Editing Audio in the Timeline

After editing a number of clips into a sequence, you can further trim the audio clips directly in the Timeline. Although you can trim audio more precisely in the Viewer, trimming the audio in the Timeline has other advantages:

To help you work with audio clips in the Timeline more efficiently, you can customize the appearance of audio clips in the Timeline. There are a few ways you can control how audio is displayed in the Timeline. For example, you may want to see audio waveforms in the Timeline, or you may want the audio tracks to appear larger so that you can see more detail, especially for working with audio keyframes.

Displaying Waveforms in the Timeline

Final Cut Pro allows you to turn on and turn off audio waveform display in the Timeline.

To turn on audio waveform display in the Timeline
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Sequence > Settings, click the Timeline Options tab, then select Show Audio Waveforms.

  • Press Command-Option-W.

  • Choose Show Audio Waveforms from the Track Layout pop-up menu in the Timeline.

    Figure. Track Layout pop-up menu in the Timeline.

Turning off audio waveforms speeds up the time it takes to redraw the clips in the Timeline, which can improve performance, especially when you are not focused on audio editing. You can turn audio waveforms on and off at any time by pressing Command-Option-W.

Figure. Timeline window showing audio waveforms.
Figure. Timeline window with audio waveforms turned off.

Displaying Overlays and Adjusting Track Height in the Timeline

If you want to display waveforms in the Timeline, you may want to show audio level overlays and adjust the track height.

Figure. Clip Overlays control and Track Height control in the Timeline.
  • Clip Overlays control: You can display or hide clip overlays at any time by clicking the Clip Overlays control at the bottom of the Timeline window. Audio level overlays appear as thin pink lines that indicate the sound level of each audio clip item. Any keyframes added to the levels appear as handles directly on top of the overlay. For more information on adjusting audio levels using overlays, see Mixing Audio in the Timeline and Viewer.
  • Track Height control: You can click the Track Height control to switch between four track display sizes—Reduced, Small, Medium, and Large. The current setting is highlighted in blue and has a small dot in the center.

    Note: When the track size is set to Reduced, thumbnails and audio waveforms are not displayed.

For more information about Timeline display options, see Timeline Basics.

Zooming In to and Out of Waveforms in the Timeline

There are several ways you can zoom in to and out of waveform displays in the Timeline. Make sure you have waveform displays turned on (see Displaying Waveforms in the Timeline).

You can also use the Zoom control and Zoom slider in the Timeline. These controls work the same way they do in the audio tabs of the Viewer. For information on using these controls, see Zooming In to or Out of the Waveform Display Area.

To zoom in to and out of the Timeline using the zoom tools
  1. Select the Zoom In or Zoom Out tool in the Tool palette (or press Z).

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Click in the waveform area of a track in the Timeline.

    • Drag to select a region to zoom in or out on.

Clicking or dragging repeatedly increases or decreases the zoom factor, depending on which tool is selected. When the Timeline is zoomed in or out to the maximum level possible, the plus (+) and minus (-) signs on the zoom tools disappear.

Tip: Pressing the Option key with either the Zoom In or the Zoom Out tool selected temporarily changes it to the opposite tool.

Figure. Timeline window showing the Zoom In tool positioned over the audio track.
Figure. Timeline window showing the audio track zoomed in.

Naming Audio Tracks

You have two choices regarding the way audio tracks are named in your sequence. Audio track labeling can be changed in the Timeline Options tab of the Sequence Settings window for each sequence (choose Sequence > Settings, then click the Timeline Options tab).

  • Sequential: This option labels each audio track consecutively A1, A2, A3, and so on. Each audio track is identified individually.
  • Paired: This option identifies audio tracks in pairs: A1a, A1b; A2a, A2b; A3a, A3b; and so on. This labeling scheme is useful if you have a lot of stereo material and you want an easy way to see the relationship between each stereo pair of tracks.

You can modify the way tracks are displayed in the Timeline in the Sequence Settings window for a sequence. For more information on changing sequence settings, see Timeline Basics.

Moving Audio Items from One Track to Another at the Same Frame

From time to time, you’ll want to move an audio clip up or down to an adjacent track, but keep its In and Out points at the same location in your sequence. You might do this to:

  • Move a sound effect to another track to make room for another clip

  • Organize the audio clips you’ve edited into your sequence into separate dialogue, music, and effects tracks

  • Place one actor’s dialogue on one track and another actor’s dialogue on another track

To move a clip to an adjacent track without changing its position in the Timeline
  1. Position the pointer over the clip in the Timeline and hold down the mouse button.

  2. Hold down the Shift key.

  3. Drag the clip up or down to an adjacent track.

    Note: As you move the clip up and down into other tracks in the Timeline, you’ll notice that it’s constrained from moving forward or backward in your sequence. It can only move up and down. This works for both audio and video clips.

    Figure. Timeline window showing a clip item being dragged down to the next track.

Using Audio Transitions to Smooth Audible Changes

Sometimes, a cut in the audio is quite noticeable despite your best efforts to find just the right frame on which to place the edit. In these cases, you can apply a cross fade to the edit point to try to smooth out the transition from one audio clip to the next.

Final Cut Pro comes with two audio transitions: a +3 dB cross fade (the default) and a 0 dB cross fade. Each cross fade results in a different audio level change as the transition plays. Your choice of cross fades depends on the clips you’re transitioning between. Try one, then try the other to see which sounds better. For information on applying transitions, see Adding Transitions.