Smooth Audio Transitions in Final Cut Pro for Vehicle Pass Videos

As a content creator specializing in motorized travel for many years, I’ve recorded more scenes of vehicles driving past the camera than I can count. The original video clips, when trimmed to length and placed together in their unedited form, often yield an abrupt and unpleasant change in audio.

How I manage this problem in Final Cut Pro is very simple!

Approaching Defender
Retreating Defender

As the vehicle approaches the camera in the “to” shot, the engine noise and crunching tires become more audible. The volume reaches a crescendo as the vehicle passes the camera.

In the “fro” shot, the audio is often wildly different, as the setting, speed, and loudness of the passing vehicle might have completely changed. This results in a jarring audio transition that can distract the viewer, and also detract from the experience you’re trying to convey.

Fortunately, Final Cut Pro offers a solution with a handy keyboard shortcut.

Setting the stage

Place the “to” clip containing the approaching vehicle in your project’s timeline. Trim it to the desired length; I usually end the clip about a half-second after the vehicle has passed and is out-of-frame.

Next, add the “fro” clip where the vehicle is driving away from the camera. I usually start this clip where about a third of the vehicle is already visible in-frame when the shot opens.

Fixed with a single keystroke

To easily create a smooth audio transition between the two video clips, select both the “to” and “fro” clips in the timeline, and press Option-T.

By doing so, Final Cut Pro will automatically set the audio fade to an s-curve, roughly 4 seconds long, for both clips where they meet. Then it extends the audio for each clip by about 2 seconds, beyond the video and into the opposing clip.

This creates two partially overlapping audio clips; one that fades out, while the other fades in.

Audio Transition - None

Sometime such an abrupt transition is welcome, attention grabbing, and lends to excitement. Use your creative license. Often, the tone of the two clips is too dissimilar, and a smooth audio transition is preferred.

Audio Transition - Fade

Much better! The rattle of the old turbo diesel smoothly transitions to and fro, almost as if the microphone was panning to follow the vehicle. Note the s-curves and the overlapping audio clips in the timeline.

Although we’re talking about Apple’s Final Cut Pro in this blog post, it’s noteworthy that this same technique applies to most other popular editors that grant independent control of audio, such as DaVinci Resolve or Adobe Premiere Pro.


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