Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Spotting dialogue, part of After Effects Apprentice: 06 Type and Music.
Let's work through another example of using audio in After Effects. Now for this example I happen to be on After Effects CS6. You can tell by this slightly darker user interface, but every feature I am going to show you have been available in the last several versions. If you have excess to the project files that came with this course open up 11-Audio Mixing-unmarked. We have two audio tracks in this comp, one Lunar Rover audio, is actually a dialog track and I would spot dialog slightly different than I would music, and also a music track.
We're going to spot them both and then coordinate the timing between the two. I am going to work on the dialog track first. So I am going to turn of the speaker icon, the audio switch for the music track, and then hold Command on a Mac or Ctrl on Windows and cut these two markers that were already on the layers in these comp. I am going to replace them with my own comments about this audio. I want to make only that the Audio panel is visible, and as a matter of fact I might even drag it over here side by side with my Comp panel so I have more resolution for the Audio panel.
With the Lunar Rover audio track selected, I am going to type LL to reveal its audio waveform, place my cursor underneath to see it with more resolution. Since it looks like this audio track is a bit low in level, I might even temporarily boost it a little bit just to get it to draw larger and make it easier to spot. I'm going to put up +6 or so for now. I can always reduce its level later on. This is a very noisy piece of audio that was a transmission from the moon's surface. I am going to press the decimal point key on the numeric keypad to get an audio only preview.
(audio playing) Okay, we have a few phrases of dialogue with a relative silence in-between. There is radio noise, transmission noise, et cetera, but I want to focus on when is this person talking. So I am going to place my time indicator fairly close to the start of dialogue and press the plus key to zoom in and see some more resolution here.
I'd say that's pretty good approximation of the first frame this guy starts talking. Now what was that phrase again he said? (audio playing) I don't need to type the whole thing verbatim. I am just going to use the first few words. So I am going to hold down Option on Mac, Alt on Windows, press the Asterisk key on the numeric keypad to open up Layer Marker dialog and just type in the first couple words like, well I can; short for, well I can see. The other thing I am curious about is how long is he talking for.
I want to set a duration for this. He starts at 20 frames. I'm in a base 24, or 24 frame second, more or less, counting mode. When does he stop? Page up to move one frame earlier. (audio playing) Yup, I want to catch that last percussive, so I am going to say this is when he's done. (audio playing) I can either place another marker here indicating that he is done, or I can double-click my existing marker and set a duration of 2 seconds and 1 frame, the time between 20 frames and 221 where I am now, click OK, and now After Effects will draw bar a extending from that marker showing me the duration for this person speaking.
Let's go to next one. You can see just looking at the audio waveform where he starts talking, which is right about there. I am going to press decimal point key to preview it. (audio playing) He starts off by saying, "boy, there is," and then he changes his phrase, but again I am just marking the first couple words. Option or Alt, asterisks on the keypad, boy there's. He starts at 04:07. He stops talking stops talking right around here. I am going to hold down on Shift, then press Page Down to jump forward 10 frames at a time; 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and back up a couple of frames 59, 58.
(audio playing) One more. Now he's still talking at 57. So 58 frames long. Double-click this existing marker and I can type in just the number of frames into the Duration dialog and After Effects will convert that to the correct seconds and frames using the current counting method. Press Enter and you see now I have this bar extending the length of this bit of dialogue, and we just keep working our way through here. This frame of the composition seems to straddle when he starts talking.
Since I don't want to cut him off accidentally, I'll move the marker earlier rather than later and I mark it at that point in time, and what's that phrase? (audio playing) So it's kind of two phrases there. (audio playing) I think I am going to mark both of those out. Option+* or Alt+* just like 10, 20, 1, 2, 3, 4. 24 frame duration.
Mark this next one. (audio playing) "Up and Down," Option+* or Alt+*, up and down. How many frames? Shift+Page Down, 10, 20, 1, 2, 3, 4. 24 frames long. Once you become familiar with reading audio waveforms you'll find you are not even doing that many previews. You can read the waveform, know what's happening with the audio and then maybe just preview every now and then for confirmation or a bit of confidence.
So he starts talking there. (audio playing) Or there? (audio playing) I'd say he starts talking around there. (audio playing) "Yeah, it feels," Shift+Page Down 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 1, 2, 3, 4. 54 frames. Type that in for duration. Then one last little piece of dialogue here. (audio playing) That's a pithy statement.
"Yup, really do." And that's where 10, 20, 1, 2. 22 frames. Okay, there is the dialogue spotted. I am going to press minus to zoom out. I can see my whole composition. I can return the levels for this layer back down to 0, turn off the audio switch for Lunar Rover and twirl up its waveform.
Since I've spotted the audio I don't need to look at the waveform anymore. This makes my redraws faster and just makes it faster to work. It also requires less real estate in the timeline panel, and I'll select Musical Messages and start spotting that audio.
The After Effects Apprentice series was created by Trish and Chris Meyer. The tutorials are designed to be used independently and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice.
- The core text animation recipes
- Animating text along a path
- Working with text animation presets
- Timing animation to audio
- Per-character 3D type
- Rendering with an alpha channel
- Making Photoshop type editable in After Effects
- Professional typesetting tips
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 11/20/2012. What changed?
A: We have added four new movies to the end of Chapter 8, "Working With Audio." All four of these movies (Spotting dialog, Timing dialog to music, Mixing audio, and Refinements) apply to all versions covered by the course. In addition, there are new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6 and a companion movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files.