Editing Audio in the Viewer

You can use the Viewer’s audio tabs to edit the audio of a clip opened from the Browser or Timeline. The audio tabs let you view audio waveforms, set In and Out points, markers, and keyframes, and change volume levels and stereo pan settings.

Opening Audio Clips in the Viewer

Many clips contain both video and audio items. To look at an audio clip item, you need to open the clip in the Viewer and then click one of the audio tabs.

To open an audio clip from the Browser
  1. Do one of the following:

    • Drag the clip to the Viewer.

    • Double-click the clip in the Browser.

  2. Select the clip and press the Return key.

  3. If the clip contains both video and audio items, click one of the audio tabs in the Viewer to see the waveform display.

    For information about how the audio tabs are labeled, see Viewing Audio Tracks in the Viewer.

To open an audio clip item from the Timeline
  1. Do one of the following:

    • Double-click an audio clip item in your sequence.

      If the audio clip item is linked to other items, all of the clip items are opened in the Viewer in separate tabs. If the audio clip item is part of a stereo pair, the stereo clip item appears in a Stereo tab in the Viewer. Otherwise, it appears in a Mono tab.

    • Drag a clip item from your sequence to the Viewer.

  2. Move the Canvas or Timeline playhead over the clip item you want to open, then press the Return key.

    Note: Make sure the track that contains the clip item is the lowest-numbered track with Auto Select turned on.

  3. If the clip contains both video and audio items, click one of the audio tabs in the Viewer to see the waveform display.

    For information about how the audio tabs are labeled, see Viewing Audio Tracks in the Viewer.

Viewing Audio Tracks in the Viewer

Clips in Final Cut Pro can have up to 24 audio items. Clips with multiple audio items have a separate tab for each mono audio item or pair of stereo audio items in the clip.

The way audio clips appear in the Viewer depends on whether they’re mono or stereo.

  • If audio clip items are mono: They’re represented by individual mono tabs in the Viewer, called Mono (a1), Mono (a2), and so on. Each mono tab displays the waveform for one clip item, and levels applied to one are completely independent of any other. Mono clip items are also referred to as discrete audio.

    Discrete mono audio is useful when you recorded to separate channels with independent microphones. (For example, separate lavalier and boom microphones are often used during interviews to capture the same voice two different ways—providing a backup audio track in case one microphone records poorly.) Using discrete audio allows you to adjust levels and pan settings independently for each audio clip item. You can also trim the In and Out points of each audio item separately in the Timeline.

    Figure. Viewer window showing Mono audio tabs.
  • If two audio clip items are linked as a stereo pair: They’re represented in a single Stereo tab that contains the waveforms of that pair’s left and right audio channels. Level changes applied to one item are automatically applied to the other. Editing audio as a stereo pair is useful for intrinsically stereo material, such as music mixed in stereo and built-in stereo camcorder audio.
    Figure. Viewer window showing the Audio tab and waveforms for audio tracks A1 and A2.

Zooming In to or Out of the Waveform Display Area

Navigating through audio clips in the Viewer is largely the same as navigating through video clips in the Video tab. There are some additional features, however, that you should be aware of.

When you navigate through a clip in the Video tab of the Viewer, you only see the frame at the location of the playhead. Zooming in to this frame enlarges the visual image but doesn’t change your position in time. Waveforms in an audio tab work differently. Since they represent your entire audio clip, you can navigate through a waveform as you would a clip in the Timeline. As you move through the waveform, you’ll notice that the playhead in the scrubber bar under the waveform display area moves in conjunction with the playhead in the waveform area.

The scrubber bar in the Viewer always represents the entire duration of the clip in the Viewer. The ruler above the waveform display area, on the other hand, is not so constrained. Using the Zoom control and the Zoom slider at the bottom of the waveform display area, you can zoom in to and out of the waveform display area in the Viewer. This expands and contracts the audio ruler, allowing you to see more or less detail in an audio clip’s waveform. While the smallest unit you can see in the video track of a clip is a single frame, you can see a clip’s audio waveform in increments as small as 1/100 of a frame.

Note: While this section covers how to zoom in the audio tabs of the Viewer, you can also use these instructions to zoom in to and out of waveform displays of sequence clips in the Timeline.

Figure. Zoom control and Zoom slider in the Viewer.
To zoom in to and out of the audio waveform using the Zoom control
  • Click or drag the Zoom control to zoom in or out while keeping the material in the waveform display area centered.

    Clicking to the right of the control zooms out to show more of the duration of your clip; clicking to the left zooms in to show more detail.

To zoom in to and out of the audio waveform using the Zoom slider
Do one of the following:
  • Drag the thumb tabs on either side of the Zoom slider to adjust both ends of your view at the same time.

    If the playhead is visible, it stays centered during the zoom. If the playhead is not visible, the visible area of the Timeline stays centered.

  • Hold down the Shift key while you drag one of the thumb tabs from the selected end of the Zoom slider, while keeping the other thumb tab locked in place.

Zooming in to and out of an audio clip’s waveform using menu commands or keyboard shortcuts keeps the visible area of the waveform display area centered as you zoom.

To zoom in to and out of the audio waveform using keyboard shortcuts or menu commands
  1. Move the playhead to the position in the waveform display area where you want zooming to be centered.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To zoom in: Choose View > Zoom In, or press Command-Equal Sign (=).

      Pressing Command-Equal Sign (=) repeatedly shows more and more detail, down to the individual frames of your audio clip.

