• Assembling a Basic Audio Story Using Adobe Audition

    By Reuben Stern, RJI Futures Lab editor, Missouri School of Journalism

    Click below to jump to any individual step, or just scroll down.
    STEP 1: Gather your files
    STEP 2: Open your files in Audition
    STEP 3: Select, save and normalize individual sound clips (waveform mode)
    STEP 4: Assemble sound clips into a story (multitrack mode)
    STEP 5: Export your finished piece
    STEP 6: How to add narration

    STEP 1: Gather your original audio files in one place

    Using the Finder, create a new folder for your audio story (this new folder should be inside your working folder on the Classes server).

    Copy/move all the raw audio files you plan to use for this story into that folder you just created. This keeps you organized.

    STEP 2: Open your files in Audition

    Launch Adobe Audition.

    Go under FILE to Open. In the box that appears, find the files you plan to use. Hold the shift key and click to select multiple files at once. Click “Open.” Then you’ll see this:

    In the Files panel at the upper left of the Audition workspace you’ll see the list of open files. On the right you should see the waveform for whichever file is highlighted in the files panel. You will also see the name of the open file in the top tab of the Editor panel (above the waveform and timeline).

    (You can always open additional audio files while editing your story by following the steps above… but make sure you have copied/moved the files into the correct folder before opening them in Audition.)

    STEP 3: Select, save and normalize individual sound clips (waveform mode)

    Holding down the mouse button and dragging over the waveform should enable you to highlight a specific portion of the audio (a “soundbite”) for use in your audio story. (If this is not working, make sure you have the Time Selection tool selected at the top of the window).

    You can adjust the beginning and end of the selection by dragging on the in/out point in the timeline above the waveform.

    To sample your audio selection, be sure the “loop playback” function is turned on in the playback controls below the waveform.

    Then hit the Space Bar on the keyboard. Audition will keep playing your selection over and over until you hit the space bar again to stop it. Keep adjusting and testing until you have a nice clean soundbite selected.

    To isolate the selected soundbite for use in your story, right click (or Control+click) anywhere on the waveform. In the pop-up menu, choose “Copy to New” (or go under EDIT menu to “Copy to New”).

    Now you’ll see the waveform for your soundbite in its own, untitled audio file.

    Double-click on the waveform to highlight the whole thing. Then go under EFFECTS menu to “Amplitude and Compression” >> “Normalize (Process)…”

    In the window that appears, set it to Normalize to 85% and click OK.

    If your waveform was thin before, you’ll see it gets much wider. Doing this with each of your clips will make your finished story come out with better consistency in the volume levels.

    Save this soundbite by going under FILE to “Save” (or type Command + S).

    Soundbites are usually named with the speaker’s last name and a number, i.e. “Hurt01.mp3”.

    Click BROWSE to navigate to the folder where all the other audio for this story is saved. This new file should go in there with the rest of them.

    Format should be mp3. (NOTE: If you were doing this story for KBIA, you would use the .wav format)

    Click OK. If it gives you a note about saving to a compressed format, click Yes.

    STEP 4: Assemble sound clips into a story (multitrack mode)

    The best way to combine multiple clips together is to create what Audition calls a multitrack session. So, go under FILE to “New >> Multitrack session…”

    In the window that appears…
    -Give your session a name (one or two words to describe the story you are working on).
    -Click “Browse” and navigate to the same folder where you saved all your audio files for this story. Once you found it, click “choose”
    -Make sure the Sample Rate, Bit Depth and Master match the numbers above (which should be the same as your audio files).
    -Click “OK”

    This will open a new session file in the multitrack mode:

    As highlighted in the image above:
    1. You are in the multitrack mode.
    2. The Move tool is now selected.
    3. You have a new “.sesx” file added to your files panel. This is NOT an audio file, but rather a file that contains the instructions for how your audio files are assembled to create your story. (When you are finished assembling, you will export a new audio file that is the finished story.)

    To assemble clips, position the mouse in the Files panel over the clip you want, hold down the mouse button, and drag from the Files panel into a Track on the right. When you let go, you will see the waveform of the clip appear in that audio track.

    Keep doing this until all of your soundbite clips are assembled in the right order in one track. (Any space in between your clips in the Track will come out as silence, so close the gaps by placing the clips right next to each other, but without overlapping them.)

    You can rearrange the order of the clips by dragging the blocks around in the tracks.

    You can listen to your assembled story by positioning the yellow playhead in the timeline above the tracks and using the play controls at the bottom of the screen and/or the space bar on the keyboard (the same way you did in the Waveform mode).

    STEP 5: Export your finished piece

    When you are happy with your story, right click in one of the tracks on the right and choose “Mixdown Session to New File” >> “Entire Session”.

    Audition will automatically add a new audio file to the list in your Files panel and return you to the Waveform mode, where a single waveform for the entire story will be displayed. Give it a listen.

    If you like it, then go under FILE to “Save”. Use the same settings you did for your individual soundbites, but make sure the finished story file name is all lowercase with no spaces or punctuation and save the finished story in a folder on the Classes server.

    STEP 6: How to add narration

    Before actually adding narration, you should transcribe the soundbites you plan to use in your story and then write a full script for your report.

    Next, time yourself reading the narration, and add that up with the length of your soundbites to make sure your finished story will be the right length. If not, edit the script and retime yourself to make sure your piece will fit the desired length.

    Once all that is done, then go record your story narration all at once, leaving short pauses where the soundbites go.

    Copy that narration file into the folder with the rest of your story’s audio, then open your editing session, audio files and the new narration file. Double-click on the Narration file to open it in the Waveform mode. Double-click on the waveform to select the whole thing, then Normalize to 85% just like you did with your soundbites. Save the file.

    Go back to your story session file in the Multitrack mode. Put your soundbites onto Track 1. Then drag your narration audio onto Track 2.

    It should be easy to see where you left pauses in the narration waveform.

    In the toolbar at the top, select the Razor Selected Clips Tool.

    Then click at the pause points on the Narration clip in Track 2 to slice the narration where the soundbites go:

    Using the Move tool, space out the elements of your story so the soundbites and narration are offset and no longer overlap each other:

    Use a the same basic idea on Track 3 to incorporate natural sounds into the piece.

    Once you have arranged everything, give it a listen and adjust as needed. When everything is good, go back to Step 5 above and export your finished piece.


    ----------Posted on August 19, 2012 by in Help Files

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