It can be very confusing understanding the differences between media files and project files and knowing what files you need to share with a project collaborator online.
Project File - Project files are usually a small (kb or mb in size) file that saves information about how your organizing your audio in a timeline, transitions, effects, project settings and other editing parameters.
Media File - Media files are the raw materials you are creating your audio project with, e.g., field recordings, interviews, voice overs.
When you select "Import" in most editing applications, your media files are linked to the project file. The project files knows where your media files are saved and references them every time you open the project. This is why media management is so important - if you move your media files midway through the editing process you may open your project to file that all your media is offline.
To successfully share your editing project with a teammate, they must have access to all the media files on their computer as well as the project file and even despite this it may require they manually show the application where these files are located on their machine.
Applications like Garageband will your duplicate media and wrap it inside the project file. This takes up more space on your computer but when sharing your edit with a team member, you can simply share the project file and it will contain all the media files as well.
Project Timeline and Settings
Prior to editing, review all of your media. Check the format, sample rate and bit depth of your media. In applications that require you to set your project and timeline settings, ensure that these settings match the settings of your media. If you aren't sure what these settings are, right-click on your media to get more information. Some applications like Garageband, will automatically set your project settings for you.
Format, sample rate and bit depth - In most cases, your media will dictate your project and timeline settings. The ideal settings are a wav file 4800Hz at 24 bit . Settings lower than these can result in poor quality audio and files stored as mp3's are mored compressed and may have unwanted artifacts.
Space - If you are using an robust editing application and working on an older machine, make sure you have enough space available on your machine to edit. If not, either clear space on your computer or try working on a web based editing application. If your internet connection is weak and unreliable, try downloading a free application listed above so you can edit confidently offline.
Paying attention to your surroundings and monitoring the volume of your recording are important factors in creating an audio piece regardless of device or application. Below are some techniques to consider when editing.
Transitions: Fades and cross dissolves are a great way to smoothly transition your listener from one clip to another. For example, if you are cutting between two interviews recorded in different locations, adding a fade at the end and beginning of each clip can help blend disparate background room tone.
Room Tone: Room tone is a recording of a location, e.g., the space where an interview is occurring, without dialog. Recording at least 30 seconds of the space without dialog allows you to continue the presence of the space between edits in an interview without having the track drop to silence.
Layering: Sound effects or field recordings can help give your piece specificity and can orient your audience to their location in a particular space. Adding audio with a range of textures and perspectives can help create depth, e.g. recording of a bee vs recording of the ambience of a field that includes distant birds, wind, leaves.
Montage: A montage is a sequence of clips that allows you to condense time and space by editing the clips in a relational way, e.g. a series of audio news clips about the same topic over time. This can help tell your story in a format that supports advances your argument while providing a break from strict dialog.
Clean-up - Clean up any unnecessary blips or pops in your audio that your audience may find distracting. Make sure you listen to your edit through speakers and headphone to catch any issues that may be accentuated through these different playback methods.
Feedback- Once you have an edit, don't hesitate to share it with your friends or family! Sometimes people with the least context for a video can be the most helpful in spotting areas that are confusing, too quick or...a bit boring. Even just being in the same room with someone listening to your piece can give you space to hear where you can make improvements.