    • To zoom out: Choose View > Zoom Out, or press Command-Hyphen (-).

      Zooming out reduces the amount of detail and shows more of the audio clip’s waveform. When the entire clip fits in the waveform display area, zooming out stops.

Scrolling Through a Zoomed-In Audio Clip

If you zoom in to the waveform display area, you won’t be able to see all of the displayed waveform at once. There are three ways you can navigate through a zoomed-in audio clip:

  • If you play back your audio clip and then stop playback: The waveform display area shows the section of your audio clip that the playhead moved to.
  • If you click or drag in the Viewer’s scrubber bar: The playhead and view inside the waveform display area match the position where you clicked or dragged.
  • If you want to move to another portion of the audio clip without moving the playhead: Use the Zoom slider.

The length of the scroll bar under the waveform display area represents the total duration of your audio clip.

Note: Although this section covers how to scroll through waveform displays in the audio tabs of the Viewer, you can also use these instructions for scrolling through waveform displays of sequence clips in the Timeline.

To scroll horizontally through a zoomed-in clip in the Viewer
Do one of the following:
  • Drag the Zoom slider left or right.

    The displayed area of the audio waveform moves in the direction you drag.

  • Click the scroll arrows at either end of the scroll bar to move the displayed area of the audio waveform incrementally to the left or right.

  • Click inside the scroll bar to the left or right of the Zoom slider to move the displayed area of the audio waveform by one length of the Zoom slider’s current scale.

  • Press the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key to move the visible area of the audio waveform between the beginning, In point, Out point, and end of your clip.

Using the J, K, and L Keys to Hear Subtle Details

When an audio clip is displayed in the Viewer, you hear a fragmented version of the sound as you drag the playhead (or scrub through the clip). You can drag the playhead in the ruler above the waveform in the Viewer or in the waveform display area to scrub through the clip. This can be extremely useful for quickly navigating through a clip but will probably not be very helpful for making detailed audio edits.

To hear audio more clearly as you move through it at different speeds, use the J, K, and L keys to play your clip in the Viewer. Unlike the scrubber bar, which skips samples to give the illusion of faster playback at the cost of stuttery-sounding audio, the J, K, and L keys allow you to hear all the subtle details of the audio at various speeds, both slower and faster than real time. Playback faster than real time has no pitch change. Playback slower than real time has a lower pitch.

To learn more about using the J, K, and L keys for scrubbing, see Navigating and Using Timecode in the Viewer and Canvas.

Turning Off the Audio Scrubbing Sounds

As you’re editing audio, you may find the sound of scrubbing through audio distracting when you move the playhead from one location to another. You can turn off audio scrubbing in the Viewer so that you don’t hear any sound as you scrub through a clip.

Note: This control affects audio scrubbing in the Canvas and Timeline, as well as in the Viewer.

To turn audio scrubbing off
  • Choose View > Audio Scrubbing, so that there’s no checkmark next to it (or press Shift-S).

Tip: You can temporarily stop audio scrubbing by dragging the top of the playhead (yellow triangle) as you scrub.

About Setting Edit Points for Audio

You set edit points in the audio tabs of the Viewer in the same way that you set edit points in the Viewer’s Video tab. Whether your clips have been opened from the Browser in preparation for editing into a sequence, or opened from a sequence in the Timeline for trimming, edit points work the same way.

Sometimes you want to set the In and Out points of your audio at different spots from those of your video, such as when you cut away from a visual of someone talking to show something else while the talking voice continues on the audio track. This is called a split edit (for more information, see Split Edits).

Dragging an Audio Clip to the Canvas, Browser, or Timeline

To move an audio clip from the Viewer to the Canvas, Browser, or Timeline, use the drag hand at the top of the audio tab. (Clicking the waveform itself moves the playhead to the frame you clicked, and does not select the clip for dragging.)

Figure. Audio tab of the Viewer showing the drag hand used to move an audio file.

Trimming Audio Clips in the Viewer

You can trim an audio clip to be shorter or longer. Trimming generally refers to precision adjustments, anywhere from one frame to several seconds. For more about techniques for trimming clips in your sequence, see Learning About Trimming Clips.

Note: If you want to open a sequence audio clip item in the Viewer, independently of its linked video clip item, you need to make sure that linked selection is turned off. For more information, see Linking and Editing Video and Audio in Sync.

To trim a sequence audio clip item in the Viewer
  1. Turn off linked selection by doing one of the following:

    • If linked selection is on, click the Linked Selection button (or press Shift-L) to turn it off.

    • Hold down the Option key and click the audio item.

      Figure. Timeline window showing the Linked Selection button and audio clip items selected independently of the associated video.
  2. Drag the audio item from the sequence to the Viewer.

    The audio item opens in the Viewer by itself.

    You can also double-click the audio clip item to open it in the Viewer, but you may need to hold down the Option key to make sure that only the audio clip item is selected when you double-click.

    The link between the audio and video in your clip has not been broken, but you can now trim the audio independently of the video to which it’s linked.

    Figure. Audio tab of the Viewer showing an audio item opened in the Viewer by itself.
  3. Select the Selection, Ripple, or Roll tool by clicking in the Tool palette, or by using the appropriate keyboard shortcut.

  4. Set new In and Out points as you would for any other clip.

    Figure. Audio tab of the Viewer showing a new Out point.

Changes you make to sequence clips in the Viewer are mirrored in the Timeline.

Figure. Timeline window showing how the Out point of the audio changes to match the Out point set in the Viewer.