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How To Sanitize NSFW Audiobook Demo Material

Hey, there!

You’ve heard me say that once you get booked on something, make updating your resume and demo portfolio part of your work.

I commit to you that this year, I’ll do a better job of that myself. I’ve been so busy that I’ve become lax in that area.

So when my copy of League of Denial showed up in the mail, I tore into the package and ripped a section that I knew I wanted to feature in a demo on ACX and elsewhere.

But I had a problem.

The clip I wanted to use contained profanity.

I also had a solution: I used Audacity to fix that.

(And, by the way, before we get started here, this is exactly the same process you’d use to sanitize your retail samples when you produce a book for ACX.)

I had the honor of narrating the book League of Denial, by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, that chronicles the concussion crisis in the NFL. It was a hard book to read at time – I had to fight back the tears.

Mark and Steve set you up at the beginning of the book by taking you to the autopsy table where the body of Steeler center Mike Webster lay, ready for autopsy, and ready to change history with the discovery of his brain damage.

I knew this was a very powerful moment in the book, and I knew after I narrated it that I wanted it to be my demo for this title.

Unfortunately, the clip has a stretch that is NSFW (not safe for work).

I’m going to warn you ahead of time: if you play this first clip, you’re going to be playing content that includes the F-word.

So, if you’re in an environment, like work, or church, or a Starbucks, where you don’t want that word heard, plug in headphones or wait until later.

If the clip was being sent to someone that I knew wouldn’t be offended by it, I could just send the demo as is, f-word and all.

But because my sample may be listened to by anyone, including children, on any number of sites, including Audible, Amazon, ACX, iTunes and who knows where else, I set about the process of replacing the f-word with a tone, or sanitizing it. Here’s just the relevant portion, sanitized:

Great – now anyone can listen safely.

Here’s how you do it.

1. Open up your audio file in Audacity:

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at 5.51.36 PM

2. Zoom in on the area you want to sanitize. Use Audacity’s zooming tools, the magnifying lenses with the plus and minus signs (boxed in red below), to get in close:

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at 5.59.37 PM

3. Highlight the audio in the wave form containing the word you want to replace with the tone. I chose just past the “f” to just before the “ng” because I wanted people to know what was there, but not to hear it. Use the play button (or hit the space bar, the Play keyboard equivalent) to confirm that you’ve got what you want:

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at 5.40.35 PM

4 Go to the Generate menu. Choose Tone...:

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at 5.40.59 PM

5. In the dialog box that pops up, choose Sine for the Waveform, enter 1000 for the Frequency (Hz), and choose a volume level that matches what surrounds the material. 0.3 is a good place to start. The Duration box shows the length of the audio you’ve highlighted:

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at 5.41.20 PM

6. Click OK, and the selected audio will be replaced with a tone. Note how it looks very rectangular where the tone is:

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at 5.41.38 PM

7. Finally, export your newly edited audio and upload.

There are other creative things you can do (like replacing the offensive content with noise under that same Generate menu, or using the Reverse effect under the Effects menu), so pick whichever is appropriate for your situation.

Hope this helps.

David

9 Responses to 6 Steps to a Perfect VO Demo

  1. Kelli August 18, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    I feel really good about my demo. It is a quick and fun process, even for someone like me who gets very self concious. :)

  2. David Britz September 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    The demos are great. Superb quality. Why go anywhere else?

  3. David Britz October 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Can’t wait to record my Narration VO Demo!! :))

  4. Mike Brang December 31, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Having a well-produced demo is one of the most important things in the VO business. I had a number of demos made from other producers in the past and they all had one thing in common — that manufactured, cookie cutter sound!
    What sets David apart from the rest, besides his affordable price and tremendously fast turn around time, is that all of the clips you record with him sound unique. Each spot sounds like an actual commercial you recorded for a job.
    My agent loved the quality and even asked who produced it to refer his other talent there!

    Thanks again, David for producing such a great, high quality demo for me. You made the process relaxing and enjoyable. I urge anyone reading this unsolicited reply to listen to David’s student demos to hear the difference for yourself. Anyone would be lucky to work with him

  5. Kristy Liles February 9, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

    I can not thank you enough. I worked so hard on 15 page IVR project, one day I cryed, look for answers, pull my hear (not really) but I was about until another VO send me this great tool. Thanks!

  6. Frank June 11, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    David

    When v123 indicates the audition is for a student/ nonprofit are we to assume it is for $0. If so, why does the audition ask for an amount to be entered?

  7. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

    David,
    I did get this scam through Voice 123. In our discourse, they offered me the gig and they gave me the name of a legit local place to record and the same runaround with the money. I didn’t send anything, but instead, I called the studio to make sure the booking was for the day we set up, and lo and behold, the people there had no idea what I was talking about. I then tried to call back my “contact person” who was setting this up and there was a fax machine beep on the other end. I immediately contacted Voice 123 and told them what had happened. You know what they say…if it sounds togaed to be true, it probably is. Thanks for the reminder!
    Shirley

  8. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    …too good…not togaed.
    The one time spell check didn’t work!

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