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Reflections on VO / narration editing

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Hello people!

... message in a bottle here...

Allow me to write down here my "in progress" reflection on editing VO / Narrations best practices / workflows. I am currently working on my first audio book (getting back from an 80% DAW-ACTIVITY STOP that lasted for the last decade... so be forgiving... building back my chops here...)

Sometimes, trying to sort out some thoughts might be helpful for me and others and even trigger a discussion about better workflows?  Maybe not... anyway... bombs away.

... SO... being the lazy a**h*** that I am, i'm trying to re-invent the wheel on day one of working on a new project... sooooo me.... (but i'll call it "process optimization attempt" officially) 😉

CONTEXT / OBJECTIVES

  • Working on a audio book with a session that lasts about 3 hrs and should be edited back to about 90-120 minutes.
  • Working with, of course, TIME RULER MARKERS
  • Trying to evaluate scenarios to help share time-ruler markers between other software tools...
  • Testing the new ARRANGEMENT feature to edit out the outtakes and render correctly-edited files (no audio process yet...)
  • Evaluating alternative workflows...

 

QUESTIONS

  • Is there anything like clip-based time markers/rulers? (to comment at the "original recording" time period, in order to keep the "session / project time ruler" fully avail for the editing process).
  • Is there anything like a VST "time marker ruler" (in order to share time-based production notes between programs...)? According to KVR in 2018, there is no such thing...
  • Is there a way to better take notes of the "out-takes" WHILE RECORDING? Like, I do not know... be able to use the mute tool to mute out portions you already know you won't be keeping? I was tempted to use a midi track with clips... Next time i'll try the ARRANGEMENT FEATURE to mark... (I just was afraid to use it while mission-critical recording). 
  • Should some time-marking capabilities be avail at the TRACK FOLDER level?
  • Should 2 more "marker types" be made avail? Like a "cut start" and a "cut end" marker type? (I know i can just mark "I" and "O" in the comments, but to have a specific type could be more easily connected to other editing tools / workflow... or even to CAL? I dunno...)

 

ACTUAL ATTEMPTS

Tried to use the new ARRANGEMENT feature in CwbBl (like some kind of a CUTLIST like in sound forge... but here, of course, I identified what needed to be KEPT). So far so good... it is really scary though to look at the time-line shift around when rendering... makes me feel like an audio region in the latter portion of my timeline will be deleted...

The "markers to arrangements" feature worked as expected. Render proceeded as expected. Proceeding now to listen to this render to see if clips and pops can be heard (of course, the "reading flow" might not be the best at that point... but I did try to evaluate what was the narrator's current flow at the time of the edits, to minimize further editing down the road... I guess I am about to know if I succeeded or not...  😉

 

WORKFLOW PROPOSITIONS

Since the ARRANGER feature scared me a little, I might try to use VOLUME AUTOMATION (or other type of automation that could be "shared" between softwares) to cut out the bad takes of my recordings, and then render the file to a new track and complete the file using the strip silence feature... I am kind of hoping that if I needed to also work in another program for specific reasons (like SoundForge or spectraLayers) I could manage to export the file combined with the automation envelope in order for me to have some kind of time markers shared between programs somehow...

PROS : would be "movable" with my original recorded clips, leaving my time ruler markers / arrangements sections free to be used for the "finished" files...

CONS: navigation would not be as easy as moving between markers using shortcuts...

 

I'll keep you posted... maybe... Do find this post interesting somewhat? Or should I just stop it right here?

Regards.

 

VoEditing.thumb.jpg.38fdb00eb492d12bc8c3c155be375b83.jpg

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Hum... so, I think I just might have discovered a bug.

Using the EXPORT AUDIO feature and selecting the desired arrangement, I can notice that the FX bins might always be processed. On my first export, I had kept my Fx bins (tracks and buses) active while exporting. Obviously, the "loudness" of my rendered track was not similar to my "source track". (Remember, I am using the arrangement feature just to do an edited version of the narration... audio processing will come later...)

So, I did the export again. This time i De-activated all of my FX bins / ProChannels (tracks and buses) prior to it. I also UNCHECKED all the fx-related options in the export window (see capture).

But STILL, the loudness of my rendered track is significantly higher.  Seems to me that the Fx's are always processed, regardless of the export settings AND of the session's FX ON/OFF toggles...

NOTE: All my tracks and buses in my session are MONO...

 

ExportArr.jpg.358320320fa9301179e098d515d8697a.jpg

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OK, tried it again after deleting all my FXs in the session and making sure that all my gain knobs / faders were all at default... Same problem.

Afterwards, I tried a "regular" export (master bus) and the rendered file has the same loudness as the original one in the session.

So, I think there is something wrong with the EXPORT feature regarding ARRANGEMENTS. Looks like the exported files are louder than the source ones...

Therefore, back to the old editing style for my AudioBook session for now... as this issue is making my noise floor exceeding the -60dbfs requirement....

Side note: I would also think that it would be interesting to be able to select ARRANGEMENTS as a source for the BOUNCE TO TRACK feature, don't you think?

Right now, it does not seems to be possible.

 

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Just a quick comment here to thank the developers for the RIPPLE EDIT mode feature.

I, for one, was always a bit scared of the RIPPLE EDITING modes and was not using it that much in ANY software I used...  (in my defense, that mode was not available in SONAR when I was using it more frequently...)

But now, in my current AUDIOBOOK session, I've been using this mode a lot and it has proven to be solid! It helps a lot cleaning out the out-takes and other house-cleaning tasks prior to actual audio processing.

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One of my first jobs in audio was an 8-hour voice session, recording to mono 1/4-inch tape, in Japanese, a language I don't speak or understand. Luckily the producer told me where the outtakes were, where to cut, and so on. But over many years of voiceover recording to tape I learned a few things, and if I had to do it again I'd probably mimic the same methods I used in the old days.

  • Make sure the narrator understands the importance of working the microphone. Most of the time, she needs to place herself in the same spot exactly, all the time, to keep the sound consistent throughout the recording.
  • Have a printed script for you that's the same as the narrator's.
  • Have a code word for when a word or phrase needs to be re-done. The word in common use when I was doing it was "pickup." The narrator would stop, say "pickup," then countdown "3 - 2 - 1 ..." then start again. When this would happen I'd make a note (on paper or directly onto my script) of where it took place in hours, minutes and seconds. I would never stop the tape, because that would break the spell. These notes would be (sort of) accurate when it came time to edit. With  a DAW, your notes could be frame accurate if you wanted them to be. You could even just press "M" when a pickup occurs and type in what happened while the narrator continues reading.
  • Record a minute of silence in the room with the mic on and nobody around. You can insert this silence here and there when the editing creates an unnatural-sounding  pause.

I've only ever used four DAWs, but I haven't seen one with the clip-based timelines or other VO-specific functions you're looking for. Still, I applaud your efforts to make a modern workflow for the new millennium 😀. Best of luck!

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