Live Video ILT recording: Beware of flaky audio
Surprise, It’s time to video an ILT!
In march of this year, I was given another rush assignment by mgt. A technical trainer from our joint venture partner was coming to do a full technical orientation to the new POS system. When? The next day! I had audited a prior 2 prelim class on the same topic so I had a few ideas about how to proceed. Below is a pic of the training room with the instructor presenting to the class. I shot the video from this point of view using two Cameras, the our department’s Sony Handycam and my Nikon L830. Why two cameras you ask?
With two cameras you have a backup when one has a full SD card or in the case of the Nikon, you also need to change batteries. In another context I use two cameras for two different angles but here the view above was my only option.
Over the course of 9 days, I recorded the morning class sessions. In the afternoons the instructor did some one on one meetings and demos. The environment was audio challenging with noise from a nearby warehouse along with the usual coughs and other random groups noises. We got a portable PA system for the instructor after a few days which greatly helped the instructor’s audio quality
After the first 2 recording days, I began to work on the audio overnight with the help of 2 Adobe CC tools, Premiere Pro and Audition. While no toolset is perfect, Adobe CC has very good integration between its apps. A little digging lead me to a nice tutorial by Michael Caise, a Sr. Adobe Evangelist (URL) that illustrated a nice round trip workflow between Premiere and Audition. With this workflow, one can export the audio files to Audition, edit them and then re-import to Premiere as a new (clean) audio track, a very cool process!
Audio editing quick start
I started to edit audio a few years ago and as my ID friend Michael taught me after the fact, less is more. My first several efforts used to many of Audition’s features making the result sound quirky and as Michael observed “over-processed”. So after that I did a little more reading and experimented to determine a small core of effects that gave reliable results. The list that follows is my standard approach to audio editing. A few steps are optional depending on the overall quality.
Editing Steps (refer to Adobe Audition tutorials for more details, actual functions in BOLD)
- Access waveform editor in Audition
- Select 1 sec of tape with no speech, only background
- Capture Voice Print of selection
- Select whole file
- Noise Removal Noise (process)
- Play file, if there is still embedded junk, try Adaptive Noise Reduction
- Diagnostics I De-click – removes clicks and other small random noises
- Diagnostics II De-Clip – Def?
- Normalize waveform to -3.1db – reduces peaks and troughs
- If volume low, amplify – careful here
- Apply Vocal Enhancer –
- Save file and send back to Premiere
Ok, but what about the coughs and sneezes, lol? Some sounds have a very distinct waveform view. After working a few files, I got pretty good at finding the coughs. Tip, once you ID a specific bad noise, you can select is and use is as another noise print. One learner had an distinctive allergic cough that I was able to isolate after a few tries, then remove across the full 30min clip. Once you perform the steps above, the waveform will look both regular and tight except for coughs or other loud random noises. While this part of audio work is tedious, the results are worth the effort.
I am always happy when I can use work output in multiple ways. In early January for another project, our department got a Vimeo Pro account which allows uploads of 20gb/week of HD 720p Video for $199/yr., a very good deal. Management wanted access control so all Vimeo files are password protected. About a week after the ILT, I had all 9 AM sessions online, almost 40gb of class. Vimeo tracks stats so we knew that folks were reviewing the material a few weeks later.
A month passed and then one learner contacted me about a session with “bad audio”. When I checked, that session was NOT fully edited. It was one of my early efforts before I worked out the steps above. After I processed the session, the learner was happy. This one incident confirmed the importance of making the audio as clear as possible.
Since my primary charge was to prepare both training and methodology that the company would be able to use globally in the future, I had a 2nd agenda for the recordings. Certainly one can present technical material such as installation steps with images and video in an eLearning mode. What, however, are the learners missing without the live class? During the AM sessions there were several very good Q/A moments and discussions. That context what what is missing from content delivered in eLearning. So a developer is going to make combo lessons with eLearning along with video clips containing the learner interactions. Once complete, the eLearning/Video Interactions will be wrapped inside a VILT with the trainer providing additional best practice type information.
While one might argue that this hybrid technique is not quite as effective as a ILT with lab approach, given time and resources requirements and savings, it seems a reasonable alternative. It will likely take a year or more to determine how efficient this approach is in the field, but the full video version will still be on Vimeo when needed.