WIP Update: KritzKast – What we do (part 2)

Posted by on July 16, 2012

Skype is your friend

It’s not really fair that I ask you to record something in part 1 without telling you how to do that. As everyone in KritzKast is located in different parts of the world we started off trying to get a recording in mumble. The results were mixed to poor. The slightest problem with the internet would give one of us a crackling robot voice and various other little problems ensued. It may just have been that at the time we weren’t investing energy in to post production but we weren’t satisfied. We messed around with a few other applications but in the end we settled on Skype. I’m glad we did. Skype is wonderful for podkasters.

For one to one interviews it is especially simple to achieve good quality audio results. An application we’ve taken to heart is  MP3 call Recorder. Once you have it installed it can be configured to record all Skype calls at 128bit stereo. Your own audio is recorded on the left channel and all incoming sound is recorded on the right channel. I’ll talk about audio editing applications in a minute but in essence you’ll end up with two reasonably good recordings of audio that may be cleaned up, edited and shipped out with almost no skill or effort.

So that’s a two man kast sorted.. lets all go home. *le sigh* It’s never that easy. In KritzKast we have a rolling host list of  three to five presenters. Even interviews rarely involve less than three people. The limitation of MP3 Call Recorder is obvious. While the left channel will only ever have your own audio the right channel will record everybody else.

So I should take a moment to explain this problem. In normal conversations people who can see each other are able to perceive small gestures; be they leaning forward,  a glint in the eye or simply opening their mouths. There’s a wealth of information that you take on board when you’re chatting with people in real life. On the internet, even on a video call, that information is lost to you. So two people will often respond at the same time. Again, in small groups most people can elect to tune-out from those who they think may be less interesting by positioning themselves in such a way that they are either closer to or in a positionally clearer path to the people they do want to hear. Even if it’s just a case of their head turning to face them. In recorded media though this isn’t possible. KritzKast’s final edit is in joint stereo so the left and right speakers play the same track at the same time. The projected audio appears on a flat plane no matter who originated it. Effectively even two people talking together over each other makes it very difficult for the listener to tell what’s actually being said by any one person.

Golden Waves

I’ll go into some detail in a later post about how we edit the audio, suffice to say that we’ll silence or cut out the audio of one presenter when two are talking at the same time. This is only possible when you have each person recorded to a separate track. For this we use GoldWave to individually record our own tracks. I suppose any recording software will do but we are all Windows guys so that’s the best choice for us. Unlike MP3 Call Recorder, GoldWave isn’t free.  There is a long trial basis so you can get used to it and when you’re done with the trial it’s super cheap to register considering how powerful a utility it is.

The first time you launch gwave you’ll see two boxes pop up. Just close the red control box and it’ll form a tool bar in the main window. Hit F11 to get to properties and jump to the “Record” tab. On the bottom left hand corner set the record mode to “unbounded” before jumping to the “Device” tab. Here you’ll want to make sure you are recording your mic (not using the webcam or anything else connected to your PC with a mic element). Set your Mono Source to “left channel”. That should be enough to get you started.

This podkasting malarkey is no small topic and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve taken my sweet time about getting round to post about how we do it. In the next post I’ll write about coordinating a group of casters, cleaning and leveling the tracks ready for the big edit. I may even talk about hardware, you never know your luck.

 **Coming soon in part 3 – coordinated recording**

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