Mixing Sound

This iMovie exercise teaches:

● How to create, modify, and move multilayered sound tracks
● How to modify, enhance, and transform sound files using track effects

(Instructions for Windows-based software coming soon.)
ceiling fan apocalypse now
  1. Create new widescreen iMovie project. Call it "Mixing Sound." Download this film clip. Import the clip into iMovie.
  The clip consists of nine silent shots. They emulate shots that Walter Murch used to make audible the hurricane in Kurtz's head in the initial scene of Apocalypse Now.
  Give meaning to the clip by adding, blending and balancing sound files. The clip looks like this:

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  2. Download these sound effect files. (Each bears a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial licence. For more sounds, go here.) Drag the sound files into the project, if necessary trimming with the Clip Trimmer to begin and terminate a sound at these approximate start and end points:  
Trim It:
112479__xinaesthete__ste-017-ceilingfan.mp3 ceiling fan first frame  
31482_dobroide_20070224-siren.mp3 siren just before the man first glances towards screen left  
44796__gezortenplotz__nyc-street-leve02l.wav street noise while the camera moves towards the window binds  
41171__nofeedbak__helicoptermix1.mp3 helicopter just before the man glances rightward, raising his eyes  
30789__dobroide__20070210-helicopter-02.wav 2nd helicopter where the man's face superimposes over the stop and go fan  
  3. Once you have positioned the sounds, play your project back. At this stage, your movie probably looks and sounds something like this.
  4. Now add in this voice-over:
Trim It:
dude.mp3 voice-over first frame of traffic  
  5. Add a music track. Purchase a track that heightens tension from a stock footage vendor or find one here.
  6. Play back your movie again, listening this time for balance between the sound effects tracks and the music. To modify a track's absolute or relative volume (that is, duck it), to fades it in or to fade it out, toggle the track's Clip Adjustor and proceed to the setting you seek to modify. To shrink or expand how long a sound clip plays in your movie, revise your selection using the track's Clip Trimmer. To play all sound tracks at a similar volume, "normalize" them.
  7.Relocate—by dragging it—any track that plays too soon or too late. Add any wild sound you sense the mix is still missing. Your ear will find the mix and balance that's "right" for this movie.
  8. You're done. With music and sound effects mixed, your movie probably looks and sounds something like this.
  9. Want to play more? Induce a different mood by mixing other sound tracks. Is the fan the long lost blossom of the iris? Let your imagination guide you.
iris flower