Tag Archives: audiobook editing

Editing and Spacing with Alex the Audio Scientist

ADBLCRE-ACX_Character_IconHi, folks! I hope you’re ready to learn, because today, I’d like to kick off fall audiobook production lessons with three facets of your post-recording process:

Editing, QC, and Spacing

Audiobook editing is both an art and a skill. The aim is to achieve a clean, professional-sounding audiobook that elevates the source material. It consists of a two-step process commonly referred to as “Editing and QC.”

 

Step 1: Editing:

  • Remove extraneous sounds from your recording (mouth noises, pops, keyboard clicks, etc.).
  • Modify the pace of narration, if necessary.
  • When appropriate, portions of the recording that are edited out are replaced with clean room tone.

Step 2: QC (Quality Control):

  • Listen to the audio while reading the manuscript to ensure they match exactly.
  • Mark down any errors (misreads, mispronunciations, or noises you can’t edit out) to a QC sheet, which will be used when you rerecord. You can find the QC sheet Audible Studios editors use here.

Once you’ve completed the QC step, you’ll rerecord the errors you’ve marked and re-insert them into your original audio files. These rerecorded sections of audio are sometimes called “pickups.”

A Pro Tools session featuring unedited, or “raw,” audio on top and edited audio below.

Editing Ratios

Audible Studios’ editors aim for a specific ratio of time spent on the edit or QC to the audiobook’s overall running time to ensure that these steps fall within the schedule and budget of the full production.

  • When editing, the ratio should be 3:1, or three hours spent editing for every one hour of recorded time.
  • For the QC process, the ratio should be 1.2:1, or 72 minutes of QC for every 60 minutes of recording.

If you find yourself working faster than this, I recommend a second edit and QC pass to make sure you haven’t missed an error. If you’re consistently taking longer than recommended, you may be focusing too much on certain aspects of the edit. Try listening to some samples and reading reviews on Audible to learn what really bothers listeners.

One way to stay within these guidelines is to speed up the playback in your DAW, so that you cover more ground than at the normal speed. While this may take some practice, it can help ensure that your editing is done quickly and correctly. If you go this route, I recommend you start at 1.2x speed, working your way up to 1.5x speed, as you get more comfortable.

To learn even more about the editing process, watch this video from the experts at Audible Studios.

Spacing

When it comes to spacing, ACX’s requirements help ensure that your audiobook productions stand shoulder to shoulder with all the titles on sale at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Our requirements state:

Each uploaded file must have between 0.5 and 1 second of room tone at the head, and between 1 and 5 seconds of room tone at the tail.

Why is this so important? Think of the spacing within your audiobook as the layout of words on pages and of pages within chapters of a print or eBook. Without proper spacing denoting the end of a scene or beginning of a new chapter, your listener could feel lost within the book, and the impact of your narration may be lessened. The easiest way to follow this requirement is to paste in the appropriate amount of clean room tone at the head and tail of each file.

I hope this gives you a good understanding of one of the most important aspects of audiobook production. Check out my other posts for more audiobook production education, and come back soon for more tips straight from The Audio Scientist.

Quick Tips for Editing and Spacing:

Make sure you have clean room tone. If you don’t, you could be creating more problems than you’re solving.

Record new room tone any time you change your microphone or studio settings. The old room tone may not match the sound of the new recording you are applying it to.

Always wear headphones. You need to be in an isolated environment to ensure the narration stays natural and any cut is seamless.

Get into the habit of marking everything. If you find a click, pop, noise, or QC error, make sure you mark the instance within your DAW! That way, when you go back to make the edits, you won’t have missed anything.

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How To Review Your Final Audio The Audible Studios Way

Today we’re offering advice for producers and rights holders on reviewing their final audio for ACX. The steps we’ll outline can be used by a narrator before submitting their final audio to a rights holder, and authors can apply the same method before clicking “approve” to send the book to ACX for processing. We’ve got some great insight from the Audible Studios team, so let’s get right to it.

A Two Step Process

Audible’s editors listen to the entire book end to end, twice through, while following along with the manuscript. The first pass is called the edit pass, and the editor is mainly listening for and fixing technical deficiencies: sounds under words or “in the clear ” (between sentences), loud or unnatural breaths, mouth noises, plosives, pacing issues, and consistency of sound over the course of a long day of reading or between multiple sessions on different days. Audible editor Ashlee Harrison offers her advice on what to listen for when editing:

The most important thing to remember about editing audiobooks is to make the pacing sound natural (in regards to unnecessary or non-existent spacing). Something that I’ve learned really bugs listeners is unnecessary mouth clicks, and distracting noises that could easily be removed. Also, be sure to look out for cut or unnatural breaths. In some cases these things can be completely removed or simply cropped with a fade in to make it sound better.

The second, or “QC” pass focuses on the read, with an editor listening to make sure the narrator is voicing the words exactly as written. They’re also listening for mispronunciations, as well as ensuring that character names, place names, and voices or accents are consistent throughout the book.

How Audible Gets It Done

When it’s time to edit/QC, the issues listed above are either edited out or marked to be rerecorded (also called a “pickup”). When editing, it’s important to do so cleanly; that is, to surgically remove offending noises and keep the pacing consistent and appropriate by inserting clean room tone when appropriate. When marking pickups in the script, highlight the sentences before and after the portion containing the error. These surrounding sentences should be rerecorded as well. This will help ensure the editor is able to seamlessly insert the newly recorded audio into the original file. You’ll also note the particulars of the mistake, and where/when it occurred on a “QC Sheet.” This document is essential for ensuring that your list of corrections are organized and easy to understand. You can find a useable example of Audible’s QC sheet here.

Audible’s editors aim for a ratio of 3:1 on the edit pass and 1.2:1 on the QC pass. This means that a 10 hour book should take roughly 30 hours to edit and 12 hours to QC, though it may take longer depending on the subject matter, the language used, and the amount of errors made by the narrator. This strikes the right balance between attention to detail and the need to produce the title in a reasonable amount of time. ACX rights holders that are reviewing final audio can can focus on the QC pass, leaving the slower, edit focused listen to their producer.

With both the producer and rights holder listening in full, you’re bound to catch nearly all of the items in need of correction in your production. Your listeners will appreciate the attention to detail that produces a great sounding audiobook.

What are your secrets to a successful edit/QC? Tell us in the comments!