If you're planning to create a video, you're probably thinking mainly about the visual aspects. However, audio is just as important to putting together a successful video. Sound can set the tone and shift the mood of your video, call attention to important points and help the story flow. Bad sound can also distract or annoy your audience, ruin emotional moments or make it impossible to hear a key piece of dialogue. No one can record audio perfectly, so knowing how to fix these problems with audio editing can transform a good video into a great one.
What is audio editing?
Editing audio means adding and removing segments to make the overall product better. This can include artistic changes, removing mistakes, making the audio fit the required amount of time and evening out the volume level.
Audio editing is related to but distinct from audio mixing. Mixing involves combining multiple audio tracks into one piece of audio content. Editing is generally more straightforward and precise, while audio mixing is more creative and subjective. A piece of audio might require editing, mixing or both to create a finished product.
Why is audio editing so necessary?
Audio editing simply makes your work sound better. No one records something perfectly in one take. Why editing is important for your project specifically will depend on your goals. If you're producing a series of informational videos, you might need them all to be the same length. If you're recording an interview, you won't want to include moments when the two parties speak over each other in the final product.
Regardless of what you're filming, mistakes and some degree of background noise are inevitable. Audio editing lets you remove distracting background noise and make sure that your audio conveys the message you're going for. Errors and background noise distract the listener, so your work won't entertain or inform as effectively. If you want to put out podcasts or videos that attract an audience, they'll need to be edited.
Basic equipment for audio recording
Getting the best sound quality you can when you record your audio will make the editing process easier. This means using the right recording equipment. Audio equipment doesn't need to be expensive to be effective, and many microphone and other recording products are now designed to work with smartphone cameras.
Need to Download Pinnacle Studio?
Lapel microphones, also called lavalier microphones, are small microphones that clip onto the speaker's clothing. They allow the subject to move freely while being recorded and capture speech and dialogue clearly. Depending on what you're filming, you may or may not be concerned about hiding microphones. Some are more discreet than others, but it's nearly impossible to completely conceal a lapel microphone. This makes them a good choice for documentaries or interviews, but they won't work for stories or artistic pieces.
Boom microphone and pole
If you're creating a film that requires microphones to stay out of the frame, you'll need a boom microphone and boom pole. This style lets you hold the microphone close to the speakers without having it visible on camera. When choosing a boom microphone and boom pole, keep in mind that someone will need hold it during the entire recording, so look for a model that is both lightweight and sturdy.
If you'll be filming outdoors, a microphone windshield can help eliminate wind noise. This allows you to get the benefit of a more sensitive microphone without picking up unwanted sound that you'll need to deal with in editing later on. You won't need a windshield if you'll only be recording inside.
You'll need an audio recording device to actually store your work. Since you'll need to carry this around with you as you record, it's a good idea to look for a compact, lightweight model. Depending on how many speakers you expect to work with at once, you may also want to look at how many microphone inputs the recorder can handle simultaneously.
Good quality headphones will allow you to hear all of the sound details that sensitive microphones pick up. This is important during editing, but listening while you're recording also gives you the opportunity to notice problems early on when there's still plenty of time for an adjustment or another take.
Tips for editing a video's audio track
When you start your audio editing process, you know that you want to make your audio sound better, but you may not be sure exactly how to achieve that. This is an overview of the basic techniques you might use when editing audio.
Ducking is when one audio signal lowers in volume automatically whenever another audio signal happens. It is usually used when someone needs to interrupt music to speak, such as a fitness class instructor or an event host. This is clearly useful for lives events, but you can also use audio ducking when you're recording narrations, voiceovers, translations or any other audio that needs to be heard over music or other background noise.
Altering volume or muting audio
These are pretty straightforward. Altering volume and muting audio simply mean changing how loud a particular segment is or silencing it entirely. There are many different reasons you might want to change the audio volume while editing. If a segment is going to be in the background, you may need to lower the volume. If a speaker's voice was too quiet, you might be able to fix this in editing by raising the volume. Muting audio at certain spots might be the easiest way to cut out some mistakes in your recording.
Need to Download Pinnacle Studio?
Removing background noise
Background noise is distracting and can make it difficult for your audience to concentrate on the important parts of your audio. Background noise can come from other people moving around your set, wind, vehicle traffic or just about anything else that makes noise. Ideally, you minimized background noise as much as possible during recording by using a microphone windshield, choosing your recording location carefully and letting everyone on your crew know that you are about to start recording. However, even with these precautions, you can end up with background noise in your audio. You can't always control the causes of background noise, so it's important to deal with it by removing it during editing. Getting rid of background noise makes your audio sound cleaner and more professional and makes it easier for your audience to understand and focus on the content you're trying to convey.
Voiceover is a production technique in which someone who isn't part of what's going on onscreen speaks. This can be used in a number of situations, like explaining what the camera is showing the viewer or combining interview dialogue with video clips. Since you control the recording conditions for voiceovers, this can be a good way to combine recorded speech with videos of locations where you can't control the sound.
Normalizing audio is the process of making the volume of the entire audio clip consistent. This makes your overall audio sound better and more professional. It also eliminates jarring moments that are louder than normal and difficult to hear quiet moments.
Utilizing music in a video
Using music effectively can enhance your video. Music can either be in the background of your video or become more of a focus at certain points in the film. Your film's soundtrack can add texture and interest, highlight the mood of certain moments and fill the silence during visual-only clips. However you'd like to use music, there are some important things to consider when choosing the right pieces.
First, it's important to comply with copyright laws. To avoid legal issues, stick to public domain or royalty-free music. Next, think about the mood you want to create during a particular scene. Is it calm and peaceful, upbeat and high-energy or mysterious and eerie? Make sure to choose the music accordingly. Your music also needs to fit the pace of your video. High-tempo music fits with a fast moving video. Not matching the mood and tempo of your music and video properly will feel jarring and discordant for your audience.
Finally, make sure that your music doesn't interfere with any speech that your audience needs to hear. This means that if you're going to play music in the background of dialogue, you should choose instrumental music and keep the volume low.
Sound effects tips
Sound effects can make your audio better, but it's also easy to go overboard and make them more distracting than helpful. To avoid this problem, don't use too many different sound effects, and think carefully about how to use them effectively.
In an informational video, sound effects can be a good way to emphasize key points. For example, use a glass clink or clicking sound when you show a new bullet point. Sound effects can also be used over a silent section of video the same way music would. For example, you could add typing sounds over a clip of someone typing or doing office work. Sounds effects can also be used to emphasize transitions in your video. Sounds like chimes or pages turning are associated with forward motion, so they can fit with moving to the next stage of the narrative.
What to look for when choosing audio editing software
Choosing audio editing software can be overwhelming. Depending on what you're looking for, you might want a program that handles audio separately or in combination with video. To narrow down your options, consider your budget, whether the software is a subscription or a one-time purchase and what type of projects you plan to edit. You'll also want to look at how many sound effects are included, how many audio tracks the software can handle, and what specific features, like pitch correction and mixing, are available.
There are audio editing programs available to fit every budget. Pinnacle Studios offers video editing software that includes audio features and is available at multiple price points to fit into your budget. Both the mid-level plus and the top-level ultimate versions include full-featured audio editing. This is a good example of a software program that lets you edit both your audio and video clips in the same place, which can make combining them simpler.
Audio is an essential component of any good video, from using the right recording equipment to picking the right editing software. Using right equipment helps you get the best possible audio to start with and makes your recording process simpler. Understanding the editing techniques that are available to you, along with how to use music and sound effects correctly, will enhance your video and turn it into a professional-feeling finished product. Using a good audio and video editing software can help make this happen.