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Get the most out of audio and sound in your iMovie projects

Learn how to use iMovie’s brilliant audio editing tools and get great sounding audio on all your projects

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio
iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio - Sidebar
When shooting raw footage we tend to focus on what the location looks like and the behaviour of our subject, while paying little attention to the scene’s sound.
This can result in slick looking videos that are let down by poor audio quality. Digital cameras are geared up to capture HD clips with rich colours and tones, but we’re often forced to rely on our camera’s less effective built-in microphone to record the dialog or ambient sound. If the subject is far away we can zoom in for a close-up, but the in-camera mic still remains at a distance. This can lead to inaudible speech that’s drowned out by camera-handling noise or wind blowing on the camera’s microphone.

In this tutorial we’ll focus on how to quickly boost a clip’s overall sound levels. You will also discover how to apply sound from one clip to another, smoothly bridging separate shots together. We’ll show you how to use iMovie’s Audio Inspector to tweak the quality of the sound and plunder the Music and Sound Effects browser to add some high-quality audio assets. You’ll also learn how to target particular sections of a clip and manually raise or dip sound levels accordingly so that quieter subjects can be as audible as louder ones in the same scene.

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio - Step by Step

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio - Step 1

Step 1: Create a project

Go to File>New Project. Label the project ‘Sound Project’. Set Aspect Ratio to Widescreen (16:9) and Frame Rate to 30 fps – NTSC. Click Create.

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio - Step 2

Step 2: Import clips

Go to File>Import>Movies. Go to Source Clips on your iCreate disc. Tick Create new Event and label it ‘Sound Sources’. Tick Optimize video and Copy files. Hit Import.

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio - Step 3

Step 3: Set preferences

Go to iMovie>Preferences. In General, tick the option to display time as hours, minutes and seconds. Turn on Show Advanced Tools so that you can use cutaways.

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio - Step 4

Step 4: Show waveform

Click on the first clip in the browser (Shot01) and drag it to the project window. To ‘see’ the clip’s sound, click on the show sound wave icon below the project window.

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio - Step 5

Step 5: Boost sound

The sound captured by the camera’s built-in mic doesn’t peak as loudly as it could. To boost it, press A to open the Audio Inspector. Tick Normalize Clip Volume.

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio - Step 6

Step 6: Adjust volume

The clip’s boosted sound wave gets taller, with the loudest parts peaking as yellow. Play the clip. If it sounds too loud to you, reduce your Mac’s output volume.

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

iMovie Tutorial - Master Audio - Annotated