Newsletter #153 - June 9, 2007
the Quest to Edit an Audio
As the audio editing features in Movie Maker and Photo
Story are minimal to none, wouldn't it be great if, after saving and
listening to your completed video, you could...
use your file manager to drag the saved movie or
story and drop it into an audio editor without having to rip the
audio first or do any audio file conversion
fix the snaps, crackles and pops... and enhance
the good sounds to be even better
put the fixed and enhanced audio into the
original video file without having to go back to Movie Maker or
Does that seem more of a wild dream than a
reasonable quest? I'm looking at half a dozen audio utilities and
using that scenario to check them. If they can't do all of that, what can
So far Sony's Sound Forge is my benchmark app. I can
get all the way through the quest when it comes to a movie in WMV
format... I don't need to go back to Movie Maker as Sound Forge re-renders the
movie with the new audio track in it. For a story, it can render it to a video
WMV file, but not a story WMV file, but if I really want a story file rendered
with the image codec, I need to take the new audio file back to the
PS3 project and re-render it from there.
Sound Forge is the high-end app in the group, priced
at $299.96... if it's beyond your budget, use the free trial like
I'm doing for a fun experience and a taste of what's
I started off making a test one minute movie project, and a
one minute story, each using the same set of still pictures and audio
file for background music. The video was terrible, and the audio had lots
of pops and cracks, the kind you either discard or edit.
I got 3/4 of the way there, but ran into an old issue.
The movie project was first, and finished fine, saving it to a DV-AVI
file. Then I used TMPGEnc to rip its audio to a .wav file for
the story project. I figured by doing it that way, I'd have the
same audio in both projects.
But Photo Story reminded me of one of its restraints,
and jogged me back to thinking about on old Movie Maker issue about
the audio sample rate... as this newsletter is about audio, it's worth the
Newsletter #113 was about the actual sample rate of
the audio track a DV-AVI file versus what was being reported by Movie
Maker. Was it 32 kHz in the file and resampled to 48 by Movie Maker, or was
Movie Maker off-base in it's reporting of the file property?
I had finished that newsletter with an 11th
hour flash from Microsoft about the reporting by Movie Maker probably
being in error, and there's really no up-sampling going on.
As Sony's Sound Forge is the benchmark app for this week,
I'll use it as another check.
Sound Forge says the DV-AVI file from my camcorder is 48
kHz... versus MM2 reporting 32 kHz.
A short clip from the DV-AVI source file, saved as a
DV-AVI file by MM2, shows as 48 kHz in both MM2 and Source Forge. As a
referee, Sound Forge is agreeing with Microsoft... no upsampling is going on,
just that for some reason Movie Maker thinks my camcorder DV-AVI files are 32
kHz. Here's a composite of some of the things I looked at, along
with a peek at the Sound Forge app.
used Source Forge to open the 48 kHz wav file that PS3 rejected. Then saved it
as a new wav file, selecting one that would work in Photo Story 3... the
highlighted one at 44.1 kHz.
Photo Story accepted the new file... I then had the sample
movie and story to use for the rest of the newsletter. With different
sample rates, they weren't exactly the same audio tracks, but close
enough. Here are the links...
Here's an amusing side note.... the profile I
first used to render the sample story had settings of 48 kHz, 16
bit, stereo... WMA 9.2. So it can dish out 48 kHz of wma audio, but
can't accept it from a wav file.
I made a custom story profile to keep it at the 44.1
kHz rate, to align with the processed wav file coming back later. I
don't want to re-sample it any more than needed.
Before taking the ugly audio into Sound Forge for some
fixing, here are...
... a few notes...
The properties of the Kenny
Rogers video special I mentioned last week says it's 'Protected', which
makes it not free to use even though it was zero in cost...
From the iTunes Help file:
"The iTunes Store also offers songs without DRM protection, from participating
record labels. These DRM-free songs, called "iTunes Plus," have no
usage restrictions and feature higher-quality encoding."
Their description typically includes "Non-commercial projects use our music for free", which
makes them open for our personal non-commercial usage.
I find myself not using my
Vista system for anything except testing... and my XP systems work well for
my production needs. But my HP laptop ran into a new issue in the
battery not connecting with the computer, so it's on AC power or nothing. That
has me thinking of a new low-end 'backup' laptop to use in case the HP
needs to go to a repair shop. And my preference would be that the new
one have Vista.
.... back to the main
Sony says it's the industry standard for professional audio
editing, processing, and mastering on the PC platform. I downloaded the
free trial version to take a closer look for this newsletter.
