Background Music and Narration

When you shoot your raw footage with your camcorder, it has a sound track. There are three reasons why you might want to supplement or replace the existing sound track:

  1. Many of the TV shows and videos you see today, and almost all movies, have a musical background during all or part of the action. Music can lend atmosphere and create a certain feeling. In the case of amateur production like we are talking about in this article, music can add a lot of professionalism to the finished work.
  2. An additional sound track is frequently used to handle narration. Most documentary and nature films use this technique.
  3. In many cases, the sound you record is unusable, or just not quite right, for the movie you are creating. For example, if a lion roars at the zoo and you capture the image, you may not be able to capture the sound because the lion is 50 feet away and you are using a zoom lens to film him. In that case, you'll want to substitute a better roar for the one you have.

To handle music, you have several options:

  • You can make up your own music and record it yourself. For example, I recorded a music loop using a little $45 keyboard by connecting its headphone jack into my computer's line-in jack. I used the Sound Recorder built into Windows to record it at 48K samples per second. Obviously you can get a lot more sophisticated than that, but it shows you how easy it is.
  • You can buy CDs full of royalty-free music loops and sound effects.

You can import many different types of sound files (including WAV, AIF, etc.) into a Premiere project and then position it on the timeline in Audio Track #2. Now when you play your movie, Premiere will automatically mix the original sound track of your movie with the new audio track and play it.

To handle narration, probably the easiest thing to do is simply read your narration into the camera, and then capture the video as you normally would. You can separate the narration sound track from the video track and use the sound track. Simply drop the raw narration footage onto the timeline, right-click on it and select "Split Video and Audio." Click on the video portion and delete it. Now you have the narration sound track that you can lay on the timeline at the proper point.

Particularly with narration, timing the video with the audio becomes important. Once you have the narration sound track on the timeline, you can slice it up with the razor blade tool to either add gaps or delete sections to help with timing.

In a big project, it is not unusual to be working with half a dozen sound tracks. Premiere can manage an unlimited number of audio (or video) tracks. To add a new sound track, all you need to do is right-click on the timeline and select the Track option. Select to add a new track.