Behind The Mic is a series of Blog Articles we are going to release about the trials and tribulations of two guys starting a podcast. We will go over how we got started, what goes into each show, and finally just explaining how the whole thing comes together. Even if you aren't interested in running a podcast yourself, we thought you might enjoy this series.
So once we decided to record The Independent Characters we had a couple of decisions to make, and a few lessons to learn.
The first was our choice of music. The whole Copyright thing comes into play once you start talking about music. In particular, you can’t just use someone’s music without some type of agreement on the part of both parties. However, we did discover that there is something called “Podcast Safe” music. Podcast safe music is music that is specifically put out there for podcasters or others to use, usually with the stipulation of giving credit where the music came from.
Mevio is one such site. Mevio provides podcast safe music. But you still have to spend a ton of time searching through it for something appropriate. Eventually we settled on a couple pieces of music. I don’t know that we are completely happy with our choices yet, but what we have is working for us so far.
Then I had to learn how to actually splice the show together and insert music, fade it in, fade it out, etc. A tremendous amount of work on the show is done in what we call “post production”. It takes place after we record the show. You can hear in our early shows the limited amount of editing we did.
As I mentioned in part one, I chose to use Audacity for our audio editing software. Fortunately, there is a ton of useful information to be found on YouTube for how to utilize Audacity. I was able to find tutorials for just about every editing trick I was looking for. YouTube is an incredible resource for just about everything. As a useful tool, it cannot be understated.
Our early shows were recorded in the order that you hear them on the final podcast. For us learning how to record the show and deliver something that we felt others would want to hear was the most important piece. You can also hear in our earlier shows the limited amount of editing we actually did.
Getting used to speaking into the mic took some time for the both of us. I often speak to large groups regularly. I have taken many public speaking courses over the years as well. But speaking into a microphone, takes a bit of practice, and that is evident in our first efforts.
We originally worked to clean up the show a considerable amount. I would edit the show heavily, removing various “Uhms” and “Ahhs” over the course of the entire episode. As we got more practice at speaking into the mics, we were able to cut out the number of interruptions as we spoke. This allows us to edit the show less.
Still it does take a considerable amount of time to edit the show. It basically requires the listening of the entire show with a lot of starts and stops throughout the whole process. The person editing listens for a bit, hears something they want to edit out, stops, selects the portion they want to remove, deletes it, and continues on.
Eventually during the recording process, we were able to come up with certain strategies for speeding up the post-production editing process. For example, when we lost our train of thought in a discussion, or we couldn’t remember a particular fact, we just hold up our hand and stop talking for a moment. This creates a break in the sound wave which allows us to quickly go back, identify, and edit particular portions out of the show. Additionally, we now record the intro to the show at the end of the recording session. This way we can account for anything that comes up “on the fly”.
Some podcasts don’t edit themselves at all. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but we felt strongly that in order to provide the cleanest, best sounding show, with a good flow, we would edit out gaps in our discussion, or remove unwanted sounds.
There were a couple of other tricks we learned. One is named The Levelator. This is a great, free little program that automatically levels out the sound variations in your recording. It takes the lows and highs in the recoding and levels them out so that it sounds much clearer.
Once the whole .wav file is put together, we upload it into Audacity again, and export it to MP3 format. Once the file is in MP3 format, we input it into iTunes. Importing the file allows you to then add graphics and other information to the file itself. This allows users who are listening to the show on mobile devices and such, to see the shows logo, and other information about it.
The final part of the editing stage is the actual uploading of the show and the posting of the show notes and graphics in Word Press. This doesn’t take very long typically, but it’s usually the icing on the cake.
So ultimately the steps that take place when editing the show are as follows:
- Listen to each section of the show and remove unwanted sound, commentary and gaps. Save each section as a .wav file.
- Piece each of the .wav files together in the correct order. Introducing music fading in and out, promos, and property statement. Save the entire work file as a .wav file.
- Run the .wav file through The Levelator to adjust all sound levels.
- Take the .wav file that is output by The Levelator, open it in Audacity, and convert it to an MP3 file.
- Import the MP3 file into iTunes to apply graphics and other file information.
- Upload the file to the hosting server.
- Write the post for the show in WordPress and locate art for the post if we don’t already have some.
- Then post the show live.
As of this writing, to edit a two hour show from start to finish, takes about 4 to 5 hours. So as you can see it’s quite an investment. But I honestly wouldn’t release a show without doing all of this work. It really does make a huge difference in the final product.
Besides, if you had to listen to Geoff unedited, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be held responsible.
Next up: Show Preparation…