One of the things I have battled with when moving from photography into video is audio, particularly when it comes to editing in Final Cut Pro (FCP). It has not been something I had to think about it the past. But as one BBC correspondent told me, “You need good audio to make a good television package”.
I have found it particularly difficult to ensure there is a smooth transition in audio between clips from different scenes, particularly if the sound is very different, for example going from a clip shot in a quiet street to a clip shot in a noisy road. The trick to achieving smoother audio is based on the way our brains work and is called “signposting”. We like to be forewarned about what is coming up to avoid any nasty surprises. If you fade up the audio from the next clip a few frames before you actually see the images, you will signpost to the brain what is coming up, creating the impression that the transition is smooth.
In FCP there is a neat little trick to help you do this. Once you have stuck your two clips together, go to the audio channel and right click on the piont where the audio from both clips joins together and choose “Add Transition Crossfade”. Please note, you need to unlink the video and audio first before you do this or you will also end up adding a crossfade effect to your video. Highlight the crossfade, right click on it and now choose “Transition Alignment” and then “End On Edit”. This will fade up the audio from the upcoming clip until the point where the two clips join together.
There are exceptions to this rule, for example when going from a clip with natural sound to a soundbite from an interview. In this case you would want to choose “Start On Edit” as you don’t want to fade up the soundbite before you hear the person speaking. But it would make for a smoother transition to have the natural sound fade out at the beginning of the soundbite. At the end of the day it is all about experimenting to establish what is the least jarring to the ear and therefore sounds the smoothest to the brain.