How to Even Out Sound Levels In Your Audio/Video Project

How Uneven Audio Happens In Your Projects

Sometimes, when you’re putting together an e-Learning project or even a simple  audio/video blog post, you end up with funky sounding audio levels.  Some parts of your clip seem louder, while others sound softer.  You may have seen this happen, too, when you conduct an audio interview with one or more people who are each at different distances from the microphone.  The folks who are closest to the microphone sound louder than those who are further away.  This is a leveling problem.

audio file that could use leveling

One way to fix this problem is to tweak your audio clips with an audio editor like Audacity (free), SoundForge (not free), Soundtrack Pro (even more not free), or something similar.  You would basically highlight the sections you want to make louder (or softer) and then use the Amplify effect in your audio editor to nudge it up (or down) in an attempt to “level out” the entire clip.  The thing is, that could be a lot of tweaking if you have a lot of interaction in your interview or if you’re compiling a lot of different audio files into the same project.  That’s where a free software tool called Levelator can help do the heavy lifting for you.

What Is Levelator?

Levelator is free software (available for Windows and Macintosh) that automagically adjusts the audio levels within your audio file for variations between one speaker and the next.  It’s like magic… only real.

In the video above you can see a before and after comparison of an audio file that I use to demonstrate Levelator.  Take a look.  I think you’ll be impressed.  (If not because of the ease with which this free software tool can help level your audio, then I’m certain you’ll be impressed with my rendition of “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers….”  😉

(Ep. 4) Best Screen Capture Software Comparison Series – Screenflow

If you’re juuust jumping into the series, then you’ll want to start with episode 1 in this series: Six of the Best Screen Capture Software – Compared (Ep. 1).  You’ll also want tosubscribe so you get notified when new updates come online.

In this episode: Telestream’s Screenflow

Screenflow is Telestream’s client-side video screen capture software that’s made for the Macintosh.  In the  features we’re using for comparing the different software in this series, Screenflow came out with an overall “Mel Rank” of 5.0 (out of 5)*.

  • Cursor effects/animation: 5 (out of 5)
  • Multiple video tracks:  5 (out of 5)
  • Multiple audio tracks: 5 (out of 5)
  • Animation of annotations and/or callouts:  4.5 (out of 5)

*  Note:  While Screenflow actually scored a Mel-rank of 4.5 out of 5 in the annotations/callouts area due to some limitations I mention in the video about the pixelation feature, I decided to give it a “field promotion” to an overall Mel-rank of 5 out of 5.  I thought Screenflow’s feature of capturing keyboard button-key combinations during the recording stage was an extra bonus.  (Hey Techsmith – that’s a good feature to have for Cam-Mac!)  🙂

Summary

So far in this series, Screenflow and Camtasia for Macintosh have come out on top.  Each has earned an overall Mel-rank of 5 out of 5.  Interestingly, at a price point of $99, each is actually very cost effective.  Next up in this series, we’ll take a look at Techsmith’s Jing product.

[Related: Best Screencasting Software Series]

Two Examples of How Creative Learning Design Spreads Inspiration

One of my friends over on Facebook re-posted the video below of Biola University math teacher, Matthew Weathers, who used a little creativity to engage his students.

Not Just a Little Creativity

Actually, it might be somewhat of a misnomer to say “a little” creativity.  Certainly, it speaks to a lot of creativity — which, despite the obvious technical talent involved in the post-production process, doesn’t itself (that is, creativity) require a lot of technical skills.

It seems to me that desire, passion and curiosity are the main ingredients for success.  With inspiration being a wonderful little byproduct.  (Despite a few snarky comments on Matthew’s YouTube wall from some haters who just don’t get it [there’s always gonna be haters, right?], I take comfort in Tim Ferris’ point about how it doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it, what matters is how many people DO.)  And, with over 4 million views and 18,000 “Likes” (to the smaller-proportioned 180+ “dislikes”), I think the numbers speak for themselves.

What About Inspiration?

And, to my point about creativity and learning sparking inspiration?  (Certainly it has already inspired me to spread this gospel by writing this post!)  Well, it appears Matthew’s willingness to share has already inspired others to take up the mantle of creative design in learning.

Check out Chris Wong’s simple project below.  (Tip:  What I think is particularly compelling is the reaction of his elementary school students.)

Finally, it’s worth pointing out the wonderful passion of creative teachers.  Consider this telling quote from Matthew Weathers’ “How To” video below when asked how he made his video:

“…a magician never reveals his secrets… BUT, I’m not a magician.  I’m a teacher! So I’d be happy to teach you how…”

What do you think?  Do you agree on the point of creative design in learning sparking inspiration?