Saturday, 8 November 2014

How to Use Audio Files in Maya - A Guide for Animators

Maya is a wonderful piece of software but its audio tools are not especially sophisticated. You only get one audio track, and it will only accept certain kinds of audio files (wavs and iffs).

So, how exactly should an animator approach the use of audio files in Maya? Below is our handy guide which answers most of the vital questions.


What kind of sound files can you use in Maya?
1. wav files
2. .iff files

How to load sound files into Maya:
1. Copy the sound file to your Maya project audio folder
Adobe Premiere
2. File/import/wav (or, simply drag and drop the file into your timeline)
3. In the Maya timeline, right click on the sound file and select it. You should now have working audio.

How Do You Adjust the timing of the Audio in the timeline?
1. Right click in the timeline on the audio file, select the options box
2. Change the offset values to adjust the audio timing.
3. Adjust the Offset. +10 to advance 10 frames. -10 to regress 10 frames.

How do you delete sound files?
1. Window/animation editors/trax editor
2. Select the audio file and delete it.

How do you edit a audio or sound clip? (You cannot do this in Maya)
1. Online: www.aviary.com/tools/audio-editor. Allows you to edit sound files online.
2. Quick Time Pro is simple to use and good for editing clips.
3. Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro

Where can you find free sound effects online
1. www.findsounds.com
2. www.freesound.org
Useful software for recording voices
3. www.moviewavs.com

How Do You Convert a MP3 file into a wav?
1. www.media-converter.com will convert .mp4 files to .wav
2. Adobe Sound Booth

What If Maya doesn’t like your wav file?
1. Try opening the file in Quick Time Pro, or Premiere, and exporting it as a new wav file.
2. Go to www.media-converter.com and export it as a new wav file, or an .iff file

Where can you get good audio for dialogue shots?
You can find good audio all over the web. Try downloading audio files from past 11 Second Competitions. Try not to pick famous lines of dialogue like "Go ahead punk, make my day". It's usually better to pick lines that are less famous, so the audience doesn't have a lot of expectations about the delivery. 

I want to record a voice-over. What shall I do?
1. Garage Band is a useful piece of software for this. Go to the podcast settings, and select male or female narrator.
2. You can use the microphone in your computer, but it is better to buy an external mike; you will get much better quality.
Why Doesn't It Work? Wikimedia Commons

Why Doesn’t my Audio Work in Maya? – Troubleshooting Guide

1. Have you copied the sound file to your project folder? Make sure you have created a project, and set to it correctly.
2. Is it a .wav or a .iff file? If one kind does not work, try converting into the other
3. Have you tried converting it online using www.media-convertor.com?
4. Have you tried adjusting the offset?
5. Try loading a different version of Maya. What does not work in Maya 2015 may work in Maya 2016. Or the other way around.
6. Try opening a new Maya scene and test the audio in that scene. If it works in the new scene, import your animation into that scene.
7. If you can scrub the audio in your timeline, but you can't get real-time audio playback when you press play, try this fix: go to your Preferences, and make sure that Timeslider/Playback/Playback Speed is set to RealTime/24fps.

I just made a batch render of my frames - where has the audio gone?
When you make a batch render of individual frames, you will lose your audio.  To re-install your audio, you will need to import your frames into Premiere, Final Cur Pro, or Quick Time Pro (or some other editing software), and import your audio files again.  When you are done editing, export your frames as a QT or AVI file and make sure to embed the audio with it.


To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link. For more information on finding work and surviving in the animation and visual effects business, read our post on how to find a job in the animation industry, and check out our post about what not to do at a job interview. Also see our post on starting your own small animation business, learn how to create an invoice, and see how we are helping our students find work through our film co-operative Nano Films.  Download the free Escape Studios Careers in VFX Handbook. Take a look at how awn.com can help you find a job, and read our piece about how to survive as a freelance animator. Also, find out what Cinesite look for in a student's demo reel, and read our post on setting up your own animation business. Also see our post about freelancers and taxes




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