Brigadoon - An Occasional Corner on the Internet
Designed by Mark Little
Podcast Creation and Audio Editing
The hardware and software discussed here are not necessarily the best currently available, but are only discussed as examples of what is available.
Many computers, although not all laptops, and not most tablets, have three audio jacks that can be used for podcast creation. The pink jack allows a stereo microphone to be connected to the computer and the blue jack allows for a stereo line input. The green jack provides an stereo audio output from the computer.
As an alternative to a USB box which allows standard microphones to be plugged into it, it is possible to get USB microphones and other sorts of USB digitisers to input an analogue signals.
If you have more microphones than can be handled by the computer's inputs, it is possible to get a USB interface that allows multiple microphones or other input lines to be used.
Audio Recording & Editing
Audacity is a free program written by a world-wide team of volunteers. Audacity is available for Windows, Mac and GNU/Linux (and other Unix-like systems).
This program allows the user to capture audio from the various input devices such as microphones and other line input devices. It also allows pre-recorded media such as music, sound effects to be inserted into the program for mixing with the other channels.
Music is an often using backing resource in productions. While there is a lot of music available, it often has copyright restrictions which mean that it cannot be used at all, or without appropriate payments.
There are, however, many sources of copyright free music, released under the Creative Commons licence, although there are usually conditions which stop you from doing everything you may want to do without some sort of fee. You will probably also have to do a number of searches to find the material that you need.
Sound Effect Libraries
Sometimes what is needed is not music, but a sound effect to crate ambience in a recording. Again there are many examples of copyright sound samples, but there are also many example of sounds that are provided under Creative Commons licencing. Again you may need to search the Internet a bit to find exactly what you want.
Music & Effects Generators
If you are unable to find the music or sound effect that you need, there are also tools which allow you to develop you own. This can rage from simple sound effects generators to complex music composition and sequencing programs. If you go down the path of developing your own sounds and/or music, it is important to keep a focus on what is most important, your overall projects, or a particular effect or music.
A pre-recorded podcast will have a theme and a time limit. The purpose of a storyboard is to ensure that all the major points of the podcast's theme are covered and given the appropriate amount of time relevant to the importance of that point. The storyboard can also be used to identify background music, effects and other inputs and where they will be used.
There are storyboard programs available on the Internet, but often a podcast storboard can be adequately planned using a Excel-style spreadsheet or similar. A free Linux example of a spreadsheet would be LibreOffice Calc.
One of the ways to learn about podcasting is to listen to the podcasts made by others to see what works and whether it is practical to incorporate that technique into your podcasts.
Try to reverse engineer their storyboard and the major points that the podcast seeks to provide. Listen to how they use music and effects in the presentation.
While the NAB 2011 Whisper Room Booth from Whisper Room Inc is beyond the resources of most people, it is what one should aspire aim towards before starting recording.
That is, if possible, the recording should be done in an area away from the noise of computer fans, air-conditioning air flow, and any electrical noise that may get into the recording equipment. It should also have sound absorbing walls, floor and ceiling.
Having said that, since most podcasts primarily deal with people talking, and the message is the most important part of the recording, a higher level of background noise may be tolerable for home-produced Podcasts. If your podcast content is being spoiled by the ambient noise of your recordings, then it will be time to explore setting up a special room with sound absorbing material such as heavy curtains, or if your budget runs to it, special acoustic tiles. As an alternative, it may be possible to become involved with a local Community Broadcaster and gain access to their studio facilities.
Sound absorbing tiles can be purchased and applied to an existing area. By way of example, forty (40) sound tiles 30cm x com can be purchased for less than AUD$90 delivered (from Hedgelee House in 2018).