Audio Files in Motion Projects

You can add different kinds of audio files to a Motion project. In addition, Motion lets you preview files before adding them to your project and lets you view the audio files in a project in several ways.

Import File Formats

Motion supports audio in a variety of common file formats, sample rates, and bit depths. Supported import file formats include:

  • AIFF

  • WAV

  • MP3

  • AAC (except rights-protected AAC files)

  • QuickTime Audio (.mov)

    Note: Multitrack QuickTime movie files and multichannel audio files are also supported.

You can import audio files with sample rates up to 192 kHz and with bit depths up to 32 bits. Mono and stereo files are supported.

Note: Because MP3 and AAC are compressed file formats, playback quality may not be as high as with uncompressed formats such as AIFF.

When you add an audio file to your project, Motion converts it to its own internal format. This allows you to use audio files with different formats, sample rates, and bit depths in the same project. When you export your project, the audio is exported according to the current audio settings in the Export dialog.

Previewing an Audio File

You can listen to, or preview, an audio file in the File Browser before adding it to a project.

Figure. File Browser showing Preview area.
To preview an audio file
  • In the File Browser, select the audio file.

    If “Play items automatically on a single click” in the General pane of Motion Preferences is selected, the file begins to play.

    If the file does not play automatically, click the Play button in the Preview area. You can select “Play items automatically on a single click” in the General pane of Motion Preferences.

    While the file is playing, you can click the Play button again to pause playback or click the Mute button to mute/unmute the sound.

Adding an Audio File

To work with audio in your project, you start by adding an audio file to the project.

Note: Although you can see a connected iPod in the File Browser as a hard disk, you can only browse for and import files stored in the hard disk storage area of the iPod into Motion.

To add an audio file from the File Browser
Do one of the following:
  • Drag the file from the File Browser or the Finder into the Canvas.

  • Drag the file from the File Browser or the Finder into the Project pane or Timeline layers list.

    • Dragging the file to the Layers tab adds the audio file to the Media tab and the Audio tab.

    • Dragging the file to the Media tab adds the audio file to the Media tab but does not add it to the project. To add the file to the project, drag the file from the Media tab to the Canvas.

    • Dragging the file to the Audio tab adds the audio file to the Media tab and the Audio tab.

  • Drag the file from the File Browser or the Finder into the audio area of the Timeline (not the Audio Editor).

    Note: To display audio in the Timeline, click the Show Audio button in the bottom of the Timeline layers list.

    Figure. Show/Hide Audio button in the Timeline tab.

    When a black border appears around the audio section of the Timeline, release the mouse button.

    Figure. Timeline tab showing an audio clip being dragged into the layers list.
  • In the Audio tab, click the Add button (+), locate the file you want to add, then click Import.

    Note: If you use the Add button (+) in the Media tab, the audio file is only added to that tab. To use the file in the project, drag the file from the Media tab to the Canvas.

To add an audio file from iTunes
  1. In the Library, select the Music category.

  2. Select a playlist, then select a song in the file stack.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • In the Preview area, click Apply.

    • Drag the file to the Canvas, Project pane, or Timeline layers list.

    Note: Rights-protected AAC files cannot be imported into Motion and do not appear in the file stack. This includes non-iTunes Plus music purchased from the iTunes Store.

    The audio file is added to the project and appears in the Audio tab of the Project pane, the Audio Editor, and the Timeline (if the Show Audio button is turned on). The start point of the audio file is determined by the Create Layers At preference in the Project pane of Motion Preferences. If set to “Start of project,” the file starts at the beginning of the project. If set to “Current frame,” it starts at the current location of the Timeline playhead. A HUD for the audio appears in the Canvas.

    Figure. HUD showing audio parameters.

    Note: If the HUD does not appear, press D or F7.

When you drag a QuickTime movie into the Canvas or the Layers tab of the Project pane, the movie’s video and audio tracks are imported into your project. You can choose to add only the audio track of a QuickTime movie.

You can also drag the file directly to the Media tab. As with image files, this stores the file in the project but does not “use” the file until you actively add the file to the Timeline layers list or Canvas. To use the file, drag the media file from the Media tab to the Canvas or Timeline layers list.

To add only the audio track from a QuickTime movie
  • In the File Browser or in the Finder, locate the QuickTime movie file, then drag it into the Audio tab of the Project pane.

    The audio track from the movie is added to your project, without the video footage. The video footage is added to the Media tab.

If the QuickTime movie contains multiple audio tracks, drag the file over the Audio tab, the Canvas, or the Timeline layers list, holding down the mouse button until the drop menu appears. To import the file with a single audio track, choose Mix To Stereo. To import the file with individual tracks, choose Import All Tracks. For more information, see Importing Multichannel Audio to Motion below.

Importing Multichannel Audio to Motion

Multichannel audio files can be imported as a single track or as individual tracks. The same applies to QuickTime movie files that contain multiple audio tracks, including files with stereo audio tracks. For the purposes of this document, multichannel audio files and multitrack QuickTime files can be manipulated in the same way, and should be considered interchangeable. When this document refers to multitrack QuickTime files, multichannel audio files are treated in the same way.

When importing a multitrack QuickTime movie file, you can import the audio portion of the file as a single audio track or as individual tracks.

When you add any media file to Motion, an audio track appears that can be used independently of the video file. When the file is unlinked from its source, a track can be individually enabled, disabled, or deleted. Deleting a source QuickTime movie file from the Media tab, however, deletes all audio and video that originated from that file.

Important: Because Soundtrack Pro also supports multichannel and multitrack audio files, you can open a multichannel file in Soundtrack Pro from Motion. For more information on modifying audio tracks in Soundtrack Pro, see Using Soundtrack Pro with Motion.

