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How to get started in podcasting: editing the audio

Dan Miller | April 4, 2014
Once you've captured the audio, it's time to splice it all together and trim it down. Depending on the kind of podcast, you may also need to incorporate other audio--music, ambient sound, and other effects. Once again, here's how four podcasting vets--Christopher Breen (the Macworld Podcast); Editorial Director Jason Snell (The Incomparable); Erika Ensign (Verity!); and Chip Sudderth (The Two-Minute Time Lord)--get that done. (Warning: Ensign is a Windows user. But we still thought her overall workflow would be instructive for all podcasters, regardless of their preferred platform.)

Once everything is in Logic, he uses the Strip Silence command to delete all portions of everyone's audio track where there's nothing making noise. This has the effect of leaving behind only the parts of their track when people are speaking, making it easy to edit the podcast visually.

His goal is not to take out every "Um" or "Uh," but to look for places where people are talking over each other — "deadly when you're doing a panel-based podcast." Just by looking at Logic, he can see when more than one person is speaking, then jump to those spots and either delete the interruptions and false starts or slide them apart from one another, "so it sounds as if we are all very polite people who never speak until somebody else has stopped speaking."

He works through the podcast from start to finish, often not even listening to long monologues unless he sees a pause or something else that needs to be edited. He also remembers things that happened during recording that need to be fixed (such as somebody swearing or digressing). If the podcast has advertising, he records them separately and drops them in. The only sound-effect he uses is something he calls the "Spoiler Horn", to warn people when there's discussions of something spoiler-y; it's actually a stock Apple sound-effect called Ferry Fog Horn.

Once he's done with all that, he export the results to AIFF format, converts that to MP3 using iTunes, and uploads it to the website that hosts his podcast.

Chip Sudderth

Chip spent money on microphones, but not on editing software. He records and edits voice tracks with Audacity. ("It gives me a level of quality control I never felt I had when I started out in GarageBand.") Once the voice tracks are done, he imports them into GarageBand for music, transitions and other effects. ("GarageBand remains far more intuitive for big-picture work.")

In the interest of saving some time, he usually runs all of the audio tracks through The Conversation Network's Levelator (which is no longer being actively supported) rather than manually compressing them. "I consider Levelator essential for interviews and roundtables. On the other hand, if you begin with poor-quality audio, Levelator exacts a terrible price."


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