Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Everyone could stand to work a little bit faster, get your job done a little sooner and put a little less effort in while doing it. Especially if you get paid by the project or at the end of a contract. If this sounds a little too good to be true, well for the most part it is. But, if you are editing audio there’s a few things that you can do to help you out and get faster and more efficient. Most of which just require experience, and performing the same tasks over and over until they build an impression in your mind.
Lucky for you when it comes to editing, or using most software, there’s keyboard shortcuts. Utilizing those can save you LOADS of time and make you extremely efficient. Anytime you can omit reaching for the mouse, it’s going to save you time. Let’s go over a few common shortcuts to help you with your editing, now these will all directly apply to Adobe Audition, but they are common among all DAWs and if you just look up these shortcuts in your respective program, you should be able to easily find it.
If it wasn’t for fast forwarding through loads of audio, I would have wasted about twice as much time editing, AT LEAST! If it’s possible in your DAW, you should try and set up the fast forward, rewind, and play/stop buttons right next to each other. In Audition, it’s set to J,K, and L automatically. This will save you tons of time when you have to scrub through an entire podcast and listen for all the “Um’s” and “Ah’s”.
If you fast forward too fast you could get to the point where you can’t quite hear or understand what the person is saying in the audio. You really don’t want to get to that point, just keep at about 1.5x - 2x the speed, as to better understand the pacing and the dialogue.
Along with fast forward, it’s been a pretty big influence in my workflow to have the rewind button right next to it. It’s just one less thing you have to reach for your mouse for. You can scrub through your audio much easier and make intricate cuts a lot quicker.
Crop/Trim (Ctrl + T)
You will usually end up with a bit of audio at the beginning and the end that you don’t need. Whether you’re trying to capture the room tone, or you just want to make sure you get all the audio you need without any cutoff, there’s usually some dead space around the outside of your recording. This is where the “Crop” shortcut will come in handy. All you have to do is highlight the section you want to keep and hit this shortcut, and it will automatically trim the outsides off.
Cut (Ctrl + K)
Cutting is one of the biggest motions about editing a podcast, so it’s extremely beneficial to save time for every cut. This shortcut is used in “non-destructive” (basically means you can manipulate the audio without actually changing the actual file) DAWs only. So if you’re editing on Audacity, this one won’t be so useful to you, but nonetheless it’s super important to know if you’re making cuts and overlaying the two sides together, over and over.
If you ever find yourself lost during a recording, you know you were just silent for way too long, or noticed yourself stuttering a bit, throw a marker down right when you notice it happening. That will save you loads of time in post production, especially if you don’t plan on listening to the whole thing. Markers are a great way to keep your place in post production as well. If you notice a spot where you had no choice but to take away a breath. Mark it for now, then come back to it when you find a breath from another spot in the recording.
You can label your markers as well, and with the right software, you can create chapters from those markers. That way when you upload to your RSS Feed, it will automatically create timecodes for each of your chapters, using the names you’ve provided on the markers.
You will need to be able to hear your audio as well as you can. A great way to turn up the volume with a lot of control is to normalize your audio. That allows you to raise the highest peak of your audio to a specified decibel level. This allows you to get your audio to the highest possible level (-0.1db) without peaking. So you know if you need to compress the audio a bit more, or do some cutting as needed, or maybe even throw on a limiter over the whole thing.
Ripple Delete (Ctrl + Alt + Dlt)
This, again is only going to be useful to someone with a “non-destructive” editor. If you don’t know what ripple deleting is, it’s when you highlight any amount of audio and in one stroke you delete the audio, and fill in the gap that would’ve been made. For whatever reason, this specific one took me a while to find in Audition. I had to remove a certain gap in audio, then manually grab one side, and pull it over to fill the gap. Over the course of an entire episode, this gets pretty time consuming. When I finally found the ripple delete shortcut. Ripple deleting will save you hours when you’re editing, and if you haven’t found your ripple delete command yet, go look for it now, and never look back.