Alistair McAlpine

Podcasts – enhancing with field recorded sound

In Podcasting tips on August 15, 2010 at 2:14 p08

Donkey with mic and headphonesPodcasting on the edge

Podcast interviews recorded in a controlled quiet space make for easy editing, but carefully captured contextual audio can launch your podcasts into a whole new space.

Podcasting can take advantage of your listener’s imagination when you take time to capture and layer appropriate, rich audio. Take this raw audio of an apple grower’s protest march in Wellington, New Zealand.

Apple growers protest outside the New Zealand Parliament

Podcast powerpictures. Don't fight it, embrace the noise

The rhythmic chanting of the protestors in the background gives the podcast context and brings it to life. It does however demand careful attention when editing the podcast vocals. A poor edit could truncate a phrase of the chant and would jar the listener.

Twin microphone field recording techniques were used to record the audio and the podcast was posted as a mono file. Using dual microphones enabled the flexibility to manipulate which mic was “live” during post-production editing. But more on that later.

Sound Recording Example 1 wave data

Audio editor waveforms of the apple grower's protest podcast

Turning Xtraneous audio into Xfactor

Interesting podcasts make the most of the medium.

I could have taken this couple aside and close miked them to minimise the ‘noise’ but instead I chose to include the protest sounds and deal with editing challenges later. The chanting registers a depth of feeling and the podcast would have been poorer without it.

A podcast into which extra time and sound-rich audio has been poured will stand above a clean vocal recording as long as the balance between colour and intelligibility is maintained.

Pick yer podcast

Not all scenarios benefit from the inclusion of atmospheric audio but many podcasters are conditioned to think in the cut-and-paste paradigm of the word processor. Sometimes it’s productive to look at the sound around you as a movie director peers through a lens. When opportunities arise you’ll enhance the podcast and the listeners experience of it.

Break the mould, you’ll never look back.

Check out this post:

Podcasts – Twin microphone field recording techniques


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