Audio Post-Production – Common Issues

Technology, Voiceover & Multimedia4 June 20154.4k

Recording the audio for your video only represents a job half completed.

If brands want to create a truly engaging item, audio post-production is an essential stage. It gives you the opportunity to enhance raw master files by cleaning them up and getting rid of any undesirable sounds. 

So, what should you be looking out for during this process?

One of the biggest issues you will encounter is language artists breathing quite noticeably during the recording process. While they can be muted completely, it may make the whole recording sound more natural if they are minimized in volume. In order to lower a breath using digital audio editing software such as Sound Forge, simply highlight the breath in by clicking the left mouse button at the start of the breath and drag the cursor to the end of the breath. Then click on the Process menu, and select Volume. A pop up box will appear with a volume slider which is labeled ‘Gain’, you can move this slider down to decrease the volume – bringing down the volume of the breath by two or three decibels is usually sufficient.

Clicks and pops
This problem varies depending on the actor’s voice and so deeper, louder and dryer voices typically need more polishing. Where possible all clicks and pops should be removed to maintain a high level of audio quality. Where they happen in between words, they can simply be muted or deleted. Similarly, if noises such as paper moving or coughs can be heard, these should be removed. 

Missing files
Missing files will obviously present a number of problems and the most common reason for this taking place is incorrect naming. If a file is named incorrectly it means that when the files are dropped into the course, files appear to be missing when in fact they have been named incorrectly. Be especially vigilant of scripts that have various prefixes before file numbers eg a1011303, aels313422.  

Audio Text Mismatch
Better known as ATM, this is when the text on screen does not match the audio. As words run in a string, it is not always possible to fix this issue. The easiest issue to fix is if the audio misses off a letter from the end of a word, such as an S, as another recording of the actor saying this letter can be added onto the end. However, if the problem is noticeable and cannot be fixed, a re-record may be necessary. 

Actors will sometimes pause for a slight period if text has been separated into two paragraphs. If it goes on for too long, it should be reduced to make sure the final version flows smoothly. Pauses in between sentences should also be removed. 

If actors make mistakes and start certain sentences over again, these mistakes need to be removed so that only the correct audio remains. By marking up the audio file with a red X2, the technician can see that a second take was used and knows to remove the first take. 
Alternative takes
Sometimes actors will be unsure how a word is meant to be pronounced – this is why agreeing on pronunciation guides is so important. However, to cover all bases, an actor may record alternate takes giving different pronunciations, so the right one can be used in the post-production process. Both takes should be post produced and saved as separate files with the tag ‘alt’ eg aels0123alt.wav. 


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