Working with MP3 Audio

on Friday, August 15, 2008

MP3 is one of the most common formats for sharing audio recordings today. MP3 is short for MPEG Layer-3, and MPEG is short for Motion Picture Experts Group, so really you can think of MP3 as an abbreviation of an abbreviation. I’m sure that in a few years an MP3 file will simply be called an “M” or “P” (or maybe even a “3”) file — but whatever their collective nickname, MP3 audio files are likely to remain popular.

The MP3 file format makes for very small files — you can easily store a lot of music on a hard drive or CD — and those files are easy to transfer over the Internet. Who am I kidding? You probably already know all about MP3 files. You might even have some MP3 files already stored on your computer. If so, using those MP3 files for background music in your movie projects is really easy:
  • In iMovie: Pull MP3 files directly from your iTunes library into iMovie, using the procedure described earlier in this chapter for importing CD Audio. Simply choose iTunes from the pull-down menu at the top of the audio pane.
  • In Studio: Choose Album➪Sound Effects to show the sound-effects album. Click the folder icon and browse to the folder on your hard drive that contains the MP3 files you want to use.
When a list of MP3 files appears in the album, simply drag-and-drop them on the background music track of your timeline. Storing audio on your hard disk is handy because the audio will be easier to plop into your movie projects. MP3 is a great format to use because the audio sounds about as good as CD audio, but it takes up a lot less storage space. If you’re not sure how to copy music from audio CDs onto your hard disk in MP3 format — the process of converting audio to the MP3 format is often called encoding or ripping — check out the next two sections.