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How to Edit a Video Game Commentary

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I have a BFA in 3D animation. I'm also very interested in cinematography, editing, and web design.

Learn how to edit your video game commentaries more effectively and keep viewers engaged.

Learn how to edit your video game commentaries more effectively and keep viewers engaged.

One of the most powerful tools in film and in commentaries is the ability to edit unwanted bits. This eliminates all of the boring pieces and leaves the viewer with only the most important and interesting ones. This enhances your videos and makes sure that you retain your audience's attention.

But what pieces do you want to eliminate and edit from your video?

What to Edit From Your Commentary

Cut out any dead space or footage where nothing is happening. This includes five-minute walks through the desert to the jungle biome. Skip the traveling and cut any parts of your commentary where you fell silent and had nothing to talk about it.

Since viewers aren't the ones playing the game, chances are they want to watch someone doing something in the game, not just watch them walk from one area to another for minutes at a time. Awkward silences are also a no-go, as are any moments where the commentary gets boring (like you're just rambling about something).

Watch Your Video and Cut the Following

  1. Boring commentary or awkward silences
  2. Filler commentary (um, uh, "I don't know what to say," etc.)
  3. Long traveling scenes from one area to another (unless you are providing a good commentary)
  4. Multiple failures (ie, you can't get through an area and have to cheat). Unless it's funny or adds to the commentary, cut out the 20th time you try to make a jump, for example. A good example of leaving fails in is Limbo—half the fun is watching someone fail and get frustrated.

Check Your Audio Levels

When editing your commentary, a good practice and a very, very courteous thing to do is to monitor your audio levels. Especially look for any moments in the waveform where you notice that the audio levels are peaking. Fixing your audio levels will improve your viewer's experience and save their eardrums!

This takes little to no time at all. All you need to do is turn on your audio waveforms (if you're using a program like Premiere or Final Cut where they're not automatically on) and scrub through your timeline. Any waves that hit the top of the track will be peaking and should be lowered down to match roughly the same levels as the rest of your commentary.

Adjusting Audio Levels in Sony Vegas Pro 12

Adjusting Audio Levels in Sony Vegas Pro 12

Peaking Audio Levels

Peaking Audio Levels

How to Check if Your Audio Is Peaking

All editing software has audio levels inside of it. Usually, you can turn them on by going into the windows tab and selecting audio levels, audio monitor, or something similar. After opening the audio monitor, you should see something like a green bar that goes up and down and some numbers on the side listing the decibel number. You want to have your audio between -12 and -6 decibels, so lower or raise your volume accordingly. (This process is called Mastering and is used in film, television shows, CDs, etc.)

There's a lot of different theories and rules on what levels to shoot for, but for YouTube, I usually try to keep my levels in the range of -12 and -6.

Just make sure your audio doesn't ever hit the top. If it does, it's called peaking, and essentially it's a cardinal sin for audio engineers. It doesn't sound pretty, so just make sure to lower the audio if it does. You'll see a red blinking dot to indicate it's peaking.

How to Normalize Your Audio Levels

There are certain ways you can filter your commentary that will level out your audio levels to be on the same volume. If you're using a Windows machine, there is a free program called The Levelator that you can download. (Note: You have to record your commentary separate from your game's audio for this to work. Otherwise, it'll level out all of the commentary and music together, which won't sound good.)

You can also use Adobe Audition or your editing software and search for a filter called "Normalize" or "Hard Limiting". This will allow you to normalize all your audio levels to a certain decibel setting or will allow you to cut the audio if it peaks higher than a certain point.

Video: Example of the Above Advice

I don't consider the above example to be the best game commentary, but it does illustrate what I talked about in the above guide. I made sure to edit out the boring parts, adjust the audio levels, and only include relevant and engaging commentary for this Limbo video.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Comments

TrueTGamer on September 08, 2019:

Thanks for the tips, this has helped me even though the article is 6 years old

Noelle (author) from Denver on September 04, 2013:

@Blair Shawn - Thanks for the comment. I'll have to check out Smartpixel. I've never heard of it before.