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iMovie: Editing Audio

iMovie, Version: 10.1.8. Be aware that different versions of iMovie will vary in appearance and functionality. Full Guide: View/Download


Detaching Audio

Audio that’s in video clips can be detached into their own clips. Detaching audio is useful when the original audio is poor quality, the video needs to be adjusted separately from the audio, or to replace the original audio with a new clip.

To detach audio from video, right-click the desired clip in the Timeline and select “Detach Audio” from the pop-up. The audio waveform will become a separate green clip below the video and can now be shortened, lengthened, moved, or deleted separately from the video. However, be aware that audio clips will always connect themselves to a visual clip that’s above it with an Attachment Point (see the iMovie: Basic Editing for more details).

Adjusting Clip Volume

The ideal volume range is to have the tips of the waveform, or peaks, in the yellow. Peaks in the red means the audio is too loud and will be distorted. Try to keep a consistent volume level throughout the entire project. Every audio clip in the Timeline has a black horizontal line through it; this is the volume control. 

To adjust the volume, click-and-drag the volume control line up or down. Up will increase, down will decrease.

yellow audio example

Alternatively, change the volume with the Volume adjustment (see iMovie: Applying Effects & Adjustments for more details).

Fading Clips In/Out

To fade clips in/out at the beginning/end:

  1. Hover the mouse over a clip in the Timeline. A fade handle, which looks like a gray dot, will appear at the beginning and end.

  2. Click-and-drag the handles inwards to create fades.
    • Fade-in: handle at the beginning.
    • Fade-out: handle at the end.

As a handle is moved, an arc will appear on the clip, which indicates the volume change. The farther inward a handle is moved, the slower and more subtle the fade will be. Always play the clip to make sure the fade doesn’t sound too short or long.


Adjusting Volume in Specific Sections (Keyframing)

The audio of your movie should be even throughout so that your audience won’t need to adjust their volume while watching. Often times with recorded video, however, loud parts are mixed with quiet ones, which is a problem that adjusting overall volume will not fix. Or, a background music clip may need to be lowered only for a few sections, such as when dialogue needs to be heard. 

Keyframing is a technique that can be used to add fades and increase/decrease the volume in sections of a clip. A keyframe is like a snapshot of the volume at a single moment; when multiple keyframes are at different volume levels, iMovie automatically transitions the volume between them. 

To adjust the volume with keyframes:
  1. Option+click the volume control line at the moment the volume needs to be start changing. A keyframe, which looks like a dot, will appear.
  2. Move the cursor right, to the moment the volume change should end, and Option+click the volume control line again. 
  3. Click-and-drag the keyframes up to increase, or down to decrease. 
    • To create a fade-in (1 & 2 in the example): set the first keyframe to a low volume, and the second keyframe to a higher volume.
    • To create a fade-out (3 & 4 in the example): set first keyframe to a high volume, and the second keyframe to a lower volume.

To adjust the timing of the fade, click-and-drag the keyframes left or right. The closer keyframes are together, the quicker the transition.

To delete a keyframe, right-click it and select “Delete keyframe.”


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Keywords:production, video, editing, mac, volume, keyframing, ducking, automating, detaching, separate,   Doc ID:85294
Owner:Tommy S.Group:Pacific Lutheran University
Created:2018-08-28 10:38 PDTUpdated:2020-06-16 11:57 PDT
Sites:Pacific Lutheran University
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