The online video creation community has exploded in the past two decades.
In the past decade alone we have seen a huge surge in online content creators on video sharing platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion which has led to individuals running their own content creation channels.
One of the most common hurdles individuals will face is how to add voice-over to video content. For someone just getting into the video creation industry, it can be hard to figure out how to add voice to YouTube videos. But fear not! You’re friendly Voquent blog writer also happened to be a YouTube content creator back in the day.
The first step of any video-making process, before you tackle how to add voice-over to video content, is writing and sticking to a script. I put extra emphasis on sticking to because I know how tempting it can be to go off script and stay off-script. While this can work occasionally, scripted content will always come out on top. If you are thinking why do I need a script? Or, do I even need to write a script? Then the answer is and will always be yes. Figuring out how to add voice on YouTube videos begins with figuring out exactly what you want to say; that is what a script is all about.
You can read more about scriptwriting with our How to Write a Voice-Over Script blog! It is an important step in every video creation process.
What apps should I use?
We will handle how to add voice-over to video soon enough, first, we need to cover software.
The software that you should use depends on who you are and what your budget is. If you are completely new to the concept and only need a quick solution, then there is no point in buying and downloading professional software. On the flip side, you could be a video content producer looking to improve your setup. No matter who you are, if you have some technical know-how, there are applications and software that can improve your productivity and the quality of capturing as well as implementing voice-over into your video content.
First, you will of course need a good microphone. If you have your own, awesome! If not, you can find some recommendations from Voquent’s own sound pro, Alex, below.
Read more about microphones: What is the Best Microphone for Voice-Over? USB or XLR?
When using your PC/MAC and a plug-in microphone, you will need apps to capture and edit your audio.
For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on these three apps:
- FREE / OPENSOURCE: OpenShot; the leading free open-source video editor, that can be used to edit audio too.
- PAID / SEMI-PRO: Adobe Audition; a high-quality audio editor with a lot of video editing & encoding tools included.
- PAID / PROFESSIONAL: Pro-Tools; industry-standard audio production software with some video export options
Of course, there are lots of alternative apps available, but the above three apps offer a range of options to users depending on their budget and experience level.
We’re going to show you, in detail how to use OpenShot to add voice-over to your video for free but we’ll also touch on the benefits of the other apps.
What is OpenShot?
OpenShot is a free open-source video editor. The first question that springs into most people’s minds when they learn an app is free is why. Is it safe to download and use?
Open-source software has always been the safest go-to option for free software, as all the code that makes the software can be read and seen by everyone that uses it. For people that aren’t knowledgeable about code and how open-source software works, this means that anyone can see if the software is safe to use and the software goes through an informal peer-review process. If the developer has put a virus in the software, people would be able to see this in the code, and the software would be flagged as a trojan (and it wouldn’t be downloadable). The fact that OpenShot is an award-winning open-source video editor is only adding authenticity to it as a good, free alternative to paid video software.
Free editors do have a downside too. Because they are free, not much money can be put into developing and updating the software. This often means free open-source software may not be as powerful as alternative professional apps. There may be limited functionality. But for the purposes of how to add voice-over to video projects, or how to add voice on YouTube video content, OpenShot does the job well.
Advantages of OpenShot:
- It is free to download and use
- It has a simple user interface
- It is available on three of the main operating systems; Windows, macOS, and Linux.
- Supports more than 70 languages
- Has a catalogue of free video effects and transitions to use
Disadvantages of OpenShot:
- Video effects can be hard to edit and control after adding to a clip
- Video rendering speed isn’t as fast as some professional editors
- The program isn’t as powerful as professional editors, and so has been known to crash
- Video and audio preview isn’t as streamlined as you’d expect, which can hinder the editing process
How to Add Voice-Over to Video using OpenShot
Adding a voice-over track to a video using OpenShot is easier than you may think. Very little technical knowledge is needed. To walk you through the process, I downloaded OpenShot and pieced together this helpful step-by-step guide. I use Windows, but the process will be similar for macOS and Linux users.
In the guide, we will be covering how to add voice on YouTube videos; but this method can work with video for any medium. The process is the same.
