In our last installment, we covered how to record audio easily, using a cheap microphone and a copy of the free program Audacity. Now we get to have some fun and hack it up into something that is usable.
Editing is a relatively laborious process (but don’t let it scare you). You’ll have to go through your audio, bit by bit, and remove each section of audio that is irrelevant or unnecessary. It’s slow, but worth it – I’ve chopped off as many as fifteen minutes doing this.
In PodDev (an Oratos podcast), we often jump off topic or simply pause while we speak. While fine in conversational speech, podcasts are different because we want them to be relatively fast-paced and easy to follow. As such, we edit this audio out. I use Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio for this (it’s an interface I’m more familiar with) but Audacity is free and therefore this tutorial is geared for it.
Removing unnecessary audio is a simple process. Simply zoom in on the audio you want, select it (don’t be overzealous in your selection) and then press delete on your keyboard (or Ctrl+K or Edit>Delete).
An important part of deleting audio, and having it sound natural, is ensuring that the peaks on each side of your selection look the same. If one side of your selection is quite and the other is loud, it’ll cause a sharp jump in the dB level and cause a bit of a shock to your listener. This is a bit simplified, but the effect is the same. Screenshots below:
It’s pretty easy to figure out, and of course you can experiment and figure out what’s easiest for you. I try to remove all pauses longer than two seconds, coughs (if possible), and off-topic rants. Once you’ve found and deleted all excess audio, move on.
Introduction (and conclusion)
Chances are good you’ll want an introduction for your podcast. Whether it’s just you saying “Welcome to my show”, or a professionally mixed mashup of your favorite quotes from TV, the introduction is a staple of all forms of media. Podcasting is no exception.
First, decide how long you want your intro. This can be any increment of time you want. Generate some silence using the method on the right. Personally, I recommend you keep your introduction under a minute: somewhere between twenty and fourty seconds is ideal.
Optionally, you can record an introduction voiceover. An introduction voiceover serves as a reminder for your viewers (“this is the X podcast”) and as a table of contents (“In today’s show…”). Our PodDev introductions are done in this style. Write up a small script for your voiceover (I use Notepad, it’s quick and easy!) so you won’t get off track. Then open Audacity, set yourself to the beginning of the audio, and press Record.
You’ll notice that a new track is created. This second track contains your new recording. You can trim this up as you like, but you now have an isolated track with your voiceover.
If you only have your voice, your introduction will seem like the rest of the show! A song playing in the background will help set the introduction apart from the show’s content.
Remember, respect the law – be sure to check the legality of the song before you use it in your podcast. Creative Commons, which YouMakeMedia has covered previously, is incredibly useful here: ccMixter or opsound provide Creative Commons-licensed audio. Not only are these songs great for podcast intros, they’re great for general listening!
Once you’ve picked your song, download it to your hard drive. In Audacity, we’ll import the audio: go to Project>Import Audio… and import your audio. A third track will be added.
Rather than talk you through the intro music process, I’ve made a little screenshot tutorial below. It’s far more useful than my words alone:
Save the last ‘cast for me
Once you’ve done that, listen to your podcast through and make sure you’re happy with it. If you’re in the mood, you can record copyright audio at the end (the same process as above, just position the cursor at the end).
You’ll want to input all the “ID3” information. The ID3 information is the podcast title, author, copyright info, summary, etc. – and it’s all included with the final file that you export. Editing this information is easy, simply launch Project>Edit ID3 Tags.
Once you’re happy with your project, you’ll need to export it to an MP3. Note that Audacity is not preinstalled with MP3 support, you’ll need to set it up yourself. Full directions are available at the Audacity site.
To do this, you’ll want to first change your bit-rate to ensure you’re compressing at the highest possible compression. This is done by going into Edit>Preferences (Ctrl+P) and into the File Formats tab. By default, Audacity sets MP3s to 128kbit/s, however you can generally push lower than that – down to 96kbit/s (FM radio’s level). This doesn’t compromise too much, but it is noticeable.
Once you’ve chosen your bitrate, go to File>Export as MP3. From there, you can select the output location for your file. And then let it render!
So, now what?
You now have a complete MP3, ready for the world. But where do you go from there? We’ll cover distribution next week, with an overview of all the different possibilities for giving your audio to the masses. Until then, share it with family and friends. Undoubtedly, they’ll be impressed.
In the meantime, feel free to go back and review the first installation of this tutorial. Part three is due soon!