Sound Recording and Editing Tips
Much of the skill you develop in creating podcasts will come with experience. No matter how much you know about the various terms and aspects of software packages and hardware, in the end, the most important thing is doing. That said, there are a few important tips that will help you when you are recording, editing, and mixing your podcast:
- When recording, try to use your normal voice. Many people attempt a "radio" voice, and it comes off sounding fake or contrived. Practice talking in your normal voice to help your first podcast come off better.
- First-time podcasters often speak too loudly into the microphone. It's important not only to speak at a conversational level, but also to be careful not to vary the volume of your voice or the distance between your mouth and the microphone a great deal. Doing either of these things will result in an uneven podcast in which your voice will "drop out" or "explode" during the show.
- Use a pop filter (also known as a pop screen) in front of the microphone to eliminate pops when saying the letters P, B, and F. See the "Popping Ps" sidebar earlier in this chapter.
- When recording, make sure that the levels don't go over the zero-decibel mark on the DB meter. If that happens, the high end of the recording will get clipped off, resulting in very poor sound quality.
- Record at the highest sampling rate possible. CD quality is 44.1 kHz; DVD quality is 96.1 kHz. It's important to record at the highest quality that your recording device will allow. When you're using a small digital recorder, the size of the memory stick is the usual limiting factor. On a computer, however, there is usually enough hard drive space to record at any level.
- If you are going to use commercial music in your podcasts for any reason, you must get an appropriate license for it (see "Legalities" later in this chapter). Most music is licensed by ASCAP or BMI, and both organizations offer licenses for podcasters.
- When interviewing a guest, don't be afraid to rerecord your questions, especially if the questions didn't come off right in the first place (for example, you were coughing or stammering while asking the question). It's easy to rerecord the question and place it over the original question. The listener need never know.
- Use a fade-in and fade-out at the beginning and end of the podcast. This small touch gives a very impressive feel to the show and makes the proceedings come across as being professional.
- Include background music during the podcast (see "Legalities" later in this chapter). Background music can be used in several ways. First, it can demarcate different phases or sections of the podcast, rising to signify the passing of a segment and falling off again to signify the beginning of a new topic or to introduce a guest. Second, music can and should open and close a show, with several seconds of music preceding and following the first and last things said by the host.