Week 5 (10/3): Editing Audio

audition editing dashboard
Screenshot by Caz Adams


Preparing for Editing

If you don’t want to end up in a mess and find yourself having lost files and unable to make a final output file, then prepare yourself before editing.

Make 5 Folders.

Folder 1 (main folder) give it your Project Name (e.g. Coffee Culture)

Folder 2 – name it VO – Coffee Culture (or CC)

Place all recorded VO takes in this Folder

*  Place Folder 2 in Folder 1 (Project Folder)

Folder 3 – name it Interview – Coffee Culture (or CC)

Place all recorded Interview takes in this Folder

*  Place Folder 3 in Folder 1

Folder 4 – name it SFX (Sound Effects) – Coffee Culture (or CC)

Place all SFX in this Folder

*  Place Folder 4 in Folder 1

Folder 5 – name it Music – Coffee Culture (or CC)

Place all music tracks in this Folder

Place Folder 5 in Folder 1

So you should only have 1 folder visible on the Desktop and that is your Project Folder.

Your Project Folder now contains your 4 other folders:

    1. VO
    2. Interview
    3. SFX
    4. Music


At any stage throughout the edit, if you need to add anything extra, say another SFX, put it in the SFX folder before bringing it into Audition.

If you don’t put everything in the correct Folder as you go and later decide to clean the desktop up/move files, then Audition software can’t find them and they appear as missing in your edit.

This applies to video editing, too.

If you don’t follow this rule, you can end up in a mess and waste a lot of time trying to link things up again. It can be very frustrating.

It’s always a good idea to gather extra SFX and a few different music tracks.

Sometimes the track or SFX you think is going to be perfect, doesn’t actually sit so well with the VO. If you have others ready to try, it can save a lot of time searching all over again.

Just make sure you put it in them in the right folder – SFX or Music.

Now that you have all your elements in folders …

*  Open a project in AUDITION and name it.

*  Listen to all VO takes and choose the best, same with any interviews

*  Lay the best VO take on 1 track

*  Lay SFX on another track

*  Lay music on another track

Remember to save your Audition file inside your Project Folder.

Check this out!

YouTube – AUDITION Software Tutorial

There are many other Audition tutorials on YouTube for every phase of editing that you may require now or in the future. So there’s no need to ever get stuck.


*  In most circumstances it is best to fade in SFX / Music and then fade it out

*  Make sure that SFX and Music are not so loud that the narration can’t be heard and understood

*  If you know you are adding a SFX or fading music in or out, allow a space in the VO before the next paragraph/sentence. This space can be moved to make it longer or shorter once the SFX or music is laid down.


When you listen to a professionally produced podcast / audio story, it comes to life in your ears because of all the background sound effects and music that give it realism and emotionally support the story.

Remember how well it was done in the Audio Feature we listened to in Week #1.

Now that you’re ready to edit, it would be well worth having another listen…

Unravel S4 E1 The Girl With the Dragonfly Tattoo

Bringing a location / scene to life

Embed from Getty Images

If you had to bring a city school playground to life some SFX to have ready would be:

    • Children laughing
    • Children shouting / cheering / calling
    • Shoes running on a hard surface
    • A ball bouncing on a hard surface
    • A bell ringing / whistle blowing
    • A teacher calling out
    • Nearby cars / traffic (these would be kept low)
    • Bus pulling up / leaving
    • Plane flying overhead
    • Possibly birds tweeting
    • A plane flying overhead

That’s quite a lot of everyday sounds you would hear if you were standing in a school playground, yet at first thought we would probably only think of a few of these.

That’s because when we use our eyes to see the scene we often don’t comprehend all the sounds that are adding to what we see.

In most cases a person with limited sight hears way more than those with full sight.

A good exercise is to close you eyes and HEAR what sounds are all around you.

Busy street in New York City
Photo: pxhere.com/CC

Write a list of all the SFX that you can think of to support the following locations/scenes.

    • A farm
    • A family making breakfast in the morning
    • A lone female walking along a deserted street at night – make it scary!

Now write down what style of music would support those scenes.

e.g. For an everyday school playground: energetic, lively music would work well.  Mysterious, romantic or marching music would not be appropriate.

For a family breakfast, heavy metal would most probably not be suitable, whereas something light and friendly would.

Note: there are many SFX and Music tracks on the Student Drive that you can choose.

You can also search online for Royalty Free / Copyright Free SFX and Music, and there are some good tips here: Useful links: CC-licenced music and sound.

Just be aware that some of the so called FREE tracks are not actually free. You have to buy them and then you can use them forever without paying any extra fee.

Some require you to agree to give them a credit every time you use them.

So in most cases, best to stick with the tracks on the Student Drive.

Note:  At times using the most unlikely music can work well for comedy or to unsettle an audience. But it’s very tricky to get it right!


If you are a composer / musician – go for it! Use your own music.

If you can’t find the SFX you want to try making the sound and recording it yourself. This is what Foley Artists do for films.

They watch a film and make sounds to bring it to life.

Let’s face it, a movie with no music and sound effects wouldn’t be nearly as captivating!

Watch: The Magic of Making Sound

Oh, and in a Hollywood fight scene – SFX for breaking bones is snapping celery!


It’s your choice whether you include your questions or leave them out and just use the answers.

For a Podcast it can work better to include your questions as it may be a more informal chat style.

For an Audio Feature it often works better not to include your questions.

You can differentiate between answers by laying different voices next to each other. Say… a male’s answer, followed by a female’s answer. Or maybe a young female followed by an older female.

Another way to separate voices is to use a SFX or music sting between answers.

If the duration of your audio is too long, then cut out the questions. It will cut out a lot of time. 


It’s always best to bring your final product in on the minute, half minute or quarter/three quarter minute.

e.g. 4 mins 15 secs, 4 mins 30 secs, 4 mins 45 secs, 5 mins.

This is so that a radio station can easily slot in into a time slot.

Odd timings really make a mess of their programming schedule.

Radio ads must come in at either 10, 15, 30, 45 or 60 secs on the dot!

Occasionally there may be a 2 min ad but that’s very rare these days.

If your Podcast/Feature is a few secs too short – add more music / SFX.

You might like to separate narration thoughts/direction by adding some music.

If it’s too long by a few secs, tighten something.

This could be less music or even cutting out a sentence, question or answer.



Author: veritychambers

Journalist and teacher

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