Making a creaturecast episode – audio

posted by Casey Dunn / on February 6th, 2012 / in

The audio quality is a critically important to the success of a creaturecast. Background noises, static, intermittent popping sounds from bumping the mic, incorrect mic placement, and poor levels (recording too loud or too quiet) all detract from the clarity of the narration. Ideally, the audio is recorded using a recording studio. That said, several Creaturecasts have also been recorded successfully using the recording device on their computers (i.e. via Garageband). The key is to record in a quiet room with the door closed. If there are windows, shut them, and pull the blinds down. Outside traffic and conversations have an uncanny way of getting picked up on the microphone. You can use the time-honored audio recording tricks of recording under a blanket or in a closet with clothes that muffle sounds (a surprising number of the stories you hear on the radio are recorded this way).

As with the audio recording, there are several options for audio editing. If you can get your hands on it, ProTools is a great professional audio editing software package. Audacity is also a good open-source editing program that is available for free. However, we’ve found Audacity often crashes on little laptops and works best on a big, beefy computers. If you don’t plan on altering your recorded clip extensively, Garageband on Macs is very straightforward intuitive program to use.

Most Creaturecasts mix the narration with some sort of background music. If  you plan on using an audio piece from an external source, make sure that the music is in the public domain or available under a Creative Commons license that allows for derivative use (meaning that the music can be included in other projects). The following Creative Commons licenses allow for this – CC BY, CC BY-NC-SA, CC BY-SA, or CC BY-NC. If possible, use music that permits commercial use. This is because CreatureCasts are sometimes posted on commercial sites, including news outlets. There are several great resources for finding Creative Commons music, including the Free Music Archive and the Creative Commons site.

Using music that does not allow for reuse, either because it is copyrighted or is released under a license that doesn’t allow for derivative works, is a complete non-starter and will mean that we can’t post your piece.

Please don’t thank me (Casey Dunn) in the audio.


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