Step 1: Download and Install OpenShot
If you haven’t already downloaded OpenShot, go here, and then click the Download button shown inside the red rectangle or choose an alternative operating system from the row below.
The software will now download. After the download is complete, Windows users will see an ‘open file’ button at the bottom of your internet browser window. This is highlighted in red in the image below. Click this ‘open file’ button.
Next, if you have User Account Control activated, your computer will have a pop up that will ask you: ‘Do you want to allow this program to make changes to your computer?’ – click yes. Next, you will have a window pop up to help you install the software. Select your language, then select ‘ok’ to move onto the next step.
You will now have a window that is asking you to accept the license agreement. Read the agreement if you want and then select, ‘I accept this agreement’ and then click ‘Next’ to move onto the next step.
You now need to tell the computer where you want to install the software. This doesn’t really matter for small end projects, so simply click ‘Next’ on this screen unless you want to choose your install location. See the button highlighted in red below:
In this next step, you may want to select the ‘Create a Desktop Shortcut’ option and then click the ‘Next’ button again as shown below.
Finally, click ‘Install’ and the software will be ready to use in around 5 minutes.
After the installation is complete, you should see this Window pop up. Select ‘Launch OpenShot Video Editor’ and then select ‘Finish’. The video editing software will now open for you.
Step Two: Importing your Video and Audio Content into OpenShot
Now you need to get your files into OpenShot. Before you import any files, make a folder on your desktop and name it your project name. For this guide, my project will be called ‘tutorial project’ – this is where you are going to store all your project files for easy access. See the screenshot below.
This is where you will store your video file and the voice-over file you are going to add to it. For this tutorial, we are keeping it simple, and adding one audio track to a video track. After you have your files in your project folder, it is time to get them into OpenShot. Open up your OpenShot window and select the green plus sign in the top left-hand corner (as seen in the screenshot).
From this point, a screen will pop up for you to navigate to where your files are. Go to the project folder you have on your desktop, double click it, and you should see your files inside this folder. Select them and click open, like in the screenshot below:
You will now see your files in OpenShot:
From here the process is very simple for a two file project. Simply click, hold, and drag the video content onto ‘Track 5’ like shown in red, and your OpenShot timeline should look like this:
Next, do the same with your voice-over audio (or in our case, fantasy music that we downloaded for this tutorial):
And, if your voice-over track and video content are the same duration, you are good to go! However, in the real world, you will most likely need to sync up your voice-over lines with your video content.
Step Three: Editing, Syncing and Exporting your Video
This is easy enough to do as you can click, hold, and drag the positioning of both the video and audio tracks to change when they start and end.
For example, if you want your voice-over lines to begin halfway into the video for some reason, then you can drag the audio file halfway along the video file like so:
Getting this right can take some time, but syncing the audio and video is half the battle! Once you have the audio and video synced, it is time to ‘export’ your final video content. To do this go to the top left of OpenShot, select ‘File’ then go to ‘Export Project’ and finally select ‘Export Video’.
In the File Name field, put the title of your project. For me, I will put ‘tutorial project’. Next, select the ‘browse’ button:
Now you need to navigate to where you want to save your file on your computer. For me, I am saving the file to my Desktop’s ‘Tutorial Project’ folder that I made earlier. Then click ‘Select Folder’ like so:
Now we need to set the video settings, which is fairly simple for a web or YouTube video. All you will need to do for most projects is to select the ‘Web’ profile. This will render your video in 1920x1080p at 25fps (HD).
Do bear in mind that if your video file is not already 1920x1080p or a higher resolution when you imported it, your video will not scale correctly. If you are not sure what your original video resolution is, you would be better selecting the 1280x720p at 25fps setting under ‘Video Profile’.
After selecting your settings, click the ‘Export Video’ button and you are done!
A progress bar will begin filling up with the export completion percentage. Do not close the window until this is finished at 100% – or your video will not be rendered correctly!
Wait until the bar is both green in colour and at 100% and then click the ‘Done’ button.
You can now close down OpenShot. If it asks you to save changes to your project file, you can choose ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ – that is just personal preference. I always click ‘Yes’ and save the project file to my project folder.
