building a slideshow with flash

Add Audio to a Slide Show

In Two Easy Steps

Flash can import .aif, .wav, or mp3 digital audio files. Flash can do some editing, but it's best if you've edited the audio in Pro Tools or some other audio editing program before importing it. You can do some basic audio editing in iMovie and export the files as .aif files.

If you import a large audio file, only use part of it and mute the rest, the exported Flash movie will still contain the entire audio file that you put there. That will make your exported Flash movie huge. Since you'll sometimes use sound from a video-editing program like Adobe Premiere, iMovie, or Final Cut Pro, you can export only the audio from those files, and import them into Flash.

In this step, you'll learn how to import an audio file and do simple editing.

Import Audio

  1. Find a 10-second audio file.

  2. Open a new Flash file.

  3. From the menu, choose File > Import to Library. Find your audio file and click OK.

  4. Add a new layer under your Actionstop layer. [It's usually best to put your audio files at the top of the stack of layers.] Name it Asound_ or whatever suits the audio file you chosen.

  5. Highlight Frame 1, and drag the .aif file onto the Stage or into the frame. The audio pattern will show up as a long waveform in the A_sound layer.

  1. In this layer, put key frames at the beginning and end of the audio file. In this case, there's already a keyframe in Frame 1, so put a key frame at around 147 seconds.

  2. In the Property Inspector, note that when the A_sound layer is selected, the name of the audio file appears in the Sound box. Make sure that "stream" is selected in the Sync box. For sounds that play throughout a Flash movie that will appear on the Web, select stream. [Event sounds are usually short and accompany a button.] The file begins streaming right away instead of having to download completely before starting. Note also, at the bottom of the Property Inspector details about the audio file: It's 22 kHz Mono 16 Bit 9.3 s 412.2 kB. [s = seconds, and the last number is the file size]

Edit Audio

  1. With the Asound layer selected, go into the Property Inspector and take a look at Effect. Fade Left to Right means that the sounds seems to move from the left to the right speaker; Fade Right to Left, the opposite. We're going to customize this audio, so select Custom. You can also click on Edit next to the Effect drop-down menu. The audio wave forms pop up in a separate window.

  2. At the bottom right, near the Help button, are four symbols. The first two are zoom in and zoom out. The second two provide two different ways of looking at the waveform -- seconds or frames. Choose the frames button. The numbers in between the two waveforms will change.

  3. You're going to change the volume of the audio so that, at about two seconds in, it decreases. It stays at decreased volume for a couple of seconds, and then increases until about two seconds from the end, where it begins to fade out. So, first scroll until you see frame 30.

  4. At Frame 30, click on the thin straight line at the top of top waveform. An empty square box will appear on the lines in both waveforms.

  5. At Frame 32, click on the thin straight line again until a box appears, and drag it down below the top waveform. Because this is stereo, you'll have to do the same for the bottom waveform. [If you didn't click on Frame 32, you'd have a gradual fade out from the beginning of the audio file to this point. Setting markers on Frame 32 decreases the audio volume over two frames.

  1. At Frame 60, click on one of the thin lines until boxes appear on both lines.

  2. At Frame 62, click on the top thin line until the box appears and drag the line back up to the top. Test the audio changes by hitting the arrow at the lower left corner of the audio edit window.

  3. At Frame 115, click on the top thin line until boxes appear on both wave-form audio volume lines.

  4. At Frame 117, click on the top thin line until a box appears, and drag it down to the bottom of the wave form. Do the same for the other wave form.

  5. Test the changes by hitting the arrow button. If they're OK, close the window, click on Control > Rewind if the red bar isn't at Frame 1, and check out how the audio works with the images. Save your file.

  6. Note: You can only put in eight of these boxes, or audio changes. So, if you want more, it's best to edit the file in Pro Tools or some other audio editing file before importing it into Flash.

Important Note: If you have a human voice in your Flash movie, when you export it, do the following: In the Export Flash Player window that pops up after you choose Export, find Audio Stream. There's a small "Set" button to the right of the export details. Click on it, and a Sound Settings window pops up. In the Bit Rate pull-down menu, choose 24 or 32 kbps. If you use the regular settings, the voices will come out tinny and weak. This increases your file size a tiny bit.

The same improvement can be obtained by selecting "Speech" from the Compression drop-down menu. But this increases the file size more.