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When editing speech for a voiceover, a monologue, or lead vocals, it's customary to edit the words so that there are no stuttering, stammering, hesitation, or mistakes in the reading or the 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 done when there's a lot of breathing pauses, or if you want to intensify the impact of the delivery, like a fast talking radio DJ might do.
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, the text, or the 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 in the track, right down here. You'll also see that I have added some markers into the session. These markers indicate a few of the places that I have identified as some of the good performances in this raw take. Now, learning how to make a marker isn't part of this video, there's a whole video dedicated to that, so check that out if you need to learn how to make a marker.
So now let's take a listen to this performance and hear the raw unedited version. (Audio Playing) Okay.
So there is the raw track, certainly not a great performance, but that's why we are here, to edit it. So I am just going to go ahead and go to town. First, I want to create a duplicate playlist before we start editing, and that way we will always have our original playlist to reference back to if we need to. And now what I am going to do is make sure I am in Slip mode, and I'm going to use the Selector tool and I am going to delete all of the stuff that I know is bad. So I am going to click in here, highlight all of that, grab that area and delete it, and take this area out, this bit, and we will leave the rest.
Now I'm going to go and use Shuffle mode and the Grabber tool and slide all of these so that they butt up against each other, and let's take a listen to what we have got as our new quick edit. (Audio Playing) Okay.
So here in the beginning piece, we actually need to edit some more out, because there's two takes of the same lines and some stammering there. So I am going to use the Trimmer tool and simply click and drag, and because we are in Shuffle mode, all of the clips will move automatically to the left. So now that we have all the pieces together, now it's up to us to smooth it out. And let's do that by first zooming in. First I am going to use the Trim tool to chop off any extraneous parts, and I'll go to the Slip mode first and use the Trimmer, cut off the intro here, zoom out, cut off the ending.
Now I will zoom in and take a listen to the transitions between each of the phrases and see what the breaths are like in there, because we don't want to have an edit that happens right in the middle of a breath. (Audio Playing) And right in here it sounds like we actually have edited right in between two breaths.
So I am going to zoom in, take a listen to that again. (Audio Playing) So it might not be too obvious to you now listening to this, but if you edit right in the middle of a breath, it definitely is going to sound unnatural. And that can really become more obvious when you put the final product out, because often voiceover tracks are seriously compressed or limited and the output volume can make any mistake in editing very obvious. So you have got to really pay attention to the details when you're editing voiceovers.
So let's figure this out. Let's listen to it one more time. (Audio Playing) Most of the time we can use the Trim tool to drag one of the clip boundaries over to the other so that the breaths don't cross over. Now, in this case, obviously we can't because there's audio material here. Let's drag this back here, see if that works. (Audio Playing) And that works pretty well. When you're happy with all the transitions between each of the phrases and none of the breaths are being chopped off, and you have all the pieces put together in order that you want them, the next step is to figure out whether the pacing is right.
So you can check all of the pauses between the phrases and make sure that it sounds very natural, and if it doesn't, then we can move all the tracks around just a little bit. So in this particular case, there is a big pause right here, and if I want to tighten up the pacing of this, a simple way is just to select the area, we will go back to Shuffle and I am going to hit Delete, and then that moves everything from the right to the left and it tightens up that little space.
(Audio Playing) And that pause in between sounds a little bit more natural now. Now, one of the final steps is to create little crossfades so that we don't get any unwanted clicks or pops at the clip boundaries. So we can go in, zoom in here, and use the Smart tool to click and drag and create a little crossfade. Another more handy way to do all of these crossfades at once is to simply highlight the entire area, and now you we can choose create fades, and with this dialog box we can apply fades that will be between each of the clips and do it all at once.
And I like the length of 10 milliseconds here and everything else looks great so I will click OK, and automatically we have crossfades between each of the clips here. The last point that I want to make here about voiceover editing is that sometimes when you edit, you'll create empty spaces between clips, and often you'll 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 some empty space, let's say right in here, and I am going to go ahead and go to Slip mode and delete this area, just as an example. This empty space, we might want to fill this empty space with room tone. And it's a pretty common practice actually in voiceover recordings to record 30 seconds to a minute of room tone that you can use later to fill these voids. So now if I go back to the original playlist, I can see that I have got some room tone here and I am going to click and drag and copy this.
Now I will go back to the other playlist, and I will place the cursor here, and I can paste in the room tone. Obviously, I would go in and edit this so that it fits where we want it to fit. And here is what it would sound like. (Audio Playing) So it keeps the consistency of the sound. but what happens if we actually take this out? (Audio Playing) It's a slightly different sound, and 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 or limiting to the final product.
So I am going to keep it in there and make sure that we have a very consistent performance of the sound for the overall track. So once you are done editing the voiceover material, you should listen all the way 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 clips. With all these techniques put together you now know the process for editing a voiceover track in Pro Tools.
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