There are several things you can do before, during, and after recording to make your voice overs for eLearning sound more professional in your courses. Here are some simple suggestions to help you in the post editing process.
Now that you’ve finished your voice over recording, you have an unedited audio clip that needs to be touched up. Depending on how you recorded your voice over you will need to split up your clips and apply some simple editing techniques.
If you recorded one long clip instead of several shorter clips, it would be advantageous to apply whatever editing techniques you’re going to use for your voice over to the entire audio clip first and then worry about splitting it up into individual clips. But if you recorded your clips separately you can always run a batch process to edit all the clips once you’re ready to do so.
There are several effects and techniques that are available when post editing your audio. Much of it depends on what software you are using, but there are a few basic effects and techniques that are pretty much available across the board with audio software. Personally, I am a fan of Adobe Audition, which is available with the Adobe Creative Cloud membership. Audacity and NCH Wavepad are also other good options for editing voice overs.
Here are some simple tips that you can do to help make your voice over sound more professional:
1. Normalize your Audio
This will basically raise the volume of your clip to the level that you specify. If you normalized to 100% then the program you are using would find the loudest point of audio and raise that to 100% along with the rest of the clip, respectively. So if you want an even sounding audio clip then it would be a good idea to find the loudest areas of your clip and bring down the volume in those areas specifically first, then normalize your audio. For instance – if you have a clip that looks like this, you could select the portion that is louder than the rest and bring it down; then normalize the audio.
2. Apply EQ to your Audio
Doing this to your clip can help with a number of things. You can control the low, mid, and high frequencies of your recording. A lot of times when you record, the microphone will pick up some unwanted low frequencies that can be eliminated with a high pass filter. The best thing to do is to experiment with your EQ settings and see what differences it makes as you listen to your audio clip. There isn’t one specific EQ setting that will work with every audio clip so you just need to play around with it to find what works for what you recorded. A lot of it depends on what microphone was used, the voice talent’s type of voice, and the environment the recording was done. Here is a helpful infographic that will point you in the right direction.
3. Use Noise Reduction/De-esser
These two effects can be extremely helpful when there unwanted noises in your audio clip. Noise reduction effects zero in on the background or humming noises and eliminate them digitally. The de-esser effect can help with the unwanted “sssss” sounds that can occasionally be harsh to the ears. These two effects are extremely helpful if used correctly but be aware that they can alter the sound of your audio significantly and at times make your voice over sound more robotic than human. So again, I’d recommend experimenting with the settings of these effects and see how it affects the audio. These effects are also not available with all audio editing software, so it is dependent on what you’re using. I will address the noise reduction / de-esser effects in detail in upcoming posts. So stay tuned!
4. Apply Cutting/Clipping and Fading
Whether or not you recorded one long clip or several shorter clips for your voice over, you’ll still need to clean up your audio bits before saving them to use in your eLearning courses. You don’t want five seconds of silence at the beginning or end of an audio clip you will use in a course, so it’s best to cut down each audio bit so that it contains only what you want it to. It is good practice to fade in each clip at the beginning and fade out at the end. Use good judgment when cutting out breaths. You want the voice over to sound like a real human being and breathing is part of being human. However, unnecessarily long breaths can be distracting to the listener. Also, if you have time constraints, you could cut out unnecessary breathing and empty space out of the audio clip. Most audio editing programs have a “Save Selected Region” or “Save Selection As” function. This can be helpful when editing a long clip. Just select the region you want to save as an individual clip and right click your mouse. Save that as an individual clip and move onto your next clip.
(Click Save Section As...)
There are many other techniques for the post-editing process, but the most important thing to remember is that the more you prepare prior to recording your voice overs the less you’ll have to do in the post-edit. If you do your best to get a good recording to begin with then you will have less of a headache when it comes time to edit your audio.
Click here to get some useful tips on How to Record Voice Overs for eLearning (Part 1) and click here to get Voice Over Tips for eLearning – During Recording (Part 2). Stay tuned for upcoming posts on where I will do some video tutorials on some of these editing techniques using Adobe Audition.
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