The install went well... it said at one point it needed
the Microsoft MSVC80 Runtime Redist, and before I could figure out what
that meant, it took care of installing it. I also opted
for a Noise Reduction Plug-In.
It won't let you use the trial without registration, so I
finished with that.
Main Working Window
I'll open Sound Forge and try to drag and drop the sample
movie and story, using my Total Commander file management utility.
Having Sound Forge accept the two files without me having to rip
the audio from them would have been good. But it went beyond that...
It provided a timeline viewer for the video track in addition to
the wave pattern view of the audio.
As you listen to the sound track, the thumbnails for the video
track actually play... as small but full video animations, not just
You can see in the image at the right that you can have multiple
videos open in different windows.
It was fun just watching them play... but it's time to move on
to check audio editing features.
My interest is two-fold..
removing problems like excessive snaps, crackles and
adding some kind of special effect to enhance it
browsed the main and sub-menus... eyeing one option for click and crackle
removal. I almost had the technical term right.
I ran that a couple times, along with the noise reduction
option. Then I tweaked settings in the Process > EQ > Graphic... the
traditional graphic equalizer.
My adjustments were experiential, not planned... tweak
a setting and preview what it did.
The app is great for providing a preview button at each
step of the way, and the preview starts instantly. Clicking OK after a
preview folds the changes into the project file.
As usual with working projects, do a 'Save as' to
start one, and save it as needed... it'll be a small .frg file.
Look at these options in the Click and Crackle Removal dialog
window... things like 'remove lots of crackle'... I think I can relate to
this technology if I study it a bit more, maybe because I'm old enough
to remember what 78 RPM records were and how they sounded.
When the 'fixing' is done, it's time to consider
tried the Effects > Reverb window. Here's the working window for this
feature, with its list of reverberation modes.
I went with the warm ambiance option. The OK button applies it
to the project file.
Saving the New File
When ready to save it the project to a new file, here's the
list of file types offered... which includes the .wmv video type.
Pick the WMV choice and it then offers a list of built-in
templates... going a bit deeper, you can select anything from low
quality 28.8 Kbps video suitable for low quality dial up phone
connections to 1080 high definition with 5.1 surround sound. That's quite a
The rendering went fine for the movie... the fixed
file online was rendered with Sound Forge, not Movie Maker.
For the story,
tried setting up a new profile that used the same image codec as Photo
I felt good about getting this error message... it isn't
perfect!!... it had already exceeded my expectations as an audio editing app.
Rendering a story would have been too much. I'm guessing the error is due
to my telling it to use the image codec.
To continue for the story, I did what I expected to up
front, saving the new audio track as a wav file and using it to replace the one
currently in the story project.
Replacing the Story Audio...
In this case it was a simple matter of opening the story
project, deleting the existing background music file, and adding the new
A more complex case would be to replace an audio track of a
story that also includes computer generated music and narrations... a
bit more complex but easily done unless you've added narrations to most of the
pictures in a story with hundreds of them.
The links to the staring files are in the newsletter opening.
Here are the links to the finished sample clips. The audio in them
is much less ugly... not near as good as it could be if I were to do
more work on them, but hopefully enough for you to notice the big
Note that the fixing/enhancing of the movie and story files
were done in different sessions... to exercise the process a couple times.
It was pretty easy but I'm sure it won't pass the ears of discerning
As mentioned above, the movie was re-rendered by Sound
Forge, not Movie Maker. Of course Sound Forge didn't support my changing
the title text. I'd need to return to Movie Maker to do it.
And the revised story was re-rendered with Photo Story
Closing... and What's Next?
The reason for using Sound Forge for
this exercise was to help me calibrate myself... is my quest reasonable or
a wild dream that should be filed for some time in the future. With the positive
results, I'm holding onto the quest.
From downloading through installation
and testing, I had no issues with Sound Forge. It's a great product.
Unfortunately the trial will expire in a couple weeks.
I'm involved with a couple
Internet-based startup ventures that are not live yet... one in the tech support
space and the other in software reviews. Something I'm currently thinking about
is how to rate software... I have 2 main criteria so far... (1) how well does it
do what its own marketing claims it will? I don't think it's fair to
compare one app against others unless they both claim to do the same
things, and (2) does it adhere to commonly accepted user interface
expectations? I have a number of expectations that I'm making a list of...
things like dragging and dropping files into the app.
Have a great week and enjoy your video work...