Macworld Masterclass: Sweetening audio in Final Cut Pro X

Use new features to automate corrections and fine-tune audio

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  • FCPX Icon Intro
  • Auto Analysis Step 1: Auto Analysis
  • Synchronize Clips Step 2: Synchronise clips
  • Audio Skimming Step 3: Audio skimming
  • Clip Appearance Step 4: Clip appearance
  • Range Selection Step 5: Range Selection
  • Audio Fades Step 6: Audio fades
  • Audio Meters Step 7: Audio Meters
  • Match Audio Step 8: Match audio
  • Fine Tuning Step 9: Fine-tuning effects
  • Quick Previews Step 10: Quick previews
  • Create Presets Step 11: Create presets
  • Recording Voiceovers Step 12: Recording voiceovers
  • Voice Enhancing Step 13: Voice enhancing
  • Importing from iTunes Step 14: Importing from iTunes
  • Download Additional Content Step 15: Additional content
  • More stories
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Intro

Although Apple discontinued the popular professional audio-editing application Soundtrack Pro as part of the Final Cut Studio end-of-line, some significant audio features have made their way into FCP X.

Many of these features are now a lot faster to use. It’s also more efficient having them reside within your main editing software, rather than having to roundtrip timelines to an external software package.

In addition, Apple has introduced some new automated procedures and interface enhancements that make basic and advanced audio operations quick to achieve in FCP X.

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Next Prev FCPX Icon

Although Apple discontinued the popular professional audio-editing application Soundtrack Pro as part of the Final Cut Studio end-of-line, some significant audio features have made their way into FCP X.

Many of these features are now a lot faster to use. It’s also more efficient having them reside within your main editing software, rather than having to roundtrip timelines to an external software package.

In addition, Apple has introduced some new automated procedures and interface enhancements that make basic and advanced audio operations quick to achieve in FCP X.

 

Step 2 of 16: Step 1: Auto Analysis

FCP X can analyse and automatically fix audio, saving time. It can remove background noise, and adjust for extreme volume changes. Select a clip and choose Auto Enhance Audio from the toolbar menu (Option-Cmd-A). To fine-tune results, choose Show Audio Enhancements from the drop-down menu (Cmd-8).

 

Step 3 of 16: Step 2: Synchronise clips

FCP X lets you synchronise camera audio with audio recorded on a separate device. Select the audio and
video clips you want to sync in the Event Browser, right-click and select Synchronize Clips (Option-Cmd-G). A new Compound Clip will be created, containing the synchronised camera and external audio.

 

Step 4 of 16: Step 3: Audio skimming

Just as you have the ability to skim to quickly preview video footage, you can also skim over audio in FCP X. This is something you’ll regularly want to disable, especially if you’re working in a busy studio, so it’s worth learning the toolbar button and Shift-S shortcut for toggling Audio Skimming off and on.

 

Step 5 of 16: Step 4: Clip appearance

FCP X provides real-time feedback to check if your waveforms are clipping. It’s really easy to increase their size so you can see them more clearly. Simply click the Clip Appearance button, choose a display option, and control the viewable size of the waveforms with the Clip Height slider.

 

Step 6 of 16: Step 5: Range Selection

Using Range Selection makes it easy to increase the volume of just one section of an audio clip. Choose the Range Selection Tool (press R) to select the range of audio you want to affect. Then drag up or down on the volume bar to automatically create corresponding volume keyframes.

 

Step 7 of 16: Step 6: Audio fades

It’s much easier to add an audio fade to a clip in FCP X than in the previous version. You can quickly add a fade by clicking and dragging on the Audio Fade Control Handles at the edge of each clip. Right-click on the Audio Fade Control Handle to choose between a pop-up menu of four kinds of fade.

 

Step 8 of 16: Step 7: Audio Meters

To display the Audio Meters, choose Window/Show Audio Meters (or click on the Audio Meter icon in the central toolbar). It’s useful to make the meters a little wider, to show an expanded view with additional channel and peak information, by dragging on the left edge of the panel.

 

Step 9 of 16: Step 8: Match audio

The Match Audio feature lets you quickly adjust the EQ settings of audio clips recorded with different mics or in different locations so they sound consistent. Select a clip, and then under Audio Enhancements in the Inspector, select Match, and then click on a clip that has the sound qualities you want to match.

 

Step 10 of 16: Step 9: Fine-tuning effects

FCP X ships with a range of powerful audio effects that have been migrated from the pro audio apps Logic and Soundtrack Pro. Once you have applied an audio effect you can open up the advanced effect controls (using the parameter button in the Audio Inspector) and fine-tune the settings.

 

Step 11 of 16: Step 10: Quick previews

It’s quick to preview audio effects in FCP X. With a clip selected, open the effects browser (C-5), and scroll down to the audio effects. You can hear the results of the effect by just skimming over it. Remember to make sure Audio Skimming is switched on (Shift-S) to preview the effects.

 

Step 12 of 16: Step 11: Create presets

As well as providing multiple presets with many of the audio effects, FCP X also lets you save your own presets to save time when applying custom effects to a range of audio clips. Once you have completed your fine-tuning in audio effects, choose Save Preset from the drop-down menu.

 

Step 13 of 16: Step 12: Recording voiceovers

Using the Window/Record Audio panel, you can perform voiceovers with built-in or external mics. Adjust the Gain Slider and the Destination, press Record, and the takes will be attached to the primary storyline at the playhead position. Switch off the Monitor checkbox to avoid feedback.

 

Step 14 of 16: Step 13: Voice enhancing

In the Voice section of the Audio Effects Browser, there are effects that enhance narrations and voiceovers faster. You can adjust the pitch of the voice without changing playback speed, as well as applying presets that perform multiple adjustments like EQ and Compression within one effect.

 

Step 15 of 16: Step 14: Importing from iTunes

You can easily import audio or tracks from your iTunes library. Click on the Music and Sound button in the toolbar to show the Music and Sound Browser, and then choose tracks from your iTunes playlists or music folders. Finally drag the sound files you want directly to the timeline.

 

Step 16 of 16: Step 15: Additional content

Although FCP X is delivered via the App Store, you can still add other Apple audio files to the Music and Sound Browser. Select Download Additional Content from the Final Cut Pro menu to add royalty-free sound clips, and additional presets for the Space Designer plug-in.

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