Wish list: Audio level meter.

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This conversation has been merged. Please reference the main conversation: Recorder Audio Meter

It would be great to have an audio level meter so that I can adjust it before sharing my videos.
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S. Shackelford

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Posted 6 years ago

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Jon Adams

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Another request for an audio meter from me. I have to export the audio to Audition/Audacity on every single Camtasia video I produce in order to get a professional result. With an audio level meter, this time-consuming process wouldn't be necessary. After three years of requests, what's the hold up on making this part of the package?
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Dave Walker

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Agreed. It's really silly that this isn't being addressed.
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tony.lima

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Folks, Camtasia is not the only tool you need.  Audio editing is another world.  Let me outline my workflow.  (Disclaimer: this is speech and video only, not music.)
1. Write a script.
2. Record the audio.  I use Adobe Audition BUT if you're thinking about going that route read this: http://tonylimaassociates.com/2017/04/avoid-adobe-audition-10-1-0-174/ then go to the linked thread on the Adobe support boards.  Audacity is share/freeware that is a very good substitute.
3. Clean up the audio.  Again I have a standard process for various effects, followed by editing the audio to remove unwanted material.
4. After you save the fixed audio, copy it to an iPhone or similar.
5. Launch Camtasia and any other programs you might need.  I use Powerpoint almost exclusively for my current work.
6. While listening to the audio record ONLY THE VIDEO in Camtasia.  This will approximately sync the audio and video.
6. Trim the beginning and end of the video, move the cursor to time 0:00, and use File/Import Media to import the .wav file.  Then right click the audio media and pick "Add to Timeline at Playhead."

I don't see any chance of Camtasia matching the audio editing capabilities of Audition or Audacity in the foreseeable future.  The projects I'm working on don't pay all that well.  But I still subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud.  Just watch out for Audition 10.1.0.174.

Hopt this helps. Apologies if I've misunderstood your specific problem.
Tony
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Caoj

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The main goal of an audio level meter is to check if your videos are loud enough, specially when you mix many different videos or when you publish many videos in your project, recording at different days. It's simple! Just a V.U indicating the signal level in dB. I think it's very useful for the Camtasia users.
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Kristen F

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TechSmith advertises the Camtasia product as "Simple as 1-2-3. Choose your footage- Make your edits- Create your video." It is a product that was designed for and marketed to both pro editors as well as those who are not necessarily "professional" multimedia gurus, so that they could rise above the learning curve and produce great audio and video with the best of them. So, expecting your Camtasia-using client to learn entirely new software and complicate their workflow in order to compensate for something as rudimentary as a missing audio meter is fairly unrealistic, expensive, and annoying to the client. It is also frustrating to both inexperienced and experienced editors to make this basic request repeatedly and be told to simply go use additional tools that shouldn't be needed in the first place. An audio meter is a basic and necessary tool, and quite frankly, I am shocked that it still isn't a part of the interface. Some of us have the skillset to work around this deficit but I'm guessing this tends to throw a wrench in the average user's workflow if they're trying to get any kind of consistency with audio. /rant

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tony.lima

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My lovely wife is the video pro, so I asked her about Final Cut Pro.  It has an audio meter as well as some rudimentary audio editing tools.  I still think your audio quality won't be very good unless you use an actual audio editing tool.  Audacity is share/freeware.  Hard to beat that price.

Best,
Tony
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Kristen F

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I can appreciate that, although the cost of freeware is not the issue. The hidden cost of training team members how to use another multimedia tool is the issue. Many folks don't need their audio to be perfect or processed. They just need it to be level. An audio meter is generally a standard feature within video editing software.
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Dave Walker

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Yes, I agree with you. The point is to make Camtasia a nimble, friendly tool, with a simple, but complete set of tools that everyday people can use to quickly edit and produce above-average content for their audiences. An audio meter is an essential tool in any editing program, and its presence should, in no way, be used an an indicator of an advanced "professional" tool. Anyone who's ever watched tv knows how irritating it is when programs and program segments have varying sound levels. Like a hammer is to a toolbox, it's a basic tool everyone needs.
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Rick Stone

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Playing a bit of the devil's advocate here. ;)

Hmmm, if an audio meter is really a basic tool that everyone needs, it's very odd to me that Adobe  never chose to add such a feature to either the  Adobe Captivate or the Adobe Presenter Video Express tools they sell. These two tools are similar to Camtasia in that they share the same workflow and are capable of producing similar outputs. I've participated in the Adobe forums for many years and cannot recall anyone ever once making a request for this feature and consider it as missing in action. 