If all has gone well, you should now have your video with your audio content added. Congrats!
While this is a very basic guide, there are plenty of tutorials available online in places like YouTube for video editing with OpenShot. You can also refer to OpenShot’s website for more info or help.
What about professional, paid software?
OpenShot is great for getting started and for small projects, but as your video and audio editing talents develop you may wish to use software with more powerful functionality.
Paid apps will have more plugins available such as FX or themes. These plugins can help you to filter, mix and refine your audio, and give you more video effects or video grading options.
Pros of Paid Software:
- Access to powerful industry-standard tools for content production that can make full use of your PC/MAC’s processing chips. (no hardware use limitations compared to free software)
- A vast array of audio and video editing options using unique plugins
- Far greater file compatibility
Cons of Paid Software:
- Can be expensive
- Has a sharp learning curve when learning how to use the software
- Need in-depth technical knowledge
There are hundreds of paid apps for audio and video editing, we’re going to look at Adobe Audition and Pro-Tools.
Pro-Tools is an audio editing software developed by Avid Technology. It is compatible with both Windows and macOS systems. While this particular software has a free version with access to 23 plugins, it also provides free trials for their more extensive packages of up to 115 different plugins to handle a wide range of audio production needs.
The Voquent production team use Pro-Tools for editing all their voice-over projects.
Adobe Audition is one of Adobe’s leading products and is one of the best paid audio editing apps.
There are a few other Adobe software programs that include audio editing functions, but for the purpose of adding voice-over to a video, Audition does everything we need. Adobe Audition has compatibility with both Windows and macOS.
What are the main differences between Pro-Tools and Adobe Audition?
Pro-Tools tends to be quicker when it comes to handling plug-ins. To name a few:
- better hardware support for mixing consoles and interfaces
- re-wire support for internal routing
- lots of third-party plug-ins to choose from
- key commands tend to be more streamlined
This lends itself to the fact that Avid has a hardware background and their software has been developed to work in synergy with professional hardware. Pro-Tools is the industry standard for audio editing, which is why it is often more expensive than other paid alternatives like Adobe Audition.
Audition, on the other hand, comes with various other tools in a package. Adobe allows you to pay a subscription fee for their full suite, meaning you can use the combined software capability of Audition as well as powerful video editing software such as Premiere Pro and After Effects (if you need them). As a content producer looking to scale your project quality, this may be something to consider.
Pro-Tools is a professional audio editing studio above all else. So, while Pro-Tools may be better for audio editing, Adobe has a full suite which includes image and video editing tools which negate the fact that Audition may not be as powerful or user-friendly an audio editing app as Pro-Tools.
In our view, Pro-Tools is preferable to Audition for audio editing and mixing, but it does lack some basic video editing features and export options. Our senior producer Alex, who exclusively uses Pro-Tools, agrees Audition is the better option for adding a voice-over track to the video:
“While I would always use Pro-Tools myself to perform an edit due to the detailed control and numerous professional plug-ins I already have for the software, Audition looks slightly easier for exporting video. Pro-Tools only exports video in .mov format, which limits you somewhat in terms of resolution and encoding settings. Audition allows you to export in a variety of formats directly from the software, which will definitely make it faster if that’s what you’re ultimately using it for. I’d generally export a .wav file from Pro-Tools and then combine the audio with the video in a different, bespoke bit of video editing software. This is how things like films and TV shows will be rendered, but it really depends what “level” of content you’re looking to create!”
So, all in all, there are dozens of methods detailing how to add voice on YouTube video content and this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are countless software packages out there tailored to every professional and hobbyist you can imagine. This guide, however, is aimed to give you an idea about a popular free method and introduce you to two of the many professional software packages that you can use for adding voice-over. That being said there are plenty of other free methods and software that we will cover at a later date!
You can learn how to use Adobe Auditions to add your voice-over file to your video by watching this video below:
Now that you know a little about software, why not have a listen to the professional voice actors on Voquent and choose someone for your next project.
- Writer: Stewart Storrar
- Editors: Al Black, Michael Sum, Alex Harris-MacDuff