Newsletter #2 - Movie Maker 2 and PhotoStory
2 - May 22, 2004
Thanks for your comments on last week's first issue. The
first response with a suggested topic for this week was this
Topic - Audio/Narration
"As regards topics - maybe something on audio and, in particular
narration. I find it difficult to achieve a consistent level on my various
narration clips throughout a video; less of a problem with music clips."
thinking about the 'adopt a highway' program, where people volunteer to
keep a mile of it clean. It reminded me of my 'adopt a web
program, something you probably don't know about and an
item I haven't mentioned lately. I only have one adopted page... the
Importing Source Files > Prelinger Movies page, maintained by someone
who goes by the handle of "The Criticians", and who I'm sworn to secrecy about
his real name. His particular interest is in using Prelinger Archives
movies in MM2 projects. When his personal website is up and running,
we'll drop the page and point to his site. Until then, as far as I'm
concerned, the page is his.
I'd like to see more pages like that.
Pick any of my current website pages and there's lots of people who
know much more about the topic than I do. Not all of them have an interest
in sharing their knowledge or in maintaining info on a website. But, if you are
interested, pick a page and let me know. If you don't have a website, but have a
strong interest in any aspect of MM2, it might be a good place to practice...
adopt a page. Or if there's no page you want to adopt, but have an
idea for another one, I'll roll that one out with you. I'm easy to work with,
especially if you offer to do most of the work.
Here's how I usually handle audio in Movie Maker 2.... I'll
whip up a sample project to illustrate it, and walk you through it.
I picked an unsplit clip from my library, from camcorder footage
of a recent trip to Seattle. I added a tune I ripped from an iTunes preview
using the narration feature of MM2 (getting it directly from the music playing
in iTunes with the Stereo Mix option in the narration window). Then I filled the
first part of it with a voice narration which I did by talking at my laptop
from about 1-1/2 feet away, while previewing this sample project.
With the clips on the timeline, I like to look at the audio close-up.
Zoom into the timeline and make the timeline tracks high enough so you
can see the audio wave patterns well. The other thing I do is listen to
it.... earbuds work for me for editing. I don't use an expensive
Here's what the audio patterns look like before I make any
changes. The video clip is a view out the window of the airplane's
wing as it's flying toward Chicago. The heavy (read heavy as louder) steady
noise is from the engine right outside my window. It sure is
overpowering the narration clip playing with it in the
Audio/Music track... I can hear the engine well during preview, but
hardly the voice narration. You can see that in the patterns even before
pressing the play button.
The sudden drop in level in the audio at the 16+ second point is when the
video changes to an internal shot of the airport terminal in Chicago
with normal background noise. The next drop in that clip's
audio is a 3rd scene that starts at 28+ seconds, a snow scene taken
from inside my car, with no desired audio to record during
it. Note that my video clip hadn't been split into scenes before putting it
on the timeline for this sample project.
My goal is to adjust the audio of the airplane engine and the
narration files so I can hear the voice over the engine, and to get rid of the
audio (even though it's at a low level) during the snow scene, as there wasn't
supposed to be any meaningful ambient noise (but there always is.... even if
it's just the motors of the camcorder).
I split the video clip on the timeline so I could
handle the audio of each sub-clip. Then I made a couple adjustments. You can see
how much I lowered the volume of the engine. And by splitting the clip you
can now see the O'Hare airport terminal and the snowscene
thumbnails in the video track. For the snow scene clip, I
muted the audio totally. You don't see much change in the track
because it was so low to start with. And whatever there was isn't standing up at
all to the level of Billy Joel. But it's easy to mute it and appropriate.
Then I raised the level of the narration clip.... yup, it sounds fine
now even with the jet engine in the background.
That's it..... sounds fine. I used the visual feedback from the audio
track patterns.... with some rules of thumb being:
- Look at and listen to the clip's audio relative to the other clips in the
project.... there are no numbers or meters to go by.... kind of feel your way
- Use the audio patterns... they provide easy, great, and appropriate
feedback.... between them and what you hear, you have enough to work
- Don't go too high... see the Billy Joel recording, a professional track
that shows you how high or loud audio should be... don't have peaks going
off the top/bottom of the track. See how my voice narration clip now aligns
- Mute any audio that isn't meaningful, like car engine or camcorder motor
noises in a totally quiet scene.
- Don't eliminate normal background ambient noises like in the airplane and
the airport.... total silence there is unreal.... stay realistic.
- Overlap audio/music clips to nicely mix the sounds of each.... unlike
video clips that fade into and out of each other, audio all plays at whatever
level you see.
- But, do use the Fade-in and Fade-out options, especially when abruptly
starting or ending audio clips.
I look forward to any discussion items at the forums, and whatever the next
topic will be.
I have a request in for sources of royalty free video clips/files.
That's a short topic as I don't know very many places, so I'll probably not
devote a whole newsletter to it.... unless you tell me where such items are