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Product Designer Series on Advanced Audio Keyframes

Save time when editing soundtracks. With new audio keyframe enhancements, you can now copy, paste, cut, move, and adjust audio keyframes—including groups—anywhere on the timeline. You can even delete those hidden audio keyframes that can occur as you trim a clip, with just a click.




Many of you have spoken to us about improving our audio keyframes and how we manipulate them in the timeline. Today in version 6.5, I’m going to show you what we’ve done.


Taking a look in the timeline, if you haven’t already opened it, you’d want to open the Track Control Panel to manipulate keyframes. A lot of you are probably used to just setting a static level, you can do that with Clip Gain and that’s where you can go in with the Audio Mixer and set the level for the entire clip, then you can have a dissolve between the clips. That’s one way of leveling your audio. But if you haven’t tried it yet, you should try Volume Automation. Where you can have much more precise control over your audio. 


We couldn’t really copy-and-paste keyframes very easily before. Now, we’ve introduced the ability to copy based on the entire clip, based on a region between in and out marks or individual keyframe selections themselves.


Let’s start with the whole clip version first. Once I’ve selected the clip, all I have to do is Command+C for “Copy”. To paste the keyframes to another clip—if I just said Command+V for “Paste” obviously we would paste the entire clip. That’s not what we want. So we have a special Shift+Command+V which will just paste Automation. We have a choice of Automation Gain or Automation Pan because I have both on the track. And it just pastes the audio keyframes in there.


Let’s say we want to do a region. We’ll go to track 3 for this example. Mark an in and an out, Command+C again for “Copy”. This time we’re going to go to track 2, clear our marks, Shift+Command+V, and there comes the gain keyframes into a different track.


All that was impossible before, it’s a pretty cool new feature. But it doesn’t end there. What I think is slick, is the ability to individually select keyframes. Let’s say we want to grab four keyframes. All I did was hold down Option and draw my lasso box, and now I can grab those keyframes. This is the new way to change volume. Before, you’d set and in and out point, then you could grab a keyframe and it would change all of them between the in and out points. Now, you don’t need to do that. Just simply lasso the keyframes you want and grab them and you’re changing the volume. You can see at the bottom an indication of the dB of the particular keyframe we’ve grabbed. 


Also, something that’s brand new, if I want to slide that group of keyframes left and right in time, I can do that simply by holding down the Option modifier and now I can drag them back and forth in time. 


Let’s look at doing this with keyboard commands. If I just want to nudge something up or down a few dB, I can do that now with my arrow keys. If I push Command+Shift+Up or Down Arrow (Mac) or Control+Shift+Up or Down Arrow (PC), you can see how I can nudge these by a dB at a time. In the display you’ll notice that when I do this you’ll get a Delta symbol that’s showing me the overall delta of +7 dB for all those, regardless of where they start. Same modifier Command+Shift+Left or Right Arrow and now I’m moving my keyframes left or right a frame at a time. 


Let’s say you’ve got your keyframes down and they’re sounding pretty good, but there are still some changes to be made. Here’s a case where I’ve trimmed the audio and sure enough I have trimmed over keyframes and now one of my keyframes is now keeping me from being able to change the end-point of that automation graph. I don’t have a keyframe there, and if we take a sneak peek, sure enough there’s a hidden keyframe that’s controlling the way that the graph works. Now I can go through and un-trim all my audio to fix this, but that’s not really solving my problem.


So what you asked us to do is let you delete hidden keyframes. If you want to delete a hidden keyframe, you simply just need to park near the graph and right-click and here you can see you can delete a hidden keyframe which happens to be to my right. If I’m over on the left-hand side of the edit I can also right-click and sure enough there must be one here too, select Delete Hidden Left.  So what does this do? Let’s take a look at it in this case. If I delete the hidden keyframe, watch what happens to the graph. Now I don’t have that shadow hidden keyframe lurking behind the edit that’s causing me to have a gain ramp that I don’t want.


Maybe I want to put a new keyframe in here. One of the ways we would have done that before is of course we have a New Keyframe button. That’s all still here, but we thought it would be nice also to be able to add keyframes directly to the timeline. Now, let’s hold down Command+Shift and you’ll notice I get a little cursor here that lets me add keyframes directly in the timeline wherever I’d like.


As part of the work that was done to do this by Avid Engineering, we unlocked a secret feature everyone is really excited about and that is, the ability to select discontiguous segments and now I can actually pick them up and drag them.


Thanks a lot for the feedback. I hope you enjoy using the new keyframe controls. We certainly enjoyed making them better for you.




To test-drive the new Advanced Audio Keyframe tools, as well as other new features in Media Composer 6.5, download the fully-functioning trial version of Avid Media Composer.


Test-drive Media Composer 6.5

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