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This course shows how to build a polished documentary using Avid Media Composer and a few essential editing techniques. Author Ashley Kennedy demonstrates documentary editing in a real-world project, breaking down the process into a series of manageable steps and milestones. Discover how to define a project approach based on a client's creative brief, and then effectively review and organize the footage. Then find out how to use script-based editing methods and a wide variety of scene creation techniques to assemble a rough cut. The course also shows how to use effects to repair and enhance your footage, process client feedback, and add the film's finishing elements.
This course is part of a series that looks at Documentary Editing from the point of view of 3 different editors in 3 different editing applications. For more insight on editing documentary projects, take a look at Documentary Editing with Premiere Pro and Documentary Editing with Final Cut Pro X.
Once you've got good solid scenes, you want to make sure to go through all of them with a fine-toothed comb, and make sure you've got a good audio mix. Now, even though this is the rough cut and an audio mix will be performed on the sequence later in the post-production workflow, you still want to make sure that everything is sounding good. Now, for a fuller explanation on audio editing, you can see my Media Composer Essentials course on lynda.com. But here, I'll go through a basic overview of making sure you have got a good sound mix. All right, so I've got the second scene here, my Meet BD scene, and I want to play it.
But first I am going to open the Audio Editing Workspace. And as I play this, I want you to notice where it's peaking. I will tell you that normal sounds, so the human voice or BD's voice, should peak right between -20 and -14 here on the digital scale, or between 0 and 6 here on the analog scale. Loud sounds can peak higher in this region, and quieter sounds or background sounds can peak lower. We of course don't want anything to distort, so we'd have to fix that.
But in general, the levels need to be in this general area. All right, so I am going to go ahead and play, and let's just try to notice where things are peaking. (BD Dautch: My name is BD Dautch, and I have Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai and 5 acres in Carpinteria that we're farming on. It's all certified organic, and we grow about 100 different herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruits--) General observation is that he's peaking too high.
He was between -14 and -8 and occasionally peaking up here to -4. So, we are going to need to bring that down. Other things like the nat sound, the presence, as well as my sync sound here sounded just fine. So, let's adjust the interview audio first, and then we can make further adjustments later if needed. All right, so I am soloing A1 here. This is basically going to solo it here as well, and I am going to mark an in and an out around just the short region, and that's because this is going to loop when I do an audio play loop.
And then I am going to make an adjustment, and then when the loop goes over again, it's going to reflect that adjustment. So, I want this to be a relatively short period of time in this loop. The Audio Loop Play is right here. So, I am going to go ahead and press it, and then I am going to make an adjustment and then take a look over here on my Levels, and then make further adjustments as necessary. (BD Dautch: ...and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai and 5 acres in-- ...and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai and 5 acres in-- ...and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai and 5 acres in--) All right, so I've lowered the levels by 6.8 decibels, and things are looking good.
It's peaking properly. Now, BD's audio is on A1 throughout this entire sequence, and this is how you should do it. You want to make sure to incorporate all of your interview audio on the same track. I have my sync sound on another track, I have my nat sound on another track. This is going to really help me out because once I've made this one adjustment--let me just go ahead and remove my in and out points--I can make this a global adjustment. So, my position indicator has parked right here, I have A1 selected.
Just come up to the Fast menu, Set Level On Track - Global, and then now take a look down here at this -6.8 number because everything on this track has now been adjusted by that amount. Otherwise, it's just a clip-based adjustment, and it just affected this clip and nothing else. But we've made it a global adjustment. All right, so this is basically how you should do it, adjust it in isolation, then listen to it with the Mix, so I am going to unsolo it. We are going to go ahead and play through it again. Make sure things sound good with the mix, and then move on down the line.
Now, audio is additive. So you'll occasionally need to do some tweaking even after you've adjusted individual audio elements. That's why it's important to make the adjustment and then make sure to listen to it in the context of the mix. (BD Dautch: My name is BD Dautch, and I have Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai [00:04:22 .53] and 5 acres in Carpinteria that we're farming on. It's all certified organic, and we grow about 100 different herbs, vegetables--) All right, so things are sounding good.
Again, I would make further adjustments, make further tweaks going on down the line in this general way, but so far so good, and you want to do this for each one of your scenes. You want to make sure that even though this is the rough cut that everything is sounding good and you're able to screen it properly so that no elements are drowning out others. Now, I do want to mention one thing, organizationally- speaking, if I was to have adjusted this interview before I even edited it into the timeline, that's a pretty smart thing to do. So I am just going to match frame-- so right-click, Match Frame Track-- and this brings up the actual source clip for the interview.
And if I make the adjustment here, then basically any time I edit this in from now on, the adjustment will be made, and I don't have to make it in the timeline. But you do it in the same basic way. You just want to make sure to click in the Source Monitor, because when you click in the Record Monitor or the Timeline, it's the timeline-based adjustment that's being made. So I am going to just click in the Source Monitor. You can see that there is only one track of audio, one track of audio, and I am going to mark an in and an out. And let's go ahead and again Audio Loop Play and...
(BD Dautch: ...acres in Ojai and 5 acres in Carpinteria-- ...acres in Ojai and 5 acres in Carpinteria-- ...acres in Ojai and 5 acres in Carpinteria--) There we go! Okay, so it's peaking properly. I have made the adjustments in the source clip, therefore whenever I edit this into the timeline from now on, the adjustment will be made. So essentially, if you can do that before you make any edits, it's probably the smarter way to go. All right, so that's basically all there is to it. Again, first make the adjustments in isolation, then unsolo and make sure it sounds good against the mix, that's all there is to it, and you will be able to screen the rough cut in confidence.
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