Digital Editing Basics

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.

Barrett Golding

Barrett Golding

Barrett makes radio and web work. He is Fearless Leader of the Peabody Award-winning pubradio series Hearing Voices from NPR and a United States Artists Rasmuson Fellow in Media. He was General Manager of KGLT-Bozeman and an NPR Audio Engineer in DC. Other accolades include: the NFCB Silver Reel, the Scripps Howard Award for Journalism Excellence, the ABA Gavel Award, Harvestworks Artist-in-Residence, Montana Arts Council Fellowship, and grants from CPB, NEA, Rockefeller and Andy Warhol Foundations. He is a 35-year volunteer DJ/producer at kick-ass KGLT.

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