Hi! It’s the Editor. You know what it isssss!!! What is uppppp???!!!!

Recently, I taught a class (which we refer to as a Maniak Unfold Session here at Maniak) about Audio Basics. (We made a (spanish-spoken) parody infomercial for it which you can watch here.) The class was made up of two units. In the first one we explored creative sound recording and selective listening. This sounds very complicated, but it boils down to two very simple ideas:

  • Anything is worth recording
  • Listening can transport you to other places in your imagination

With the session, I wanted to try and teach basic sound engineering that is untied from commercial formats, and instead focus on how sound behaves so that you can research and record whatever you want. It is true that people who study sound engineering usually pursue it to make music and podcasts/radio, but that only means those are the most mainstream, sellable products of it. Sound is all around us. Some people dedicate their lives to recording nature, cities and other places. I particularly like making recordings of my family interacting with each other, so I make sure to bring my Tascam DR-05 when I visit them and turn it on at some point.

So, my approach to sound recording is more like the mom who carries a camera everywhere (it used to be less common when cellphones didn’t exist). I guess I’m talking about my mom. She used to carry a camcorder everywhere. People didn’t ask her if she was going to use recordings of our birthday to make a documentary, they just assumed her hobby was recording our lives. I want to have the same approach to sound recording.

The second unit was about editing on Adobe Audition. Again, the focus was not on learning the ins and outs of Adobe Audition (since that would take way longer than two hours) but in knowing what the basic concepts of audio editing are. In preparation, I looked up what editing is.

Whip out your hipster typewriter for the next section of this post

I hate people who start paragraphs by saying “Wikipedia says…” so I’m not going to bore you by copy pasting wikipedia stuff here. Here’s a link to the wiki definition of editing. Read it? Cool. Now, here’s what I think about when I think about editing.  

Every work (of anything) starts with a pile of raw material. Imagine we’re building a bridge, and we have no idea how. We have a pile of wood and brick and we’re supposed to build a small bridge. That’s the task. So we grab bricks and boards and we start building and eventually we have something that resembles a bridge. We can’t really cross, because we’re afraid it will collapse, but if we were really brave we could try. It’s a bridge. It exists. It could be better, though, so we call the bridge expert.

The bridge expert comes by and she says “Alright, well this is not bad but it needs a supporting beam here. You could have used less bricks here, and maybe we’ll put a nice big sign that indicates the entrance to the bridge. Look, there’s a hole here. Let’s cover that hole with this. Also, it looks a bit plain so let’s add some pretty colors on the walls.” As she does this, we realize that the bridge was safer than we imagined. It just needed a couple of fixes and polish. This is what editing is.

The thing about editing is that you can’t edit something that isn’t there. You need something to edit. This is the shittiest part about editing. Sometimes, you’ll start editing something in your head that doesn’t exist yet. Do it long enough and that will only lead to indecision and perfectionism, the classic nemesis of productivity. It’s better to have something than to have nothing at all. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly, because then you’ll get to edit it! Edit it until you have something worth showing others.

What's this person gonna edit? NOTHING that's what. 

Now, you might be asking, start what? Anything. The same principles of editing apply to (as wikipedia put it) visual media, writing, audio and more! So start anything (I feel like I say this on every post but it's my personal philosophy so what else am I gonna say?)

How your piece turns out will also depend on your editor’s taste, making it a collaborative effort. Often, editing is about solving problems. Are you supporting your central idea with enough paragraphs? Is your conclusion strong and to the point? Maybe you’ve made a point you’re not really supporting with any sources, or you’re stating an opinion like it’s a fact (that’s really common). The previous example is obviously attaining to my personal taste since some outlets care not about whether something is an opinion or a fact.

I’ve been doing it for a while, editing. I started doing it in some way or another around the 8th Grade. The first thing I edited was a mother day’s video made up of sketches me and the boys in my class had written (the girls had prepared a musical number). I didn’t know there were editing programs back then so we just filmed it in order and if we messed up I had to rewind the tape and record over it. It was a mess. We played it on a very small TV set up in the school’s basketball court. It must have been the middle of the fucking day because I remember the sunlight was very strong. I don’t think anyone could see it. In hindsight, I’m glad people couldn't see it. I wish I could watch it now though.

Surfing: is it like editing? No, but I like pictures of the ocean.

Then, when I was in college, I edited a comedy newspaper. I laughed a lot back then. People are really funny. Now, I edit this blog with my friend Jesús Lizárraga. I also edit podcasts, videos (like the one I linked to above. Let’s link to it again here.) and have a very small record label called Bison Records where I “edit” music. I have a lot of fun helping people create the best possible versions of their work. I also love being edited! My aforementioned friend Jesús Lizárraga is editing this right now, and it’s tremendous fun.

So, as always at the end of my blog posts, I put myself at your disposal for any and all editing needs. I love doing it, and I love you! Not you, the person behind you. Sorry, I didn’t know you were reading this.