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Recording Audio & Video: Audio Projects

A guide for audio and visual recording projects.

Software

GarageBand

An editing/mixing software that comes with the Mac operating system. It is available on the computer in the Hardin Valley Library Recording Room.

Audacity

A free software compatible with Mac and Windows.

Recording & Editing Audio

What is a Podcast?

Podcasting is the creation of digital audio files delivered through an RSS feed, so that your audience can subscribe and download new "episodes" the moment they are released. A podcast can be on any topic, factual or not. It could be a discussion on politics or music, or even a story told in multiple parts. 

Getting Started

The first step to creating a podcast (or any audio project) is planning:

1. Consider:

  • The goals of the assignment. Examine the instructions, and understand exactly what you will be graded on.
  • The time limit. How long or short should the recording be? 
  • The software and equipment. What do you need? What do you have access to? Check the library's available equipment, and look at free audio recording/editing software. 

2. Brainstorm

  • Decide on a topic that interests you.
  • Narrow your topic by asking specific questions. Check out the library's guide on topic selection.
  • Gather information from the news, journals, blogs, or whatever is appropriate for your assignment.
  • Summarize what your project will do in one sentence or thesis statement. 

3. Script:

  • Start with an outline of key points to discuss.
  • Determine how the project will begin and end, an "intro" and "outro."
  • Figure out how you will transition from one segment to the next.
  • Find a story-telling structure or style that fits both the topic and your audience. How formal or informal do you want to be? Consider sound effects or background music.  
  • Before telling your story, introduce yourself and the topic.

Links for More Information

Tips for Audio Recording

Find somewhere quiet.

The Hardin Valley Recording Room is not soundproofed, but there will be minimal outside noise.

Wear headphones.

Headphones can isolate the audio, and make it easier to catch mistakes in your recording. It is also better to use a separate device for audio output when you are speaking into a microphone to eliminate echo.

Place the microphone strategically.

Don't speak too close or too far away from the microphone. The optimal distance between the microphone and your mouth is 8 to 12 inches. This will lessen the sound of breathing in your recording. 

Watch your levels.

Watch the microphone levels during your audio test. Try to keep the bar just below red. 

Speak clearly and enunciate.

Speak conversationally, not as if you are reading from a script. Relax, don't mumble, and try to avoid "um" and "uh" sounds.

Play back the recording.

Listen to your recording multiple times. If you need to raise or lower the volume several times, then it may be worthwhile to re-record the presentation.

Recording/Editing

First off, create the audio content. You can use Audacity, a free program available here, to record and edit with a microphone. You can also use GarageBand, a program available on most Mac computers.

When you save the completed file, consider the best audio format:

  • MP3: A high-quality, compressed audio format, allowing for smaller files and faster downloading/streaming.
  • AAC: Similar to MP3, but these are compressed and maintain high quality. AAC is the standard format for iOS and iTunes.
  • WAV/AIFF: These are uncompressed, very high quality audio, and are best suited for short clips because of the large file size.

Hosting and Sharing

After using Audacity, GarageBand, or another program to record and edit an audio file, there are several ways to distribute your work. Use iTunes to share podcasts or songs with a wide audience, or embed audio directly on a webpage for those interested in the context of the work.

Websites

Soundcloud

iTunes

iTunes will not host content (use something else like Soundcloud), but you can also submit your podcast to reach the largest possible audience. Just make sure that you follow the submission guidelines regarding copyright, artwork, rss feeds, etc.

Cloud Sharing

A cloud-based service, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, can be used to share audio files with specific people.

Accessibility

Consider transcribing your podcast for individuals who may struggle to follow along or who have a hearing impairment. A transcript will also improve search engine optimization and allow others to quote from your podcast. Create a written transcript from your project planning stage or script. Youtube.com can also be used to automatically transcribe or caption content (with occasional errors).

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Podcast Examples

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