Thursday, April 5, 2012...9:00 am

Podcasting week #4: advice on editing

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In the fourth of a series of podcasting guides, former Granta editorial director and freelance multimedia content producer George Miller discusses the editing process. 

Key tip: The better the original source file and the less editing you do, the more likely it is you will end up with a natural sounding result.

4. Advice on editing

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Keep a backup of the original audio file
You should be recording in uncompressed WAV format to ensure a higher quality. Keep a backup file (either on the audio recorder or on your hard drive) until you have finished editing and are completely happy with the result, just in case something goes wrong. 

Editing software
Sony SoundForge is quick, flexible and has lots of sound processing options. Amadeus is lighter, slimmer software with fewer effects (though you shouldn’t get hung up on sound processing). But all audio editing software from free (Audacity) to several hundred dollars (SoundForge, Audition) do roughly the same job.

Mark out the shape of the interview 
Go through the file and put in markers to outline the shape of the interview – e.g. for questions and responses. Remove obvious fluffs and pauses, and perhaps redundant questions. But be cautious…

Don’t over-edit
Fixating on detail and tightening up too much can create something that sounds unnatural. If you are recording in a reverberant environment, an interviewee can say “Um” with a slight echo that can spill onto the next thing they say. The human ear won’t notice the stumble, until it is removed and you can only hear the echo. It’s better to have a natural sounding recording with rough edges than an over-polished one that draws attention to itself.

Be cautious with noise reduction
Audio programs can sample noise profiles of intrusive sounds (cars, aircraft, air-conditioning) and then reduce that through the file. Be too aggressive with this and you can end up with sound artefacts – the remnants of the noise you have been reducing. When your file is exported to a very compressed MP3 format, these can become more prominent and give the whole sound a tinny, underwater effect.

Next: audio and video – comparing the workflow

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