Editing and Performance

For many forms of music, the performance is the most important aspect in capturing a great recording. However, it’s very difficult to get every member of a band ‘into the zone’ at the same time – in such cases, the application of judicious editing can really transform a track into something special…

Chopping And Changing

Studio equipment.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Cooperweb

In post-production, it’s always tempting to reach for the effects box to add a bit extra to a mix. But the basics of editing – alignment, pitch correction, compositing and cleanup – should really be the first things you look at.

A good understanding of groove and rhythm is essential for an editor; time alignment is the one area where you need to be totally in tune with the performance. For some types of music – very highly polished rock, or most electronica – you can use grid quantisation to line up your beats. Features such as Pro Tools’ Beat Detective can apply quantisation to audio with the push of a button, which can greatly speed up the process.

For more traditional bands – funk, jazz, rock, blues – then you should probably set your DAW to ‘slip’ mode, ignore the grid and move things around until they just sound (or ‘feel’ right). Even at a grid quantisation of 1/64, you can often feel that a beat just isn’t quite there – in these cases, trust your instincts.

Over at Proaudiofiles, there is an interesting post which outlines some best practices for editing, and describes the various ‘pocket’ types that you will encounter when listening to band performances. Knowing how the pockets work really helps streamline your approach to rhythmic time alignment, so this is well worth a read.

Pogo Beats

As an illustration of how the art of editing can be taken to extremes – both in audio and video – Pogo continues to provide delightful material. I’ve previously mentioned some of his work – such as his superb video for the Disney/Pixar movie ‘UP’ – but here is a newer work, based on the Wizard of Oz…


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