Gearing Down for Audio Adjustments

If you’ve ever tried making adjustments to the audio levels without knowing about the “Gear Down” modifier key, which happens to be COMMAND, here’s a little helper that’s worth remembering:

When you grab a levels clip overlay line with your Selection Tool (see below) and try to tweak an audio level by just a decibel or two, you may have noticed (by observing the little yellow pop-up indicator), that it can be pretty darn hard to make such fine adjustments. By “gearing down” with the addition of the COMMAND key (hold while mousing), you will be able to easily hit any desired audio level.

Note that the Gear Down function also works in the 3-Way Color Corrector when you’re trying to pull the “balance indicators” (see illustration below) in the center of each color wheel, but it kind of works in reverse. When you use the 3-Way Color Corrector, you have probably noticed that the balance indicators are very hard to move quickly–that’s because they’re very precise. Add COMMAND and you’ll find you can move them around easily.

By the way, if you’re intimidated by the 3-Way Color Corrector and missing out on its nearly miraculous shot-saving and creative capabilities, you should read legendary FCP guru Ken Stone’s excellent guide to its use.

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  1. GJtenHove
    Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    This might be a little off topic. Instead of using the pen tool to make audio adjustments, I make an edit on the track i want to adjust, put a cross-disolve on it and adjust one halve of the track.

    When you use this method it is very easy to adjust the fade lenght or the position of the fade. You just use the ripple tool.

    Any one else uses this method?

  2. Posted Sunday, August 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    That is indeed another very valid approach, but I tend to do that only in cases where I am fading up and fading down the audio for a cutaway’s nat sound. When it comes to a music bed or dialogue track, i like to keep the entire track intact for application of filters or easy gain and levels adjustments. I think that’s just a matter of personal preference. Thanks for raising this and I think it is entirely on-topic.

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