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Pro Tools 9 Essential Training with musician and producer David Franz demonstrates concepts and techniques necessary for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in the industry-standard software for music and post-production. The course covers creating music with virtual instruments and plugins, editing with elastic audio for time and pitch manipulation, creating a musical score, and mixing with effects loops. Exercise files accompany the course.
When editing speech for a voiceover, a monologue, lead vocals, et cetera, it's customary to edit the words, so that there is no stuttering, stammering, hesitation, or mistakes in the reading or performing of the material. Many times it's also beneficial in voiceovers to eliminate unnecessary pauses or open spaces between words and sentences. This will increase the pace of the performance, and is often done when there is a lot of breathing pauses, or when you want to intensify the impact of the delivery, like a fast-talking Radio DJ.
Overall the idea is to create a perfect performance. When you're editing speech or vocals, it's always a good idea to have the script, text, or lyrics as a printed guide for making notes about where to place your edits. In this case, I've included them in the comments column of the track, right down here. You'll also see that I've added some Markers in here. These are indicating what I've identified as a couple of the good performances in here. Now, making markers isn't part of this video. There is a whole video dedicated to that, so check that out if you need to learn how to make a marker.
So let's take a listen to this performance, and we'll hear with the raw track is. (Male Speaker: Voiceovers can be easy to edit.) (Male Speaker coughs.) (Male Speaker: Voiceovers can be easy to edit, as long as the voiceover talent doesn't screw up--) (Male Speaker coughs) (Male Speaker: Yeah. Voiceover...Voiceovers can be easy to edit,) (Male Speaker: as long as the voiceover talent doesn't screw up his lines--) (Male Speaker: As long as the voiceover talent doesn't screw up his lines.) (Male Speaker: You also need to be aware of breath sounds.) (Male Speaker: You also need to be aware of breath sounds because making an edit in the middle of a breath--) (Male Speaker: because making an edit in the middle of a breath will make your voiceover track sound--) (Male Speaker: will make your voiceover track sound, well, edited and imperfect.) Okay, so there is the raw track. Certainly not a great performance, but that's why we're here, to edit it.
So I'm just going to go to town. First, I want to create a duplicate playlist. That way I won't touch any of the original performance. So I am going to go into Slip mode, and I am going to use the selector first to delete all of the stuff that I know is bad. Let's start there, get rid of that, and I think it's right in there, up to that point, and up here, we'll keep that breath in there. Not really sure about that line.
Get rid of that, and there. Okay. Now, what I'm going to do is go to Shuffle mode and take the grabber and put all these together. Now, I go back to Slip mode, and let's go, zoom in, and take a quick listen to what we've got. (Male Speaker: Voiceovers can be easy to edit, as long as the voiceover talent doesn't screw up his lines.) (Male Speaker: You also need to be aware of breath sounds, because making an edit in the middle of a breath) (Male Speaker: will make your voiceover track sound, well, edited and imperfect.) Okay, so we've got all the pieces there.
Now, it's up to us to smooth it out. And we can zoom in, we can use the trimmer to chop off any extraneous parts, and we should check between the phrases to see what the breaths sounds like, because we don't want to edit right in the middle of a breath. (Male Speaker: --to edit, as long as the voiceover talent doesn't screw up his lines.) (Male Speaker: You also need to be aware of breath sounds, because making an edit--) Like right here, it sounds like we've edited between two breaths. (Male Speaker: breath sounds, because making--) So it might not be too obvious to you now, but if you edit right in the middle of a breath, and it sounds unnatural, that can really become more obvious when you put out the final product, because often voiceover tracks are seriously compressed or limited, and the output volume can make any mistake in editing very obvious.
So you've got to really pay attention to the details when you're editing voiceovers. So let's figure this out. (Male Speaker: breath sounds, because ma--) Usually the idea is to just drag one of the region boundaries over to the other, so that the breaths don't cross over. (Male Speaker: breath sounds, because making--) That doesn't sound too bad. Let's go to the Smart tool.
(Male Speaker: --sounds, because making an edit in the middle of a breath will make your voiceover track sound,) (Male Speaker: well, edited and imperfect) When you're happy with all the transitions, none of the breaths are being chopped off, and you have all the pieces put together, the next step is to figure out whether the pacing is right. So you can check all the pauses between the phrases and make sure it sounds very natural. And if it doesn't, then we can move all of the tracks around a little bit. So let's say we think this pause is a little bit too long here.
We can select that region, and I am going to hit Shift and get all of those together, and now I'm going to click and slide the regions just a touch. And let's hear this. (Male Speaker: his lines. You also need to be aware of breath sounds.) Okay, that's sounds a little bit more natural. And one of the final steps is to create little crossfades, so that we don't get any clicks or pops at the region boundaries. And I think I heard one right in there. (Male Speaker: You also need to be aware--) Now, that's actually a mouth noise, but rather be safe than sorry, so you can go in and draw in little crossfades in between the region boundaries.
I recommend doing that for all region boundaries. The last point that I want to make here about voiceover editing is that sometimes when you edit you'll create empty spaces between regions and often you want to fill those empty spaces with what's called room tone. Room tone is the sound of the room where you're recording a voiceover, but with no other sounds going on. It's the tone of the room that includes any unintended noise from computer fans, or air conditioning units, or any other items that affect the noise in the room.
So if we had empty space, let's say, right in here, we might want to fill that with room tone. And it's a common practice to record 30 seconds to a minute of room tone to fill those voids. If I go back to the original playlist, I have a little bit of room tone at the very beginning here, so I could literally copy this, so I've selected that area-- I'm going to hit Command+C or Ctrl+C on a PC--copy that, come back over to the edited voiceover, zoom in on this area, place the cursor down and press paste: Command+V or Ctrl+V on a PC.
And I can drop in the room tone, and obviously I will edit this back with the trimmer. Let's play this. (Male Speaker:--sounds, because making an edit--) If I take this out, it sounds a little bit different. Let's hear that. (Male Speaker:--sounds, because making an edit--) Although it might not be super obvious here, there is room tone that happened during the recording of this voiceover, and when you take it out, it can be kind of a stark difference, especially if you add compression and limiting.
So we'll keep it in there to make sure that we have a very consistent performance and sound for the overall track. So once you've done editing the voiceover material, listen through to the whole track and make sure it flows, and that the pace of the reading and the breaths in between all sound natural. Alter the timing if you need to, and make sure the fades and crossfades are at the edit points to avoid any sonic changes between the regions. With all those techniques put together, you now know the process for editing a voiceover track in Pro Tools.
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