Video 101: Talking pictures

Adding sound to your movies
We can do something with our videos that frontier photographers could not. We can make our pictures talk and make the trains rumble. With sounds, our videos can have mood and a speaking voice. We can make “talkies.”

Learning how to add sound to video can be done in under an hour using basic consumer-level movie software. Using this, we can control everything we hear in our movie. Natural sounds, sound effects, music, and voice-over tracks can be imported from the libraries on our computers. We can add background music, replace an audio track with a new one, and create our own commentary. Sound helps create the ambiance of the movie, advances the plot, and tells us about machinery and characters in the video.

Music. I store digital copies of music in the iTunes library. From this library, select a song, then click and drag it below the movie timeline. It is shown on screen as a green box below the video. Edit the box like editing video to control the length, volume, fade in and fade out.
Sound effects. Built-in sound effects include musical jingles of 30 seconds to a couple of minutes in length. They include animal sounds, busy-city sounds, and frogs from the countryside. Select a sound from the sound-effects library and drag it below the movie timeline. Edit the box for length and volume.
Recordings. Recorded sounds captured by a video camera, a smart phone, or a digital recorder in the field, can also be imported to the timeline, trimmed, and used to enhance video.

This month’s online video demonstrates three sound experiments:
• Swapping sound from a sound-equipped model to a video of a model engine that has no sound
• Adding prototype sound to video of a garden-railway locomotive
• Adding natural sound to still images and operations.

This video was fun to make. I hope you enjoy it and send me some talkies of your own. Next time we’ll add a musical background to our video.
Turn up your speakers as you watch this month’s “Talking Pictures” video.


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