Monday, December 12, 2016

Podcasting

A client has asked me to start producing a series of podcasts for them!

In the podcast booth!

Podcasting is clearly enjoying a renaissance, primarily because of the hit series Serial. Several years ago I had done two podcast series for Firehouse Magazine, Campus Firewatch Radio and The Fire Marshal's Corner. Both were pretty successful, and the way we recorded them was that the guest and I would call into a phone number where a sound engineer would record us and then edit and upload the finished podcast. Pretty easy, from my end.

Podcasting has become even easier now. If you look at the picture above, it's not really a "booth," but my office where I have hung sound dampening materials (blankets on light stands) behind me to cut down on the echo. I also went as far as putting a towel down on the desk to help eliminate reverb as well...breaking up any hard surface really does make a difference, I'm finding. 

As a matter of fact, some podcasters record from inside their closets (lots of soft clothes to absorb the sound). One podcaster, who does much of his recording on the road from hotel rooms, actually does his sitting under the blankets on his hotel bed, kind of like what we used to do when we were kids reading books when we were supposed to be asleep!

For a microphone, I'm using my H4N sound recorder mounted on a microphone stand that I plug into the USB port on my Mac PowerBook. I had to adjust the frequency from 44 khz to 48 khz because it was coming out almost Mickey Mouse-ish.

Since I'm interviewing people for these podcasts, I call them on Skype and then use a program called Call Recorder from Ecamm to record the call. This records both sides of the conversation either 1) in a single file or 2) exports them into TWO files, one for each side of the conversation. Why, you ask?

With Skype and Call Recorder, it isn't possible to adjust the sound levels for each side of the conversation separately, so if I set it for my sound level, and then have a guest that is either very loud or very soft, this could be a problem. However, since the files get exported separately for each side, I can then adjust the levels accordingly in post production.

I can also mute one side of the conversation, so if someone is making comments such as "um" or coughing or breathing loudly (amazing how it comes through) all of that can be muted easily.

For editing, there are several popular options out there. GarageBand from Apple is one that I have never really mastered. It used to be designed for podcasting, but it seems like it has moved away from that.

The other very popular one is Audacity, a free (doesn't get much better) open source editing program. It is a very powerful tool and really does a lot.

However, I'm using Adobe Premiere Pro, which is actually a video editing program.

Why, you ask again?

Because I know how to use it from video editing and can be pretty quick with it, and it does the job for me. Probably as I get more and more into it, I'm going to move away from it, but it really seems to have a lot of the tools I need to get the job done quickly and easily. Premiere Pro is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, and their video editing package is called Audition. As I'm doing more, I might move over to it, but for now, Premiere Pro is doing the trick.

I'll be posting more on this as time goes on...topics such as hosting (Soundcloud), podcast sources (iTunes, Stitcher or Outcast, for example) and more!

Take care...

Ed

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