Locating Sequence Audio Levels that are Too Loud

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the August, 2006, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


This technique was actually discovered by Mark, in one of my Advanced Final Cut classes. But it is so cool, it deserved it’s own write-up.

One of the problems with Final Cut is that there is no easy way to see if the audio mix in a sequence is too hot. During my classes, I stress to my students that their audio levels must NEVER go above 0dB — indicated by glowing red clip lights at the top of the audio meter.

Audio levels that are too loud, also called too “hot,” will distort when you export your sequence or output it to video tape. This is very, very bad.

But, the only way to tell if your audio is OK is to play the entire sequence. In real time. And watch the meters like a hawk. Sigh… this can take forever. There’s got to be a better way. And there is. Here’s how.

1. Drag the sequence you want to check from the Browser to the Viewer. Don’t double-click it or it will open in the Timeline.

2. With the Viewer selected, choose Mark > Audio Levels > Mark.

3. Final Cut will quickly, and I mean quickly, scan your entire sequence…

4. …and put a marker where ever it finds audio levels that are too loud. See the little green markers in the image below? Those are places where the audio is too hot (loud).

Those markers that Final Cut set in your sequence in the Viewer are retained by the sequence. Double-click the sequence in the Browser to open it in the Timeline. See the markers?

5. You can now quickly jump from one marker to the next (Shift+M or Option+M) and adjust the levels to keep everything sounding great.

6. To delete all the markers in the Timeline, press Control+~ (the key at the top left corner of your keyboard).

Very cool.


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