Experiments in film making #2: Sound

Garageband screenshot, with movie file uploaded as separate track

Having successfully sequenced, added transitions and exported a movie file from Keynote, I turned to Garageband to add sound and work around Keynote’s very limited sound capabilities.

I was already familiar with sound recording from forays into music recording but had previously used Logic Pro when Garageband was a much more basic tool. It has developed significantly over the years. After some experimentation I arrived at a method for putting sound to my movie.

The ambient sound clips I’d recorded on my iphone while walking the canal, were saved as files from the recording app on my phone and then simply dragged into GB, where they were automatically created as separate tracks. These were then cut to size and placed under the desired image frames. Automation of volume, panning and so on is possible for each track in GB – so I made adjustments to these.

To record the narrative, I used GB on my iPad – using a separate section for each verse to make it easier to do several takes without re-recording the whole narrative, and also to make it easy to place each verse separately against the movie frames. The track sections were then copy/pasted into the main GB file.

What wasn’t as easy to spot in GB was the overall sound mastering – it is perhaps a recent addition as some YouTube tutorials were suggesting bouncing the entire track down and then reimporting to master. However, there is a separate master track but it isn’t shown by default. Mastering allows the addition of overall compression, EQ, adjustment of stereo spacing, and limiting. This is important to bring the sound together in a coherent whole when building from different sources. One tip I found was to turn off the preference for automatic sound optimisation on output – this takes a cautious approach and reduces dynamic range and volume.

When done, it is easy to ‘export’ the movie with the sound added to the file with no loss of quality.

I found that this approach offers a way of creating movies from photos with simple transitions that allow the photos to remain centre stage. This was important to me – I wanted to used the movie format to show the photos to good advantage, rather than to use the photos to make a movie, in which they would be more like raw ingredients to be chopped and added to the mix. The workflow is also much quicker for me than using more complex tools like Premiere Pro.