Saturday 13 August 2011

Simpleton's Guide to Recording an MP3 for Podcasting (for TechnoCretins Only!)


A Simpleton's Guide

Audacity Controls
So you want to do a podcast but you have no idea how? Reader, I was as you are just a short time ago. To be honest, I still don't know very much about podcasting but I do now know how to make a simple recording using basic equipment, ie: a pc or laptop and some free software from Audacity.

This simple guide will take you through the steps required to create an MP3 file suitable for use as a podcast. I am assuming you know someone who will upload the podcast for you as this aspect will not be covered here. The steps outlined below are for a simple amateur voice recording suitable for reading out examples of written work.

First download the Audacity software from their website*. You will need to download the basic Audacity .exe for your particular operating system (see below). You will also need to download the LAME MP3 encoder available from the same website.

If you are asked whether you want to run or save, click 'run'. You will then install the software onto your computer and the appliction should open on your desktop.

If you have an external microphone plug it in now. Adequate microphones can be bought fairly cheaply. However, if you simply want to try out podcasting without going to any expense it is possible to record using the built-in microphone on your computer. I did this and though the quality would certainly have been improved by using an external microphone, I did manage to record my work.

Make sure the doors and windows are closed before you start, (you don't want to record next door's lawnmower like I did!) and turn your phones off. If you're not using an external mike, you will need to lean forward and speak loudly and clearly into the built-in mike on your pc or laptop. So get yourself comfortable!

Record Button
When you are ready to start, click the Record button (the one with the round brownish dot on it) and get going. If you need to stop for a moment, click the Pause button (the first one, with two blue lines on it). To start again, unclick the Pause button. Basically, it is exactly the same as using any other sound recorder. Remember to save your file as you go along (File, Save Project As, give it a name, and then save it where you can find it again).

Inevitably at some point you will stumble over a word. When this happens you can either click Pause, then start reading again from some point before you made your error and later go back and cut the stutter out. (More on this later.) Or, you can click Stop (the button with a square on it) and immediately delete the error.

To immediately delete move your cursor to some point on the recording timeline just before the error, press Play (green triangle) and listen so you can identify exactly where it is, then move your cursor to just before the error, or to a convenient point to start re-reading from, and drag (it will turn into a pointing finger). Drag to the end of the timeline and when it is highlighted (grey) click the little scissors icon to delete it. You can also hit Delete or Ctrl X on your keyboard to remove the offending part.

Now click the Record button and start reading again from the point at which you left off. A new timeline will open up underneath the first one because you used Stop rather than Pause. The next time you make an error and delete it, another new timeline will open up. You may end up with several.

Gap in Timeline
Using this method, you may find that your timelines either overlap or have gaps between them. In this event, you will need to make adjustments using the Time Shift Tool (the little double-ended arrow icon). Select this tool, click onto the timeline you want to adjust and drag it until it lines up with the one above or below. Ideally, start with the first timeline and work your way down.

Overlap in Timeline
To deselect the Time Shift Tool, click on the I-shaped selection tool which will give you your cursor back.

The other option for removing errors is simply to carry on recording, using Pause where necessary, and when the whole thing is finished go back over it removing the errors. Highlight the unwanted bits using the cursor and click the little scissors. Your recording will automatically close the gap. You will need to be fairly precise about this to ensure you only remove the bits you don't want and so that the recording continues to flow nicely.

Once your recording is finished and all the blips are removed, you will need to save it as an MP3 file. You will have been saving as you went along (I hope!) but this will only have saved it as an Audacity file. Now you need to save it so that other systems can play it.

Go to File, then Export, give it a name, or use the one you gave it before, and save it as an MP3 file. You will now be able to listen to it using iTunes, Real Player etc., and you will be able to use it for a podcast.

You will need:

NB: Windows 95 and NT are not supported.

Listen to my own first attempt at podcasting here. The sound quality is variable so turn it up a bit!

1 comment:

Liza said...

Thanks a lot, Barbara, a very helpful post!