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Building Sound Effects Tracks

Now that the first stages of planning the sound design are over, it’s time to start building the tracks. That doesn’t actually require heavy equipment or tools; it’s just an expression for adding multiple audio files to a track or tracks. As the files accumulate in the Timeline, the sound builds to create the overall piece. Let’s start with the first priority—the reality sound effects. You can use the markers that you’ve already set to snap the sound effects into position in the Timeline.

  1. Click the Bin tab on the Media and Effects Manager.

    All of the audio files that you’ve preselected should be in the list including: two crickets, three door knobs, one door squeak, a drone machine, wind, and two wolves howling. Sounds like the audible ingredients for a suspenseful vampire scene.

  2. Press Return to set the playhead at the beginning of the Timeline.
  3. Press Shift-M twice to move to the door opens marker. Zoom in as needed for a better view of the markers in the Timeline.
  4. Check the snapping button to be sure that snapping is turned on.
  5. Listen to the door knob sound effects to see which one fits the clip.

    Door Knob 3 sounds like the heavy latches on the pair of doors that open in the video clip.

  6. Drag the Door Knob 3 file from the Bin tab to the Reality Sound Effects track (top track), and snap it to the door opens marker.

    Snapping can also include markers, so you’re able to snap to the desired frame without a gridline in that position.

  7. Play the clip in the Timeline to see how it works with the video.

    Sounds real doesn’t it? Now all you need to do is add a little squeak for an extra dose of reality.

  8. Drag the Door Squeak 2 file from the Bin tab and snap it to the right edge of the Door Knob 3 clip.
  9. Play the clips in the Timeline.

Amazing! The combination of two simple sound effects can add life and “reality” to a scene. Before you move on to the other effects, this is a good time to learn how to create a playback region.

Creating and Removing Playback Regions

Sometimes you want to play just part of the Timeline. In this case, you want to play only the reality sound effects on the top track. Creating a playback region is an easy way to isolate a particular portion of the Timeline. Playback regions are created by clicking and dragging the bottom half of the Time ruler. Your goal in this exercise is to create a playback region that isolates the two sound effects clips in the Timeline.

  1. Click the bottom half of the Time ruler at the door opens marker and drag it to the right just beyond the end of the Door Squeak 2 clip in the Timeline.

    The Time ruler is marked with a lighter section with blue In and Out points. This is the playback region.

  2. Press the spacebar to start the playback loop.

    Notice that when the playhead reaches the end of the playback region, it repeats the section seamlessly.

  3. Press the spacebar again to stop the playback.
  4. Press the Home key to go to the beginning of the playback region, or press the End key to move to the end of the playback region.

    You can resize a playback region by dragging its In or Out points.

  5. Click the playback region Out point and drag it to the right to the vampire presence marker.

    It’s even easier to remove a playback region.

  6. Click the bottom half of the Time ruler outside of the playback region.

    The region disappears.

  7. Press Shift-Z and then save.

The next time you want to focus the playback in the Timeline to one isolated section, you can simply create a playback region.

Project Practice

It’s your turn to add the remaining sound effects to their designated tracks and markers. Don’t worry about the length of the clips and volume levels of the tracks—you’ll edit them in Lesson 4. Follow the bullet points below for instructions, and don’t forget to save once you’ve completed the exercise.

  • Listen to both Crickets sound effects in the Bin tab. The second one is more subtle and less distraction, so add Crickets FX 02 to the beginning of the second track in the Timeline.
  • Add the Wind 2 clip to the third track from the top, and align it to the door opens marker (07;18).
  • Add the Dog Bark Medium 1 clip to the beginning of the Establishing track.
  • Listen to both of the Wolves Howling sound effects in the Bin tab. The first one sounds like scared wolves, which may work well at the end of the piece. The second one sounds more like wolves announcing their presence, or perhaps the presence of their kin, the vamipire. Add Wolves Howling 2 to the upper Mood track and start it around 2;16 in the Timeline. (The wolves howling clip is about half the length of the barking dogs clip, so it should start after the dogs barking and end before the dog barking clip ends.)
  • Add the Drone Machine clip to the lower Mood track so that it begins at the vampire presence marker.
  • Play the project to hear the preliminary sound design.

Did you notice how easy it was to build the project? That’s because you had a plan, gathered the effects you wanted to work with, and set markers in the Timeline for easy alignment. Nice work.

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