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fcp_icon.pngThere are a variety of different workflows when it comes to mixing audio levels within Final Cut Pro.  For example, you can edit projects by cutting video with its corresponding audio into a sequence and add music and sound effects later.  This is most commonly done with larger projects, such as, scripted film, television programs, and documentaries.  For shorter projects such as news and television commercials, you many want to start with a basic narrative soundtrack and add video to it, adding music and sound effects later.  Or, you can use a combination of these two methods. 

Regardless of how a sequence is created, additional audio tracks containing music, sound effects, and voiceovers are often added to it.  The audio levels of the individual tracks need to be adjusted so that the proper message is conveyed.  As an example, if you are putting music into a scene, the voiceover track should be at least six decibels louder than the music for the words to be heard.  All of the audio tracks are combined to produce the final audio output.

After the relative levels of the individual clips have been adjusted, the overall volume of the sequence needs to be adjusted.  To demonstrate this, I'll start by building a sequence with 10 seconds of bars and tone created by the Generators menu.

bars_tone.pngThis automatically loads 2 minutes of bars and tone into the Viewer window.  Final Cut Pro automatically marks an area of 10 seconds in the middle of the clip.  If you place the bars and tone into the timeline, notice that the audio volume is -12dB in both the left and right channels, as shown by the audio meter during playback.  If you were to add two more audio tracks and overwrite the audio from the bars and tone into these tracks, the audio volume would be -6dB in both the left and right channels.

bars_tone_audio_meter.pngThe process of combining audio tracks into channels is called mixing.  As you can see, adding audio tracks increases the overall volume without changing the volume of any of the individual tracks or clips.  For television programs, the desired maximum volume is -6dB.  To adjust clips in a sequence, you can use the Audio Mixer Tool.


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Final Cut Pro Keyboard Shortcuts for Trimming was the previous entry in this blog.

Using Audio Filters in Final Cut Pro is the next entry in this blog.

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