How To Edit Sound In A Video (Even When It’s Not Easy)
Mar 11, 2022
Anytime you take on a new video project, odds are that you’ll be working with several types of audio tracks that you source from multiple places (i.e., your own mic gear, a royalty free music library, YouTube Audio Library, etc.).
Your job — albeit not always an easy one — is to make sure all of these different sounds blend together seamlessly. And this is true whether you’re making YouTube videos, commercial ads, or any other type of video production.
The last thing you want is for issues like volume imbalances, audio bleeding, and wind noise to pull your audience out of the viewing experience. Best case scenario is they’ll find these issues mildly distracting but keep watching. Worst case scenario? They’ll bounce and not look back.
It’s true that the solution is to catch and fix any sound issues early on, but here’s the thing: Even with basic video editing skills you can only salvage so much in post-production if you have poor audio quality to begin with.
That’s why, in this blog, we’re sharing what you can do before and during post-production to have a more successful audio editing experience. Before jumping right in, let’s take a look at some of the most common sounds you’ll work with every day.
Let’s say you’re about to film a product review video for your YouTube channel. You’ll want to rig your camera and audio equipment so you capture high quality audio of you speaking, but that audio alone isn’t always enough to keep viewers engaged for the whole video.
Once you sit down to edit, you might add background music, record a voice over, and throw in a few sound effects here and there. All of these different sounds can fill awkward silences and keep viewers interested in what’s happening on-screen.
With the right editing finesse, you can create cohesive and professional-grade videos with many different types of audio — like the ones listed below.
As you plan out what audio you’ll use in your video, keep in mind that all sounds fall into one of two categories: diegetic or non-diegetic.
If you’re shooting a short film or TV commercial, the diegetic sound is any audio that the characters in your project can hear (i.e., music performed in the scene, SFX, etc.). The non-diegetic sound is the audio that the audience can hear but the characters can’t (i.e., voice overs, music that isn’t performed in the scene, etc.).
Unless you’re personally producing and mixing the music for your videos, you’ll need to license copyrighted music elsewhere. We’ll share some of your best options for doing that later on, but for now, just keep in mind that properly-edited music complements (instead of competes with) the other audio in your video.
Sound effects (or SFX) include everything from quiet footsteps and creaking floors to big explosions and monster sounds. Foley artists are the geniuses behind this type of sound creation, and they work alongside mix engineers to capture the desired sound effect in the right way.
For your videos, you can create your own sounds or license them from a royalty free library like Soundstripe. (To learn more, check out our SFX catalog.)
Cohesiveness is key when it comes to combining different video clips together and balancing the audio levels. So if you shoot the majority of your own footage but also use stock video files, the visuals and sounds need to match up.
This can take some trial and error to get right in post-production, but when you finalize the perfect edit, viewers will have no idea that the footage came from different sources.
Voice overs have an important role in films, TV shows, YouTube videos, and all other forms of video content. By recording a voice over in post-production, you’re able to give viewers more context about what’s happening on-screen.
So if you’re editing a 15-second travel montage, you can fill that silence in a meaningful way by recording a brief voice over. A good mic is crucial to this process, which is why we’re sharing some mic recommendations in the next section.
While it’s true that editing takes place in post-production, the steps you take in pre-production and production have a major impact on how the final edit turns out. These are the stages where you write out an A/V script, create an input list, and plan out all the ways that sound will be present in your video.
It’s at this point when you decide which sounds you’ll capture during production and which ones you’ll outsource from an independent creator, music library, etc.
Throughout pre-production and production, there are a few main factors that can have a snowball effect on your editing process — making it easier or harder for you to do your best work. Those factors are:
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a ton of new gear to capture great audio for your videos. You just have to be really selective about the gear you do purchase and then know how to make the most out of the equipment you already own.
Finding the best audio gear for your recording needs is priority number one. If you’re doing a lot of voice over work, you might opt for a cardioid microphone like the Shure SM7B. If you’re looking for a good shotgun setup, the Rode VideoMic GO might be worth your investment.
There’s a ton of great options to choose from, which is why we’ve put together a roundup of the best ones out there in 2022 — check out this blog post next for that best-of list.
Maybe you film videos in the same studio location every day, or maybe you’re never in the same location twice. Whatever the case, adaptability is a learned skill that every creator involved in sound production needs.
By making A/V scripts, input lists, and other useful documents in pre-production, you and your team can get to work as soon as you set foot on location. Preparing ahead gives you the extra cushion you need to make last-minute adjustments and changes when something goes wrong.
Historically, the process of licensing music and SFX has involved negotiating with copyright owners, paying hefty licensing fees, and making ongoing royalty payments. In other words, fast turnarounds were rare and expenses were high.
But nowadays you can license music in seconds from a royalty free company like Soundstripe . (If you’re curious about your available licensing options, here’s a detailed comparison of Soundstripe vs. YouTube Audio Library.)
This makes it easier and more affordable to get access to the right music for your video, especially when you’re on a tight deadline.
By investing your time and effort into pre-production and production, you’re in the best position to create a great final edit. Here are a couple best practices that can help you streamline your editing process during post-production:
There are many well-built DAWs (digital audio workstations) on the market today, but not all of them will be the right fit for your workflow. Since you also need a video editing software, you might actually prefer to use a tool like Premiere Pro instead of, let’s say, Pro Tools.
When it comes to choosing the best audio editing software, the ultimate test is simply, “Does this tool make it easier or harder to do my best work?”
If you’re interested in comparing the best DAWs out there, this blog post breaks down eight of those options and how they stack up against each other.
After you decide on an audio editing software and start adding all of your sounds to the timeline, you’ll start shaping the video until it looks and sounds exactly like you want.
At this stage, one of the best things you can do is proactively prevent common audio mistakes from happening. This could mean manually editing all of the sounds so that your audio levels are consistent and in the realm of -12db. And using pancake editing as a way to keep your timeline more organized.
Ultimately, every audio-related step that you take from pre-production to post-production has an impact on the sound quality of your video. By adhering to the best practices covered in this blog, you can streamline your editing workflow even when challenges arise.
If you’re interested in honing your post-production skills in additional ways, these articles from the Soundstripe blog are worth a read: