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Tips for Using Audio in the Windows Movie Maker Timeline

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/7/2011

Here are a few tips for working with audio clips once they have made their way into your timeline.

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    Sound of Time

    When you have audio in your Windows Movie Maker Timeline you have a number of options ahead of you. If it is there to go along with video then it is meant to complete a clip, but otherwise you have free reign to alter and change imported and added audio samples. Here are a few tips for working with audio in your Timeline.

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    One thing you have to look at is whether or not you want a specific audio clip to actually make sound. This sounds counter intuitive, but there are times when you simply want the video from a said clip and do not want to go through the time consuming and complicated work of actually removing the audio track from the video track. This often happens during montage videos, documentary B-roll or narrative film second unit production, and clips that were significantly alter through methods such as time changes. To do this you can simply mute the clip. Select the clip in the Timeline or Storyboard and go up to Clip in the top task bar. Select Audio from the pull down menu and then mute. This will mute the audio track for whatever selection you want. This is not something that you want to do on audio only tracks because it is just easy enough to delete them by selecting them and hitting the Delete button.

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    This Audio menu under the Clip option offers other options for working with active audio clips in the Timeline. Depending on how each clip was recorded there are going to be variable volumes throughout each clip. This is an inevitable part of digital video production, but you may want each clip to be fairly even in its audio output in the final product. Inversely, you may want to have similar clips vary wildly in their volume position. Windows Movie Maker makes this easy in the same Audio menu that you selected mute from. Go to the bottom of this menu and find Volume, which is also just Control and U in the way of keyboard shortcuts. Make sure that the specific clip you want is selected in the Timeline before doing this. When you do this a windows will pop up with a slide scale for your volume, and the marker will be positioned in the middle to begin with. Now you can do this to each clip and adjust to where you would want it to be. There is also a mute check box here in case you change your mind about the audio clip altogether and did not want to go back to the audio pull down menu.

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    Right Click

    Those tools, as well as the ability to put “fade in fade out" audio transitions on the track can be done through the right click menu as well. Simply right click the selected clip and then go into each option that you want right there. This makes it easier if you are going to be going through a number of clips in a sequence.

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    Added Sound

    When you are importing supporting audio into Windows Movie Maker you have to make sure that it is not going to end up overpowering the primary audio. This is a difficult problem because Windows Movie Maker often exports video where the background music is just slightly quieter than it was in preview. This means that you have to bring it up a little bit, but just a small amount louder than you would want it. Avoid music with lots of lyrics that will interfere with the primary audio or sound effects that feel out of place.