I honestly think that so many folks either just forget or possibly never realized that Camtasia was never created from the onset to be an honest to goodness video editor that was intended to compete with things like Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas or other.

It is a "screencast video" editor. So while it nowadays does allow insertion of other video content that was not recorded using Camtasia, This was almost certainly an afterthought at some point in its evolution.

This reply isn't meant to claim that an audio meter wouldn't help those asking for it. It is meant as a reminder of Camtasia's pedigree and why it has never had such a feature. But who knows, maybe TechSmith will add it at a future point.

I do note that Camtasia does seem to provide for some ability to very easily see audio levels directly on the timeline. Seems pretty simple to adjust these to be similar. Maybe even simpler than looking at some meter that may exist in a different area of the application. But that's just me.



Cheers... Rick :)
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davemillman

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Agreed with Rick. Although I do extensive audio editing in Audacity (noise filtering, making narrators say things they never said, etc.) I still do final level adjustment in Camtasia. Although the audio level line shown in Anthony's post works well, I usually use the more granular numerical level control in the Properties pane. 

Have the people who want the audio level meter so badly watched this entire tutorial? It's 4 minutes long.

https://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-camtasia-9-3-editing-audio.html

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Joe Morgan

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Why would anybody need an audio level meter in Camtasia?

It's pretty simple really. You cannot precisely adjust audio levels without an audio level meter.

The idea when producing a video is for the audio level to be as high as possible.
You also need that level to stop just short of it going to high.
When it's to high it creates clipping and that produces distortion.



Low volume levels will force viewers to turn up the volume of their speakers just to hear  Your Videos.
Then, they'll probably have to dive for their volume controls to turn their speakers back  down when they play a video produced by a Professional.



 No Virginia, there actually isn't a Santa Claus. And No, there is no precise audio level control without an Audio Level Meter to assist you.



 
Now, add some random audio files to Camtasia's timeline from completely different sources. Record audio to a different track like with narration.
Would an audio level meter come in handy now?

Yeah I know, you could export the audio to a third party software.
WHY?
Really, Why not just add a meter to Camtasia like pretty much every other video editor on the market?

Why doesn't Adobe Captivate have audio meters?
Maybe because it has "Normalize" which will adjust the volume and eliminate clipping.




 Bottom line,
 I'm thinking that Adobe probably adds Normalize to Adobe Presenter Video Express projects automatically.
If users volume levels were all over the place in post production, they would be complaining about it and it would be reflected in the Adobe forums.
Requesting an audio level meter would have come up as a part of that discussion.
That's just a common sense deduction.

I don't use either of the Adobe products Rick has brought into the discussion.
I suspect they have been using multiple / superior audio filters all along.
After all, Adobe created Adobe Audition.Adobe can incorporate all the filters they deem necessary. 

Regards,Joe
(Edited)
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Dave Walker

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Thank-you Joe, for making this point so well through graphics. the waveform display doesn't graphically represent the dynamic differences in audio levels like a meter.
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GingerBread

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Camtasia should have audio level meters.

I like your explanation Joe. Thank you for posting that. It's surprising how many people don't understand what they are needed for.
Oh well, maybe they will learn from your posting.

Enjoy the day
Ginger
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Kristen F

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I'm loving the input in this discussion, I think it's great!

Just to clarify--The reason I want to use an audio meter (or VU meter) is to measure the sound in decibels within Camtasia. This is not an objective volume that "sounds fine" to the listener, or a graphical representation of how loud the audio can get before clipping starts to occur. Normalizing your audio is a step in the right direction--but if you're normalizing your audio at a high decibel level, then you are going to blast your clients with some perfectly normalized loud audio. Granted, these days there is so much normalizing and compressing happening behind the scenes when we upload to YouTube, iTunes, etc. that sometimes we can get away with not tweaking the audio level, and then YouTube (for example) takes care of the rest.

