In this video, learn how the audio mixer works inside HitFilm Express.
- Audio is a critical of any good video, and it's important that it doesn't get overlooked. The flashiest visuals in the world will not make up for poor audio. If you've been following the course up until this point, you already know how to import media files and add them to the timeline, what each of the editing tools do, and how to use multiple tracks. The good news is that working with audio uses all of those same skills and tools. Most of the video clips that you work with are going to have audio already attached.
When you drag a video onto the timeline which has an audio clip attached, you'll see the audio automatically placed onto an audio track below. HitFilm draws an undulating graph called a waveform onto the track which gives you a visual representation of the volume of your track. This makes it easier to identify particular sounds. When you edit a clip on the timeline, the video and audio will be edited simultaneously. This is because they are linked. Sometimes though, you might want to affect them individually.
There are a couple of different ways to do this. If you want to trim the in or out point of the video or the audio but not both together, all you need to do is hold down the alt key on your keyboard while using the normal editing tools. So if I hold the alt key and then drag on the in point of the video track, you can see that the audio endpoint remains exactly where it was. Editing the video and audio separately like this means you can have a clipped audio begin before the video or vice versa.
The two are still linked, so if I drag the clip around they remain in sync. Sometimes you might want to completely break the link between video and audio. To do this, right click on a clip and choose unlink from the menu. They will no longer be linked, and you can work with them as completely separate clips. The other type of audio will be music and possibly sound effects depending on what you're doing. You can import common audio files like MP3s to the media panel just like you do videos, and from there you can then drag them onto audio tracks.
Just like we were talking about layering up videos in the previous chapter, you can use multiple audio tracks to create a layered sound track containing music, linked audio, voiceover, and anything else you might need. As your sound track gets busier and more complex, you'll need to start thinking about the audio mix and how the different audio clips are going to work together. If you have lots of audio clips at their original volumes, it's going to be hard to differentiate anything. Especially if you have people talking as well.
HitFilm has various tools for adjusting your audio so that you can get projects sounding just right. Assuming you're still using the standard interface layout, to the right of the timeline, you'll see the audio meters panel. This shows you how loud your overall audio is when all of your tracks are combined and playing back together. As you play back the timeline, colored bars will show you what's going on. If you see them going yellow or orange, it means you're getting close to the danger zone in terms of the audio being too loud.
If they go red, it means your audio is actually peaking and is likely to sound crackly and boomy. The more audio tracks you add to your timeline, the more likely you are to encounter this, because each audio track is going to be combining together to raise the overall volume. If you aim for your audio to hover around the minus six decibels mark, then it should sound good on more setups. If the green bars are way below that, then it's going to sound too quiet, and if it's coming in higher in the yellow, orange, or red areas, then you're going too loud.
The meters panel is only intended to give you a quick preview of your overall timeline volume. To have more control over what's actually going on, go to the workspaces menu at the top. This is where you can turn panels on and off in the interface and switch between the standard interface layouts. You can also save your own layouts here if you want to in the future. From here, activate the audio mixer panel. It will probably appear as a huge panel over on the right here. So the first thing you're going to want to do is reposition it somewhere more practical.
To do this, click and drag on the panel's name up here. I'm going to drag it all the way over to the trimmer panel, and then hover just next to where the trimmer panel's name is until I get the little rectangular preview popup. Dropping the panel here makes it far more useful, and I can easily switch between the trimmer and the mixer whenever I want, and it's pretty unusual to want to use both of those things at the same time. The mixer gives you much more information than the meters panel. In the mixer, you get to see meters for every individual audio track making it easier to see which specific tracks are too loud, too quiet, or just right.
The master track on the right shows the final audio output of your project. It's what you get once all your audio tracks combine together. The trick is in balancing all of your different audio tracks so that your master audio is the right volume. You can't treat all your tracks the same because you want some of them to be deliberately quiet, perhaps some background music, while others you'll want to boost up a bit such as voiceover or the dialog from interview. To make changes, drag the audio level control up or down.
Moving it up increases the volume of that track, boosting by up to 12 decibels, while lowering it decreases the volume. When you playback the timeline, the meters will show you how your changes are effecting the levels, and remember, these changes only effect that specific track. Let's take this example and look at the tracks one at a time. Audio one is the audio from my video clip. The speech here is coming in a little quiet. It's difficult to hear without turning my speakers up, and I can see from the meters it is averaging out between minus 12 and minus 18 decibels.
I'll use that levels control to boost it up by about six decibels. Playing back the audio now I can see that audio one is coming through at a comfortable minus six never going too high or too low. That music track is still far too loud though, so I'm going to drop that down. I want it to be audible still but not distracting or overwhelming. There are other ways to manipulate your audio levels. While the audio mixer affects the entire track, you can also go down to the timeline and adjust specific clips.
This becomes particularly useful if you're working with lots of small sound effects when you need to adjust them more separately. With any audio clip selected on the timeline, you can then go to the controls panel and open up its properties and adjust that clip's level. Another way that's a bit more direct but less precise is to adjust the level by dragging on the volume line on the timeline itself. There's even a fade transition for audio, which you can find in the effects browser. This works just like the video transitions that we looked at earlier.
Drag that fade effect onto the start or end of an audio clip to quickly fade it in or out. The key thing while using the audio mixer is that you're using the meters to inform your decisions not just your ears. The combination of the two means you get results which will sound good on any equipment not just on your computer with your particular speakers.
- Getting started with HitFilm Express
- Setting up a camera and lighting
- Making a shooting checklist
- Shooting on a green screen
- Transferring from camera to computer
- Converting video formats
- Importing videos into HitFilm
- Using essential editing techniques
- Using multiple tracks
- Making color corrections
- Working with keyframes and composite shots
- Creating titles and lower-third captions
- Exporting and sharing video