You composed your music WHERE? Use GarageBand Video!

In grade eight, I have a movie soundtrack unit in which we produce, and later compose, movie soundtracks in GarageBand. When I first started doing the unit, I worked on the very wrong assumption that all students coming in already knew GarageBand from doing podcasts in Design class. I had them jump straight into practicing performances for movie soundtracks, without thinking really of what software they were using. I had (wrongly) assumed we would all be using GarageBand. Well, every year a few students would come in and say, “Sorry, my project will be late because I couldn’t get iMovie to export,” and I’d be shocked and ask, “Wait, what? You COMPOSED music in a movie editor instead of a music programme? Why aren’t you using GarageBand?” And they’d look equally confused and asked,d “Wait, what? GarageBand can do video?” That’s when I realised that we had to start off each unit learning about GarageBand Video.

Let me start off by saying, "Yes, GarageBand does video."

It’s not a video editor, of course. You can only drop in completed clips. However, that’s not the point. The point is the music. 

Starting Your Project

When you click on GarageBand, you choose which type of project you’d like to use. For our soundtrack, we just start with an empty project. Because it’s a movie soundtrack, we don’t have to worry about key signatures, time signatures, etc. After all, we want our music to fit the action on the screen, and not the strict beat of a metronome. 

Go ahead and click the Choose button.

GarageBand - The opening project manager allows you to choose the type of project

Again, we aren’t too bothered about what type of track we are using. I wouldn’t suggest going with Drummer, since it is best cut to arrangement sections. However, otherwise, it doesn’t really matter whether you choose Software or Audio because you can add or remove tracks at any time in GarageBand (super easy).

GarageBand opening project screen showing possible track types

Clearing your workspace

GarageBand is very full when you first open it, and it gets worst once you drag in your video clip and start adding music tracks. It’s hard to see anything! Let’s clear that up first. 

GarageBand - An initial view with its library and editors shown

When a button has a darker colour grey, it means that option is toggled on.  Click on the button to toggle it off (to hide the menu). Or, you can click Y to hide the library button or B to hide the equalizer button. 

GarageBand - Four buttons show the types of menus that can open to show further options (library, information, editor, etc.)

Now your GarageBand will be nice and empty – ready to go. 

GarageBand - View of an initial empty track that has its library and editors hidden

Drag and Drop in your Video

Like all things Apple, you simply open your Finder window, find your file, and drag ‘n drop it into the empty timeline. 

GarageBand - A finder window sits in front of a GarageBand projects so that it can be dragged and dropped inside

Now you’ll see two audio tracks – the one belonging to the video and the empty original that came with the original project. The video’s audio is on a blue track, which means it’s an audio track (versus a MIDI track). You’ll also notice that the video is very large – it’s taking up the entirety of the track area. Tracks are resized by clicking and dragging on their corners.

GarageBand - Gromit the dog rides a train in a video track

You hide a video by clicking on the X button in the top, left hand corner of the video.  Don’t worry – you haven’t deleted it – you’ve only hidden it from view. This is good for when you are in the thick of composing and don’t need the video at that moment for inspiration. 

GarageBand - a tiny X in the top left corner of the video shows where to click to hide the track

When you want to show the video again, click on the little, black thumbnail beside the video track. When the video is shown, the thumbnail disappears. When you click on the X and hide the video, the thumbnail appears agin.

GarageBand - a little thumbnail of a video shows users where to click to open the full video

What if you want to unlink a video?

This is a simple matter of copying and pasting. Click on the video’s audio track and copy it (⌘C), then go to your other blue audio track and paste it (⌘P). This is handy if you want to boost the volume. If you want to completely unlink the audio, you can then cut the original audio (⌘X). That will leave an empty track that you can then delete entirely (⌘+Delete)

GarageBand - A duplicate of a video's audio track
GarageBand - The video's audio track has been deleted and its duplicate remains

If you’d prefer to watch than read, here’s a YouTube tutorial I’ve made just for you. 

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