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Tips on cutting dialogue and sound

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Jimmy See
Tips on cutting dialogue and sound
on Jun 8, 2011 at 5:59:35 pm

I'm cutting a showreel for an actor and I'm trying to find solutions for the most seamless way of transitioning between music playing over montage sections and unedited extracts from scenes from his films.

I've managed to do this very well in sections but there are some where the change just feels 'wrong'. I'm using final cut Pro, and use the cross dissolve effect every time I have the music turn to silence to accommodate a scene. My first thought was that the cutting from ,music to silence must have been to abrupt and so I changed the length of the cross dissolve but if anything this actually made things much worse. I also tried keyframing a gradual dip down to infinitely low decibels as well as the cross dissolve but this didn't really seem to make much appreciable difference.

I've also tried going the other way and letting the music carry on for longer, this helps, but the problem is that the music does eventually have to end. The actor is very insistent that he does not want music playing under his scenes even if very quietly and I think he's right to want this but it means that whatever point in time I actually do choose to finally have the music become silent even if it continues after the clip has begun for a few seconds; the change seems unnatural.

I'm starting to think the problem is the part of the music I've chosen to use as the fading point, but I'm hoping this isn't the only way forward because I'm reluctant to use a different part of the song especially because it would mean that I'd likely have to change which part of the music I use all around the reast of the cut too so that the music makes sense in sequence.

Any seasoned pros have some advice for me? I'm just starting out. The song is the Rolling Stones Paint it Black if it makes any difference.

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André Engelhardt
Re: Tips on cutting dialogue and sound
on Jun 9, 2011 at 1:52:10 pm

Hi Jimmy,

I think you've already hit the nail on the head that it's about the point in time where you cut out the music that makes it sound 'wrong'. If you're limited to using only one song for the entire soundtrack you might have to start re-editting the video to match the music. If you are a bit handy at cutting and pasting you can head into soundtrack pro and extend or shorten some sections by cutting and/or copying certain parts. If all else fails you can cover up bad transitions with some sound effects to mask the roughness a little bit.

On a side note: If the actor is showcasing different types and/or styles of characters, acting and what not I'd go back to her/him right now and recommend two things: pick different songs (or better yet instrumental pieces) for the different parts that match the emotion of the acting and secondly not to use a song as recognizable as Paint it Black as that will diminish any original impression the viewer might have.

And last but not least, remember to check any licensing / copyright issues using a song like the Rolling Stone's!

Good luck!


Audio Engineer, Sound Designer
Video- and Photographer

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