There are some things you can do to fine tune how the audio in your Final Cut Pro project will engages your viewer when finished. I have used a piece of royalty free music to create the mood for my movie, but I want to enhance the experience further by editing that audio an advanced way. This tutorial will look at how to control different aspects of your audio more precisely than what is allowed in the timeline alone. These include advanced fading techniques and advanced panning techniques. The first thing you want to do is select the audio track in the timeline that you want to apply the changes to.
(select the track you want to adjust)
You will notice that two tracks are selected in my project. This is because the two channels of audio are a stereo pair and function in unison. Whenever I select one it will select the other. Later we will unlink them but for now keep the two linked.
Next we are going to adjust the levels. Double click on the track in the timeline and you will notice that your Viewer Window now shows two spiky dark lines going down a timeline.
These are the waveforms for the audio track selected in the timeline. It is a visual representation of the audio levels for both the right and the left channels. As you play it you will notice that the less sound there is, the thinner the line is, and when the level goes up so do the intensity of the spikes. Notice that there is a thin pink line and a thin purple line on each of the tracks. These are adjusted via the sliders at the top of the window.
(the level and panning sliders)
You will observe that when you move the Level slider either to the right or the left, the pink lines move up or down simultaneously on both the top and the bottom tracks. Again this is because the pair is in stereo. To control the audio Level more precisely you will want to use your Pen Tool to create control points on the pink line.
(the Pen Tool)
Simply clicking on the pink line with the Pen Tool selected creates these points. As you do this you will see a control point is added to both of the pink lines when you click on one of them. As long as the two channels are linked these two points will be controlled simultaneously. When you mouse over these control points your curser becomes a small crosshair. By clicking and dragging on a control point when the crosshair is visible you can control its position. To the right of the first control point, create another one and drag it down. This will create a fade out in the audio.
(fading out audio)
Now place the playhead of your Viewer Window timeline before the two control points and press play. You should hear the audio fade out as the playhead reaches the second control point. If you are editing something and want the level to go down momentarily and then return back to the regular level, like removing a cough from an interview for instance, you could create three control points and drag the center one down to fade the audio out at that one spot.
(editing out specific sounds)
You can add as many control points as you like for adjusting how the audio levels shift as the movie is played. That is how you can more precisely control the volume levels of linked audio tracks.
Next we are going to control the panning of the audio track. Panning tells the audio which speaker to go to, the right or left. The purple line on the audio track in the Viewer Window represents this. Follow the same procedure as before and add two control points to the purple line using the Pen Tool. Drag one of them down and you will see that this line functions a little differently than the levels line. Where as the levels line drags both control points down, this line automatically drags one up as you drag the other down.
(adjusting the Pan)
What is happening is that as you pan FROM the left channel to the right with one of the tracks, the right channel is automatically being sent TO the left one to compensate. So essentially no change in audio will be heard because the tracks have the same sound or waveform pattern. If you place your playhead before the control points and press play you will not notice a difference. (Make sure your control points arenÕt over audio that is fading out, or it will fade out before you get to the adjustments youÕve made in the panning. However if you select the tracks on your main timeline and unlink them, you will be able to control them independently of one another. To do this go to Modify > Stereo Pair, and uncheck it with the tracks in the main timeline selected.
(unlink the left and right channels)
Now we can make adjustments to each track separately. Also you will notice that when the tracks are selected in the main timeline they will be highlighted separately. The best way to see the possibilities of this panning technique is to go to the timeline and double click one of the tracks that has just been unlinked. It will open as one track in your Viewer Window. Make two panning control points and drag one of them all of the way down. Drag the second one all of the way up. Make sure the line crosses the waveform in a place where there are spikes, without spikes you wont hear the change as it takes place.
(pan the audio from one side to the other)
Next open the other track that corresponds to the pair that has been unlinked, and do the exact same adjustment. Make sure this is done at roughly the same place in the time code as the last track. Now play the audio on your timeline and you should hear it shift from one speaker to the other. This is heard best with headphones. Now that the tracks are unlinked you can also adjust the audio levels independently. Try it out to see what kind of audio experiences you can create.
This tutorial is © Award Winning Music 2013