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Ableton Live 8 Essential Training with Rick Schmunk offers a comprehensive overview of Ableton's live audio and MIDI sequencing software and the techniques required to compose, record, and edit music, in real time, on stage, or in the studio. The course includes tutorials on compiling live sets from audio and MIDI clips, loops, or samples, applying MIDI effects, warping audio, and recording and producing songs in any number of contemporary styles. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this day and age it's increasingly necessary that composers of all musical genres be able to provide music for video and film. Let's take a look at how you can import video into an Ableton Live set and export a video that includes your music. So the first thing that's important about video in Ableton Live is that you can only use QuickTime video, and you can only use it in Arrangement view. Now, video files go on an audio track. I've already got one here. So I can import the video by dragging it from the browser or dragging it from the Finder window.
So let me grab this first video clip from the browser, and I'll put that on the track, and notice that when it opens it also opens a video window. I can open and close that using the key command, Command+Option+V. Now, we can tell the difference between an audio clip and a video clip by these little sprocket edges that go along the clip box itself. You can move the clip around on the track by simply clicking on it and dragging it. If you want to do that without it snapping to grid, you can click and then hold down your Command key on a Mac-- that would be Ctrl on a PC--and then move it.
And notice that I can now move it freely rather than having it snap to grid. When you import the video into an Ableton Live session, if there's any audio attached to the video, that comes in with the video. Let's play just that track, and hear what that sounds like. (Clip playing.) If I need to, I can either inactivate the track by clicking on the Track Activator button, make that a little bit taller, and I can inactivate that by clicking on the Activator button. Or I can simply just pull the level down if I still want to include that audio as part of the final output.
Now one other consideration when you're writing music to video is what frame rate that this video is at. Now, I can check that by going to QuickTime. So if I go to the Finder window in this case and select that video and open that with QuickTime, the video opens, and I've also got the Inspector window open. By the way, that can be opened from the Window menu. And in this case, it shows me that the frame rate of this is 23.98 frames a second.
So that's important to remember, because as you write music, it's going to sync to the video at this particular frame rate. If they want you to deliver audio that's going to work with a version of this clip that's at a different frame rate, they need to provide you with that clip. I'm going to go ahead and close that. Now in addition to being able to import from the browser, as I said, we can also pull it in from the Finder, and I can also pull in a second video clip. So I'm going to pull in this B-roll_train video. I can either put it on a track of its own, or I can put it on the same track.
If I put it on a different track, just be aware that you can only play one of these or see one of these video tracks at a time. And since I might be able to want to have two clips as part of the video I'm outputting or writing music to, I'll put that on the same track. And again, I can move that around by clicking and then Command+Dragging it to line it up. If I want to trim this so that I don't have quite as much video, I can actually move my cursor to the edge of that clip, and I notice that I can now trim it. Again, it is snapping to grid.
So if I want to override that, hold down your Command key, and now I can trim that smoothly. And I can drag and move that over up against the other clip. And we should be able to see a transition where as I play this, I'll move from one clip to the next. (Clip playing.) Okay. We've got music on a track here already, so we might just set some quick levels.
Let's go to the beginning here. (Music playing.) Okay. I'll bring that video back up. Now, once we've got the music dialed in, you've got the video lined up where you want it, and we want to export a new video, or a new audio file, we'll go back to the File menu, and we'll choose Export Audio and Video. Or you can use the key command Shift+Command+R or Shift+Ctrl+R on a PC.
That brings up the same Export Audio/ Video dialog box that we saw when we looked at exporting audio. Again, we can choose the audio track that we're rendering. So in this case, we've got Master chosen by default, and that means that I'll pick up the audio from both the video track as well as the track that has the song on it. If I want to just get the song itself, then I would choose just 2-Audio. But let's get both of them in this case. Remember, the Normalize function will analyze the resulting audio file for the loudest peak, and it will render that just below the clipping point.
If you're going to bring back this audio into Ableton Live at another time, you might want to choose Render as Loop. That will take any ambience and wrap it around back to the beginning of the clip itself. Also, we'll want to choose our audio parameters. Now these should be whatever is necessary for delivery, which is usually either a WAV or AIF file--either one is fine-- but at a sample rate of 48 kilohertz and a bit depth of 24. Again, if you're not changing the bit depth on export, you wouldn't use any dither.
If we're not going to be using this in Ableton Live again as a loop, then we don't need to create an analysis file. Under the Video section, we can either render this with video or without video. So if I disable that, we'll only get the audio file. If I enable this, we're going to get both a video file with the audio as part of the video file, and we'll get a separate audio file that just contains the audio. We can also choose a video encoder that is appropriate for whatever device we're going to be playing the song.
So if we're going to be sending it to an iPod, we can choose that. But let's just leave this at QuickTime Movie. If you need to make finer adjustments to any of the encoder settings, you can click the Edit button, and this will take you into your QuickTime encoder, and we can go into these various categories and make further changes. When we're ready, go ahead and click OK, and give this a name. Let's call this "Video test," and I'll put that out on the Desktop, and we'll click Save, and then it's going to take a few passes here as it's rendering the audio and rendering the video.
Okay, let's hide Ableton Live. Here on the desktop, I do see that I've got both a .mov file, and I've got a .wav file. Let's open up the movie, and make sure that we've got both clips. So if I click around here, I can see, yeah, we've got both clips as part of that. And now let's check and see if we've got the audio. (Clip playing.) So our song is part of that video. So as you can see, importing and exporting audio with Ableton Live is a simple process.
Now, you're ready to add video as a part of your future live projects.
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