Setting Up Your Computer to Record Voiceover

You can set up your computer to use the Voice Over tool in a studio, or you can set up a portable computer so you can record in the field. The process for setting up your computer to record voiceover is described in the following sections.

Stage 1: Installing or Connecting an Audio Interface

An audio interface can be your computer’s built-in audio port, a PCI audio card, a USB audio device, or a DV camcorder connected via FireWire. Regardless of which audio interface you use, it must be compatible with Mac OS X. Once your recording device is connected, the Voice Over tool automatically detects it and adds it to the list of devices in the Source pop-up menu. (If you connect a USB audio device, it can take up to 10 seconds for Final Cut Pro to detect it.)

Figure. Diagram showing a portable computer connected to a microphone, a USB audio interface, and headphones.

Important: If you select a DV camcorder as your recording device and External Video is enabled in the View menu, a message appears saying that you cannot record using DV audio. Before you can record, choose View > External Video > Off.

Stage 2: Connecting a Microphone and Microphone Preamplifier

Some audio interfaces have microphone preamplifiers built in. For more information, see the documentation that came with the audio interface.

Stage 3: Opening the Voice Over Tool and Choosing Audio Input Settings

You need to set up the Voice Over tool to correspond to the audio equipment you’ve connected.

To select an audio input in the Voice Over tool
  1. Choose Tools > Voice Over.

  2. Choose your audio interface from the Source pop-up menu.

  3. Choose the audio interface input your microphone is connected to from the Input pop-up menu.

  4. Choose a sample rate that matches your sequence sample rate.

    To determine the audio sample rate of your sequence, see Sequence Settings and Presets.

Note: When recording, the Voice Over tool works with the Sound Manager to record in mono mode. When you choose the audio interface input for a stereo input device, the Voice Over tool uses only the left input channel (channel 1) of a stereo input device when recording; the right channel is ignored. Recorded Voice Over clips, when placed on a track assigned to a mono output bus, appear and sound at the same level as the Voice Over recording meter displayed. However, recorded Voice Over clips, when panned to the center on a stereo output bus, appear and sound 6 dB lower than the Voice Over recording meter displayed.

Stage 4: Choosing an Audio Track and Duration for Your Voiceover

In the Browser, select and open the sequence to which you want to add a voiceover, then set In and Out points where you want the voiceover to begin and end. For more information about setting the recording duration and the destination audio track, see Defining the Recording Duration and Destination Track.

Stage 5: Determining the Offset of Your Audio Interface

Every digital recording device has some latency from the time audio enters the microphone to the time it’s processed. This latency can cause your narration to be offset by a few frames from your video. You can adjust this offset in the Voice Over tool so that your audio is recorded exactly in sync with your sequence. In general, USB audio interfaces have an offset of one frame and DV camcorders have an offset of three frames. Other interfaces may have different offsets.

To determine the offset of your audio recording device
  1. In the Timeline, set the In point of your sequence at 10 seconds, then set the Out point at 20 seconds.

  2. Hold the microphone that’s connected to your audio recording device to the speaker of your computer.

  3. Choose Tools > Voice Over, then click the Record button.

    (What you’re doing is recording the audio cue beeps that your computer plays back.) Recording stops automatically and this new audio clip is placed in the Timeline.

  4. In the Timeline, drag the end of the newly recorded audio clip to the right to show the last 2 seconds of the audio recorded after the Out point.

  5. Compare the position of the first frame of the final cue beep’s waveform to the position of the Out point in the Timeline.

    To show or hide the audio clip’s waveform in the Timeline, press Command-Option-W.

    Figure. Timeline audio track showing the first frame of the ending beep, which occurs two frames after the 20-second point.
  6. If there’s a difference, add this number of frames to the offset already selected, then choose this new number from the Offset pop-up menu.

    Alternatively, you can move the clip after recording it to compensate for latency.

Stage 6: Plugging In Your Headphones

Connect your headphones to the headphone port of your computer, and you’re ready to start recording.