Audio - editing breathes out of elearning

I just read this discussion about whether you should edit breaths out of auditions.  I'm wondering what people think about editing breaks out of elearning, say a typical self-paced learning module.  I think I read somewhere the dead silence isn't good and it seems logical to fade in and fade out, but curious to know what people think.

http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily/2010/11/should_you_edit_breaths_out_of_auditions.html

33 Replies
Spencer Cork

Hi Rachel

When I put an audition together I try and get the audio I'm submitting as clean as possible. This gives clients a quality that they can measure you by. Also I think goes some way to show that you are interested in sending out a quality audition, even if you don't actually get the job.

Of course if you do, and to save time later. It's always an idea to ask client if they want that done on your final audio.

Spencer

Rachel Leigh

Spencer,

I'm not recording my own voice.  I create self-paced learning modules and my dept. uses a contractor to record the narration.  I don''t think leaving breathes necessarily creates a poor quality sound because it can sound unnatural.  That was mentioned in the link I posted, although the only comment when it came to developing elearning is to leave them out.  I'm on the fence on this one.

Rachel Leigh

Kate Hoelscher said:

I do if they are obvious, so yes on most of them!  The majority of our learners use headphones and I know I find it distracting to hear the breaths and clicks.

Great point on using headphones.  When you listen to narration using headphones, I think you can hear the details more in an audio recording.  
Rachel Leigh

Kate Hoelscher said:

To clarify--We don't have professionals recording, so often there are clicks and loud breaths--those are the ones I remove. 

I've been removing those too, but after reading people's comments on the blog that was posted last year, the one in my original post, it got me thinking more about removing breaths completely.   
Zara Ogden

it is a mixed response form me. On one hand you don't want dead air but on the other the big huffs and puffs and clicks are really annoying. I like to take them out for the most part but also pay attention to make sure that it still sounds natural.

I had one voice talent masterfully remove the breaths with great detail and it sounded wonderful. I have had others that didn't and it was very distracting. 

I don't recommend removing them digitally via audacity. It ends up sounding very unnatural.

Rachel Leigh

Zara King said:

it is a mixed response form me. On one hand you don't want dead air but on the other the big huffs and puffs and clicks are really annoying. I like to take them out for the most part but also pay attention to make sure that it still sounds natural.

I had one voice talent masterfully remove the breaths with great detail and it sounded wonderful. I have had others that didn't and it was very distracting. 

I don't recommend removing them digitally via audacity. It ends up sounding very unnatural.

Zara, what do you use then to remove them and when you need more editing tools than offered in Articulate?
Rachel Leigh

What do you all think about the technique of silencing breaths (inhales and exhales) at the beginning and ending of narration but leaving the breath sounds between sentences within an audio clip (as long as they are not gasps to the point of distraction but sound like natural breathing)?

Spencer Cork

There is nothing worse than a big in take of air at the beginning of each sentence or paragraph, so I take all that away. And I agree with earlier comments about 'clicks' a listener soon becomes aware of little things like this in speech especially with headphones on.

A natural breath within a sentence can be ok if it doesn't distract you from what is being said.

Bruce Graham

I produce eLearning and create voiceovers.

I do not regard "dead air" as a bad thing - silence can be very powerful, and you can always have something visual going on when the audio is absent.

Breaths mid-sentence are OK, however, I prefer to just take deeper breaths and do the whole thing in one go, or to take a mid-sentence breath and then edit out the gap. If breathing, I always turn away from the mic for the duration, and the breath seldom if ever shows up.

I try to remove as many lip and mouth clicks as possible, they are just plain annoying

I never use the AP'09 audio tool for audio work, I do not find it robust or detailed enough, I prefer to import files recorded and post-produced elsewhere (NCH Soundwave Pro).

Bruce

Rachel Leigh

Zara King said:

I use Audacity

It is FREE! an it is apparently as close to Sound booth you can get for FREE.

It works well and i have even used it to adjust what the voice talents is saying, saving tons on retake fees.

I use Audacity too and I use it to edit out breaths.  I haven't used Articulate audio editor because Audacity was recommended to me over Articulate for audio editing.  You said that you "don't recommend removing them digitally via audacity. It ends up sounding very unnatural."  Do you use another audio editor then for that?

Michael Fimian

With a good microphone, there's little background noise;  flattening the WAV file makes it sound no different, exept for the lack of a breath intaake.

Some programs (Sound Forge) have Noise Gate filters that you can set just right for your voice, then delete all in one swipe.  Someone else's voice?  Have to experiment...

Breaths in sentences are small and aren't noticed by users that much; it's the big "suckers" at the beginning of a long sentence or series of sentences that I address.

Sometimes, using a pop filter over the mike will minimize some of that type of noise...

Rachel Leigh

Michael Fimian said:

With a good microphone, there's little background noise;  flattening the WAV file makes it sound no different, exept for the lack of a breath intaake.

Some programs (Sound Forge) have Noise Gate filters that you can set just right for your voice, then delete all in one swipe.  Someone else's voice?  Have to experiment...

Breaths in sentences are small and aren't noticed by users that much; it's the big "suckers" at the beginning of a long sentence or series of sentences that I address.

Sometimes, using a pop filter over the mike will minimize some of that type of noise...

When you say breathes in sentences are small and aren't noticed by users that much, I think it depends on if they are listening to the module through a headset or just through speakers on their computer because a learner might pick up on it more (although it may or may not bother them/disrupt the process of learning) through listening on a headset.  There might also be a difference if the modules is being listened to on video conferencing equipment.
Dale Hargis

Here's a trick I like to use:

You don't want to edit out breaths and leave dead silence behind because the listener will hear the difference.  Instead, you want to replace the breath with a quiet section of your audio, retaining any ambient noise and leaving it sounding seamless.  Here's a quick idea of how it works:

Greg Pettys

Hi Folks,

I have another audio question. I'm a professional Avid editor and I usually edit my audio in that. But I've noticed that some of the audio which are professionally recorded wav files sound corrupted or slightly garbaled after producing in Articulate. One theory is that it is because of different samlpe rates, such as converting 48K to 44.1K.  Another theory is that Articulate produces the audio at a very low KBPS such as 24.

Anyone notice some sound degradation in your published programs?

Thanks

Greg