Planning to use Google Voice to put together a multimedia project featuring audio responses from your audience? Here are some tips on editing audio to keep in mind.
"Editing should be an aggressive process," advised Mark Lewis, corporate multimedia editor for JRC. "Cut until you think that losing one more piece would sink the project. As a rule, tighter tends be better."
Select for emotion
Audio is an excellent way to convey emotion — as a listener, we can hear the intonation of the speaker's voice and understand the emotions driving it. That means audio can be a powerful tool, but in order to capitalize on it, you've got to be selecting for those passion-filled, emotional responses.
Skip over the dry, monotonous responses. If you include them, you risk losing the listener. So no matter how well-versed the response is, it's not worth including if it means driving away listeners.
Keep it short. Really, really short.
We're all familiar with the term soundbyte, but what is a soundbyte, really? I like this sentence from wikipedia that sums it up this way: "A short phrase or sentence that deftly captures the essence of what the speaker is trying to say."
How short is relative. In a video I produced this week, I included a clip of an accident witness simply saying "Ka-boom!" to describe what the accident sounded like. In the context of the video, it worked.
A good soundbyte can be as short as a couple words. Whether it works is all about context and emotion.
Moving quickly from one quick soundbyte to another gives these projects great movement to keep the listener engaged.
Lead with the best
Just as we know to lead our stories with the most engaging information first (and your videos, now that you've all been through the JRC video training, right?), the same goes for audio.
Saving the best response for last is useless if the listener gets bored with the less-than-best responses you led with and ditches before he or she reaches the end.
Keep them engaged. Start with your best.
If you asked five people for their opinion on something and they all gave the same answer, would you include all five answers in your print story? I hope not — space is tight, right?
Apply the same method to audio.
If you have a bunch of responses that are essentially the same, take the most passionate one and cut the rest.
Even if the point you're trying to convey is that everyone is saying the same thing, be selective. Choose the best and get rid of the rest.
I struggled at first with how to give credit to the people who participated — many left their names verbally, which meant I'd have to call back to confirm spellings if I was going to use a scrolling credit screen.
I ended up using their audio instead, selecting the brief second or two it took them to state their name, and using them at the end of the project. You'd hear my voice say, "Today's audio contributors include" followed by each person saying their own name.
Just a suggestion.