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Activity Forums Apple Final Cut Pro X What do people do for audio mixing ?

  • What do people do for audio mixing ?

    Posted by Mark Smith on March 23, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    So in fcp 7 there was an audio meters window that showed all active channels with a mixing board like interface . There doesn’t seem to be any equivalent in X so what do people to to mix audio inside X besides the obvious .

    Simon Billington replied 7 years, 5 months ago 10 Members · 14 Replies
  • 14 Replies
  • Nikolas Bäurle

    March 23, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    There is no mixer in X.

    “Always look on the bright side of life” – Monty Python

  • Oliver Peters

    March 23, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    You have a meter window. Just no virtual mixing board. Mixing is only via rubber-banding or range-based volume adjustments. Other than that, send to an external audio application and mix there.

    – Oliver

    Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
    Orlando, FL

  • Bret Williams

    March 24, 2014 at 12:19 am

    The obvious. The way I did it in 7. Highlight the clips I want the audio raised or lowered, and use keyboard shortcuts to so so.

    The shortcuts are pretty limited in X however. Just ctrl + and = to raise and lower by 1db increments. My favorite in 7 was cmd opt L and type in the amount. Or ctrl . (I think) to pan to center. In any case faster than using a mouse and the virtual pots IMO.

    What many don’t realize is you can mix during playback with the limited X shortcuts OR rubber banding OR the inspector while in legacy you could only do RT mixing with the virtual mixer. For me, it’s easier to see what I’m adjusting in the sequence and not have to correlate what is what in the virtual mixer. It’s nice to be able to rough mix levels without even listening by visually adjusting the interactive waveforms.

    I’d welcome the addition of a mixer as another option of course. But still sounds like there are some hurdles to overcome to create a role based mixer.

  • Mark Smith

    March 24, 2014 at 2:26 am

    Thanks for the answers – this is sort of what I thought, but I wasn’t completely sure about whether I was missing something obvious. Clearly any mixer in X would need to be roles based since there ain’t no such thing as tracks any more.

  • Nick Papadopoulos

    April 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Coming from an audio production background, I really (really) appreciate some things FCP X has audio wise and wish the latest Logic X would work more like FCP X to tell you the truth. Try the following when in the editing and mixing stage of your video. I won’t go into too much detail as to why. Anything that is unclear why I do it please ask 🙂

    First some guidelines (for a stereo mix):

    1. When importing anything!!… into the event browser always set the pan mode in the inspector to stereo. This includes importing video clips, voice overs, music, or (especially) effects from the FCPX audio library. Set everything to Pan Mode: Stereo!

    2. As a bonus to save time later on, assign roles to everything. I stick to the main 3 audio roles FCPX already has and I also add “Voice Over” and “International”. This covers pretty much 90 percent of my projects.

    3. When you have interviews, after assigning a keyword to all of them to find them more easily, select the correct channel configuration in the Channel Configuration setting in the inspector and check ONLY the channel(s) with the correct microphone (lavalier,boom, etc). Some examples are:

    8 channel mono – channel 1 only checked since it has the proper mic. all others unchecked.
    2 channel mono – check only channel 1 or 2 which has the correct mic.

    4. Try to never change the “volume” slider for the interviews. Leave it set at 0 db.

    If you stick to the above, all clips, whether they have 2,4 or 8 channels, will end up having a predictable level output after assigning pan mode stereo to the clips. If you don’t, FCPX will play them back with different compensated levels for different channel configurations and the following tips will not work.

    So on to the tips – Try this:

    Say we have a clip with music and interviews over this music. I’ll talk about the following:
    A. Treating the interviews
    B. Treating the music
    C. Putting it all together

    A. Treating the interviews
    We need to ensure the interviews have enough density to cut through the music. This is how i go about it:

    1. Select all interview clips inside your event, before you edit them in your project.
    2. Set their pan mode to stereo if not done so already on import.
    3. Select 2,4 or 8 channel mono in the channel configuration section in the inspector
    4. Check only the correct mic channel. Turn off all others.
    5. The target here is to get the voice interviews pumping levels around -6 dbFS with their volume set at 0 dbFS. As a rough starting point, under audio enhancements, turn on loudness and set (A)mount to 50% and (U)niformity to 30%. So it will be peaking around -4 dbFS and falling at around -7 dbFS, on the meter. This will work for many situations. If there is a lot of background noise being brought up, try to set A: 40% and U: 20%. If recording is very low, turn up both amount and uniformity over this 50/30 starting point, while keeping about the same ratio: Amount being 20% higher than uniformity. Also keep in mind that uniformity set at 0% is like disabling the loudness effect.
    6. Edit clip in project. Clip set at 0 db should be playing around the -6 db line on the volume meter and peaking at around -4 db.

