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Fading audio in your film and video edits is essential to the post-production process. Without fading, hard cuts of the audio have a tendency to make a pop, crackle, or an obvious jarring change.
One of the most important aspects of an editor’s job is to create an illusion of a seamless transition between shots. Sound is arguably the most important element in maintaining that illusion.
In this article, we will explore how to fade audio in and out in Premiere Pro. There are primarily two methods to accomplish this: with keyframes or transition presets built directly into Premiere.
Method 1: Keyframes
Keyframes require a little more effort when creating a fade or crossfade between clips, but it’s a great way to understand how this effect works.
A fade is where you gradually reduce the gain in audio on one clip over the course of several frames (or seconds). A crossfade does the same thing, but two clips will intersect their fade-in and fade-out points. Let’s view a demonstration of both.
First, let’s create a fade in and out. I have two clips on my timeline. I want to fade in on Clip 1 (Green) and fade out of Clip 2 (Blue).
We will start with Clip 1. Select Clip 1 by hitting the keyboard shortcut D. Move to the Effects Controls panel in the Source window.
There are two tabs built into the Effects Controls panel for Audio: Bypass and Level. We want to create the keyframes with the Levels.
Create a keyframe by hitting the diamond button circled in red on the photo below.
As mentioned before, a fade-in is when the audio increases gradually over several frames.
To create an audio fade-in we will need to decrease the audio on this first keyframe and increase it on the second. For this demonstration, I want the fade to take place over the course of half a second.
To do this, first click and drag the audio dB level to the left until it reaches minus infinity, which equals complete silence. Premiere will automatically update the keyframe.
Now, since my timeline is 24 frames per second, I need to move the playhead over 12 frames. I can do this by simply hitting the keyboard shortcut right arrow 12 times.
Now we need to create another keyframe to complete the fade.
For simplicity, I will zero out the gain so that it will be at its original level, i.e. 0 dB. You can do this three ways, by:
- double-clicking on the minus infinity sign and type in 0
- dragging the slider to zero
- using the Pen tool (I’ll describe this method in more detail a second).
Once that is complete, you should see a ramp shape with the audio level bar on the center of the clip.
To perform a fade-out, complete the same steps at the tail end of Clip 2. However, reverse where the keyframes are located. The 0db keyframe should be 12 frames to the left of the tail, and the infinity dB keyframe should be at the end of the tail.
You can also complete both of these tasks with the Pen tool. Hit keyboard shortcut P to activate the Pen tool. Click the Pen tool at the same points on the center audio line of the clip. Then simply drag the first keyframe down as demonstrated in the gif below.
Creating a crossfade works in a similar way. You can create a crossfade using a J-cut or an L-cut. Both of these cuts have their audio overlapping into the other clip. This can help create a smoother transition between clips. They are called J or L cuts respectively because of the shape of the clip.
You will want to create both a J-cut and L-cut to perform a crossfade. You can do this by placing the audio portion of Clip 2 on another audio track. Create the fade in and fade out as demonstrated earlier.
However, for a crossfade, you will want the keyframes to overlap. For instance, a half a second crossfade would need 6 frames on each side of the J or L cuts. Then place the keyframes over the course of 12 frames as demonstrated earlier. Your clips should look similar to the photo below.
As you can see, both transitions overlap each other 6 frames or half of the duration of the transition. This will help create a smooth transition between both clips.
Creating keyframes is a very smooth and useful way to create a fade, however, you can also create this effect with built-in presets inside of Premiere.
Method 2: Crossfade Transition Presets
Premiere has a crossfade transition preset built directly into the software. These transitions can be used at the head, tail, or between any two clips.
To find these, go into the Effects tab on the Project Panel. These transitions will be located inside the Audio Transitions folder.
As you can see, there are three options:
- Constant Gain – a fast crossfade between two clips
- Constant Power – an even crossfade between two clips
- Exponential Fade – a slow crossfade between two clips
As mentioned, you can add any of these effects to the head, tail, or between two clips. I would recommend experimenting with all of these effects to find which one works best for your projects.
Setting a fade as the default transition
You can create a default transition if you use one of these three options frequently.
Simply right-click the transition in the Effects panel, and a popup should prompt you to set it as a default transition.
Apply the default transition with a keyboard shortcut
Now, you can easily apply the default transition using a keyboard shortcut in Premiere Pro for audio, video, or both:
- Audio: Shift+Command+D (Mac)/Shift+Ctrl+D (Windows).
- Video: Command+D (Mac)/Ctrl+D (Windows).
- Audio & Video: Shift+D (Mac/Windows).
Using a fade-in or out in your video projects is very essential to help maintain the illusion of a seamless edit. Play around with the different methods to find what works best for you.
While using the built-in transitions is quicker, you have a lot more control over the fade with keyframes. Both methods work great, but which you will use will come down to your preference.
Alex is a certified Adobe Premiere Pro video editor and independent filmmaker in the US. He is most known for writing, directing, and editing his debut feature film, Cashing Out, which has won multiple awards at film festivals across the US. Currently, Alex is the owner of AWS FILMS and works as a freelance video editor for several large companies and content creators.