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Create sound effects for your iMovie projects in GarageBand

If you’re creating a movie on your Mac, you can enhance your project by adding your own sound effects. Follow our guide below to create some in GarageBand.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Sidebar
iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Main
Every film relies on sound effects, even for the little insignificant details that we take for granted.
In any Hollywood blockbuster there’ll be layer upon layer of sound effects ranging from huge explosions to tiny footsteps and they all help add to the magic of cinema. When you’re creating your own personal movies, making use of different sound effects is a great way to make them much more professional. GarageBand has some great built-in effects, but making your own from other sources can be a great remedy to sounding like everyone else. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, but we’ve got a few handy tips to make the whole process a lot easier. Once you’ve mastered the techniques in this tutorial you can use the process to make changes to imported sounds and loops and create your very own library of cool effects for future iMovie projects. A few hours spent creating sounds will certainly pay dividends.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step-by-Step

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step 1

Step 1: A new project

Select a new project template. It doesn’t matter which you choose as we’ll start from scratch. A software instrument or loops template works best.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step 2

Step 2: Add a track

In the Track menu choose New Track. This enables you to choose a track type, instead of using a keyboard shortcut, which creates a basic track.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step 3

Step 3: Grand piano

From the options dialogue that appears, select the grand piano image. This will allow us to synthesise sounds from the Mac to use as sound effects.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step 4

Step 4: Drum beats

From your new track’s info pane, choose the Drum Kits category and select Dance Kit. This gives us some nice flat beats, which we can manipulate.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step 5

Step 5: Start a heartbeat

Bring up the musical typing window using Command+Shift+K and hit record. Find the drum kit’s bass drum sound and tap out a heartbeat.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step 6

Step 6: Mess with the beat

Head into the info pane and click on the visual EQ to bring up its controls. You’ll need to play around here until the sound resembles a realistic heartbeat.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step 7

Step 7: Create footsteps

To create the footsteps, hit Command+D to duplicate your heartbeat and then remove what’s been recorded. Click to mute the heartbeat track.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step 8

Step 8: Fake some

From the musical typing window, find the two bass drum sounds that are next to each other. Hit record and tap alternately to create some footsteps.

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Step 9

Step 9: Insert Track Reverb

Head into your new track’s info pane and click on a blank effect to insert Track Reverb. Aim to remove the original sound and leave just echoing footsteps.

(Click on the image below to zoom in and view the annotations)

iMovie Tutorial - Sound Effects - Annotated