Digital and Analog Storytelling

The entire history of human expression, slightly abridged

Audacity Basics

audacity logo

Just a few quick hits, as we get into our vox pop assignment.

First, if you haven’t worked with audacity before, check out this screenshot:


This is your basic screenshot in audacity (I’ve cut off the right side, where not much is going on).

The blue arrow is pointing at the track. This is where the audio goes.

Inside the red circle is your toolbox. The most useful of these are–

  • The selection tool (the cursor), which allows you to select specific sections of your track
  • The envelope tool (the hourglass), which allows you to change the amplitude of a track or a specific moment in a track; you can use the envelope tool to manually fade a section in or out or you can choose the fade in/fade out effect under EFFECTS
  • The zoom tool (the magnifying glass), which allows you to zoom in or out (keyboard shortcuts for this are pretty easy to remember, + for zoom and – for zoom out)
  • The time shift tool (the two-way arrow), which lets you move your specifici pieces of tape around

Once you get a little bit comfortable, feel free to mess around with the multi-tool mode, which makes things quicker once you’ve gotten the hang of the program.

Inside the yellow circle is the output level meter. You want your audio to show as green, preferably between -12 and -6 or 0. If it shows up as yellow or red (the waveform will probably be brushing against the ceiling of the track, or else will seem to have gone past it), then the amplitude might be too high. Sometimes, if you’ve recorded with the mic too high, it can ruin your audio.

If you have multiple tracks producing sound at the same time (narration plus music; or one piece of dialogue fading out as another fades in), you’ll need to use  more than one track. To add a track, click on TRACKS>ADD NEW>AUDIO TRACK. See the graphic below.

audio track

If you need to slice up a piece of tape into sections so that you can move them around, place the cursor at the moment that you want to split and use EDIT>SPLIT or CTRL-I (that’s for the PC version). See the below graphic for it’s placement.


Those are the basics that you’ll need t know to get started. Good luck!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on February 25, 2013 by in audio, umdst and tagged , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: