A site to promote the up-coming Audio series.

Dialogue Edits

So after recording about 80% of the material for the series so far, I’m faced with an ever-dwindling amount of time in which to finish the project – well, that is if I want to stick to my self-imposed deadlines for release. You see, that nasty little entity called “real life” always gate crashes the party and reminds air-heady artists like me that bills need to be paid and jobs need to be taken. I’m not saying that this “other” work is a bad thing, no siree! In this climate of so many people facing cutbacks and losing work, I’m happy that there is still a steady knock-knocking on my door for me to make videos in some form or other. I just wish I had more time to devote to the series! But it is always the way when you juggle a personal project with the ones that bring you the cash. However, all that said, I am still on target for a May completion, despite the next few months being devoted to other duties. I still manage to get a few hours here or a few hours there to put together rough dialogue edits, surf the net for cool sound effects, record bits of foley, or meet with potential partners for music or other aspects of production, so all is not lost, misplaced or even disregarded. The work continues. And my first task at the beginning of January was trying to find a piece of software that I liked, that was intuitive and was affordable, in which to do the dialogue edits. Boy did I have a difficult time doing that!

They just don’t make audio software like they used to! No, seriously. All kidding aside. In the early days of digital video and audio, there were dedicated audio programmes designed to enhance your dialogue and sound edits. There were versions of that professional software available to home computer users and while they weren’t exactly the same as what the pros had, they were at least familiar to anyone who had used or been within a ten-foot radius of someone using that professional software, so learning it was sort of through osmosis. I used to love ProTools but now it has evolved into an entire suite of digital toys called Digidesign and costs £500 +! Okay, so really that’s a great price for what you get but honestly, I’m shelling out enough cash just to get this damn thing recorded, so unless I come into some additional disposable income soon, the whole Digidesign thing just isn’t going to happen. So where does that leave me then? Well, looking at cheaper… but not exactly cheap… I would be willing to spend a few hundred pounds on a good piece of software, at least so I can finish this project. But what software? I already record in a free piece of software called Audacity and honestly, it is a good little bit of coding. It does the job, even though there are bugs in the system when you try and save files… your keystrokes when you type in the name of the file to save, activate the functions of Audacity so that the timeline starts recording a new track or playing the one you’ve just recorded, etc. Silly and annoying but not impossible to use. But Audacity isn’t a good sequencer or mixer, despite being a fairly good recorder. So, what software will do the trick then?

I researched online, downloaded trial versions of at least a dozen bits of software, read reviews about how wonderful such and such a piece of software is, etc. And to be honest, I didn’t like anything I was trying out. None of it was intuitive, particularly Adobe Soundbooth, which should be intuitive as I know Adobe products like I know the back of my hand and can usually figure out any Adobe product within minutes of opening it up. But in Soundbooth I found the menus all messed up, poorly designed work areas and confusing ways of editing. I suppose part of the problem is me! I am used to using Final Cut Pro to edit videos and I suppose I wanted a sound application to react similarly to video editing. I was certain from the outset that there were such applications out there and I only had to do a search to find one. Boy was I wrong. Finally though, I stumbled upon a page where someone listed another Adobe product… called Audition. This software is very similar to Soundbooth and it was designed solely for the PC, not the Mac, but it looked like a better version of Soundbooth, a more intuitive version. Researching some more, I found that a beta version of the software was available for Mac and gulp… it was FREE while it was being tested! So, I downloaded it and started cutting a scene. Working with multiple takes is my problem here and anyone who cuts audio knows that you need to be able to easily access the same parts of different takes to compare them and make your choice as to which take you will use for a particular segment of your audio. You end up assembling the entire dialogue edit in this fashion, bit by bit, using the best delivery of all available takes. Most of the audio software hid access to multiple takes, or put it in separate windows that then hid your master timelines… I find that unhelpful. Audition isn’t perfect but I am getting used to it and although it has crashed on me a number of times – well, four or five times to date – I find that over all the beta is pretty stable and I’m enjoying putting together scenes this way.

Creatively it has given me the freedom to shape the way in which the dialogue is said, from selecting individual words from different takes and putting them together to infer different tones of voice, to trimming out breathing, etc. All the things that a good audio application should give you! So, for now, I’m working with Audacity. And so far, I am loving it and finding ways to cut and paste bits of dialogue recorded in other scenes into new sentences to enhance the already recorded bits of a current scene. For example, Belinda now repeats herself in one scene. The text on paper doesn’t do that, but because JoAnne gave me two completely different deliveries, the comic elements lend themselves for her to say it once, wait for a few other lines to be spoken by the other characters, and then say it again, only with a different emphasis. I think that’s fun, that’s creative and that is taking the material to the next level, the next stage… manipulating what the audience will hear and hopefully surprising the actors who will no doubt say, “I don’t remember recording that!?” I’ll just have to say they did, but not then, not there, and not that way. Editors rule!

Oh, yeah, and the image above is like the Belinda trading card you’ve always wanted, isn’t it? Enjoy!


One response

  1. Viv

    Oh mi god what a lot of pernickety work. I so admire you. Sounds like you’re on to something. Good luck and continue to enjoy it all
    Love Viv

    January 18, 2011 at 12:26 PM

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