Using the Audio Waveform Effect – After Effects

After Effects has an awesome built-in Audio Waveform effect that is easy to use.

To start, pull your audio file down into your composition timeline. From there, you can adjust your audio as needed, but in our case don’t worry about that for now. Go to Layer > New > Solid and make your solid the size of your composition. Don’t worry about what color it is because it won’t matter in a minute. Once the solid is created, type “audio waveform” into Effects & Presets and drag onto the solid.

First thing you should do is adjust “Audio Layer.” Switch from the current layer to whatever layer is your desired audio layer.

You’ll see the effect show up in your Effects pane and from here you should be able to adjust the effect settings. You’ll see Displayed Samples and this controls the amount of peaks and valleys you see. If it’s 12, there will be 12 breaking points in your waveform. 100, there will be 100 breakpoints and so on.

Maximum Height adjusts the height of the sample/waveform. Pretty self-explanatory.

Thickness adjusts the, you guessed it, thickness of the line.

Softness adjusts the softness of the waveform line. Lower values make it harder, higher values make it softer.

Random seed just makes you more unique than the average Joe After Effects.

Inside and outside color allow you to choose some different colors for your line and finally, you can choose from three display options: Digital (bars), Analog Lines (lines), and Analog Dots (dots!).

Setup those options and scrub through to see how the waveform looks with your audio.

That’s essentially all you have to do, but there’s another cool part that I go over in the above video.

Waveform on a Path

With the waveform layer selected, click on the pen tool at the top to add a mask. Create whatever kind of mask you want and then head back to your Effects Panel. There you can choose to set the waveform on a path. Choose the mask you just created and watch the magic unfold as the waveform adjusts to whatever path you’ve created.

One thing you may need to do is switch the mask from “Add” to “None” this will prevent the mask from cropping off the outside of the waveform if you’ve made a circle or square or other kind of polygon.

So that’s a quick overview of the audio waveform effect. If you have trouble reading, watch the video above for an easier time. Of course, if you’ve gotten this far then you can probably read.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments or tutorials you’d like to see created.

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John Hartley is a Director of Product Engineering at Beam Dental in Columbus, OH. With 5+ years of leadership experience he has worked in startups, agencies, and began his career as a freelance Front End Developer. Always looking to iterate, this blog is a place for him to share his knowledge as well as hone his craft, challenge assumptions, and build a strong base of leadership and management knowledge. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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