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Adjusting audio levels Final Cut Pro

Adjusting audio can be done using clip overlays within the audio tracks of a sequence.

overlay%20icon.jpg Clicking the clip overlay button will display a pink line across each audio track. This line can be adjusted up or down to increase or decrease the audio level of a clip. The clip overlay button is located in the lower left corner of the timeline window.

In this example, the audio level of the ‘music’ clip below has been adjusted down by –6 dB on both of the tracks. This is because the music tracks are a stereo pair.


By holding down the option key while parked over the clip overlay line, your cursor will turn into the pen tool. The pen tool will allow you to add individual keyframe marks along a clip. After several keyframes have been added, you will be able to adjust sections of an audio clip to have different audio levels.


Audio levels will ramp up or down from one keyframe to another. If you option click on an existing keyframe, the pen tool will turn into a pen minus tool, and it will allow you to delete an existing keyframe.


You can adjust relative audio levels for multiple clips at the same time by highlighting the clips you wish to adjust in the timeline window, and use the (control +/-) keys to adjust the all of the clips together. Each time you press (control +/-) the levels will move up or down 1 db at a time.


Two sets of small triangles in an audio clip represent that it is in stereo. Stereo tracks will always move together, unless they are unlinked.


To unlink a stereo pair, select the clip with the arrow tool and navigate to the Modify | Stereo Pair menu. Choosing this will make the set of triangles disappear. This means the clip is no longer linked as a stereo pair.


When adjusting audio levels for tracks that are linked as a stereo pair, the levels for both tracks will move together.


By double clicking on an audio clip in the timeline window, the audio levels can also be adjusted under the audio tab within the viewer window.

audio_pen_tool.jpg The pen tool or P key can be used to add or adjust audio keyframes.

If an audio clip contains stereo audio, both tracks (left and right) will mirror each other when you adjust their audio levels. In this example, we are only working with one Channel.


reset_keyframe_paramters.jpg The (x) button will reset all the audio keyframe parameters for any clip currently loaded in the viewer window.

Adjusting the audio levels in the Viewer window, works the same way as adjusting levels directly in the timeline. Holding down the option key when parked over the audio level line will automatically change your arrow tool into a temporary pen tool.


It may be difficult to adjust audio levels in the viewer window due to the limited screen area. If needed, you can temporarily drag the audio tab from the viewer window into the timeline window. This will provide an extended view of the waveform display, which can make it easier to adjust levels.

At the top of the viewer window you should see audio spread slider.


A (-1) indicates that track A1 will play out of the left speaker, and track A2 will play out of the right speaker.

The number (0) indicates that both channels will be centered.

A (1) indicates that the channels will be reversed. This means that track A1 will play out of the right speaker, and track A2 will play out of the left speaker.

The audio spread line is also keyframeable. It can be used to create a special pan effect where the sound will move from one speaker to another. A practical use would be an airplane or racecar whizzing by from one speaker to another.

To create this effect, simply use your pen tool or hold down the option key to adjust the purple audio spread overlay line. Add a keyframe to the spread parameter so that your audio pan moves from the right channel to the left channel.


This example shows an audio effect that pans from the left speaker to the right speaker.

To create the stereo pan effect, you only need a single mono clip. If you are using a stereo pair of clips in your timeline, you will need to delete one of the clips to perform this effect.


If a clip is captured with both audio and video during the log and capture process, the audio and video will be linked together.

By default when you begin trimming these clips the audio and video will trim together. Normally this is a good situation, since you usually want to maintain sync between your picture and sound.

However, there are situations where you may want to temporarily unlink the video clips from their audio. A split edit is one scenario where you may want to temporarily break this link.

By looking in the browser window, you can easily see if a clip has audio attached to it. The tracks column in the browser window will display what tracks have been captured for each clip.


If a clip has linked audio, the arrow tool will automatically trim the linked tracks together.


If you lock the audio tracks before trimming with the arrow tool, only the video will be trimmed.


Holding down the option key before performing a move or trim function will temporarily unlink clips. Clips must be deselected before holding down the option key, otherwise this function will not work correctly.

You can also turn on/off the linked selection icon. The linked selection icon is located in the extreme upper right hand corner of the timeline window

unlinked.gif A grey icon means clips rthat have audio will be temporarily unlinked.

linked.gif A green icon means that clips recorded with audio will be linked together.

To permanently unlink a clip, select the clip in the timeline window, and navigate to the Modify / Link menu to uncheck the Link menu.


The selected clip will then maintain an unlinked status.


Sometimes, clips may move out of sync. To move a clip back into sync, control click on the number within each clip that represents the number of frames out of sync. Choose either Move into sync or Slip into sync.


The clip will automatically move back into sync.


Occasionally there may be a scenario where you may want to force a clip out of sync, but show an in-sync status.

To do this, select the out of sync segments of a clip, and navigate to the Modify | Mark in Sync menu. Final Cut Pro will now show that the clip is back in sync.


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Previewing Video in Final Cut Pro was the previous entry in this blog.

Previewing Motion 2 on an NTSC Monitor is the next entry in this blog.

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