louder ones. This creates a nice consistent volume level. This tends to work great on dialogue, but not so much on music and sound effects. Lets try it out. In order to apply the limiter effect consistently to all my voiceover clips, first I’m going to create a compound clip. I’ll select the first clip in my primary
storyline, and shift click the last clip to select all
the clips. Now, I’ll right click on any of the selected
clips, choose create compound clip, name it, and click the OK button. All my clips are combined into one compound
clip. Just a side note, if you want to edit an individual clip in
you compound clip, double click near the top of the clip. This will open your compound clip in a separate
timeline, where you can edit individual clips. To go back to your project, click this back button. My next step is to mute all the other clips, so I’m only hearing the clip I’m working
on. I’ll select the compound clip I created, and click on the headphones icon to solo the
clip, or use the keyboard shortcut Option S. All my other clips are muted. The clip I had selected remains the same colour, and the rest are greyed out. Doing this has no effect on video, just audio. Keep an eye on my audio meters when I play
back this clip. The volume level jumps all over the place, anywhere from -20 dB to over 0 dB. This is part of a mix, so I don’t want my loudest parts to go over
-6dB, and since my video will primarily be viewed
online, through less than ideal speakers or headphones, I don’t want my softest parts to drop much
below -12dB. With my clips selected, I’ll open the effects
browser, scroll down to Audio and select levels. The limiter effect I want to use is right
at the top. With my clip still selected, I’ll double clip the limiter effect to apply
it. In the inspector, make sure the audio tab
is selected, and scroll down to the limiter parameter. Click the small icon on the right to adjust
it. This opens up the limiter effect interface, where you can adjust the values. First I’ll adjust the output level. My suggestion is setting this to -3dB if this is the only audio in your project, or -4.5dB if the audio you are limiting is
part of a mix. I’ll set mine to -4.5dB. Next, I’ll leave this soft knee button selected. This feathers out the effect to make it less
noticeable. The release slider determines how long the
effect remains in effect after any talking stops. I’d recommend to setting this to between
250 and 300. The lookahead slider determines how quickly the effect engages. Leave this set to 2.0 ms. And last but not least is the gain slider. This setting will be different every time you use the limiter effect. The trick to adjusting gain, is playing your clip and watching the audio
meters while adjusting the gain slider. Add enough gain to keep your audio meters peaked around -6dB. I’ll close the limiter effect interface
and play back my clip. Notice by the audio meters and the waveforms how much more consistent my audio levels are. This isn’t perfect, and there may still
be an odd part here and there I have to adjust, but overall my voice over sounds much better. I’ll click on the solo button again to un mute the rest of my clips. My next step is adjusting the volume level of my background music. I already have it set around the same level as my voice over, but now I want to turn the volume down only when there’s narration. To vary volume levels in a clip, I’ll have
to use keyframes. A keyframe locks a parameter’s value at
a point in time. It takes a minimum of two keyframes to animate
a parameter, like I need to do. Keyframes are created using the select tool
and the option key. I’ll command click my voiceover clip and my background music clip, and press Option S to mute all the other clips. I’ll zoom in on my timeline, and skim over to just before the start of my first voiceover part. While holding down the option key, click the level control line. This creates my first keyframe. Now I’ll move the skimmer ahead about one
second and create another keyframe. The first keyframe locks the volume before
it, and the second keyframe locks the volume after
it. Click the volume line after the second keyframe and drag it down. Notice the volume before the first one remains
the same, because the keyframe locked that volume at
that point. I want the background music to return to the same level after, so I’ll set two
more keyframes and adjust the volume back up. For my next voiceover part, I’ll set four keyframes, and adjust the
middle part. I’ll do the same for the rest of my voiceover and review my edit. The purpose of the sound mix is to have a nice consistent volume in your
video, and to make sure the viewer hears what you intend for them to hear. This is just the start of the sound mixing
stage. Over my next few videos, I’ll show you more ways to adjust the sound, how to borrow audio from other clips, how to split audio, and much more. Make sure you hit the subscribe button and turn on notifications so you don’t miss
it. As always likes and shares are appreciated, and I’ve really been enjoying the tips and
tricks I’m getting from you guys in the comments, so keep that up. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week.

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