Digital Editing Basics

January 9th, 2001

by Barrett Golding

Editing sound on a computer is as easy as splicing bacterium genes into chicken embryos, or for the non-molecular biologists amongst us, like cutting and pasting text in a word-processor. The example below is from a show I did about John Lennon. In the original interview, Lennon says:

``I still believe in love, peace. I still believe in positive thinking, when I can do it.  While there's life, there's hope.

I wanted to cut the phrase “when I can do it” and keep the rest. I zoomed in on to get a better view. Keeping the breath at the end of a sentence or phrase preserves the speaker’s rhythm. So I used the mouse to select my cut, starting from after “(breath)” to just before “While…”.

1st Edit Selected

With the Edit>Cut menu command, I removed the selected portion. (Using Cut, rather than Delete or Clear, places the sound in the computer’s Clipboard, making it available for an Edit>Paste, if needed.) I listened to the edited voice to make sure it sounded okay. (If it hadn’t, I would have used the menu command Edit>Undo to reverse the previous command, and restore the original unedited voice.)

1st Edit Cut

The recording was a bit noisy, so I decided to remove the tape-hiss before he talks. This time I zoomed way in to find a “zero-crossing,” where the waveform crosses the middle. Zero-crossings are the best places to Cut — the least likely places to cause a click. I moused-over the hiss from the start of the soundfile to to a zero-crossing just before the start of speech.

2nd Edit Selected

I Cut the selected sound, leaving:
2nd Edit Cut- Final Soundfile

In this way you can trim, move and alter phrase into a well-produced final product. Use File>Save often.
Save successive versions if you’re unsure of changes. Then send it to transom.

~By Barrett Golding

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