I need some general suggestions or tips on how to edit audio for video. Most of my video projects involve combining video clips with still photos, so I use the audio track from the video plus added music/voice-over tracks. Available tools include Premiere and Vegas.
The main problem is usually volume levels of the audio sources. My approach to date has been to simply adjust the various audio sources so they "sound about right" using headphones. I then render and try it on my home theater system. Sometimes it's OK, sometimes not.
In any case, there should be a more systematic way. Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated. E.g, how do you set the volume levels for preview on your sound card? Do you adjust clip gain or volume? Do you normalize your music sources before brining them onto the timeline? etc. My problem is not so much the technical details of "how" but just the general approach. Thanks in advance.
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There are a number of ways, but I'll talk about what I'd do...
1. If you're going to be doing a file/region/realtime-based mixdown anyway, there's no reason to Normalize in addition to that, unless the file is so rediculously out of whack that the standard range of controls won't bring it into line. The mixdown method (adjusting mix levels of the various regions and/or keyframes) is preferred because it usually adds proper dither, whereas most Normalize functions don't.
2. You can mix using one of 2 ways (or using BOTH)--by ear (like you've done) and by eye (Meters). For those who have time, the most thorough way is to make use of both. Best meters are those that are calibrated, so you know what you're outputting is accurate, and those that contain both RMS (slower, weighted averaging) meter ballistics AND Instantaneous Peak reading. This will allow you to maximize/optimize level, but also smooth various regions, and also avoid clipping.
3. You could apply a mild (soft-knee) compressor and limiter to the final mix. This also "smooths some of the rough edges".
That's enough for a start.