Tips: Audio for editors
Issue: July 1, 2015

Tips: Audio for editors

BURBANK, CA — In the latest educational video from The Editors’ Lounge Channel, veteran audio mixer Erik Valenzuela and AlphaDogs’ Curtis Fritsch take a look at five key areas that can dramatically improve the working relationship between picture and sound editing.

Communication between video editors and audio mixers is key when it comes to delivering good sound quality on a project. Headaches can be avoided and valuable time and money saved when everyone is working together as a team.  


When outputting QuickTime files for the audio mixer, it’s imperative to remember to make sure the picture is locked. A locked picture is a stage in editing when all changes to the cut have been done and approved. Equally important is making sure the project is in the correct frame rate and to remember to add a :20 leader before the QuickTime. Another tip to make sure you’re using the right QuickTime is to start at the slate card and end :10 after the last frame of the program. This is a great guideline to follow and leaves little room for error. QuickTime files should also have visible timecode from beginning to end. Visible timecode should be top center, yellow or white, with a transparent background.


It’s crucial to delete all unused files when outputting Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) and Open Media Framework (OMF) files, as this helps dramatically in expediting the sound editing process. It’s part of the audio mixers job to carefully listen to everything to make sure nothing is missed, which is why deleting unnecessary files is so important. If space becomes an issue, output each act as its own AAF/OMF and always be sure it has the proper naming convention. Valenzuela explains, “If each act is output as it’s own AAF/OMF I can start working on files right away that aren’t problematic. If one big compressed file is sent, that can sometimes take up to four hours to download, only to discover there are problems and have to wait for an entire new output before you can begin sound editing.”

When editing a project, audio track assignments should be kept separate versus consolidating everything. For a well-organized delivery of files to the audio mixer, track assignments should be in the following order. Primary dialogue on top, secondary dialogue below the primary, sound effects below all dialogue and lastly music at the bottom.


Cutting and mixing dialogue can be tricky as often several people are speaking at once, each with their own microphone. The key thing for editors to remember is to cut out all the dead space. If all the microphones are left up, this results in unwanted echoes and possible phasing. Creating source requests to send to the audio mixer can also be very helpful. When creating these requests, its advised not to send what was already in the original AAF/OMF and not to send every audio file for the requested scene if it doesn’t sound better than what was in the original AAF/OMF. Instead, find the lavalier microphone that is being requested by the mixer in the back-up audio for the show. If there isn’t better audio, write a brief explanation as to why. Be as detailed as possible on what the problem is when sending source requests including exactly which microphone is being used and specifically what words are being said.


Regarding cutting and mixing music and effects, once again, separate tracks are of utmost importance as each music cue should be on its own track.  Cross fading different music tracks into each other should be avoided and be aware of bad music edits. Keep transition effects tails in the edit and be sure to send a note to the audio mixer if there is a bad frankenbite.

Always remember that it’s the audio mixers primary objective that nothing fails the QC process. This can be achieved with good communication and by following a few simple guidelines. Together, the picture and sound editor can deliver a quality project that both looks and sound great.