Recording and Editing a Podcast
During this time I learned one or two things on recording and editing a Podcast and this is a summary of what I've learned so far.
One thing to emphasize though, you can do your podcast with all simple hardware and free software! Not having a fancy mic, or money to buy a audio editing software or whatever should not stop you to put your voice out there!
Here's a thing to remember, invest your time in capturing good sound. The effort of correcting problems after the recording is high and can be expensive. If you plan to host or co-host a podcast I advise you to get a better microphone than those which comes with mp3 players, cell phones or for gaming.
Without getting too technical, just think "size matters regarding microphones." A small embedded microphone with a ear phones is constrained in the range of sound waves it can capture. They are designed to be portable and not to deliver good voice sound.
You should check out Blue Snowball as a reference of a good podcast microphone. After that you can search for comparisons, reviews and so on to get to know other ones that are suitable for podcast recording.
Recording a podcast is pretty straightforward if you have only you as host and speaker, but this isn't the common case. Most of the time you co-host and have guests.
Double-ender recording is quite popular in podcasting. If you co-host a podcast this is a technique you can use. Basically each side of the conversation record its own sound and then someone during editing puts all back together.
In the past this was used to get a better quality than the phone line sound, and still holds true as most remote conversation softwares will compress and lower the sound resolution to meet certain performance goals.
Co-hosting or having guests remotely chances are that you will need to use some conversation software that allows that. Skype is still the most commonly used. Most people are familiar with it and you can have more than one person simultaneously on the same call. Skype is a safe choice specially if you have guests on the show since most people would have an account.
There are several alternatives but it boils down on how easy you to keep your recording work flow. Platforms like Podclear offer double-ender recording for all parties which sounds pretty cool but comes with a price.
The last but not least of the recording steps is to capture the audio. I use Audio Hijack. Of any spare money you have to invest in podcasting this is the software you need (OSX only). For Windows users Total Recorder is what I heard as recommendation.
Audio Hijack not only can capture audio from different sources but it also allows you to inject some processing during the capture. It comes with handy Denoise, Declick, Dehum and so on. Which is pretty useful since you won't have to process the audio too much after recording.
Bellow is my current setup for capturing for Tecnologicamente Arretado:
Given my current hardware and setup this looks a little bit complex, in fact it is a little. What I just want you to see is that, from Skype I record a file which is Greg and our current guest voice. But I do not record my voice there.
If you pay attention on the second flow you'll see that from my microphone there are two branches. Both will have only my voice but one is "dry" (unprocessed) and the other is "wet" (processed). The dry recording is just a safe guard (a fall-back) against having problems with the processed audio.
The "wet" part goes through a couple of plugins; "Denoise", Scarlett Noise Gate,Nectar Elements and finally is recorded. With the exception of "Denoise" the other plugins are third party. I won't dive into details of what each one does which is beyond the scope of this post. Just bear in mind that this is the recording which is already processed and leaves me little work while editing.
The last detail is which format should I record? Well it doesn't matter much most defaults and even mp3 will probably be fine but there's one tip. Try to record in mono and not stereo. The reason being this will create a smaller file. Unless you want to do some stereo work, mono will do just fine.
After recording a little editing helps a lot. Most of time the recording is not perfect, sometimes you say something wrong, repeat yourself too much, the sound isn't leveled between you and the guest and this list goes on.
I do a pretty straightforward editing which consists of two main steps.
- Cut out problems.
- Mix the audio to sound the best I can make it.
Problems can be of all types while most of the time I just cut the "ahhh", "hmmmmm" or big silence between speakers. Given the latency between callers sometimes there are big gaps so I cut these out.
Mixing is basically processing the audio to level all speakers voice, removing background noise (if present) and equalizing it a bit. The challenge is that our podcast is not a true double-ender, one cannot split Skype conversations into individual tracks for individual speakers. In my case I mix my voice and the Skype recording which has Gregs and the Guest voice. Not ideal but it works.
Nowadays I use Logic Pro to all my audio processing needs. Still you do not actually need it, you could mix everything in Audacity or Garage Band. The main difference is how much work will be required to get the result you are looking for.
Sound quality is important because you want your audience to be able to hear what is being said. Noise, distracting silence and uneven levels will probably make your listeners to work more and consequently get tired faster. That is the reason I strive to get the best sounding possible of our recordings.
Incidental music and sounds
Both were composed and recorded by me. But this may not be your case. You have a music or sound that you want to use. Well, music and sound copyright is a very, very, complex thing. If you want to use someone else's music or sound you probably should read this.
There are some final notes I want to share. Just a couple things to keep in mind:
- Mute your cell phone during recording
- Do not type in your keyboard unless you want the audience to know that you are typing
- Close all other applications (specially email!) so you do not get distracted
- Take notes on paper, print them out before hand if you need to
- Keep your distance from the microphone constant
- Check your recording setup before actually starting (every time!)
- Do not kick the table, tap with your fingers or play with something else. Good microphones will capture almost everything around you
- Check your levels! Some microphones have a gain knob, too much gain and you start clipping. There's few under a thousand bucks ways to try to fix it