Photograph of a microphone

Overview

This post contains lots of additional information that will be useful to you as you work on your podcast episodes, mostly focused on nuts and bolts issues like equipment, editing, and so on.

Check out the assignment prompt for conceptual guidelines and for information about what I am expecting from you.

Equipment

The Writing Program has purchased 4 Yeti microphones and placed them on reserve with the Music and Media Library. If you check out one of the Yeti mics, you might want to skim over the manual here.

There are a number of other microphones available for checkout as well, so if the Yeti mics are not available check out something else.

 

 

Photo of a microphone

Audacity

Audacity is a good, free, open-source audio editor (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux). It’s pretty standard software for mixing podcasts, so I recommend you give it a shot.

There is a very good tutorial wiki for Audacity online — this basic page on mixing voice narration with music probably covers 90% of what you’ll need to do for your podcast. It’s not terribly difficult, but there is a learning curve to it and you should definitely make an extra copy of your raw audio files before you start mixing and editing them. Expect for it to take longer than you think it should to do the sound editing and build time for mixing into your plans. There are some students in the class who have a fair amount of experience working with Audacity — make friends with them and ask them for help (make sure to give thanks for their help in your episode credits!).

Exporting as an MP3: Note that probably the most complicated part of using Audacity will be configuring the MP3 encoder. Because of copyright laws, Audacity does not come with a native MP3 encoder so you can’t export as MP3 straight out of the box. You’ll need to download and configure an extra plugin to do so.

Other software

If you’re already very comfortable with using GarageBand or another sound editing software, you can use that instead.

Student Digital Life also has lots of resources that should be of use to you with this project. If you want to use more advanced software, the Media Lab has the full Adobe Creative Suite, including Adobe Audition, available and student assistants who can help you in using it. The Tech Lab is also a great space for you to go to get ideas about how to approach these projects. There are also gaming consoles available in Cox Computing, so if you want to explore games as new media you might stop by SDL and see what you can do.

Recording & mixing guidelines

As I say above, Audacity has a very good tutorial wiki. There is tons of information included there, but this single basic page on mixing voice narration with music probably covers 90% of what you’ll need to do for your podcast.

Transom is “a performance space, an open editorial session, an audition stage, a library, and a hangout” that seeks to spread good ideas and practices for public media, especially focused on audio. There’s lots of good stuff there and I encourage you to check them out.

Of special note: “Using Music: Jonathan Menjivar For This American Life.” Menjivar is a producer and music supervisor at This American Life and his essay is a fantastic breakdown of different methods for incorporating music into a podcast episode.

See also, the other pieces in the Transom “Using Music” series.

Podcast hoster Buzzsprout has a pretty good “Podcasting 101 Guide” with some useful tips, including about where to position yourself with regard to the microphone.

Music

You need to be careful when using music to not violate copyright law. Here are 2 really good sites to find Creative Commons licensed music that you are allowed to use:

Free Music Archive. Mostly more contemporary music types, searchable by genre or by other methods.

Musopen. Public domain and creative commons licensed classical music.

Free Music Archive logo

Episode Structure

You are responsible for creating the audio for your episode, which includes an introduction that provides a title for your individual episode and the names of the two producers; the primary content of the episode itself, which should be about ten minutes in length; and a closing credit section for your individual episode in which you provide the title for any music that you have used and thank people who contributed to it.

You are encouraged to mix music, interviews, and sound effects or ambient sounds into your episode.

Turning It In

Once you’ve got the audio for your episode, upload the MP3 and your square cover image to Google Drive, and then share them with me. If you have trouble with sending them for any reason, let me know.

Include in your email a short paragraph describing the podcast and citations for your sources. If you have someone from outside the class in your podcast, send me a copy of their media release form or give it to me as a hard copy during the next class session.

Send me everything listed above by noon on the Friday when your episode is due. I’ll add the series bumper on the front of the MP3 and then publish the episode.

Reflection

Once you’ve submitted your episode, each of the producers should write their own podcast reflection posts on their own individual sites, with an embed of the Soundcloud episode at the top and then your reflection included below.

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