Note: When you export a multichannel audio file from Motion, you may choose whether to export all channels or mix them down into a single track.

To import a multitrack QuickTime movie file using the drop menu
  1. Drag the file from the File Browser or the Finder to the Canvas, holding down the mouse button until a drop menu appears.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To import the movie with a single audio track, choose Mix To Stereo, then release the mouse button.

      Figure. Canvas window showing drop menu options when dragging a multitrack audio clip.
    • To import the movie file with a single audio track for each track, choose Import All Tracks, then release the mouse button.

      When you choose Mix To Stereo, the file appears in the Audio tab as a single audio track and the video appears in the Canvas (and Layers tab). The link icon in the Lock column of the Audio tab indicates that the audio object has a corresponding video element.

      Note: When a multitrack QuickTime file is imported without using the drop menu, Mix To Stereo is the default import method.

Figure. Audio tab showing Activation checkbox, name field, Level and Pan sliders, Mute and Solo buttons, Output Channel pop-up menu, and lock and link icons.

In the Layers tab, the link icon also appears in the Lock column for the object, indicating the object has a corresponding audio element.

Figure. Layers tab showing object with a link icon indicating that it is linked to an audio object.

When you choose Import All Tracks from the drop menu, the file appears in the Audio tab with an individual audio track for each track in the file. The following image shows the Audio tab after importing a multitrack QuickTime movie file that contains six channels with a single channel in each track.

Figure. Audio tab showing six channels from a surround-mixed audio clip.
To import a multitrack QuickTime movie file using the Import command
  1. Choose File > Import (or press Command-I).

  2. In the Import File dialog, select the QuickTime file.

  3. Choose an import option from the Audio pop-up menu (located at the bottom of the Import Files dialog), then click Import.

    Figure. Import File dialog showing Audio pop-up menu.

    The file is imported with your chosen option.

Viewing Audio Files

You can view a listing of all the audio tracks in your project and view the audio waveform for an individual track. You can also view information about each track, including its duration, sample rate, and file size. In the Audio tab, each channel in a multichannel audio file—or each track in a multitrack file—can be selected separately.

To view a listing of your project’s audio tracks
  • In the Project pane, click the Audio tab to see the audio files in your project.

To view the waveform of an audio track
  • Select an audio file or channel of a multichannel file in the Audio tab, then do one of the following:

    • Click the Timeline tab in the Timing pane, then click the Show/Hide Audio button at the lower left of the pane.

      A bar appears, containing the waveform of the file, if the Timeline row size is tall enough. If the bar does not contain a waveform, adjust the height of the bars in the Timeline. For more information about how to adjust Timeline tracks, see Timeline Tab Display Options.

      Important: In a multichannel audio file, all of the audio channels in the file appear in the Timeline.

    • Click the Keyframe Editor tab in the Timing pane, then click the Show Audio Waveform button at the lower-left corner of the pane.

      The waveform of the track appears in the Keyframe Editor, along with any keyframes, if the Timeline row size is tall enough.

      Note: If there are multiple audio tracks in the project, the waveform of the master track appears in the Keyframe Editor, and a pop-up menu at the bottom of the Keyframe Editor allows you to view the waveform of any individual audio track in the project or the master track.

      Figure. Audio track selection pop-up menu in the Keyframe Editor.
    • Click the Audio Editor tab in the Timing pane.

      The waveform of the selected track appears in the Audio Editor.

      Figure. Audio Editor showing the selected track's waveform.

      Viewing the audio waveform can be useful in the Keyframe Editor to synchronize motion and other parameter changes with audio events such as peaks or points of silence, and in the Audio Editor to synchronize level and pan changes with audio events.

To view information about your project’s audio files
Do one of the following:
  • In the Project pane, click the Media tab.

  • In the Media tab of the Project pane, select the audio file.

    The Media tab in the Project pane and the Media tab in the Inspector both display information about each audio file, including kind, duration, sample rate, format, file size, and other details.

Cutting, Copying, and Pasting Audio Tracks

You can cut, copy, and paste audio tracks in the Audio tab. You can also duplicate tracks.

To cut an audio track
  • In the Audio tab, select the audio track, then do one of the following:

    • Choose Edit > Cut (or press Command-X).

    • Control-click the track, then choose Cut from the shortcut menu.

To copy an audio track
  • In the Audio tab, select the audio track, then do one of the following:

    • Choose Edit > Copy (or press Command-C).

    • Control-click the track, then choose Copy from the shortcut menu.

To paste an audio track
  • In the Audio tab, do one of the following:

    • Choose Edit > Paste (or press Command-V).

    • Control-click an empty area, then choose Paste from the shortcut menu.

To duplicate an audio track
  • In the Audio tab, select the audio track, then do one of the following:

    • Choose Edit > Duplicate (or press Command-D).

    • Control-click the track, then choose Duplicate from the shortcut menu.

      The duplicate appears below the original file in the Audio tab.

Deleting an Audio Track

There are two ways to remove an audio track from your project.

To delete an audio track
  • In the Audio tab, select the audio track, then do one of the following:

    • Press the Delete key.

    • Click the Delete button (–) at the top of the Audio tab.

    • Control-click the file you want to remove, then choose Delete from the shortcut menu.

      If you try to delete an audio file with linked video, the following alert dialog appears:

      Figure. Linked audio deletion alert dialog.

Note: Deleting tracks from the Audio tab removes the associated file from the Media tab if “Automatically removed unused media” is selected in the General pane of Motion Preferences.