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Audio Editing in Photo to Movie

Posted March 15th, 2009 by Chris

Photo to Movie includes the ability to add music or narrative voice to your slide shows. It also includes the ability to do basic audio editing. In this tutorial, we’ll cover a few more complicated types of editing:

  • Cross fading from one song to the next in the middle of the song
  • Silencing part of a song during a voice over.


Once you have a song in your timeline (by dragging and dropping it there), you can select it by clicking on them in the timeline. The inspector will give you playback options for the selected song.

audio inspector

Particularly, the Start value indicates where the start of the song will be placed in the timeline. This is not necessarily where the song will start playing, however. Instead, the In time combined with the Start time specifies the time at which it will begin playing. Likewise the Out time specifies the time within the song at which it will stop playing. Both the In and Out times are relative to the Start time.

So if a song has a Start of 1:00 in the slide show, but its In time is set to 0:10 and its Out time is set to 1:10, then the song will begin playing at 1:10 and stop playing at 2:10. These times are found by adding the In and Out times (0:10 and 1:10) to the song’s Start time (1:00).

In the timeline, each song will have a purple line indicating where the song plays. When the line is low, the song is silent; where it is high, it plays at its specified Volume.


You can also enter a Fade In time and a Fade Out time. This is the time from which the song goes from silence to its specified Volume. The Fade In and Fade Out are relative to the In and Out times.

Using the example above, if you specify Fade In and Fade Out of 0:05 seconds each, the fade-in will occur from 1:10 to 1:15 and the fade-out will occur from 2:05 to 2:10. Notice that the songs still begins playing and ends playing at the same times (1:10 and 2:10).


There are two helpful commands you can use while editing audio.

The first helpful command is the Audio > Trim Audio command. The Trim Audio command removes the silent portions of the song, adjusting the Start time to be the original Start time plus the original In time. The new In time will be 0.0. Likewise it adjusts the duration of the song so that it ends at the Out time. This can make it easier to see where the audio is not silent (since it will have no silent parts after this command).

The other helpful command is the Audio > Split Audio command. The Split Audio command is used to break a piece of audio into two parts. To use this command, place the timeline scrubber at the point at which you want to split the audio. Now select the audio in the timeline. Now choose the Split Audio menu item. Photo to Movie will break the audio into two pieces. You can now edit those two pieces separately.

Cross Fading

Using this information and the Trim Audio command, you can probably see how easy it is to cross fade audio from one song to the next. To try this out, follow this simple tutorial:

  1. Drop one song into your timeline and select the song.
  2. Set the Out time to be about 1/2 way through the song.
  3. Set the Fade Out to be 5 seconds.
  4. Select the menu item Audio > Trim Audio.
  5. Drop the next song into your timeline.
  6. Move it so that it starts 5 seconds before the end of the last song.
  7. Set the Fade In for the 2nd song to 5 seconds too.


You now have a cross fade from one song to the next occurring in the middle of the first song!

If you’re using Photo to Movie 4.0 or later (available on Mac OS), you can use multiple audio editing tracks to make it extra-easy to see how the songs overlap each other in the timeline.

Silencing Song During Narration

By using the Split Audio command in addition to the tutorial above, you can do something more complex: silence a song during narration.

Let’s say you have a song that is a few minutes long, but in the middle of it, you want to fade it out so that you can hear another piece of audio containing narration for the slide show. It’s easy to do. You’ll need a song and a piece of short narration (or a very short song). You can record your own narration using the Audio Recorder built into Photo to Movie or you might use one of the iLife sound effects in the media browser if you’re using Photo to Movie (Mac OS).

  1. Drop your song into the timeline and select it.
  2. Position the timeline scrubber near the middle of the song.
  3. Making sure that the song is still selected in the timeline, choose the menu item Audio > Split Audio.
  4. Drag the right song to the right in the timeline.
  5. Now drop your short narration into the timeline.
  6. Position the narration so that it starts at the end of the first part of the song that you just split into two pieces.
  7. Now position the second part of the song so that it starts after the narration.
  8. Finally, select the first part of the song and set the Fade Out to 5 seconds.
  9. Similarly, select the second part of the song and set the Fade In to 5 seconds.


That’s it. Your music will now play, fade out, then the narration will play, then the music will fade in and continue to play.


Using techniques similar to the ones outlined above, you can do quite a bit. For instance, if you set the Volume for each piece of audio, you can do even more complex things such as merely reducing the volume for one part of a song.

As you can see, Photo to Movie has some great audio editing capabilities. You may still want to switch to a dedicated audio editor for more complex tasks, but Photo to Movie provides plenty of mid-level capabilities for editing audio and it may provide all the tools necessary for your next project.

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