Building a Soundtrack in GarageBand 1
– Setting Up the Interface

This is the first in a series of tutorials on Building a Soundtrack in GarageBand

Lesson 1 - Opening A Project / Setting Up The Interface:

When you first launch GarageBand, you will be shown a screen with several options for creating a new project:

  • Click on the new project button in the upper left and choose the movie template from the templates window.
  • Now press choose and save your project. I save mine in the GarageBand folder inside my home/music folders. GarageBand will now open with a movie track. This is where your video will be placed when you drag in a movie file.

Let's begin setting up the interface so that you can easily use GarageBand to create your custom soundtrack:

Loop Browser

Open the Loop Browser on the right side of the GarageBand interface. This is where you'll begin looking for sfx and music. This can be accomplished by:

  • either by going to the menu and clicking Control/Show Loop Browser, or
  • by using key combination command - L, or
  • by clicking the first of 3 icons in the lower right portion of the interface. Choose the one that looks like an eye.

Media Browser

Additionally, you can open the Media Browser by using the same 3 techniques:

  • either by clicking Menu/Control/Show Media Browser,
  • by using key combination command - R, or
  • by clicking the third of 3 icons in the lower right portion of the interface. The icon looks like music notes.

Quicktime Movie

Let's open a Quicktime movie by dragging it from the Media Browser anywhere onto the playing surface and allow GarageBand to separate the audio from the movie track. GarageBand then creates clips out of your movie track and places them at the top of the screen in the Movie Track header. Then it renders the audio into a track called "Movie Sound". (It's wanting to record my voiceover onto that track, so I'll click the red dot to disable recording).

Hint: You can also drag files in directly from the Finder if GarageBand is able to recognize the file type.

Double click on the video image in the movie track header on the left. This will open the video and allow you to resize it by dragging the handle in the lower right corner. It's useful to have two screens for this so you can constantly refer to the video while you're creating your soundtrack. Otherwise, find a small area where you can keep the picture open.
(If, for some reason, you need to import a different movie, delete both tracks and drag your video in again).

Movie Markers

Next, open the Movie Markers window by first clicking on the movie track header and then by opening the Editor. Do this by:

  • going to the menu and clicking on Control/Show Editor, or
  • by using key combination command - E, or
  • by clicking the second of 2 icons in the lower left portion of the interface. It looks like a scissor.

LCD Mode

Finally, choose the correct LCD (liquid crystal display) mode at the bottom of the screen. Click the icon on the left of the black box and choose time from the popup window. This will give you quick visual access to a running timecode display.


Now that we've got our basic setup, let's move to the next lesson: Adding SFX.