Clean up your narration…

Got to thinking this morning about audio again. Every day you’re out in the field shooting interviews with all kinds of ambiant noise in the background. So once you’re back in your home base, why suddenly is there a requirement for good clean audio when you narrate your voice track for your story? After all, the interviews usually have noise behind them.

First – that background noise is part of their lives…it’s the mood music they live with. The sound of tractors, buzzing of flourescent lights, cheering of crowds, wailing sirens and so on. It actually adds to the flavor of your story and pulls your audience in.

Your narration must be clean so you can ADD natural sound/ambiant noise when you edit video over it. Remember, you’re working with two audio tracks minimum when you edit (unless you’re editing stereo, then it’s four). Your video should always have audio embedded with it – that’s the interview or natsound. So let’s say you’re editing a quick package…narration and interviews interspersed with some natsound. You start with an interview (video with sound) and then go to narration (sound only) and back to interview and some natsound (video with sound). The narration has no video…pretty obvious. But once you place video over it, you’ve added sound too. Think about this – do you really want really muddy sound – your narration recorded in the field with noise behind it and then you add more sound? I don’t think so. Even if you record in the field (with sound behind your narration), when you edit in video the nats behind won’t match the video. That’s why you need a clean audio narration…so you can layer whatever background sound you want over it and it will match the accompanying video.

Some quick suggestions in case you have to do a quick field track (aka narration). Get in your car and put a cover over your head to deaden the sound (a coat, sweater). If you have to, just bend over and read into your lap. Stand close to a wall in a quiet area and read into the wall. A solution some of my students at Middle College came up with was a cardboard box which they glued foam into. They cut away the top and just leaned into it to read. Why go to so much trouble? You don’t want an echo – and coats, foam absorb echos. Give this a try…and see how much cleaner your tracks sound.

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