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Graphic design newbie here.

I have to create a video. Part of it involves "showing" a radio interview. Rather than just having a black screen and listening to the audio, I'd like to have a varying waveform on the screen and a caption.

Is there any free or cheap tool I can use that will do this?

If I ask a friend to do it, is there anything in the Adobe Creative Suite that can do the job?

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migrated from graphicdesign.stackexchange.com Dec 12 '13 at 18:40

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Audacity should show you the sound wave; you could record - visually - the wave. –  boblet Dec 7 '13 at 20:40
It's worth mentioning that the "visualizer" tool you're probably looking for is an oscilloscope, which may inform your search. –  Warrior Bob Dec 12 '13 at 18:42

4 Answers 4

You can use ffmpeg to create video from audio using several filters.


avectorscope filter

ffmpeg -i input.mp3 -filter_complex "[0:a]avectorscope=s=1280x720,format=yuv420p[vid]" \
-map "[vid]" -map 0:a -codec:v libx264 -crf 18 -preset fast -codec:a aac -strict -2 \
-b:a 192k output.mp4

See the avectorscope documentation for more options and examples.


showspectrum image

ffmpeg -i input.oga -filter_complex "[0:a]showspectrum=s=1280x720,format=yuv420p[vid]" \
-map "[vid]" -map 0:a -codec:v libx264 -crf 18 -preset fast -codec:a aac -strict -2 \
-b:a 192k output.mp4

See the showspectrum documentation for more options and examples.


showwaves filter

ffmpeg -i input.m4a -filter_complex \
"[0:a]showwaves=s=1280x720:mode=line:rate=25,format=yuv420p[vid]" -map "[vid]" -map 0:a \
-codec:v libx264 -crf 18 -preset fast -codec:a aac -strict -2 -b:a 192k out.mp4

See the showwaves documentation for more options and examples.


  • -codec:v libx264 -crf 18 -preset fast are for the video encoder. See FFmpeg and x264 Encoding Guide for more detailed information on encoding H.264 video.

  • format=yuv420p makes sure this particular encoder (libx264) uses a pixel format that is compatible with crappy players like QuickTime.

  • Instead of re-encoding with -codec:a aac -strict -2 -b:a 192k, you can use -codec:a copy to stream copy the audio if your output container format supports the audio format. Think of stream copying (re-muxing) like a copy and paste – no re-encoding.

A format for editing

If you're importing this into an editor or compositor then I recommend using a lossless intermediate format such as UT Video. This will create an output that will prevent generational loss and will be editor friendly. The output file size can be large but these visualizations should compress well.

You will have to close your editor, install the UT Video codec (it is free and open source), and then restart the editor.


ffmpeg -i input.mp3 -filter_complex "[0:a]avectorscope[vid]" -map "[vid]" -map 0:a \
-codec:v utvideo -codec:a pcm_s16le output.avi

Get ffmpeg

You should always use a recent version since development is very active. Links to builds of ffmpeg for Windows, OS X, and Linux are available on the FFmpeg Download page. Or you can follow a step-by-step guide to compile ffmpeg.

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Adobe After Effects has a visualizer, see

There are also plugins such as here for Photoshop.

Good luck with your project.

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I understood your question quite well. If you are trying to make a waveform pattern that moves according to the pitch and bass of your audio, then you can try this link.


Adobe After effects lets you do it easily. You can play along with the particle effects to get a more solid looking waveform.

Good luck!

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Many music players have visualisers. Play the audio in one of them and use a screen-grabber to record the video.

You could also try to use gstreamer as described at http://www.vidarholen.net/contents/blog/?p=23

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