Solo Audio Commentary Tips?

So I’ve been trying to put together my first LP and tried recording solo commentary but it went pretty poorly. What kind of tips do you have to help doing commentary by yourself? Should I have notes about what to talk about per episode? Or should I go all out and meticulously script my whole video?

What I usually do is take mental notes of talking points/bits during the first round of playing through a section. Then when I go in to record footage, I will sorta review my mental notes during this second run-through; that way I’ll allow myself enough time to talk about whatever it is I wanted to say. Of course, when it comes to recording commentary it almost never comes out perfectly the first time, so I have to do multiple takes of the same talking point over and over again until I get it right and edit out the bad takes in post.

And if you don’t wanna do that or if your game has a lot of stuff that you have to remember all at once then having some written notes can help. (I can’t do that because my recording area doesn’t have a light to see the notes.) But I wouldn’t exactly say you should script everything down to a ‘T’, (at least not your first LP,) unless you’re good at sounding like you’re not reading straight from a page.

Also, as time goes on and you keep doing this, you’ll start developing your own style and all of this will become second nature to you.

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Seconding this.

And don’t worry about filling up all the time in the video with commentary. I like to give games a bit of room to breathe if something is going on that doesn’t need explaining.

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just say it over and over to yourself, tattoo it on your arm if you have to:
“Auto-Ducking Exists For A Reason”

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Cool, thanks for the input. I’m planning on doing it post commentary though, and I am set up pretty well to do written notes so that shouldn’t be much of a problem for me, so I guess I could do a trial run, take notes and then record the actual playthrough to make sure I can show it off?.

It’s pretty convoluted but my plan is to record the commentary, edit everything, then take the audio for the edited video into a DAW and side chain the commentary through a compressor to get a similar effect. I don’t particularly mind the extra work since side-chaining is pretty easy, but would Auto-Ducking be a more effective way of going about it? Also for what it’s worth, I’m editing the video in Vegas Movie Studio 13.

generally what I do is:

  1. Edit the video sans commentary
  2. Render it in usable, yet lower quality (720p30fps when my final video will have 1080p60fps)
  3. Upload to youtube, unlisted
  4. Send it to your co-commentator, open audacity (use settings for Voicemeeter to record only microphones)
  5. Start recording in audacity, and use some audio cue to signify a ‘sync point’ when you start the video (I’ve recently taken to using the click on the fidget cube, but any loud sound you can make with one hand works. I used to tap a quarter on a glass, and start the video on the third tap with my free hand. Point is, you want something that’ll make a clean spike that you can sync up with later)
  6. After the audio is done recording, I delete everything before my sync point, and import the 720p video I made as an audio source in the audacity session
  7. I move the imported audio to the top spot in audacity and run ‘auto duck’ on it to lower the game’s audio when we’re talking. Once that’s done I export the audio as an MP3
  8. Back in Vegas, I add that audio track as an MP3 starting when the video starts, and mute the original game audio. If your sync point matched up well it should sync up with your video flawlessly
  9. Render that video and you got your final product

Since you’re doing solo, you can skip steps 3 and 4, set audacity to only pick up your mic, and be sure to have headphones on when recording

Personally I’m not a fan of auto ducking. It can get quite jarring when the game audio is raised for a second only for the commentary to start again. Even when this doesn’t happen due to good settings or manual adjustments I prefer a consistent volume that can be easily talked over. I only (manually) raise the game audio when I want to highlight anything in the audio such as dialogue, music or various cues.


Personally I’m not a fan of auto ducking. It can get quite jarring when the game audio is raised for a second only for the commentary to start again.

Thiiiiis this this this. I can’t second this opinion enough, not even with groucho glasses to mask my identity.

Audio that’s constantly shifting volume is really uncomfortable to listen to. I think the auto-ducking thing existed for TV or educational materials first, but I don’t think it transfers to games well at all - games have music, sound effect, voice acting, basically constant sound going on and that sound is a critical part of the experience. Having it constantly wavering makes it really hard to pay attention and, as @IGgy said, jarring. It’s similar to the effect you get when you watch something that has too many hard jump cuts.

Even it’s quiet, it’s better to be consistant with a baseline that people can sort of “tune in” to and keep track of. Ideally your game volume should be loud enough that people can hear it, listen to it, and not have to strain to hear anything, but quiet enough that when you start talking your voice becomes the dominant sound.

As for actual content - wish I could help ya, but I tend to do all my videos as blind experiences with live commentary so I can’t speak at all to the planning or taking notes angle. I will say though that if you ever do blind stuff, it is the hardest type of vid to do solo and keep it interesting. It’s always far easier to keep up the discussion with somebody else there to bounce back and forth with.

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Completely scripted commentary has always sounded really off-putting to me (not knocking people that do it, it’s just not my thing!) What I’ve done:

  • Open up notepad and type up a quick little thing of prominent talking points
  • Watch the recording; add and remove talking points as necessary
  • Watch the recording while doing a practice commentary run; edit talking points again
  • Record that commentary!

I am by no means a super successful LP person, but this worked for me when I started doing it a couple of videos in…

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Thanks, I might give this method a try.

And in regards to auto-ducking/side chaining… I dunno. I guess I’ll see how it sounds when I’m there.

Thanks for the advice everyone. It’s been a big help.

Same. I think it’s waaaay better than shoot for a comfortable general volume level where the game is reasonably audible but your voice is heard over it when you start speaking, changing the volume levels in the middle of gameplay gets disorienting and kind of annoying even when done well, when done badly it’s flat out grating.

Granted if you’ve got large stretches of game where you don’t plan on talking like a cutscene or something, bringing the game audio up is probably totally appropriate and fine. Otherwise, sod auto-ducking and balance your own volume levels. It’s generally easier and I argue better than trying to make auto-ducking work out, especially since you really only have to balance the commentary against the game audio once and then never again.

My typical method to just blitz through a first pass without worrying too much about how something sounds, then give it some time and re-watch the video. For me, “just doing it” helps to spur my brain into thinking about better things to say and better ways to say them. This does eventually end up with me doing several passes on one video, which is time-consuming, but I’d like to say that it produces fairly controlled results, despite how chaotic it sounds on paper.

Even if you choose to plan things out and take a more granular approach, I still think it’s a good idea to give videos a couple days where you’re not even so much as opening the file. Start working on something else, give yourself a chance to forget about the things you said, and then you’ll be able to see potentially glaring flaws that you weren’t picking up because they were getting tuned out subconsciously.

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