5 Tricks To Seamlessly Edit Dialogue

By Kevin Graham

For those of you who create a lot of interview-driven video content, editing natural, conversational dialogue is the biggest part of the process. A 30 minute interview often needs to be chopped down to a minute or less, but you need to still make it feel like a coherent story.

In this video, we’ll explore 5 tricks to seamlessly edit dialogue, which will help you tell your stories both faster and cleaner.

1.) Eliminate Unwanted Noises

When we talk into a microphone, our mouths make all sorts of noises that can be a distraction. Breath noises, stutters, clicks, and pops, can really ruin a mix if they’re not addressed.

A skilled editor is able to identify and remove these distracting sounds.

When it comes to breath noises and stutters, the solution is usually as simple as cutting the sounds out entirely (more on spacing and fades in a minute).

For less common problems like clicks, pops, and other tricky sounds, the use of a denoiser or declicker might be required.

2.) Use Spacing

One of the most common mistakes new editors make when editing dialogue is not allowing enough space between sentences. When you’re joining two pieces of VO together, try to visualize how it would sound in a normal conversation.

In the video above, you’ll hear an example of a poor dialogue edit.

But with a bit of space added, it sounds natural and conversational.

dialogue editing timeline

3.) Use Crossfades

Most dialogue audio has enough distracting noises to deal with already; the last thing you want to do is create more of these problems in the edit. If you don’t apply fades or crossfades to your edits, you’ll often end up with annoying clicks and pops.

I like to apply extremely short crossfades to eliminate these unwanted sounds.

edit dialogue

4.) Mix And Match

In a pinch, you’d be amazed at how you can combine sentences (and even words) together to save an edit. This skill is especially useful when a VO or reshoot is simply not possible, but the natural dialogue just isn’t working for your edit.

For example, maybe you needed the talent to use plural form rather than singular, but they didn’t. Or maybe you need to connect two ideas together with a conjunction but they didn’t do so themselves.

Well, it’s time to get creative. You can “steal” an “s” from elsewhere in the interview to add to the end of the singular word. Or you could take an “and” and insert it between the two ideas that need to be joined.

dialogue editing

With a bit of practice, skill, and luck, you can creatively fix almost any content issue within your dialogue.

5.) Room Tone Is Important

If your dialogue was recorded in a noisy environment, it is likely that there will be a file of room tone from the location available to you (you should always record at least 30 seconds of room tone no matter what).

This is critical if you’ll be heavily editing the dialogue.

When editing noisy dialogue without a bed of room tone, those cuts, gaps, and transitions will be very obvious to the viewer, no matter how many fades or tricks you use.

edit dialogue

But if you layer room tone underneath your dialogue track, that constant, natural noise will mask your edits and make everything sound coherent.

Most of the time, it’s impossible to capture everything perfectly during an organic interview. So it’s important to have the skills and patience to clean up and correct the dialogue during the edit process.

Hopefully, these dialogue editing tricks will come in handy for your next video.

filmmaking interview set

Kevin is the Music Director and Lead Composer at Filmpac.

FILMPAC Filmpac is a premium stock footage + music membership library.