How to work with audio in iMovie for iOS

iMovie allows you to add a musical score to your project, sound effects, and even grants you access to a handful of tools you can use to preserve the best part of a track and discard the rest. This tutorial will show you how it works.

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Next Prev

Where the files you wish to use are located depends not only on which iOS device you're using, but also how you're holding that device.

The iPhone is relatively simple: the media button is lower left of the interface whether in landscape or portrait.

On the iPad however, landscape gives you access to your movies, audio or photos top right, but in portrait, you must first select the media button (top right) and then choose which type of media you need from a selection at the bottom of that menu.

Select 'Audio'.

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Next Prev Step 01

Where the files you wish to use are located depends not only on which iOS device you're using, but also how you're holding that device.

The iPhone is relatively simple: the media button is lower left of the interface whether in landscape or portrait.

On the iPad however, landscape gives you access to your movies, audio or photos top right, but in portrait, you must first select the media button (top right) and then choose which type of media you need from a selection at the bottom of that menu.

Select 'Audio'.

 

Step 2 of 10:

The audio files are divided into categories. Theme contains the soundtracks of all of iMovie's bundled visual themes. This means you can choose the transition and titles of one theme while listening to the score of another.

Skip this and tap on 'Sound Effects'. This section includes a list of all sounds you can add to your project.

Select one to reveal a play button to its right. Tap on it to preview it. Tap on the curved arrow to add it to your project at the playhead's location.

 

Step 3 of 10:

You can see it in your project as a thin purple rectangle beneath the video clips.

You can move it around by tapping and holding, then dragging it to wherever you like.

It's also possible for you to trim the audio, making it shorter and keeping just the part you need: tap on it to select it, giving it a thick yellow border, then drag an edge inwards to trim it, hence cutting an unwanted portion.

 

Step 4 of 10:

But what if you'd like to cut the audio in two and keep both parts, just space them further along? Well, you can do this too, thanks to one of various tools available to you when you select an audio track. With it highlighted, you'll notice a row of options at the bottom of the screen.

The biggest one is the volume control; you can make the entire clip louder or quieter by dragging that slider.

As you do this you'll see the audio's waveform changing. Make sure no part of it turns red, as that means it's too loud.

 

Step 5 of 10:

To the right of the volume control is 'Speed'. Tap on it to replace the volume slider with one bearing a tortoise and a hare.

This allows you to alter the pitch of the audio, making it squeakier and faster, or deeper and slower.

Next, is Fade. Tap on it and two triangular handles appear on either side of your audio track. Drag them inwards to set diagonal lines - these tell you how the sound fades in or out, depending on which triangle you decided to alter.

 

Step 6 of 10:

When 'Fade' is selected, that command is replaced by 'Trim'. Tapping on it simply untoggles your fade controls.

The trash can is self-explanatory, but there are additional tools, not visible at first glance, hidden behind the ellipsis. Tap on it to reveal a menu.

The first one is 'Split', which was the command we were looking for. With the playhead in the right position, tap on 'Split' to cut your audio in two (if ‘Split’ is greyed out, it means there isn’t enough audio on one side to make it work - alter the playhead’s position and try again).

 

Step 7 of 10:

The 'Move to background' command isn't useful for a sound effect: selecting it would move it to the start of your film with no option to move it anywhere else.

It's only of use if you're working on a sound that needs to begin at the start of your project. 'Duplicate' is self-explanatory.

Going back to your audio list, the next menu, 'Recordings' is populated by the voice-overs you create straight from the app itself, but if you haven't created any yet, that section isn't visible.

 

Step 8 of 10:

When no clip is selected, a different set of tools is present at the bottom. To the right are a set of three: a camera, a microphone and a cog wheel.

Tap on the middle one. This reveals a recording tool, attached to the playhead.

Tap on 'record' to give you a three-second countdown, after which iMovie will record whatever it hears, while playing your muted video in real time, ideal for creating voice-overs. Once done, you can review your recording, discard it or save it. A copy will then appear in the 'Recordings' section.

 

Step 9 of 10:

The next menus in the audio section link to your music library. You can add any song you own, as long as it isn't laced with copy protection. Those that are will have 'unavailable' written next to them and will be unselectable.

Adding a song will make it appear at the start of your project, irrespective of where the playhead is. However, you can move it to the foreground (via the ellipsis menu discussed in Step 6), and reposition it, trim it, or perform all the actions we explored in the previous steps.

 

Step 10 of 10:

You can affect your clips' audio in much the same way as shown above, but not at first glance. Select a clip, choose the 'Audio' command, lower left of the interface, and it looks like all you can do is alter the volume.

However, tap on 'Detach' to mute the clip's audio and create a duplicate audio layer beneath it, which you can move around, trim, split, speed up, slow down, etc. everything you'd expect from a surprisingly versatile portable video editing application.

Read:

How to use video in iMovie on iPad and iPhone

How to make a trailer in iMovie for iPad and iPhone

Using the Precision Editor in iMovie for iOS

How to work with audio in iMovie for iOS

Add titles to your movies in iMovie for iOS

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