Podcast editing is one of the most tedious and hated parts of podcasting. Here are several tips for faster audio- and video-editing.
1. Plan more
Failure to plan is a plan to fail (similar quotations have been attributed to Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill). Having an effective plan for your podcast episode significantly reduces the need for editing.
Know where you want to go with the conversation, who leads certain segments and transitions, and know your information well enough that you'll have everything you need to communicate well.
2. Improve your presentation
Most of the things podcasters want to edit out are mistakes. It's certainly a valid point that imperfections are what make us human (more on that in the next tip).
If you get better at communicating clearly and presenting well, then you won't have as much to edit.
Instead of trying to edit out every imperfection, work to reduce your reliance on such verbal crutches. Then, if a little verbal crutch does make its way in, it won't be very distracting and you won't have to worry about editing it.
Presentation skill goes beyond the words you use. It's about how you communicate and share information. Generally, confident communication requires less editing than uncertain communication. Or if you're passionately expressing something, people will get less distracted by some of the verbal crutches that sneak in.
A great presentation requires much less editing
3. Change your approach
Planning and presenting well help reduce the number of mistakes that may need to be edited. You may also need to change your approach to your podcast-editing.
Many podcasters are harming themselves by trying to obtain perfection in their recordings: edit out every verbal crutch, fix every mistake, or have absolutely no dead air. These can kill your enthusiasm for podcasting.
Instead of looking for what to editing, consider editing only the significantly distracting things. Or even better than that, challenge yourself to record episodes with no intention of editing.
These first three steps may not seem like podcast-editing time-savers, but they're small conceptual investments that make the rest of your editing faster and easier. Now, I'll get into the practical tools.
4. Create templates
Whatever tools you use, you probably have the ability to either make a project template, or keep a template project as your starting point.
Professional software (such as Adobe Audition) will allow you to make actual templates, which are usually selectable when you create a new project. But if you can't do that with your software, make a project with everything except your unique vocal track, then open that and “Save As” when creating your new project.
This template might contain any of the following.
- Bumpers—Pre-insert your intro, outro, and segues onto their own track with fades already configured. Then, you need only to shift them to their right times.
- Track effects—Some editing tools allow you to apply effects to any audio on a particular track. This saves you from having to reprocess the audio each time.
- Timings—Place a marker on your bumpers so you know exactly where your vocal track(s) should begin or end.
5. Use the right tools
Sure, you can probably drive in a nail with a spoon, but a hammer does the job much better. Using the wrong tool for the job could be making more work for yourself, or making it impossible to do what you need.
6. Learn how to use your tools effectively
All podcasting software and equipment has a learning curve. And each tool, especially software, probably has something that could make your podcast editing easier and faster.
Learn more about each tool you use, and you may discover that you don't need to upgrade because you can do what you want with what you already have.
7. Upgrade to better tools
Free tools have a cost—usually in time or knowledge required to use them. I switched from Audacity to Adobe Audition primarily because of how it improved my workflow.
Other free tools may be limited in features or functions (Auphonic‘s free online service will only process so much audio per month).
I once spent an hour fine-tuning the advanced noise reduction processor in Adobe Audition. But then I tried the same original audio in desktop Auphonc Leveler and I got even better results in a tiny fraction of the time.
Speaking of Auphonic, you may want to consider upgrading to desktop Auphonic Multitrack. It will do all of the normal Auphonic processing, but also compare across synchronized tracks for beautiful cross-track processing. For example, Auphonic Leveler may increase the crossover audio your cohost's microphone picked up, but Auphonic Multitrack will recognize which track has the active audio and appropriately adjust the others.
The best time to upgrade your tools is when they would make your work easier.
8. Mark edit points
To support changing your approach to editing, mark the times you know will need something removed.
This could be where anything bad happened that you think was distracting enough to edit out later. For example, cross-talk, an interruption, a horrible mistake, etc.
Many recording apps and devices allow you to place a marker directly in the recording. But test this before you rely on it.
Alternatively, you could keep a small note going to quickly write the timestamp of where you need to edit.
If your edit points are not marked directly into your audio, then edit from the end to the beginning. This ensures that you're not shifting all the timestamps you wrote down with each edit before it.
9. Give margin for easy editing
If you make a mistake big enough that you decide to edit it, make it easy for yourself by pausing and restating what you meant to say.
Hard to edit: “I bought a podcast microwave—I mean microphone—the other day.”
Easy to edit: “I bought a podcast microwave—[pause]. I bought a podcast microphone the other day.”
If you restate something, try to say it just as smoothly as you were saying it the first time, instead of trying to “squeeze in” your correction.
This kind of margin makes it easy to cut out the whole messed up part, instead of trying to cut inside of a sentence.
10. Watch the transitions
The most likely edit points in podcasts are transitions. (TIP: Get better at transitioning!) This is especially true with cohosted or interview episodes.
If you recording in multiple tracks, then it will be easy to see where one person stopped talking and the other started. This are prime areas for mistakes, awkward silences, cross-talk, or pointless babble (as someone fills silence before their actual answer).
Look at both the beginnings and endings of such transitions. I estimate that 75% or more of your presentation-improving edits will be in those places.
If you host a show by yourself, these transitions would be when you move from one point to the next, one segment to the next, or one topic to the next.
11. Use and customize keyboard shortcuts
Nearly every app has keyboard shortcuts. These could be a universal key combination, like Ctrl-V or Cmd-V for pasting, or they could be something combined with your mouse activity (click, scroll, hover, etc.).
Often, these shortcuts are designed to make logical sense. For example, Apple and Adobe apps use generally Shift to constrain or select a range, Alt/Option to change the the behavior.
A good command of these shortcuts means potentially never having to move your hands away or searching for the thing you need.
12. Play at faster speeds
It can get crazy, but many editing apps allow you to playback the audio or video at faster speeds. Unfortunately, this usually results in a higher-pitched, “chipmunk” voice. But it can work great for quickly finding areas to edit.
Audacity has a playback speed feature, but Audition currently requires you to hold down the mouse cursor on the forward button during playback.
13. Truncate silence
If you can stop the habit of using verbal crutches to fill dead air, you may end up with some awkward silences. Sometimes, a truncate silence tool (included in most audio-editing apps) can easily reduce these.
I don't recommend that you try to completely remove silences, because silences are important in communication. It's also possible that removing the silences in your slow sentence will make you sound robotic.
Seek only to reduce the duration of these silences. Most of the truncate silence tools allow you to do this by specifying a ratio for condensing the silence. For example, a 3:1 ratio would condense a 2-second silence to 2/3 of a second. Thus, the silence is still there, but only shorter.
What tips do you have for speeding up your podcast editing? Comment below!
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