UMACHA AAP Video Volunteer Project

I am a big fan of portfolio projects that have a purpose…do good things for others.  I created this video in a collaborative volunteer project with UMACHA.org.  It was a problem I have solved often in my recent work, creating a visual short educational video to replace an aged lengthy webinar.

The Training Director and I worked closely as I interpreted their 2-year old webinar. Together, we validated my outline, script, new theme, and visuals were on track with her current goals for the AAP program. For visuals, I worked with the Marketing team to shop on Big Stock for graphics that fit the Midwest audience and theme using their current subscription. I used my own home sound recording studio for narration.  I used Camtasia and PowerPoint plus kept the design very simple so I could turn the source files over to the Training Director at the end of the project for their own use. Files were shared via Google Drive and YouTube.

Frequent checkpoints with key stakeholders pay off. When the video reached the final stage of being reviewed by the Board, it passed with applause and no changes requested. It now sits on their website for their members, and it has served them well this year!

Creating Audio Files for Podcasting

In the last few weeks, I have been exploring podcasting for myself and others, so this blog is to share a few tips with you about the first stage.

I have been producing audio for videos for a number of years. Personally, I am interested in seeing if podcasting might be a good channel for producing fast, high-quality, cost-effective eLearning.

In my project, I am working with two teams of people who are new to audio production and podcasting. So today, I will share with you some of the things I’m sharing with them as we travel down this road.

Content

To start, we need written content, a script, a set of interview questions, a person to interview, a theme or topic. Some people can start with an outline, and make things up as we often hear in a webinar, live radio show or live podcast. Others have a formal message to convey, so they do better with a carefully curated written script.

In all of the cases I am working with today, we have good ideas for content based off blogs, training webinars, and live events. We are simply using podcasting as another way to share our message.

For today’s example, I wrote a short speech about Dr. Pat Selinger for PDXWIT.org for their October Happy Hour. So, I simply reused that speech to create this sample podcast.

Microphone and Sound Booth

To start, a quality microphone make a big difference. I learned this lesson the hard way. You get what you pay for in microphones. A poor quality mic increases one’s editing and recording time.  A few years ago I spent about $150, and I own a professional Blue Yeti mic with pop filter. I am doing a prerecorded podcast that matches my video work, so I have my sound booth (version 3) set up in my office closet complete with padded walls and ceiling. The sound booth cost very little. It was mostly a matter of gathering things around the house to make a padded space to eliminate echo and ceiling noise. Closets full of clothing are an easy way to start.

Sound Editing Software

To keep it simple, I used my familiar video editor, TechSmith’s Camtasia, to produce this file. There are other software solutions for sound editing that I will explore in later blogs.

Adding Music

Music helps the listener in so many ways, giving them auditory cues as well as bringing emotion to the audio. Professional podcasts often use music as cues in their show, and some may use sound effects to add additional interest.

Sometimes, I find it helpful to restrict music use in an audio track, to only use it to cue the listener, in order to leave the narration clear and crisp. This technique can be especially important if you have a wide variety of listeners from many geographic regions.

In this sample, the topic is light, and I wanted to add emotion.  So, I placed the music throughout the audio.

TechSmith provides royalty-free music snips, so I listened to a number of them until I found the right match emotionally for the topic. Then I brought the music track into Camtasia, and I carefully edited it down to the right length to match the narration listening for beats and music cues.

I’m an amateur keyboard musician, and a long-time music lover. So, I’m sensitive to how the music sounds, and I want each fade and increase to happen at a time pleasing to the ear. It is a little detail, but one which increases the quality of the audio experience.

Producing the File 

Once I had all those pieces in place, I rendered the file in an audio-only format M4A, a process that is much faster than producing a video file. There is some debate in the podcast world about MP3 files vs the newer M4A files. My tool, Camtasia, no longer produces MP3 files, so naturally I went with what I had, M4A format.

There are more details in producing a file I will cover later. For example, the actual file size is determine by the quality you select in production. I’ll speak to those topics in a later blog, because one’s choice of media server can help with these choices.

Publishing the File

Today, I published the audio file within my WordPress blog as a simple sample. I have recently upgraded this blog to a paid subscription that eliminates ads. Upgrading also allows me a small amount of audio and video storage.

That is not the end of the story on publishing podcasts. There is much more to say about preparing the file, publishing podcasts on a media server, and distributing them, also voice recording and audio tips. So I will return to blog more on those topics soon!