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  • Phillip Ratliff

In the studio: a quick guide to audio story production


The script is in the can. The experts have fact-checked it, and your team of grammarians have declared the copy squeaky clean.


Now you’re ready to record the narration and send your sound files to post production. Here’s how to turn what’s on the page into a gorgeously immersive audio story.


Recording the story’s narration

Be ready to edit copy on the fly. If there’s a word that your narrator doesn’t like, find a synonym. If the cadence is awkward, work with the narrator for an acceptable alternative.


Your narration must be easy to understand. Your listening audience can’t re-read a gnarly passage. So chop those intricate lovelies in two or more sentences. Don’t be sentimental. They’re sentences, not your children.


Post production

Post production is what happens after the content has been recorded. Here are the major concerns:


Combine narration and bites. Make sure you’ve kept up with timings in your interview material. It’ll make pulling your bites a lot easier.


About those sound bites: they’re not rehearsed, nor should they be. Find the line between conversational and confused. Editing software such as Audacity allows for very fine edits. Remove stutters and other distractions.


Choose your music. A phrase of musical transition can cut your word count. Keep it authentic. If your script is about mining in the late 19th century, find work songs from that period. Know your audience. Amplify the tone.


And make sure that you have clearances on both the content and the mechanicals. Just because the song is public domain doesn’t mean that the recording you’ve found is, as well.


Add “nat sound” and sound effects. Insect sounds, train whistles, the wind — the trick here is a light touch. Don’t overwhelm what listeners are likely to hear naturally.


We at Backstory are at home in the studio, creating rich, immersive audio. To hear a some of our work, click here.

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