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The multiple audio track problem - using both a narration and music
Last updated 6-11-03

If there was one thing I would change about Movie Maker 2, then it would be the way it handles audio. You see, while it is very easy to add a music or voice narration to your movie … it is very hard to add BOTH a music and voice track to the same movie. That’s because Movie Maker only comes with a single audio track, which means you have to choose between one or the other.

However, if you really need both audio tracks, there are a couple of tricks you can do … though each of these workarounds has its own problems.

Method One: Render your movie twice
One method you can try is to render your movie twice. After adding your first audio clip (background music), you can export your movie as a high-quality video file. Next, you can create a new Movie Maker project and import that video file as one big video clip (don’t let Movie Maker automatically split the file into multiple clips!). You can then lay this video clip onto the video timeline and place your other audio material into the “now empty” audio track.

The problem with this method is that your movie goes through an extra encoding step and loses some quality during this process. However, if you keep your export settings really high this degradation won’t be noticeable. Another problem with this method is that you have to “complete” your video before you can export the first file. However, this rendering method does give you a blank audio track and allows you to perform fine placement of many audio elements. If you are going to create a complicated video with music, voice track, and sound effects, than this is the route to chose.

Method Two
Another way to create two audio tracks is to superimpose them. MovieMaker allows you to superimpose two audio clips using the same timeline track … though the method for doing this is not obvious.

First, lay down your music clip on the timeline. Then, lay your second audio-track on the timeline AFTER the first one. To superimpose the two, you first have to move the second clip so that its starting edge touches the end of the first audio clip.

Now, pick up the second audio clip again and move it to the left. You’ll see a blue “triangle” form over the first audio track … that means they are superimposing.

Unfortunately, there is a problem with this method. If you try to “completely superimpose” both audio clips, (so they both start at the beginning of the movie) the second clip will try to jump in front of the first one. It’s really hard to get that second audio clip to start where you want it.

As you can see, running two audio tracks in Movie Maker 2 is problematic. However, in the program’s defense, MovieMaker is meant to be a simple video editor. If find yourself needing multiple audio and video tracks that run concurrently, you may be better served with a professional editing package like Adobe Premiere. Movie Maker 2 is meant to be an easy-to-use program, so they’ve simplified much of the interface to accommodate novice users.

Next: Changing volume clip by clip (video)
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