Motion is outstanding at creating motion graphics and other moving visuals. But it is much more cumbersome when it comes to working with audio.
When I teach Motion, one of the harder aspects for students to grasp is how to add audio fades. Fades are preferable to simply cutting an audio clip at the end of a project. But… how? It’s actually surprisingly difficult.
With the 5.3 update to Motion, the entire interface has been given a facelift, so even if you knew how to do this in earlier versions of Motion, the process has changed.
When it comes to working with audio, you’ll need to use the Timeline section of the Interface. I haven’t figured out an easy way to add audio fades without using the Timeline. Apple’s menus also call this the “Timing Pane.”
If this isn’t visible, do ONE of the following:
Also, there’s a preference setting that can help when adding new clips into a Motion project. Choose Motion > Preferences > Project.
Personally, I am forever adding new clips to the wrong place in the timeline. Setting this preference to Start of Project means that whenever I add a new clip, I will know where all my clips start.
ADD AN AUDIO CLIP
With the 5.3 update, the File Browser panel is gone. Instead, we import media using the traditional File > Import (shortcut: Cmd + I).
When you import an audio clip, absolutely NOTHING shows up in the Layers panel, but a green strip appears in the mini-timeline at the bottom of the Viewer.
To view audio clips, click the Audio tab at the top of the Layers panel. Here, I clicked the name of the audio file to select it (it turns blue).
In this control, you can adjust levels and pan, but not control Behaviors.
NOTE: I never use Motion for audio mixing, the controls just aren’t flexible enough. If I need any kind of fancy mixing, I’ll create the audio mix first, then import the final mix into Motion to add visuals.
However, while we can adjust and delete an audio clip in this Audio panel, we can’t see audio fade behaviors. For that, we need the Timeline.
ADD AN AUDIO FADE
With the audio clip selected in the Audio panel, choose Behaviors > Audio > Audio Fade In/Fade Out.
NOTE: Behaviors can be selected from the Library or the Behaviors drop-down menu. I prefer the drop-down menu.
As soon as you apply the Behavior, nothing appears anywhere. This might lead the more distracted members in the audience to think that nothing has happened. Au contraire. Lots has happened, you just can’t see it.
ADJUST AN AUDIO FADE
Here’s where it gets fun. Make sure the Timeline is visible. Click this speaker icon in the lower right corner of the Viewer. Blue means it is turned on.
This icon toggles the display of audio clips and behaviors in the Timeline. (The display is off by default.)
In the bottom half of the Timeline, several new icons appear:
You can adjust the timing of the audio clip by dragging the green bar left or right.
NOTE: The start and end of this audio clip (green) extend into the darkened areas before the In and after the Out.
This next step is critical. Once you have dragged the clip so it starts, or ends, when you want, you need to “lock” the timing.
NOTE: I’ve discovered that audio behaviors are applied to the In and Out of a clip, which means that if a clip is longer than your project, your audio fades will not be heard. In this screen shot I’ve trimmed the audio clip to exactly equal the project length.
If all you have is one audio clip that you want to fade up at the beginning and fade out at the end of your project, then you only need one audio fade behavior where a fade is applied to each end of the behavior. Select the purple behavior, that you applied earlier, in the Timeline.
Display the HUD:
In the HUD, drag the left-hand vertical line to set the duration of the Fade In. Drag the right-hand vertical line to set the duration of the Fade Out. Fades can be any duration you choose, however the visual indicator stops moving at 30 frames. Just keep dragging to set longer durations.
To adjust the duration of any fade, select the behavior in the Timeline, then make duration adjustments using the HUD.
Play your project and you’ll hear the audio fade up at the beginning and fade out at the end.
There are many times where we will use multiple audio clips and need the audio to fade in or out at different times.
Here, for example, I’ve imported three different audio clips; the green bars.
I set the In and Out for each clip, added an audio fade behavior for each clip (the purple bars), then used the HUD to set the duration of the Fade In and Fade Out for each clip. The screen shot displays the setting for the top behavior.
NOTE: The In and Out of each audio clip matches the duration of the audio fade behavior.
If needed, I can set levels for each clip by selecting the clip in the Timeline, then using the Audio panel (next to Layers) to set levels and pan.
Adding and adjusting audio fades isn’t hard, but it certainly isn’t intuitive. Now you know how it works.