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This chapter is from the book

Change How a Clip Sounds Project

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Just as you can apply video effects to a clip, you can change how audio sounds by using several preset effects. Or, if you're looking for subtler options, you can adjust the volume of background clips ("ducking"), change the audio balance using an equalizer, and filter background noise.

Apply audio effects

Want to make a scene sound like it's in a larger room than the one in which you shot it? Make a person sound like they are talking on the telephone or were transported from another planet? iMovie's audio effects range from fanciful to practical.

Applying audio effects

  1. Click the clip you want to edit.
  2. Open the Clip inspector, and then click the Audio Effects button to bring up the Choose Audio Effect dialog (Figure 4.34). iMovie automatically starts playing a preview of the clip.
    Figure 4.34

    Figure 4.34 Make Planet Claire sound like a real cosmic thing using audio effects.

  3. Move your mouse pointer over an effect name to hear how it changes the audio.
  4. Click the effect you want to use.

"Duck" a clip

Often, if someone is talking in a scene, you don't want the volume of background music to drown out the dialogue. Using iMovie's ducking feature, the background audio can automatically be lowered so it doesn't compete. When the foreground clip ends, the background audio comes back up, without you having to make the adjustments manually.

Ducking a clip

  1. Select the clip that you want to remain at regular volume.
  2. Bring up the Audio inspector by double-clicking the clip and clicking the Audio button, or by pressing the A key.
  3. Click the Ducking checkbox (Figure 4.35).
    Figure 4.35

    Figure 4.35 The Ducking checkbox and slider

  4. Adjust the slider to specify the volume level of other tracks that appear with the selected clip (Figure 4.36).
    Figure 4.36

    Figure 4.36 The volume of the background song is reduced after ducking is enabled for the video clip.

Change equalizer settings

It's not the same as the giant mixing boards you'll find in a sound studio, but iMovie's equalizer can help you shape your clips' audio. Presets like Voice Enhance, Music Enhance, and Hum Reduction are tailored to the sound recorded by video cameras.

Changing equalizer settings

  1. Select a clip you want to edit.
  2. Open the Audio inspector by double-clicking the clip and then clicking the Audio button in the inspector, or by pressing the A key.
  3. From the Equalizer pop-up menu, choose a preset (Figure 4.37). Or, mark the Equalizer checkbox and adjust the sliders manually.
    Figure 4.37

    Figure 4.37 Equalizer presets

Reduce background noise

If your video contains a persistent hiss or hum, or if there's just enough background white noise in an environment to be distracting, you can filter the noise in iMovie. I've found this feature to be hit or miss, so it really depends on the audio in the clip—it's better at minimizing subtle white noise than something more specific like wind noise. Still, it's worth a try, and it's easy to enable.

Reducing background noise

  1. Select a clip you want to edit.
  2. Open the Audio inspector by double-clicking the clip and then clicking the Audio button in the inspector, or by pressing the A key.
  3. In the Enhance section, enable the "Reduce background noise by" checkbox and drag the slider to specify a percentage of the effect to apply (Figure 4.38).
    Figure 4.38

    Figure 4.38 Reducing background noise

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