December 5, 2014

A Simple Audio Editing Trick that Will Make Your Dialogue & Voiceover Sound Better

Audio Editing Dialogue and Voiceover
For the sake of clarity, it's important to make sure your dialogue and voiceover are clear and concise, and make sure that the words flow into one another evenly and smoothly. This deceptively simple audio editing trick can help you achieve just that.

This trick comes courtesy of Mike Russell, whose YouTube channel is packed with all sorts of helpful audio post production tutorials.

Obviously, the major caveat with this technique is that it is mostly only applicable to voiceovers and dialogue where the character speaking is off screen or whose mouth can't be seen by the audience -- say the character whose shoulder we peer over in an OTS shot. It could potentially be used to clean up on-screen dialogue in certain instances where the actor's performance is consistent from take to take, but you'd have to be extremely careful not to throw things out of sync.

With that exception -- and it's definitely a major exception -- you can use this technique to really fine-tune your voiceovers/off-screen dialogue and dial in the perfect pacing and word delivery for audio performances.     

Your Comment

14 Comments

If anyone isn't able to watch the video - because you're at work, or whatever - you can sum it up as:

If you're piecing together multiple takes to make one line of dialogue, it sounds smoother if you use mid-word cuts, rather than starting new sentences with new takes.

There we go - two lines. I've stopped watching a lot of the tutorials on this and other websites, as I'm often meant to be working (!) and also because a small amount of useful information often gets dragged out over 5-10 minutes unnecessarily. Obviously, this video is only short - but still, a little summary of what's contained would be really handy (and is fairly standard journalistic practise).

It's great that you're collating these and presenting them through the site, but I can't be the only one who prefers to see stuff written down...!

December 5, 2014 at 9:23AM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3354

I second that. I'm often reluctant to watch a video for fear of that quite common tendency for the creator to take 5 minutes to say what could have been said in 1(or less). Not to mention the the unnecessarily long intros, showcasing their dull and boring expertise in motion graphics.

December 5, 2014 at 10:21AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1497

Good to see you on here Richard - I'm very familiar with your work!

It's a bit of a topic highjack, but if you don't mind me asking, on something like the Scentillation screen test, how much of the foreground reflection/refraction is practical and how much is post? I'm looking to achieve a similar look for a few shots on an upcoming project.

Thanks,

Alex.

December 6, 2014 at 6:49AM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3354

Thank you for detailing what the author didn't. I'm of the same bent. :)

December 5, 2014 at 11:02AM

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Brian Ireley
Digital strategist by daylight, Videomaker by moonlight
98

You people are nuts.

How am I supposed to procrastinate at work if everything is summarized for me in quick, easy sentences? Next you're gonna tell me I shouldn't be watching all those cat videos...

Seriously, though, this video goes against everything any audio editor has ever told me, but the results are really seamless.

Great tip!

December 5, 2014 at 2:31PM

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Bryan Howell
Screenwriter, corporate videographer, and indie filmmaker
373

Thank you so much! I completely agree with you. (Not to criticise the article poster. I'm sure it's all well meant. It's a very useful tip with quite unexpected results indeed.)

December 6, 2014 at 7:57AM

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Nice. This is a stupid good trick. Very useful for interviews, voiceovers, etc. Also, if you've got b-roll, it should be easy enough to hide the cuts.

December 5, 2014 at 1:37PM

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Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
917

Great trick! Another good place to edit is right after a breath. Even if there's a change in tone, it can sound pretty natural.

December 6, 2014 at 1:08PM

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Tim McLaughlin
Voice Talent, Narrator
81

Why has Alex Richardson 545 points, Richard Krall 248 points ...and the excellent Tim McLaughin 4 points??? Can you compare Tim's voice talent with Alex's direction? Can you compare mangoes with lychees? This wierd system is demeaning to people and breaks the elementary norms of public relations!

December 7, 2014 at 4:29AM

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Agreed! I'm not overly keen on a points rating system for members of the community either.

That said, I'd better be the mangoes in that analogy.

December 8, 2014 at 3:57AM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3354

I have an even better trick: use the second take. There you go: no edits !

December 7, 2014 at 6:33PM

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I feel silly that I haven't tried this yet...I do voice over edits alot for documentary types of videos, and commercials. Great tip!

December 7, 2014 at 9:43PM

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Caleb Price
Director
462

This is so lame, and I am surprised that people are so naive as to consider this some sort of a trick.

I've been editing audio for a few years now and I've done this all the time. But it's not like it works every time. I mean, it's not even a trick. It's not like what he's saying will always work.

You normally just pick up the best parts and piece them together. It's all hard work. You really have to look for the good pieces.

Taking his own example, what if, in the first take, you started the first half of the sentence all wrong but improved the dialogue delivery as you came to the second half of the sentence. And in the second take, everything was rubbish, and then you did a third take in which the whole dialogue was delivered perfectly, and in the fourth take, which you did just to have more audio to edit from, you did the first half perfect and the second half of the sentence did not come out alright.

I mean to say that you have always look for the good pieces and move things around. This is strange. I am surprised that so many people are finding this "tip" useful. I am inclined to think they do not have much experience editing for that could be the only reason they found it "enlightening."

December 12, 2014 at 2:46AM

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At risk of missing something obvious, I don't understand 'how' this makes it more natural. It feels like the example here would benefit from a side by side comparison of the mid-word edit and the 2nd take only edit to hear why it is superior?

December 12, 2014 at 9:37AM

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Robb Boyd
Managing Editor, Writer, Host
81