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!