Audio Editing Exercises

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In order to get the hang of using Pro Tools, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty. Each of these exercises has a solution outlined on the Editing With ProTools page, and by working through them you will gain a much better grasp of how to use Pro Tools.

It is useful to note that these exercises are cumulative, they will build on each other, so it’s best to do them in order. If you find something that is confusing, consult the relevant section of Editing With ProTools. Working through any obstacles you encounter is the best way to learn, so try to work out a solution. If you have looked everywhere in the Wiki and are still unsure what to do, find your trainer and ask them.

Finally, most sections will have Extra Credit. The Extra Credit will be a little more advanced and is absolutely not required to be proficient in Pro Tools. Instead, they include little tips and tricks that will make moving around in Pro Tools a little easier. Do not feel obligated to do the Extra Credit portions, as they are meant as a supplement to the more important lessons.

Exercise 1: Recording

First you are going to record some dialogue.

  1. Open ProTools.
  2. Name the file using your name, i.e., JohnDoe, and set up a track for recording.
  3. Make sure you have a good level and then record yourself saying this:
    "This is <your name> and I'm recording some sample dialogue for KDHX."
  4. After the first line wait five seconds or so and continue.
    "I'm messing around in Pro Tools, trying to figure stuff out. I'm going to be the master of Pro Tools once these lessons are done and then look out!"

Notes: Always make sure that Pro Tools is recording before you begin speaking. Do not stop the recording at the end until you have recorded about five seconds of ambient silence.

You do not have to read the entire piece perfectly in one take. If you flub a line just pause and say it again. For instance, if you accidentally say “I’m messing around in Toe Prools,” just stop for a second, then say “3... 2... 1... I’m messing around in Pro Tools.” You can edit out the bad take later and it makes the recording process much quicker and less stressful.

Extra Credit

In this illustration, look at the right side of the window.

  1. There is a small arrow that is pointing downward. Find it on your own ProTools screen and click it.
    -There will be a few options displayed and the top four will be Zoom controls, Transport, MIDI controls and Synchronization.
  2. For now, just focus on Transport. Go ahead and click it.
  3. What did it do? Click it again.
  4. Now what did it do?

If you ever open Pro Tools and your Transport is not visible, this is how you can get it back online.

Write down any mistakes that you made during this lesson. Keep this list with you so you do not make the same mistakes again.

Exercise 2: Editing

  1. Remember the five second gap you left when recording that line of dialogue? It should have been immediately after the first line. If you did not leave a five-second gap, go back and re-record it now.
  2. Replace that five-second gap with roughly a half second of ambient silence.
    - Refer to the Wiki if you need help. Remember to use Command-C to Copy, and Command-V to Paste.
  3. Edit out any bad takes and use ambience to smooth out any noises or breaths. The goal is to make the entire dialogue sound natural.

Notes: While listening to the recording, mark the places where there are mistakes by hitting Enter twice on the numeric pad. You can also do this during recording. It is a handy way to make note of places that will require some editing.

Extra Credit

This Extra Credit will teach you a very important tool to use -- the Selector tool.

  1. Highlight the back half of your audio waveform and hit delete.
  2. Don’t panic! Hit Command-Z or go to Edit => Undo.

Presto! Your audio has returned!

Command-Z, aka Undo, is very powerful and will allow you to reverse the previous action performed.

Just like in the last lesson, write down any mistakes or any breakthroughs that you experienced. You can refer to them in the next recording attempt.

Exercise 3: Using the Trim Tool

After the previous two lessons, you should have a single line of dialogue that has been edited to sound and flow naturally. Good job so far!

Now, you are going to explore using the Trim Tool.

  1. Using only the Trim Tool for editing, make the audio end after “I’m messing around in ProTools trying to figure stuff out.”
  2. Expand the gap after the first line, the gap fixed in the last exercise, to two seconds. Remember, for this exercise, you should only use the Trim Tool.
  3. All done? Awesome. Again, using only the Trim Tool, put everything back the way it was when you began this exercise.

Exercise 4: Cross-Fading

Cross-fading is a more advanced technique, but it’s a good one to know. This technique can be handy when editing two pieces of audio together.

For example, if a line was flubbed and you have to edit around it, cross-fading can make the transition sound seamless.

For this exercise:

  1. Set up a new audio track for recording.
  2. Mute the previous track that you were working with.
  3. On the new track, record this dialogue:
    "I need to learn how to cross-fade. It will make me better at Pro Tools. It will make me better at Pro Tools and being better at Pro Tools is cool."
  4. Delete the second “It will make me better at ProTools,” and use a cross-fade to make it sound natural.