Sound Editing – The Invisible Art

Very recently, on a one-day ride, I edited the sound of this footage by Sérgio Miguel Silva. As he went to this very important public protest with his camera, the final video was composed of short shots in a rhythmic editing. For sound, this meant a lot of abrupt cuts, broken rhythm a little less pleasant video to watch. Not that the picture itself has something to do with it – the video is obviously very good -, but sound comes to play its role as a softener or enhancer for the cuts.

In this case, it was all about softening, as even a great part of the video is made of cross-fades, or jump cuts that would turn the product a mess, speaking of its soundtrack – just imagine different takes with no criteria on sound jumping every 2 to 5 seconds.

Rhythmically (and I am completely discarding the music, so far) it was a challenge for me to keep a constant flow of the protesters’ singing, so sometimes I used some kind of superposition (actually, close to the overlap classical technique), most noticeable at 2:21-2:25 and took advantage of similar syllables for the same purpose. Whenever I felt it was too tiring to hear the singing on and on, the song went solo for a while.

Of course, not all the sound correspond exactly to the picture we see, as a matter of fact, I tried to relate words as much as I could with picture. The finest example I can point out is at 3:20:

This clever poster (among many) says  “March, march, against the thieves” (smart pun with our national anthem); in the left we see our infamous prime-minster and last, but not best, to the right, our president. In the video we hear “Out, out, out of here” but in fact that belongs to another shot. But I am trying to convey (more) meaning to a picture – the message is strong, so without distorting, I took these decisions.

To the point of the title: why is this invisible even though so much work? Because no one notices!! And we are so easily fooled that the majority of people wouldn’t think for a ms that there has been sound work in here. Just like any dialogue editing (this is in fact most of the same), people would maybe be intrigued if something fails. So, maybe we should keep this invisibility as a compliment to ourselves.

Happy editing!

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