Adobe Presenter and Captivate likely do not have an audio meter because they are specifically e-learning creation tools, and their output is generally for flash/HTML online consumption. The format is generally vector and flash/HTML rather than video. 

Camtasia is a great hybrid tool in that it is very flash/HTML-friendly in its output, but it also at its core is a video editing tool. It exports pixels of video rather than vectors. When I say video, I'm referring to media we see on YouTube, Vimeo, television, film, etc. A volume meter is a standard video editing tool. So, I'd like to see an audio meter so that I can make sure my videos export at the correct decibel level since a variety of video formats benefit from having level audio and a targeted dB level--DVD, an on-air TV commercials, a series of online tutorials, etc.

Camtasia has been moving in the direction of competing with Premiere and Final Cut for some time now. Each release makes it more and more like one of its competitors--just look at the latest interface. I'm willing to bet that TechSmith is eager to claim any clients that don't have the time, training, or money to work with software like Adobe Premiere. Why pay a "professional" video editor using a "fancy" tool when you can do it yourself? Enter Camtasia as a hybrid, highly competitive video editing tool. It came from e-learning beginnings but it is definitely a decent video editing tool now.

Bottom line is, can I work without an audio meter? Yes. But I would like to have one because it means the difference of guessing about my audio versus measuring decibels somewhat accurately, without having to go through 3rd party software. Not everyone would necessarily benefit from having an audio meter since everyone's output has a different target audience & medium, but there are definitely folks who would benefit from it as going that extra mile in the mastering process.

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JpDp

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I certainly would like an audio meter. 
I record the audio separately from the video and although I try to use the same recorder (Zoom H1), it's not always possible. 
Also, different rooms  have different levels of background noise, so sometimes I have to turn down the input gain. 

What's annoying to both me and the people who watch the videos is that all videos have different audio output volumes. 

What this means, is that I will have to take my WAV file from the recorder and set that volume correctly first. 

Maybe I have to have one audio clip that I use to set the output volume and always drop that one in to each project to set a consistent level? 
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Dave Walker

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Hi Jp!
Not to minimize the need for an audio meter, in your case, I think the audio tools in Camtasia can get you reasonably close.  You can raise and lower the volume levels independently for each clip in Camtasia.  If you expand the height and of your audio track, you can get a pretty good comparison of the relative sound levels by looking at the waveform.  This is rough, but might work for you in the interim.  I personally think monitoring levels through a meter provides a better precision.  

You also mentioned background noise.  If background noise is a problem, there's really not much in Camtasia to fix that very well.  However, Audacity is a free audio software that has an excellent set of tools that can fix many background noise issues.  Once you have edited your video together in Camtasia, just export an audio file of the final video.  Open up that audio file in Audacity, and use the noise reduction, compressor, and EQ tools to remove noise and enhance the quality of your sound.  There are great how-to videos on YouTube that describe these steps.  Then, export your audio file (I export as a WAV), and import the audio file into Camtasia.  Drop the audio file into your timeline, and turn off all the other audio sources.  You'll be amazed at how great you can clean up your soundtrack.

While all this sounds like a lot of work, it actually isn't.  Once you get used to this, you can do everything I've described in about 5 minutes, and it makes a huge difference in your sound.

Hope this was helpful!
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JpDp

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Hi Dave,

Very Helpful - Thanks
You are right, the pre-editing the audio is the way to go.
I was doing the pre-editing in Camtasia and then adding the video later. 

I still need to learn how to use Audacity.

My issue is that what level should I set the audio? It would be great if there was a set standard which could be used that all videos would play at.

Here's the audio level of two different videos that I have created. 


The first one was recorded with the Zoom H1 with input levels on auto, the second I set the input level to 73. 

In Camtasia, I can now adjust the audio to suit and then re-attach the video.
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Joe Morgan

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Pulse Intro is to High. Designer Tutorial is to low. That's the problem with wave forms.
A wave form gives you a pretty good idea of what's going on.But it doesn't tell the entire story.
The Pulse Intro shows high spikes that typically indicate audio clipping. "volume to high"it creates distortion. Sometimes it easy to hear, sometimes subtle. 

