What is an Audio Editor?

Patrick Roland

An audio editor is an expert on the sound that is in movies and on television shows. He or she is responsible for synchronizing dialogue, eliminating errors, mixing music and the overall level of sound quality. This position usually requires many years of studying and apprenticeship. The editor can take pride at the end of the day, knowing that he or she has added a layer of realism to a production.

An audio editor is responsible for mixing music that is in movies or television shows.
An audio editor is responsible for mixing music that is in movies or television shows.

An audio editor usually begins learning his or her craft at a technical college. These two- or three year programs help prepare students for a life of sound with courses on audiology, equipment and production techniques. Very few audio editors jump directly from school into the editor's chair, but they instead work for several years as assistants, helping with post-production work and getting a feel for editing duties.

Audio editors use mixing boards to manipulate sound.
Audio editors use mixing boards to manipulate sound.

All of an audio editor's work is done after a movie or television show has been recorded. It is the audio engineer's responsibility to capture the sound of performances, and the editor takes the finished tapes or audio files to do his or her job. An audio editor's workplace usually is a sound studio with a large mixing board and at least one television screen. In many cases, the large mixing board is replaced by a single computer with editing software that the audio editor knows well. The editing takes place with the visuals on screen to help perfect these effects.

It is the primary responsibility of the audio editor to synchronize all of the sound on screen with the audio tracks. The audio tracks include the dialogue spoken by actors as well as other sound elements. The music for the production is an equally important element and needs to be played at specific levels at specific times to get the proper effect. In addition, sound effects need to be perfectly timed at this stage. Correctly matching up voices, music and sound effects creates a level of realism and believability to any production.

Finally, the audio editor brings the final product to a director or production team for one last review. Here, they all watch the television show or movie to study how well all the audio and visual elements came together. If there are any mistakes or unsatisfactory areas in the audio editing, the editor is asked to mend those issues. The overall sound level is one of the most common fixes that audio editors make at this stage.

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