#NewsMusicMonday – Revisiting News Smile – Just a week later!

As you folks know that I am not just a news junkie but a nerd to the surface of news production too, and that #NewsMusicMonday isn’t just a random feature. However, just because jam to the tunes on the news, doesn’t mean that was my intent with my work with BCOP TV and radio. The reason why my music was blasted so loud over the years, was the lack of understanding basic audio engineering. (which I’ll cover for another day)

As I mentioned last week with my splicing 11/One Music’s single cut News Smile, there’s more to the story in producing that concept of a close  for a generic New Hampshire news operation I wished existed! I am in the midst of a rebuild in my nook, that presently was for my newsgathering. Since I had the News Smile edit right in my home folder, it was first thing to open to test out my new audio workflow.

I visited the 11/One website in April. Without realizing that licenses or logins could be for anyone as I learned  and shared in last week’s installment of NNM, I did the old fashioned approach of capturing the theme off the browser. I used my iPad’s screen record function. This is the first time I actually did this, traditionally I took another device and used line-in and recorded to Audacity. I would previously recorded low (because it’s the way I shoot video and pictures, under expose, or under “hot”  is easier to fix than something being over exposed or recorded loudly.)

In the iPad capture, to much of my chagrin, it actually recorded the same quality as when “viewing” it. I AirDropped it into my Mac and created the “close” using a really outdated version of Audacity  where the music would match to credits or scenery where the music would get more intense, soft, etc. I think it’s good to sync the video to the melody of the music.

didn’t realize how “hot” the audio file was to lower the gain in the edit.

Why? Since the title of the video is “Closing Credits”, the names and positions are placed strategically – starts with editorial, production, assignment writers and managers; live shot/ENG, IT, engineering, and administrative positions are at the apex of the theme, while it goes down pace for the executive administrative and managers.  I think it’s also important to direct the viewers attention to the most critical roles at a local TV station, of tape editors, live shots, photographers as the music goes more intense. You can see that with a test edit I did for Channel 6 in February.

When I exported the video last week, I stopped it nearly 1/2 way realizing that the cut was extremely loud and it was peaking in red on the audio mixer. Even the Avid Media Composer waveform thumbnail was unusual for my edits. In Audacity in April, I didn’t realize the screen recorded theme was that loud. You’d be blown off the chair at even a low volume. So I had to mix it down to -11 decibels.

Today when my folks were out, which allowed me to do some work in my revamped edit bay where I replaced some self-made rack equipment for my audio devices. I also did new cable management. I played out News Smile for testing purposes because the theme has some interesting dynamics to do testing – especially if you’re in a control room where you need to know at what level the audio should be and the volume of your monitoring devices (such as speakers on a stereo receiver.)  Levels vs volume will be discussed in another post. The theme is very stereo in nature, so I also needed to check if my 2.0 configuration was working properly. It was barely working because my 1/4″ or 2.5mm cables to RCA (to my receiver) was either cracked or the pairs between the lead and ground was off. It sounded like my ears when they are stuffed up!

When the wires were in contact, when I raised the volume, things started to fall off my shelving! And my speakers were blowing hot air! And the speakers were bouncing! So i knew then I had a decent connection and the music was playing the same quality! But I was playing off Audacity where I didn’t lower the gain because I found that out after the edit on the Avid side…

The Poor Portsmouth Video Quality (or So I thought)

Since we are on that Portsmouth clip, let’s actually talk about my work, the videography.  Avid’s Media Composer and my 2012 Mac mini (with most likely 2010 Intel specs) didn’t capture the way I was recording. My Canon Vixia G21 camcorder records that AVCHD and the standard MPEG 4 format, though AVCHD has a better quality, albeit a consumer standard. In 2022 my workflow was set to 1080p at 60 frames a second. For whatever reason the files were stating 30fps but at 1080p. But the picture had a film like quality, and I am a video guy. I did confirm the quality on my monitors at home through an HDMI direct connection to the camcorder and it was looking at the way it was supposed to be (there’s my journalism in me, I capture what I see as explicit in quality as possible.)

The Avid format was maxed at 60fps and at the export the picture quality was actually more of what I thought i was recording.

Doesn’t my videography of Portsmouth kick butt over the 4k overkill of the area filmmakers huh?

As you can see, there’s two stories of the backstory behind producing this concept piece. For one individual to execute two mediums and put them. together, requires understanding some tech and some implementing that tech. Audio engineering for me has been a challenge.  But at least I am getting better and being more aware so my productions are more profesh.

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