Sound editing help via sticker?

Apple Keyboard Macrophoto © 2007 Declan Jewell | more info (via: Wylio)Using your DAW (digital audio workstation) of choice can be made easier by learning the shortcut keys that all of them offer to help you speed through your recording and edit process. But there are as many key combinations out there as you can come up with by pressing your CTRL and ALT keys (or Command and Apple keys for the Mac fans). That’s a lot of shortcuts…how do you remember them all?

Well, according to EditorsKeys, you don’t. With their keyboard sticker sets, you can have the entire set of shortcuts your program offers right at your….erm, fingertips. For $15.99, there are sticker sets for the following products:

  • Ableton Live
  • Cubase
  • Logic/Logic Express
  • Pro Tools
  • Reason
  • Sibelius
  • Sonar
  • Sound Forge

And if you really want a dedicated keyboard, they also sell keyboards with the shortcuts already labeled for Pro Tools, Cubase, and Logic. These same keyboards and sticker sets are offered for graphic editors and video editors as well. They also sell one of my favorite pieces of editing hardware, the Contour ShuttlePRO v2. Finally, they have a regular newsletter with audio editing tips and tricks you can sign up for.

Becoming fluent in your audio editing tool of choice is critical in your progress as a voice artist, because speed from recording to finished product is something you absolutely must have. These tools can help you get your editing “up to speed” for not a lot of money. And that helps you get auditions and production projects out faster. Who can argue with that?

iAudition iPhone app – for voice artists on the go

A couple of days ago, I got a call asking for an audition to do a narration bit. Unfortunately, I was out of pocket for the rest of the afternoon, and wouldn’t be able to get back to my home studio to record it. I was not thrilled with the idea of leaving that opportunity on the table. Fortunately, I had seen the chatter about iAudition, an iPhone app developed by Everyday Giants specifically to record and lightly edit auditions for voice artists, and deliver them via multiple paths. Considering my situation, I thought I would give it a try, even though I was dubious about the quality of the iPhone’s internal mic. At $4.99, what did I have to lose except some business?

A quick purchase, and I was able to record, quickly edit, and send the audition from my iPhone 3GS, sending the file over the 3G network since wi-fi was unavailable at the moment. Later in the evening, I got the thumbs up, and I got the gig. The positive result demands a full review of iAudition, don’t you think?

iAudition Home Screen

iAudition Home Screen

After installation, iAudition opens with a very simple user interface: a large red “record” button in the center of your screen. Tapping the button starts the recording, and it switches to a large pause button. You will likely have to try a few times to find out what the ideal mic placement is if you are only using the iPhone like I was yesterday. You can stop and start the recording as many times as you like before beginning editing. The application warns you as you enter the edit phase that you will no longer be able to record into the file. Keep that in mind before hitting the edit phase, and you should be just fine.

Of course, editing on such a small screen could be quite a chore. Everyday Giants has done an admirable job of making the edit process as simple as possible given the constraints of the device.You can scroll back and forth along the wave form, zooming in and out by familiar pinch and squeeze gestures. Zoom levels go down to 3 seconds, so you won’t be able to select and eliminate every click and pop you have, but you can come close. Selecting an area to cut is done with the partial clock icons on the bottom. Tap the timeline above to position the cursor, then tap the left partial clock face icon to select all the wavefrom after the cursor, the right partial clock face icon to select all of the wavefrom before the cursor, and the whole clock face in the center to

iAudition Edit Screen

iAudition Edit Screen

eliminate all selections. Once an area is selected, it can be cut and pasted with ease via two more buttons. Copy, Undo and Redo  are available from the “More” button. No, this editor isn’t going to make you forget about Pro Tools, Audition, or Audacity, but given the limitations of a touch screen interface in this particular application type, you have to tip your hat for the effort.

Once you are happy with you edit, you tap the File button, and you are given the option to Close without saving, Save, Save and Close, or Save As. Once have saved the file, you need to tap File and Close without Saving to exit the edit process. You will be taken to the file management screen, where you can choose to edit, delete, play back, or send the finished file. Playback defaults to headphones, so you have to tap the Speaker button to hear it play on the iPhone’s speakers. It was on this screen that I had a few issues with the iPhone going dark very quickly, before the default timeout period for battery saving. A minor difficulty, but one you should be aware of.

iAudition File Management

iAudition File Management

If you choose to send the file, you can choose between email and an FTP server. However, you must set up the FTP server in question in the application settings first before being able to access it. One other option for transferring files is via an HTTP Share. Select this option, and iAudition gives you back a URL. Input that URL into your browser, and you can grab the file over your wifi connection as if it were another web server on the net. Note that when the program saves files, they are in WAV form, but sending them via email transfer sends an MP3, which is especially handy when sending over your 3G connection instead of wifi. Pulling them across via HTTP Share gives you the actual WAV.

As I stated before, the weakest link in this chain is the iPhone’s microphone. The resulting recording certainly won’t match what you do with your in studio gear. But it is good enough to get your audition through. You can listen to a sample recording here. However, if you are one of those so blessed with an iPad, you can connect some USB microphones to it via the iPad Camera Connection Kit. It is verified that the Blue Microphone Yeti does function in this setup, though I am not certain if it is something that works with iAudition or only with the Blue FiRe app. I’d love to hear from someone who tries this kind of setup.

Could iAudition do more? I am certain that some processing and/or EQ could be added to the app in the iPad environment, since it sports a much more muscular processor. But again, this isn’t designed for very delicate editing and recording, and neither is the platform, at least not yet.

iAudition enters a field that is crowded with non-voiceover specific recording apps for iOS. But for $5, the functionality is hard to beat, and it is easy enough to use that if you are an iOS device owner, it belongs in your traveling kit right now. The creators of iAudition, voice actors Marc Aflalo and Mitchell Whitfield, have worked to create a product specifically with our market in mind. In my estimation, they have been successful.

Revised 11/22/10 for inclusion of iAudition creators.

A good music resource

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My friend David Houston points out a great music and SFX resource in his blog “Do That Voice!” It is, and it offers free music and sound effects that are royalty free, a big key for using either in your voiceover productions. Check it out, and stop by David’s blog too. It will be well worth your time!