How to podcast, Part 3: Editing your show

After you've just recorded your show, it's time to edit the program before you unleash it to the world.

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In part 1 of our series, we went over all the planning you should do to create your show. In part 2, we showed you the basics in how to record your program. This time, we're going to create a polished product for you to eventually publish.

Editing your raw audio

After you've recorded your show, you should really take a listen to it. Be prepared to dislike your voice on the recording (trust me, you sound great). Start playing back the audio file you recorded in Audacity where you see your audio in a waveform. As you listen to the show, take the time to remove any oddities in the recording such as coughing, tapping, and the dreaded "Ummmmm" many of us use as a placeholder noise while speaking.

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Highlighting the dreaded "Ummmmm." Screenshot by Iyaz Akhtar/CNET

To remove these offensive noises, simply highlight part of the waveform using the selection tool then hit the delete key on your keyboard. Play back the audio slightly before your edit to make sure it sounds right. If it sounds unnatural, undo your cut and try again. When I edited my audio programs, my rule of thumb was to save the changes after any significant edits in case of a crash.

Once you've edited to your heart's content, save again, then export the audio file by going to the File menu and selecting Export. You'll be given a series of options, stick with default settings (like exporting to WAV format) because we're not done yet.

If you have the patience, I highly suggest listening to your show again to check if your edited show sounds the way you want.

Leveling your audio

To make sure your show is at a consistent audio level when people listen to it later, download an old tool called Levelator. It's a free, cross-platform audio application that will even out the audio levels of your show automatically -- so whispers or differing volumes of multiple hosts will now have a similar volume.

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The original audio recording is on top. The Levalator version is on the bottom. Screenshot by Iyaz Akhtar/CNET

Be aware that Levelator is an older application no longer supported as of 2012; however, I have found the application still does a bang up job. To use the application, you simply drag your audio file to the Levelator window and Levelator will create an output file in the same directory as your original file.

Music

In the case you want intro and outro music, please don't just grab your favorite song and use that as your own. You will run into copyright issues and unless you have permission to use that music, your whole episode could be taken down because of copyright infringement. However, you can use copyrighted works on your show provided your usage fits within your country's laws. For more information, check out Fair use rules.

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Vimeo's music store lets you sort by music type. Screenshot by Iyaz Akhtar/CNET

You could conduct an online search for "Creative Commons music" and look for music that comes with a license to let you use that music in the way you want. Vimeo's music store has a great selection and its search engine can be tweaked so you can find free music with a license that allows commercial use. Additionally, if you have an app like GarageBand on your computer, the music loops you find there can be used to create your own song without the worry of copyright infringement.

Once you've got your music files, you can snip the best part using Audacity as your intro music. Avoid having too long an intro -- keep it to between 10 and 30 seconds. Then you'll want to add a fade out to the music by selecting the last couple of seconds of the waveform in Audacity then choose Fade Out under the Effects option. Save your work and export this file with a name like "My great intro music." The fade out will now be a part of that exported file.

Putting it together

Open up a new Audacity project by going to your File option then selecting New. Drag and drop in your intro music. Then drop in your output file from Levelator. If you want your music to overlap with the first words of your podcast, you can use the time shift tool (it's the one that looks like a double arrow) to move the audio files so they overlap. After you're happy with your arrangement, save, then export your creation.

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You can see the intro audio fade out and overlap with the show audio track. Screenshot by Iyaz Akhtar/CNET

Next time

There is a lot more to do before you should post your work online. Next time, we'll hit up tagging, compressing, and maybe posting your work online.

 

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