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FCP X Audio Tutorial Part 3: How to Create Keyframes and Use the Range Selection Tool to Adjust Sound Levels

In this third part of our series on working with audio in Final Cut Pro X, we’ll take a look at how the range selection tool automates the placement of keyframes in FCPX.  Final Cut Pro X also allows you to manually keyframe audio during playback in the timeline…great for doing quick sound mixes.

Automated Keyframes with the Range Selection Tool

In our FCPX Audio Tutorial Part 2 we explored improvements to fading audio in and out on the FCPX timeline..specifically at the start and end of audio clips.  Let’s dig in a bit further and examine how to bring audio up or down within a sound or dialogue track.   Although you can manually place your own audio keyframes in a timeline, FCPX also gives you the option to automate some of this process.

  1. Navigate to the spot in your timeline where you would like to dip the audio level up or down.
  2. Now, let’s use the Range Selection tool to pick a section of the audio to adjust.  Hold down R.  With R held down, click in the spot on the audio where you would like the fade to start.  Drag the mouse across the clip until you get to the spot where you would like the fade to end.  Then, release the mouse and the “R’ key.  FCPX has now drawn a yellow box around this “range.”
  3. Using the mouse, grab the black bar running through the audio and drag it up or down to the desired audio level..  FCPX will automate keyframes to fade the audio at the start and end of the range.
  4. You can drag the keyframes forward or backward in the timeline to adjust the speed of the fade.

This feature is perfect when you are mixing interview footage and action/b-roll shots with a music bed underneath…quickly drop down the music below the interviews.  This is one feature that I will be using constantly, a nice addition to FCPX.

Manually Adding Keyframes During Playback

Another Final Cut Pro X audio improvement is the ability to add and adjust audio keyframes during playback.  In FCP 7 and earlier versions adding keyframes in the timeline would stop playback.  However, In FCPX you can click the audio levels bar to add keyframes AND pull the levels up or down –all while playback continues!

  1. Manually add a keyframe by clicking on the levels bar while holding down OPTION.
  2. Click on the keyframe to grab it and then drag up or down to increase or decrease the volume.

Among a number of audio improvements in FCPX, these two succeed in making your edits faster and more productive.  With all of the negative attention surrounding the application, smaller improvements (like these) seem to have been largely overlooked.

Anyone else discover some “under the radar” improvements in Final Cut Pro X?  If so, let us know in the comments!

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  • Ahmed Eid

    Thanks for this tip…exactly what I needed.

    • Danny Greer


      Thanks for stopping by the site! Glad this tutorial was useful for you!

  • chris

    just wow. too easy. thanks for the great tip.

  • Premiumbeat

    Hey everyone, please let us know if you like our new comments platform.

  • http://YourSite(Optional) James Branch

    Brilliant. First time I’ve seen this feature. Guess we can stop asking for the mixer to be reinstated.

  • David

    Thank you for taking the time to create the audio tutorial posts. I know it’s a lot of effort on your part and it is greatly appreciated!

  • ri

    Thanks for the information! I have been really impressed with FCPX so far, and am definitely not a ‘ProSumer’. Mixing in 5.1 today for a feature doc, and it was more stable and faster than FCP7.

    If it allows us to do our work faster, we can tell a better story!

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  • Josh Davis

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!

    I have been looking for this answer for hours!! I almost resorted to making the whole movie over in iMovie.

    Thank you!!

  • http://YourSite(Optional) Terje

    Thanks. Total eye opener.

  • http://YourSite(Optional) Geoff

    Is there a way to control the shape of the fade with manually created keyframes (like you can on the fade-in and fade-out handles)?

  • CourT

    Is it possible to adjust the length of the audio transition of the range tool. IE – If I want all of my audio transitions to always be 10 frames, can I set that so I can then use the range tool to do my actual mixing? Thanks!

    • Danny Greer

      @9bc8d6d7bc220fdf6af108065dac8e56:disqus Yes, it is possible to set a default audio transition in FCPX. From Ken Stone’s post on transitions: “You can set the default transition length in the FCP Prefs in the Editing tab”. Check out that informative article here:

      • CourTney

        Thanks Danny – This works if I am adding a cross fade, but not for the range tool. I am looking to use the range tool, but have it create uniform keyframes. It seems to change the duration of the fade between keyframes (for the fading portion) with the range that I select. No matter if I have the music quiet under the VO track for :10 sec or 1 minute, I still would want a 10 frame transition.

  • Benjx

    GREAT to know!

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