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One of the tricks to effectively using audio in your After Effects animation is to make sure that the audio is actually appropriate to your animation. Like this is a very fun animation of these penguins dancing around, but the music is more of like a cool jazz sort of thing. Let's see how they work together. Press 0 to RAM preview. (music playing) Maybe, but I'm not convinced.
Let's try another audio track. I go down to my Sources folder, and I am going to bring in a track called Playhouse.aif. That's another format After Effects accepts. I will drag it in here. I'll turn off the speaker, or the audio mute for my other audio track. Put them close together so I can keep an eye on them. Now let's try the Playhouse track. Go to RAM preview. (music playing) Yeah! That's a funner piece of music.
I think that has more of the vibe of the penguins. I am going to use that one instead and delete the CoolGroove music. Ideally, I want to line up parts of the video or the animation to my soundtrack. I need to study the audio track and mark important parts in it that I might want to hit with visual cues. To do that, I need to look at the waveform of the audio, how it's making the speakers move and how it's moving sound through the air. I can twirl it open here, here, and here to see the waveform.
To drag it further, I will position my cursor in between layer bars, drag it a little bit taller. The shortcut key is to press LL, two Ls in quick succession. That will twirl open just the audio waveform. The taller the waveform, the louder the audio is at that given point in time. When you see a tall spike, such as these, that then decays down to a smaller level, that's typically a hit on a drum or other percussion instrument--the hit being the loudest part and then the sound decays away.
I'm going to press the Period key on the numeric keypad to preview just the audio. And as the time marker goes through here, get a little bit of practice of trying to line up what you are hearing with what you're seeing, how the sound relates with this waveform. (music playing) Those loudest spikes in the audio, those beats, are ideal hit points to go ahead and time animation to. Now, I can just leave this waveform twirled open all the time and look at it while I am placing my keyframes, but the easier thing to do is to use markers in After Effects.
Markers allow me to mark and annotate specific points in time on layers or in the overall composition. If I have a layer selected and I move my Current Time Indicator to a point that I want to mark, I will press the Asterisk key on the numeric keypad, and that will drop a marker on the selected layer. To delete a Marker, I hold down the Command key on Mac or Ctrl key on Windows. I get a Scissors icon when I'm over to marker. Click and it's gone. If I don't have a layer selected, and press the Asterisk key, instead, I get a marker in the overall composition.
It's good to mark times in your overall comp for like how long you want something to fade up or fade down or major sectional changes in your overall video. But for spotting music, it's far more useful to put those markers directly on the audio track itself. That way, you can slide the audio track around and the markers will go with it. So that's one of the major downbeats. (music playing) That's another big beat right there. I'll go ahead and mark that. (music playing) That's another big beat right here, and right around here, that flute started playing.
I will back up with the Page Up button. (music playing) Right there. Now I will place another marker, but if I double-click on that marker, I can go ahead and add a comment, like flute. Also, if I hold down the Option key on Mac, or Alt key on Windows, when I hit the Asterisk key, I will also get this dialog, and add a comment, like another downbeat. Now I am personally comfortable enough with looking at the audio waveform that I can go ahead and do these markings by eye.
However, if you're the type of person who is much more interactive, you can go ahead and preview the audio and press the Asterisk key while After Effects is playing, and After Effects will place markers for you in real time. So now listen to the audio. (music playing) So I placed another marker there just to go and say that's where another flute phrase was. Now, there is a good chance that you might actually be late when you're pressing the Asterisk key in real time, because it takes computer a while to react. Don't be surprised if you need to drag markers back a frame or two earlier in time to line up these audio spikes.
But once you've got all of these marked out, you can twirl up the waveform, and now you've just got a few markers you can drag things to. I am going to spend a little bit of time marking up the rest of this audio file and then in the next movie, I will show you how I use those markers to line up my keyframes.
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