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By Chris Meyer | Friday, August 23, 2013

Editing and Animating to Sound

Editing and Animating to Sound in After Effects

Although I’m primarily known as an Adobe After Effects user and motion graphics artist, my background is in the music industry. Over the years I’ve found a sympathy for sound to be a big benefit to video professionals: timing animations to your project’s sound increases the impact of your visuals. Inversely, strictly focusing on the visual elements of your edits without serving the sound can distract the viewer, and dilute the overall impact.

I’ve recently distilled years of experience creating visuals to sound into a two-and-a-half-hour video course of exercises and real-world examples, Editing and Animating to Sound in Adobe After Effects. I start with the basics of learning how to “read” an audio waveform to spot the timing of beats in music, and then cut video, build animations, and even drive effects using the audio in your project. I also include a list of “magic tempos” you can hand to musicians so they can create a soundtrack at a speed that makes editing and animating easier.

One of the biggest advantages of syncing your visuals to sound is that it helps cure any “blank timeline” phobia at the start of the project; where you’re wondering what to do, and when. I start by placing timeline markers to note when beats or longer divisions of music start, and where spoken phrases or instrumental parts start or stop. This provides you with an initial timing template to decide when your edits or animation events should occur. Additionally, the dynamics of music or speech—when it gets louder or softer—help develop the longer arcs of how graphics and animations build, and when to cut to the next scene.

Although Editing and Animating to Sound in Adobe After Effects is technically an After Effects course, there’s a lot of useful insight within for video editors and 3D animators, as we’ll focus on fundamental concepts and how those drive the decision-making process of a project. Be sure to check out the preview video, a great introduction to both my philosophy on editing visuals to sound, and the skills that you’ll learn in the course.

Course preview

Adobe and After Effects are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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