    B. Treating the music
    The target is to get the music to play with a ceiling of -6 db SHARP!. Here’s what I do:
    1. Import music into the event
    2. Assign music role
    3. Set pan mode to stereo
    4. Set volume slider in the inspector to -6
    5. Edit in timeline.

    The result should be that the music inside your project is playing and peaking at -6 db without any interviews on top of it.

    Usually music will be mastered to be peaking at 0 db. This means that any level in the music that exceeds 0 db is clipped by the limiter. This is useful because wherever you set the music’s volume slider in the inspector or in your project, that’s where the music will peak at. An exception is classical music which has a lot more dynamic range.

    C. Putting it all together
    The aim here is to have interviews playing over the music, and the music lowering only when someone is talking. Unfortunatelly this is still a manual process with rubber banding.

    1. Lay the music under the interview(s).
    2. Never touch the interview volume slider. Use loudness to control interview density.
    3. Music should have it’s volume slider set to -6 db.
    4. Rubber band the section of the music that the interview is playing and lower to taste. What usually works for me is for the music to drop to -14 db to -19 db when someone is speaking and to be raised again to -6 when someone is not. Adjust keyframe distance to taste to smoothly transition from -6 to -14.
    5. When done with your mix, select everything in your project timeline and make it a compound clip.
    6. Check visually for any problems in the wave forms (any red levels etc…)
    7. Add a limiter (I use waves L2) and set the threshold to -5 and the output to -9.

    Mixing with the above steps makes sure that the levels that you send to your limiter are predictable. It also ensures the interviews have enough density to cut through the music, and the music lowering when interviews are speaking is always the same two values so that can speed up your workflow.

    Note: You will also have international sound (ambience, birds etc). I usually add a loudness on these too, to control them. I set the default values fcpx has determined for them (tip: use the auto-enhance button and keep only the loudness option checked if you want to reset this value to the default fcpx has determined). Then i set the output level of the international sound to around -20 db and -25 db and further adjust to taste.

    What do you think?

  • Chirag Saraswati

    March 19, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Nick has it absolutely right. Infact(And someone correct me if I’m wrong) this is pretty much the ideal workflow for production that has to be relayed on Television, most broadcasters are expecting a dynamic range of 6dB. So ideally your material should be between -12dB and 6dB (Source: )

    One thing that Nick mentions is that everything should be classified as “Pan: Stereo” Please note that the only time you select this option is if you really do have the track in stereo. In my case my voiceovers were mono audio fed straight into FCP using the option under “Window”. As a result of classifying it as stereo, the volume levels came out twice as loud, ruining my mix.

    Hope this helps!

  • Robbie Socks

    November 7, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you Nick. This is an awesome post. Very informative, however some of it I don’t understand. I’ve used FCPX for some years now but still struggle with some of it’s functions including audio. I have an interview project I’m working on now and I’m wondering if it makes sense to export my project for a proper audio mix? What is the best way to prep a project from Fcpx for protools or another DAW. Thanks again for the great post.

  • Nikos Papadopoulos

    November 7, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Robbie hi from sunny Athens! I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have regarding my post. Recently some things have changed since FCP X 10.3 was released, but if you want to prep your project for audio mixing in another software, then follow what I wrote up to the part where you should assign roles. From their on if you’re going to logic Pro X you can just export an XML straight off of Final Cut, and if you going to ProTools use that XML with an app called X2 pro. Usually no mixing is required inside Final Cut since sound engineers want the whole project as close to the original sound as possible .

    Video, music and photography.

  • Robbie Socks

    November 8, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Thank you Nikos,
    Should I set my mono audio to stereo within the “Ch config” Inspector panel? Thanks for your help. Are you in Athens, Georgia?

  • Robbie Socks

    November 8, 2016 at 5:37 am

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