How to Edit a Video Game Commentary


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 eliminated and edit from your video?

Want to a trick to know how good your video is? Watch it back yourself. If you get bored at any point during your commentary or gameplay, chances are your audience will as well.

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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 we're not the ones playing the game,chances are we want to watch someone doing something in the game, not just watching them walk across 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 (ie you're just rambling about something ramble about it.)

Watch Your Video and Cut the Following:

  1. boring commentary or awkward silences
  2. filler commentary (um, "I don't know what to say...", uh, 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.) 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 | Source
Peaking Audio Levels
Peaking Audio Levels | Source

How to Check if Your Audio is Peaking

All editing software has audio levels inside of them. 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 make your audio to be 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.

Want to improve your audio commentary more?

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 will have had 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.

An Example of the Above Advice

I don't consider the above example to be the best game commentary, but it does illustrate the examples of what I talked about in the above guide. I made sure to edit out the boring parts, adjust the audio levels and make sure that whatever commentary I had was relevant and engaging for this Limbo commentary.

Other Helpful Guides for Video Game Commentaries

How to Record Audio for Video Game Commentaries on a PC - A look into how to record audio for your gameplay commentary, covering Fraps and Audacity and how to record your audio separately from gameplay audio.

Recording Better Sound for YouTube - A guide detailing how to capture better quality audio for your YouTube videos.

Create Your Own Video Game Commentary - A in depth look at how to set up your own Let's Play channel, including channel design, intro and outros and thoughts on commentating.

How to Record PC Gameplay Footage with Fraps - A guide with instructions on how to use Fraps to record your gameplay footage.

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noellenichols 3 years ago from Denver Author

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

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