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Editing Techniques:
Some Thoughts


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Editing techniques have greatly expanded with digital editing and mastering software.

The non-destructive nature of digital, along with accuracy and clarity, offer more options than were ever available with splicing analog tape.

That accuracy is aided with the use of visual waveforms. Trial and error is eliminated. By aligning the rise and fall of waveforms to each other, to be 'in sync', helps to create a smooth and transparent transition the first time.

And ‘editing’ is now a lot more than cut and splice...

What are some of the editing techniques available?

  • Volume changes
  • Fades
  • Enhancements
  • Regeneration

...to name a few.

Volume Changes:

Where some edits would be impossible, because of even a slight volume change between the two edits, the digital realm makes that possible. Mind you as long as the volume change is subtle (1 to 2 dB at the most) the choices can now increase. What would’ve been impossible is now possible

Fades:

Properly placed fades can really tighten up the presentation of music and spoken word tracks.

One project that brings this to mind is an old tape I transferred that was originally recorded in the ‘80’s. It was plagued with slightly louder than normal hiss and a low level hum. Fortunately the music was loud and dynamic enough that it masked these problems. By carefully placing a short, quick fade-in at the head (start) of each song, the hum was ‘eliminated’. Similarly at the tail (end) where a song ended on a long chord, or a short chord with a reverb tail, it was a matter of tailoring that fade out so that it naturally rode along with the music so that any evidence of hum or hiss was removed.

This also saved the project from a lot of additional restoration processing!

There’s another aspect to considering fades particularly when CD masters are concerned. I make sure all files begin and end with a short fade-in and fade-out respectively, and are buffered with a few milliseconds of silence too.

Why?

To avoid any possibility of introducing unwanted clicks at either the start or ends of songs on replicated CD’s.

Enhancements:

So far in the digital world, we can work with volume, with fading, so we have the ability to draw to volume envelopes, obviously.

So another editing technique we have is the creation of accents.

I hear you! It would be very cumbersome and labor intensive to draw in accents at every downbeat for example.

But, I’ve used a variation of this technique to accent just the opening chord of a track to give a song a strong attack. Or to drive the downbeat in a climactic chorus. You know what’s said about first impressions....

This technique can help rescue a file by giving it some new life when no other take is available.

Regeneration:

It’s not unusual to get a request to remove all applause from a concert recording until the end of the concert.

However, the opposite is also asked for!

Let’s face it: awesome performances have been captured before less than appreciative audiences.

So, for example, by copying one or two good applause responses - and - manipulating them appropriately, a live presentation can be given its due to new listeners.

This manipulation can involve:

  • layering different sections together
  • shifting the panning slightly
  • small level changes
  • subtle EQ alterations
  • varying the length with fades,

...alone or in combination. The results are also fair game for further manipulation. The challenge is to make certain they are ‘unique’ as possible or the trick will be discovered!

Another use for regeneration is to correct flubs. Example:

If a musical passage is repeated, this can be used to correct a flawed version played elsewhere. I’m keeping any names absolutely secret, but this happens more often than you think. When this technique is done the right way, it remains a secret.

Another type of regeneration that may be used is ambiance or reverb. If a song has an abrupt cut off for whatever reason, a properly placed reverb tail can be created to give a natural fade end.

By the way, this technique works for not the just the ends of songs, but during the song where splices are needed. This is another case of where digital editing trumps analog editing in spades.

By the way, if you want to hear an example of where this editing technique would have helped, look (or listen) no further than the Beatles Sgt. Pepper track 'She's Leaving Home' at the point where the last verse starts….

Fade Out...

These are just a few of the editing techniques I’ve used to ‘restore’ projects their creators might have otherwise thought as lost and un-salvageable.

Have I given you some ideas? Some hope? Do you have a project you thought was lost you’d like to share?

Get in touch with me now. Let’s find out what we can do!


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