Introduction to GarageBand

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Welcome to Introduction to GarageBand.

With GarageBand you can record live sounds with a built-in keyboard, a keyboard attached to your computer and with a microphone.

GarageBand is software that allows you to make great music, podcasts and movie sound tracks. This tutorial allows participants to learn how to use GarageBand to make audio and visual resources for projects such as Wikiversity the Movie. If you have audio or visual clips to donate, please upload them to Wikiversity and/or leave a link at Introduction to GarageBand/Audio and video resources.

How to get GarageBand software[edit]

GarageBand software is included with all Macintosh computers manufactured by Apple (after January 6, 2004). GarageBand is part of iLife, a suite of applications that allow creation and organization of digital images and sounds. In addition to GarageBand, iLife includes iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iTunes, and iWeb. The GarageBand 3 version of 2006 introduced two major features, support for podcasting and support for movie sound tracks. If you have an older Macintosh (pre-2006) with GarageBand 2, you need to purchase iLife '06. You can purchase the latest version of iLife (which is only available for OS X, excluding iTunes) for $79 from Apple. Once you install Garageband, it is recommended to check for updates, as they could contain bug fixes.

Start using GarageBand[edit]

Figure 1. The GarageBand icon.

The GarageBand application can be found in the Applications folder of a new Macintosh. The image (Figure 1, to right) shows the GarageBand icon in the dock and part of a GarageBand project window containing musical notes in an edit window.

Figure 2. The GarageBand Help feature.

GarageBand has eight menus including "Track", "Control" and "Help". The Help menu provides access to the GarageBand Help feature (see Figure 2, to left).

There is more help at the Apple webpage for GarageBand: www.apple.com/garageband. At the Apple website there is a video tutorial for GarageBand. The Apple tutorial video emphasizes how to use GarageBand for making podcasts and sound tracks for movies. There are many help files in GarageBand Help, the first help file is called "GarageBand basics".

A fun way to get started with GarageBand is to download a project file.

GarageBand comes with pre-recorded sound files called "Apple Loops". To access the Apple Loops, click on the "loop browser" button (see Figure 3, right, below). The loop browser helps you find interesting instrument sounds and hear them. When you find a sound you like just drag it up into the "tracks" window. Click the "play" button and adjust the volume control slider.

Note: the red button is for recording (see below for details). The play button (triangle) works as both a play button and a stop button and you can also use the space bar to control play of your project's sounds.

Another way to get started with GarageBand is to download midi music files and load them into GarageBand. "Wedding-day at Troldhaugen" by Edvard Grieg. Listen to a GarageBand version: Media:Troldhaugen.ogg.
Help with ogg audio play.
Figure 3. Important GarageBand controls include the Apple Loops browse button. Use the space bar as a stop button. The circular button with the red center controls is the "record" button. This is a screen shot for GarageBand 2. The main controls have been slightly altered in GarageBand 3 (see additional figures, below).

Movie scores[edit]

Figure 4. Project options for GarageBand 3.

When you start GarageBand 3 you can select music, podcast or movie score projects (See figure 4, left).

Figure 5. A sample animation in need of a sound track.

As an example, imagine that someone created a movie (QuickTime .mov format) corresponding to the animated Gif shown in Figure 5. This tutorial will explore how you can use GarageBand to produce a sound track for the movie. First, launch GarageBand 3 and select a new movie score project. After the new project window opens, drag a copy of the movie into the area of the GarageBand window that says "drag movie here". In this case, the original movie file only has video. Once the movie is in your GarageBand project, you can start adding sound tracks. In this case we will use several over-lapping channels of Apple Loops and voice input. The movie that is used as an example was created as an example for Wikiversity shorts, so it is a short movie, only about 15 seconds long.

The sample movie (Figure 5) is playing around with the term "short". The basic background sounds of the movie are sounds like electrical "shorting". The voice content is simple, "Learning the wiki way". See the QuickTime version of this short movie with a sound track produced by GarageBand.

The GarageBand project for the sample movie combines four GarageBand sound tracks to produce a single sound track for the final QuickTime movie (See Figure 6, below). The list of tracks first shows the video track of the movie followed by two sound effects tracks, a music track and a voice track. All of the sounds used were taken from the Apple Loops library of sounds that comes with GarageBand, but some of these sound samples were shortened (easily accomplished by just click-draging the end of the colored box representing a sound). The Apple Loops browser at the bottom left of Figure 6 shows the source of the electrical sound used when the words "Wiki" and "Versity" collide. The track information for the voice track is shown in the lower right corner of Figure 6.

Time-variable volume control was used for three of the four sound tracks (the blue shaded track volume profiles). The voice saying "Learn the wiki way" was computer generating using the built-in Macintosh voice synthesizer. The desired text was entered into the SimpleText application, read by the computer and recorded (use the red "record" button) into GarageBand using the Macintosh's built-in microphone. The video preview window (upper right corner in Figure 6) allows you to watch the movie as you build the sound track.

When you are happy with the sound track for a movie, use the "Share" menu to export the finished movie.

Figure 6. GarageBand project window for creating a movie sound track.


Your turn[edit]

Try a small Garageband project. Describe your experience below:

  • ...

Podcast creation with Garageband[edit]

There is a set of tutorial videos that you can download from Apple's website into iTunes. If that link does not work for your browser (requires iTunes), try this one.

  • Creating Your Own Podcast - An overview of what a podcast is and how to create, manage and publish your podcast using iLife'06.
  • Planning Your Podcast Recording Session - Setting a structure for each episode and outlining each segment.
  • Recording Your First Podcast Episode - Creating a new episode, setting recording levels, and starting to record.
  • Polishing the Sound of Your Podcast Episode - Eliminating mistakes or pauses and adding introductory music and sound effects.
  • Enhancing Your Podcast Episode with Artwork and Chapters - Adding images and web links to each segment.
  • Exporting Your Podcast to iWeb - To begin collecting your episodes into a podcast series, you export from GarageBand to iWeb.
  • Making a Video Podcast - Using iMovie HD to capture and edit a video episode.
  • Adding a Podcast - Using iWeb to create a podcast with the episodes you made in GarageBand or iMovie HD.

Sample podcast[edit]

Figure 7. Viewing podcasts with QuickTime.

The basic idea for this sample podcast (Wikiversity Reports Volume 1) was to put the contents of this report on Wikiversity into podcast format. GarageBand exports podcasts in M4A format. This example file is about 3.7 Mb and runs 5 minutes.

If you are using most browsers including the Safari browser, use the link for "Wikiversity Reports #1" at this ourmedia webpage to view the podcast. If your browser has problems with that webpage, please leave a note describing your problem.

You can also use this webpage to download the "Wikiversity Reports Volume 1" podcast to your hard drive. If your web browser has problems downloading this file, you may want to use Firefox. Other browsers may load the M4A file into a browser window as a text file. If so, you can right click on this link and download the "text" file to your hard drive (WikiversityReports1.m4a.txt). Remove the ".txt" extension from the downloaded file name and open the "WikiversityReports1.m4a" file using QuickTime or iTunes (see below).

RealPlayer will play the audio part of the podcast, but it has trouble with the images. Windows media player does not recognize M4A files.

You can view the downloaded podcast with Apple's Quicktime player. For some reason, the Quicktime player by default opens the images in a 160 x 160 pixel window. For best viewing of the podcast images, use the Window menu of the player to open "Movie Info". Re-size the podcast window to 300 x 300 pixels.

You can also use iTunes to watch the image "slide show" that is in this podcast. Make sure you turn on the "song artwork" feature of iTunes (use the button circled in red, Figure 8). The default size for the song artwork window in iTunes is too small. Click and drag the window boundary (green oval in Figure 8) to enlarge the window. You can also get an even larger magnified view of an image by clicking on the song art window. While the song art window is in the lower left hand corner of iTunes, the chapter menu button is at the top near the search tool in iTunes 6. In iTunes 7, there is a regular chapter menu for podcasts with chapters.

Use the subscribe button to download podcasts into iTunes.

Chapters. Each image in a podcast can be given a chapter name and a URL can be provided. Quicktime and iTunes use different methods for display of a chapter's link at the bottom of the image (compare Figure 7 and Figure 8). The method used by iTunes is the same as what is shown in the GarageBand image preview. The QuickTime view of the podcast at this website does not allow you to select chapters and for some browsers the links in the chapter images may not function optimally. It is best to subscribe to the podcast and view from within iTunes.

Tips and hints. The GarageBand interface has a few features that I found to be sources of problems. As a company that has done much to bring us "what you see is what you get", Apple got a bit lazy with how GarageBand shows the video images for podcasts. The video image preview within GarageBand can be misleading. It does not indicate the the way that either iTunes or QuickTime shows images by default.

When you insert an image into GarageBand, it creates a rectangular box that represents the temporal location and duration for display of the image in your podcast. GarageBand allows you to drag these rectangles around, but be careful! If the last thing you clicked on was the icon representing the entire image channel, then all of the individual images are selected. If you try to move or re-size just one image, you will actually move or re-size all of the images. If you are zoomed in on one image you might not notice that you have messed up all of the other images until you zoom out again. Always make sure you know exactly what is selected before you edit your podcast.

GarageBand can also be misleading in terms of audio quality. There are several choices available for podcast audio quality. In order to save on size, you might export your podcast project with a lower level of audio quality that what you heard while working in GarageBand. This can be a problem for certain sound and voice effects that might essentially become inaudible or simply be heard as noise in your final podcast.

Figure 9. The iTunes Chapter menu button in iTunes version 6. In iTunes 7 there is a regular "Chapters" menu for podcasts.
Figure 8. Viewing podcasts with iTunes.

Video podcasts[edit]

Video podcasting is for situations where you have a real digital video track. For example, see this video podcast of Jimmy Wales.

An example of a video podcast that was made using GarageBand on a Macintosh is for the example video from Figure 5, above. Video podcasts are basically just .mov QuickTime files.

Active participants[edit]

Active participants in this Learning Group

See also[edit]

Tools for creating internet content
See also: Digital media workshop - Related discussion: Free content


External links[edit]