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Importing audio files into After Effects is very similar to importing video files. As a matter of fact, quite often audio is embedded alongside the video when you import a video file. If it's an audio-only file, After Effects takes the most common formats like .wav, .aif, and .mp3. Just select them and import them. The one thing to be careful though, is make sure you have the rights to use any music or sound effects that you bring into After Effects. Whenever you combine audio--music--with graphics, you need a special license, known as a synchronization license, to put the two together.
So you can't just rip your audio CDs or download a track from iTunes; you need to make sure you are using stock music that's already been rights- cleared, or work with a local musician or band to compose some original music for you. There are also lots of great programs like Ableton Live, GarageBand, Sony ACID, et cetera, to make it easier for you to create your soundtracks. But once you have imported it, now let's play around with how you use it inside a composition in After Effects. To import an audio track, you can either use the normal File > Import command you are used to, or you can also browse in Bridge.
In Bridge, as soon as you select an audio track, (music playing) it will start previewing in the Preview panel. (music playing) If you like that track, you just double-click it. It will open up in After Effects. And there is my audio track. To audition audio tracks once they are inside After Effects, you have a couple of choices. If you hold down Option on Mac, or Alt on Windows, then double-click, it will open up in that platform's media player.
If you double-click it without the modifier key, it will open up in the Footage panel. You don't see any imagery because this is an audio-only track. You don't see a thumbnail up here on the Project panel either. But you can still preview it. I will press 0 on the numeric keypad just like I would for a video clip, (music playing) and there I'll hear my playback. Okay, let's add this to a composition. That 08-Wiggly that Trish was playing with earlier would be a good track to add some fun music to.
I want to go ahead and jump down to 08-Wiggly_final. So it's already finished and already has a text animation in it. See where the text settles down there. I am going to locate my audio track and I can just drag it into the Comp panel or drag it down into the Timeline panel. Since it's audio only with no video content, this position is not important. You can also use the normal shortcut of Command+Forward Slash or Ctrl+Forward Slash. To preview audio once it's in a composition, you can't just press the Spacebar because it's not a real-time playback. If I do that, I can't hear anything.
Instead, you either want to do a normal RAM preview--0 on the numeric keypad--but that takes some extra time because it has to calculate the video just to play the audio. The really cool audio shortcut is to press the Period key on the numeric keypad and that will preview audio only. I am going to press it now. (music playing) The neat thing about that is that it's an automatic instant playback, no rendering required. If you want to adjust how long of an audio preview you can hear at one time, that's actually done underneath Preferences > Previews, and here is where I get to set the duration of my audio preview.
In previous versions of After Effects, this used to be a fairly short number. I prefer longer values now, like 20 or 30 seconds. It gives me a good segment in music or dialog to listen to. Layers which have audio content grow an extra switch as well. They have an audio mute switch. You are used to the video switch to turn video on and off. It's just identical but for audio only. No sound, with sound. You can use an audio track as is, or you can adjust its level, kind of like the equivalent of opacity. I will show that in the next movie.
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