You want your audio saved as loud as possible without clipping.
Audio Waveforms don't show all clipping or indicate when you've reached ideal Decibel levels.

Take this image below.  Click image to enlarge.
Both audio files are at optimum volume levels. So if you took the audio file on the left and set it's level to match the file shown on the right.
It would be set to LOW and no longer ideal as a result.
 I used Adobe Audition max out the levels.



So, you should consider learning how to use a program to process your audio. I use Audition myself.
Consistent audio output will ALWAYS be a guessing game without a meter to gauge actual decibel levels.
 
Regards,Joe
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Joe Morgan

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Hello JpDp
I like your approach and that might help.

However, the human ear is a "Terrible Tool" for adjusting audio levels with any precision. That's why a meter is critical for consistency and as well.

You can turn your speakers off and set audio levels when using a meter.



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Joe Morgan

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A deaf person can can adjust audio levels correctly with a meter.

Regards,Joe

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Jon Adams

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In the absence of any objective dB audio level meter in Camtasia, I thought I'd outline my workaround, in case it's of any use to others. I record microphone audio and screen capture video at the same time, producing 'walkthrough' guides for using various imaging software packages. I hope this is of some help to anyone who is frustrated by the lack of an audio meter on the timeline. I've used Audacity software in this example, as it's free, but any other audio editor could be used in its place. I realise it goes on a bit with 6 steps, but it lets you produce consistent, good quality audio.

Camtasia & Audacity audio processing

1 Once your video is recorded and edited (all within Camtasia) go to Share > Advanced Export and save using the Export to Wave (.wav) option under File format. Click on Options, and in the Advanced Export dialogue, set the Sample Rate to 44100 for the maximum quality. Rename the file with 'audio' (or similar) on the end and click on Export. This will save just the audio track of your project as a new file.


2 Once it has saved, open the folder containing the audio you've just saved, then right click on it, and select Open With > Audacity. Select Read the files directly from original (faster) and the WAV file will appear in the interface. To reduce background noise, find a part of the track where you're neither speaking nor clicking the mouse (leaving 5 secs of silence at the beginning or end is a good way to isolate the ambient room sound when recording). Drag the Selection Tool (shortcut F1) over this so it is highlighted – you only need a few seconds. Now go to Effect > Noise Reduction and click on the Get Noise Profile button.


3 With the Noise Profile captured, hit Ctrl+A (PC)/Cmd+A (Mac) to select the entire track, and go to Effect > Noise Reduction again. This time, use the lower part of the dialogue and set Noise Reduction to 20, Sensitivity to 10 and Frequency Smoothing to 3. Click the Preview button to check how your audio sounds with the noise filtered out. Adjust the settings until the sound is as clean and crisp as you can get, and click OK when you're happy. The noise will be processed out, leaving a cleaner voice track.


4 To avoid excessive peaks and troughs in the volume level and get a more balanced, even result, now select the whole track again (Ctrl/Cmd+A) and go to Effect > Compressor. Set the sliders to get the effect you want. There are no 'magic' settings for compression, so start with a Threshold of -30dB, a Noise Floor of -25dB and a Ratio of 4:1 and then use the Preview button to assess the results. Change the same three sliders to alter the effect. At the bottom, tick the two boxes marked Make up gain for 0db after compressing and Compress based on Peaks. You'll now have a higher quality audio file peaking at maximum level of 0db. This is as high as any digital audio can be set before it distorts.


5 Still in Audacity, go to File > Export Audio and save the file with 'audio fixed' on the end (or similar). Once it has saved, you can quit Audacity. Back in Camtasia, go to File > Import Media and select the 'fixed' file you've just saved. It will appear in the Media window. Drag it from here onto the timeline, where it will appear as a new audio track. Make sure it's positioned exactly in line with the existing, unprocessed audio track, and you can now switch off the latter by clicking the eye icon to the left of it in the timeline. This silences the track so it won't be part of the mix.


6 You can now trim off any silence at the top and tail (the silent part you left on the track to capture the ambient noise) and export your project again, this time with the improved audio. This is done by going to Share > Advanced Export. Set the File format to the video file you want, then click on the Options button adjust the output settings for video and audio according to your needs.


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