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Editing your Audio


This is something a lot more people should do. Seriously.

Tim Park (dokidoki)'s video "Nyo is war" is 1 minute 15 seconds long. The original song (The Game by Motorhead) is a lot longer than that.

Now, even two minutes isn't very long for a video. However, 2+ minutes for a quick joke… too long. This is why the audio is cut down to 1 min 15. It's a 1 min 15 second joke, basically, and Tim knew that.

"The original song on the CD was about three times longer than this, but I cut it down so the video wouldn't wear out its welcome."

If only more video makers understood this fact as well.

I've seen plenty of videos in which people write opinions complaining about the length. If you think your song is too long, cut it down. It stops you from getting repetitive and sloppy toward the end of the vid anyway.

OK, now as for what software to use, I've been racking my brains over this one for a while.

Basically, despite there being better programs and better ways of doing this, I wanted this guide to be useful to everyone and hence I've had to find and option that everyone can use. So, for this audio editing guide we will be using the freeware open-source program Audacity.

It's not the most advanced of audio editing software but it's free. You can actually do exactly the same thing here that you can in many commercial programs but those... you know... cost money. If you have one of those fancy programs then hopefully it's fancy enough to have a nice manual.

Editing with Audacity (hey, that sounds cool)

Right, load up Audacity.

First of all go into File -> Preferences -> File Format and select "Make a copy of the file to edit".

Open up your wav file using File -> Open.

Then select Project -> Import Audio (Ctrl + I) and then select your wav file again.

Audacity Menu: Project > Import Audio... (Ctrl+I)

This will import another copy of your wav file in parallel with the original. For this guide I decided to edit a copy of Yume no Naka e (the Kare Kano end theme) but you can edit whatever you like ^^;;

For my edit, I decided to radically shorten the song by making it only have the first verse and then the last two choruses. In order to do this, I have to single out the last two choruses and make them start instead of the first chorus.

Audacity has very few tools but they are all really useful for this sort of editing. We have the selection tool, which allows you to select an area of the wave by clicking and dragging the left mouse button. Next up is the Envelope tool which is really really useful. With this you can edit the volume of any section of the wave by putting in points and Audacity will do a logarithmic volume increase/decrease between the points. The last tool is the Time Shift tool which we will use to move the second wave around to put it in place.

First thing you will have to do is find the section of the 2nd wave you want to move. When you play in Audacity, both waves are played together and this may cause clipping due to amplification of the 2 waves so you may want to mute one of the waves during playback until later on.

Find the section that you need and then select the envelope tool put in points (1 and 2) to adjust the audio on the second wave so that it looks like this:

Audacity - Envelope points

[my picture only shows the second wave cause I've already edited the first one, but yours will show both wavs]

What you'll want to do next is use the Time Shift tool and drag the 2nd wave near to the place where you want it to come in. On mine this was the first chorus, which is quite lucky as it means I can really easily synch the audio in place by comparing the different versions of the choruses as follows:

Audacity - Overlapping waves

OK, once you think you have the second wave in place, use the envelope tool again until you get something that looks like this:

Audacity - Making the transition seamless

Now make sure none of the waves are muted and play the section back. With any luck it will be seamless, transparent and sounding great. However, if you are doing something like removing a solo or similar you may not have a visual comparison like I have (as I'm replacing with something that sounds the same). In these circumstances it is best to use the envelope just like in the picture above and then move your 2nd wave around and change the envelope points until it all sounds right. When all is done you should get a final wave like this:

Audacity - Bigger Picture

Obviously if you have to do more than one edit then you can import another version of the wave and do the same again. Audacity is nice and fast so this shouldn't take very long at all.

That's all, basically. Make sure that there are no sections overlapping that you don't want and then you can save the whole thing as a wav file in the File menu - you don't need to merge them or anything.

AbsoluteDestiny - May 2004