Editing Audio In iMovie

Learn how to edit audio in iMovie. You can change the volume of the audio in your clips, as well as apply filters. You can add additional audio, such as sound effects and music. You can layer audio by combining several pieces of sound.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Editing Audio In iMovie.

I'm using iMovie 10 here and we're going to look at using audio in your projects. I have some sample clips here and I've created a sample movie project. I just put the clips in there.

I can see the audio in here by going over to the right and selecting Show Waveforms. So I can see audio if somebody is speaking. Sometimes you can actually tell at what point of talking they are at by the waveform here.

But there is some functionality already built into the waveform. You can see if I move the cursor over the line I can grab it and move it up and down to lower the volume there. I can also control the volume as it flows through the clip. I can do that by using the Option key and holding it down and clicking on the line. You will see what is going to happen is that I am going to create these little points here, there we go. There's one. There's another. I can drag the area inside these points here and I can drag the points themselves left and right. So there is a lot you can do if you need to lower the volume of a section. You can create four points like that and then drag down or raise it up. So there is a lot you can do.

We can extend the section a little bit more this way and also increase the clip size here and now we can get a better grasp on these points here and be able to control them a little bit better and add new ones and such. So you can see I can actually raise and lower a single point or I can move from side to side. So there is a lot you can do to change the pattern and lower the volume in some places and raise it in others.

You can also adjust the volume by selecting the clip and then going to adjust here and clicking on the speaker icon. There are several things you can do. You can have auto adjust which will try to normalize the volume there. You can see it raised it up a little bit. Sometimes it will raise it and sometimes it will lower it. You can also just change the volume here. It is the same as dragging that line. In addition to that you can just mute the audio from this clip entirely. You can see it disappears. So if the audio is not something you are using from that clip you can use that. You can do it very easily.

In addition you've got this Lower Volume of Other Clips. So if you have picture-in-picture or cutaway you can have it automatically lower the volume of everything else except this one.

Now of course you can also add audio in here. There are several ways to do that. One is you can go to Content Library and you've got iTunes for some music in your collection. You also have Sound Effects and items from GarageBand. Let's got to Sound Effects.

They all work basically the same way. In Sound Effects here you can look at the list here of stuff that is built in to iMovie and you can grab a piece here and drag and drop it in. I can put it in several different places. I can put it here at the bottom which makes it an overall backing track to the video. But I can also put it above that and add it just to the video itself. So let me do that. You can see it actually attaches to one of the clips there. So it will move with this one it is attached to.

This is a good example because maybe I want to replace the sound of the waves here with the actual sound of the beach with children playing on it. So I could go in and lower the volume here or I could mute this entire video clip completely and, I'm sorry let me do it here and then here I want this to play, and I can then just have this play in the background. I can mix the two together. The two would certainly mix. I can also add more than one.

So, for instance, if I wanted to create some fireworks in the background I can actually put both of these in here and you can see it will add both in. So you can layer as many pieces of audio as you want. They will each start and stop at the right place. You can shrink down the duration of it, there we go, like that. You can adjust the volume and add the sound curve just like we were doing up here with each one of these.

You can also just drag and drop from the Finder. Switch to the Finder here and I've got some wave files. I can drag those in as well and you can see how it comes in just as easy as if it is coming from the Content Library. I've got some music here overlaying the sound of the beach with the children overlaying the audio inside of the clip.

Also there are a few other options I want to show you. You can select any clip here or you can select from one of these pieces of music and you can then click here under adjust and you can reduce background noise. You can also equalize the sound. There are a few other options as well. For instance just as you can split video clips you can also split sound here. So I have this selected and I've got the playback head right here. I can go to the Split Clip, or just use Command B, and you can see it splits the audio and now I can do different things with it like that.

I'd say that the biggest mistake that most people make when adding audio is they add the audio down here, like for instance putting this all the way down here, and then they can't do as much with it because it is this background track to the entire movie when it is back here. What you really want to do, in most cases, is actually place it up here. Attach it to movie clips so you can layer audio and do different things with it.

Comments: 13 Responses to “Editing Audio In iMovie”

    Francis conde
    5 years ago

    Spent hours trying to fade a music track, there did not seem to be any instructions in the help menu. Thank you

    5 years ago

    I noticed in the video you put all audio tracks below the video clips. In other videos, I see secondary video clips placed above the main video clips… Is this the expected way to add additional audio or video clips, or is it just for “house-keeping” purposes?

    Thanks, in advance, for your response. JML

      5 years ago

      Audio clips fall below video in the timeline. You can’t put them above. It is how iMovie works, and for the most part is how all video editors work. Just a visual organization thing.

    Norm Dinger
    5 years ago

    I have had problems trying to do what you have fully described. It will now make the program more user friendly for me. Thanks Gary

    5 years ago

    Thank you SO much! I didn’t know about the option key on the audio to create points! I’ve been taking a million extra steps to accomplish the same thing-way easier do it this way!

    5 years ago

    in previous iMovie this option of adjusting audio was simple, i have been scratching my head for these little indents but i was totally failed, thanks Garry another awesome tutorial from Macmost.

    David K
    5 years ago

    Thank You Gary – Audio Handles were simple before – been trying for ages to figure how to do it now – it seems you are the only one who knew! I’m happy again.

    5 years ago

    RE: iMovie 10 default sound effects library does not contain many of the sound clips I saw in this video when you accessed your Content Library/Sound Effects/Ambiance. For example: beach with children, fireworks, airport, bank, birds FX 01, Crowd Festival, Fair, Fairground FX 02, Factory and Machines, Forest Day, etc. Where are they from? It is a package?

    Thank you for your podcasts. You are the best!

      5 years ago

      It is hard to say where each is from. They could be from any previous version of iLife dating back to the first one, or from some other things I have created, added or purchased.

    Diane Sands
    5 years ago

    ISSUE – Built In Sound Effects

    In Episode #981 / Editing Audio in iMovie (ver. 10), you demonstrated adding “built in audio effects”. You added “Beach with Children” and “Fireworks FX 01” to the movie clips.

    Where is “Beach with Children” and “Fireworks FX 01” (and also other related effects on the same screen, such as Birds FX 01, Barn Yard, Auto Garage Shop) OR ALTERNATIVELY, where can we get these effects?

    THANK YOU, and congrats on your 1000th episode.

    5 years ago

    Sorry for asking the same question that was just answered above.

    Randy Larson
    5 years ago

    I need to sync and “lock” an audio clip. I can sync fine, just can’t find a way to lock. In the example you give, I can do it, but if I trim off a few seconds of the beginning of the video clip, it doesn’t clip the audio – it just pushes the audio forward thereby un-syncing the rest of the movie. Also, if you split the video to add a photo or something, it doesn’t split the audio with the video, again, un-syncing the audio.

      5 years ago

      Sounds like you might be looking for more advanced editing features like in Final Cut Pro. I don’t think that there is a way to lock separate video and audio tracks in iMovie.

Comments Closed.