Does anyone have any good source information on editing a guide track from location audio on FCP and/or Avid? I am specifically looking for tips on dialogue editing for picture editors when they are creating a guide track for the post sound process.


2 Answers 2


Picture editors aren't going to edit the location dialogue very much. On occasion they might create a little bit of fill to smooth out a transition, but it will be improperly placed and often loopy sounding. You'll also hear constant squaring off of the audio between shots. Also, depending on the location sound recordist, the picture editor might only work with one of several available tracks of audio. Nowadays it's not entirely uncommon for production sound mixers to create a polywave file with isolated lavs, boom(s), plant mics, and also a standard lav mix. This is where your OMF/AAF comes into play.

@C3Sound Generally speaking, you actually don't want to be splitting by character. Splitting by shot number/angle works better for the mixer as overall they are processing to reduce the overall noise of a scene. The exception is in documentary. As far as fill goes, it's also good to avoid creating separate fill tracks. Fill is present underneath the dialogue, and you fill out between, before and after the modulation.

PFX (any kind of sound effect captured during filming aside from footsteps, cloth movement) should be split off but then fill should be placed where the PFX used to be in the dialogue track. Most of the time when you do PFX they will be some sort of percussive sound, a cup down, a hammer, something like that. You want to cut and use fades to eliminate both the room sound and the reverb as much as possible. This stuff, if used by the FX mixer, will be processed later. You eliminate the room sound because of the back fill you've created. If fill was left in there, suddenly when the PFX happened the noise floor would double.

The reason we mostly split off the percussive sounding things is they make the multi-band expanders pump undesirably at the mix stage. That, and they will be part of the M&E. Movement, though, is considered part of the "life" of the dialogue track and will generally be covered/sweetened with Foley for the M&E.


From what I understand and practice is that dialog editors get a guide track from picture editors. The dialog editor may get a stereo or mono bounce of all the production audio (the takes that are chosen for picture) in addition to the OMF/AAF output of FCP or Avid.

The dialog editor can send this guide track to the other editors like foley, sfx etc, but can also finish a dialog edit and send that as the guide track instead of the stereo/mono bounce he/she got earlier from picture edit.

The process depends on where you work or if you work for yourself.

Tips for dialog editing, theres a number of good resources/books! Heres one I have used. http://www.amazon.com/Dialogue-Editing-Motion-Pictures-Invisible/dp/0240809181

I had to read some of this and it was extremely helpful.

  • Thanks for the response. I know the book and have read some it and and also watched some of Bill Purcell's video's on youtube. What I am really interested in are to what extent picture editors edit the location dialogue and what do they leave up to the sound guys. I have a good idea, just need sources.
    – oinkaudio
    Jan 28, 2011 at 6:56
  • 1
    @oinkaudio I know personally, a dialog editor splits off PFX on separate tracks, character specific dialog to new tracks for EQ/mix, fill tracks for cleaning the areas between/behind dialog and PFX, correct fading of regions to hide/mask transition of background noise between different takes, noise reduction if needed for mic bumps/broadband noise, and other dialog oriented tasks. As far as I know, picture editor just places the audio the director wants, from the specific take he wants, under picture and outputs the OMF with as close sync as he/she can get.
    – C3Sound
    Jan 28, 2011 at 18:09

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