Week 14

Adding sound in After Effects

While an audio editing software will give you more control and options for creating your soundtrack (Audacity is a good option if you are looking for something simple and free), you can add sounds directly in After Effects and do some basic editing within the software.

Gathering and organizing the audio

Record you own track or find royalty free sound effects and music online ( Freesound.org, Internet Archive: Audio Archive, Bensound, and Audiofarm.net are all good options). Rename the tracks and save them in the same folder as all your After Effects assets. After Effects accept with mp3, .way, and .aiff so any of these formats will work.

Importing the sound files into a composition

Import your sound files into your After Effects project panel by going to File > Import > Multiple Files and selecting the audio tracks.

Open your composition (in the case of the walk cycle, this should be the one that combines the title, credits and walk) and drag your audio tracks on the Timeline panel. You can mute individual tracks by clicking in the little speaker icon column.

Editing a track

You can edit the starting point, overall length and volume of a track in After Effects:

  • To change the starting point of a track, click and drag its color bar in the Timeline
  • To change the overall length of the track:
    • Double-click on the track (this will open it in its own window
    • Set the starting and ending point with the curly brackets
    • Go back to the main composition
  • To change the volume and/or fade in and out:
    • Click on the arrow to the left of the track layer and open the Audio tab
    • Open the Waveform tab to see the waveform
    • Click on the Audio Levels stopwatch and change the dB value overtime to create multiple keyframes. Please note that After Effects takes the original amplitude as its “0 dB” point. Use a negative value to lower the volume and a positive one to increase it.

Final project – step 8: Adding sound to the walk cycle and preparing for the presentation


Create a soundtrack for your walk cycle. It should be layered and evoke the mood you want to convey through your piece/character. Here are a few ideas/things to consider: footsteps, background noise (traffic for the city, birds, wind, water etc. for nature), voice over narration, music etc.

Consider starting the soundtrack during the title and ending it after/during the credits. Use fades (see tutorial above) so that the start and end aren’t too abrupt.

Make sure any music/sound effects you use are in the public domain or under a Creative Commons license and don’t  forget to credit the original authors in your credit sequence. Here’s a list of CC/public domain resources for sound: Freesound.org, Internet Archive: Audio Archive, Bensound, and Audiofarm.net


Use the following composition settings: 24fps, width: 1920px | height: 1080px. Save your .aep file and export your animation to Quicktime (review rendering instructions on the week9 page). Upload your animation to Vimeo or Youtube.

Final submission/presentation

Next week, every student will present their walk cycle to the class in person. The presentation should include an overview of your process with visual documentation of the key stages of the project (you can use your previous Open Lab posts, or create a Power Point).

Create a new post on your Open Lab portfolio for the final version of your walk cycle. Your post should include: A link to your Vimeo or Youtube video as well as a description of the entire project/process (why did you pick this character, what was the most challenging part of creating the walk cycle and why? What was your favorite part and why? How does the final walk/soundtrack/effects reflect the personality of your character).

This assignment is due next week. Submit the following files on the following platforms:

  • Blackboard: .aep file and all .swf, .ai, and sound files imported into it and a link to your Open Lab post.
  • Open Lab discussion board: Reply to the “Final Project: presentations” discussion post with a link to your Open Lab post

This is part of the final project. It will be taken into account in the final grade for the project (see full grading rubric here).