im editing a short student film. the audio tracks are now fully synced with the clips, but now a new problem awakes.
the audio differs in its levels all around, and since some characters where recorded with different mics over different scenes, its really hard for me to match the audio levels for the entire project (rough cut is now 11 minutes)
what would be the best way for me to level evenly all the sounds? i dont mind going over them 1 by 1, but its not efficient and not really resolving anything cause im doing it by ear, not using any audio tools...
hope i explained well enough, english is not my first language
PS - i do have a room tone track, and for each clip theres neck-mic + gun mic minimum.
I think that better choice is add EQ+compressors plugins in your audio tracks. This approach is easy in any DAW (Logic, etc) because you can see all channel stripes, insertions, VU meters and you easily control gain. However in FCP you’ll also get useful results
Yes, you do have to go over the clips one-by-one. Going by what you hear is fine, just make sure levels are neither too loud nor too quiet. Also make sure you are monitoring on a decent pair of speakers - not the computer's speakers and not headphones.
First step, make sure all audio roles are properly assigned. Dialogue, SFX, Music, Ambiences, etc. Disable everything except the dialogue tracks and then carefully adjust all mic levels so it sounds even throughout. The objective is that the dialogue is intelligible. Use EQ as needed to match the same characters.
Next add/enable ambiences, room tones, etc for a proper background. For example, background sounds, city scapes, restaurant ambiences, etc. After that add/enable hard SFX, like footsteps, hits, door knocks, gunshots, etc. Lastly add in the music and get a good overall flow (levels) of the music from one track to the next.
Once you've gone through those three stages, compound the timeline and show audio lanes. At this point you can balance the basic stems against each other. For example, if the music is too loud across the board, you can pull it down here. This is also where you add "bus" effects, like compressors and overall EQ to your dialogue.
For an 11 min film this process should take you about a week from start to finish. It's also best to do all of this once your cut is "locked." I hope that helps.
Oliver covered it.
I just want to stress about monitors. You defenitely need those as Oliver mentioned.
Room tone is also a very valuable item as it will help you to go from one clip to another more smoothly.
You don't want a sudden silence popping in.
I agree with Oliver's suggestions and workflow. I'd add one more. Start with your dialog landing between -27 and -24db. This gives you room for your ambiances, other SFX and music to have "room" in the mix, particularly if your soundtrack is dynamic. When you're in the audio lanes balancing your stems, you can bring up the various levels as necessary. While it may not be required for a student film, research LUFS standards. These are broadcast and streaming audio specs and may at some point be required for your submissions. They probably will be required for festival submissions.
Be light-handed in your use of compressors and EQ. I use compressors to control excessive dynamics, and EQ to "carve out" room for dialog over music, or dialog alone, to make it more intelligible. It's best to cut with EQ rather than add, and in small amounts. Too much of either compressor or EQ will be noticeable.
I'll third Oliver's mention of proper monitoring. You need truthful monitors, whether they be aural or visual. For instance, if your audio monitors have too much bass, it's likely you will EQ out some bass in your mix, so it sounds better in your room. But, when your mix is played back on proper monitors, it will sound thin. Truthful monitors are very important for good results.