11 FEBRUARY 2017
written by Mike
We describe sound editing as an art of producing great quality sounds for mixing, implementation and processing. In simpler words, sound editing is a laborious task of making noisy and lousy recordings sound good. It is one of the processes that make the project whole.
Overlooking the editing side will always result in subpar production.
Imagine you are writing a book and you plan your paragraphs. You write them down, and you work on the wording and single sentences. Only then you put it into the final product. It may not be the perfect example but thinking of editing as part of the process will make it easier to understand why you should pay more attention to it. Sound editing is not just cleaning up bad recordings. Some creative processes are easy to do during editing before the audio moves onto the next stage.
I will look at some of them as well as at other essential sound editing things.
When it comes to choosing right tools, it is down to choosing the right software. Today, we do most of the work on a computer. And even though there are some interesting ideas such as editing touch pads like Slate Raven. I am going to focus on the most common editing choices.
Picking the right software is important. But depending on a project the choice can be rather limited. Working on big budget production there may not be an option at all, you work with what you got. Working as a freelancer gives you more options but again it is much easier to work in the same program as the client. Exporting finalised session with the same settings will be a straightforward job.
There are few things that are important in your selection.
Stability, speed and control.
Stability is rather self-explanatory. Less system crashes you get much less chamomile tea you need to drink. The knowledge that you can rely on your system goes a long way, especially during long nights.
Speed is important as in how fast you can edit with given tools and how responsive the program is. System lag is the curse of every editor. There are a lot of variables that go into the equation, but some workstations are quicker to react than others.
Control over the interface is last on the list. Some programs try to be helpful and offer an array of smart, all in one function. These can be helpful but when it comes to fast-paced editing, a clear list of keyboard shortcuts and easy customization are on the top of the pyramid.
Today, Avid Pro Tools is an industry standard. It has its faults, but it checks all the boxes that you need to do a good editing job.
It does not mean that other programs are worse or better. Everyone works in a different way, so it is best to try out a few different options before the final decision.
When it comes to editing, planning is crucial.
What sort of recording will you work on?
How much time do you have?
Where are you sending files? Or maybe you are the one that is going to mix it as well.
These are the most basic questions you need to ask yourself before commencing the work. Let’s assume the project is as short student movie that will be later mixed by somebody else. First, communication between all the people involved is vital.
Apart from the obvious here are some other tips too. Isolating your sounds into groups like dialogue, effects and music is a basic tactic. Simple things like color-coding, naming conventions and general order of your sounds will make the whole process flowing. Make a list of what you need and what you are working on. It is easy to get lost when there are thousands of sounds to get through.
When it comes to editing techniques the fundamentals are cutting up, cleaning and moving sounds around. Cleaning from unwanted noise such as lip smacks, clicks or cloth movement can be tiresome. And not every recording will be easy to fix.
There are special programs such as Izotope Rx that will help you to automate some of these tasks.
Cutting up and moving sounds around is much simpler as it only requires the most basic functions of your software. Some projects will need an extra treatment called offline processing. Reversing audio, slowing down or speeding up the sounds are only a few from many options in which you can process your sounds.It is important to have a backup of the original sound. Offline processing is a destructive process so copy your original audio on a track below and mute it; you never know when it may come in handy.
Check out the educational guides from Izotope on editing
So, your editing is complete. The guidelines on how you should save and deliver the completed work are on your desk. There are different options how you can pass the files on to the next stage. You can save your session so it will serve as the fundament for mixing, or you can export the audio as single files.
No matter which way you and your team will choose, remember that good and transparent layout of the sounds will save you a lot of hassle and time.
Being a sound editor may not be a glamorous position but it is an important part of the post production process. Often it will be just an element of your work as you may also act as a sound engineer and a mixer. Especially when it comes to low budget projects. On big productions, an editor must work to strict guidelines such as file formats, naming conventions and color-coding.
Make yourself familiar with it and make a good layout planning part of your working habit.
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