Editing a podcast

This is all the information that should be needed to edit the podcast, it is meant to be a growing document, if there is any thing missing or questions that need to be fleshed out, we can add to it.

1) Get Audacity

This is a platform neutral open source audio editor, probably not good enough to edit the next Britney Spears album, but plenty good enough for editing podcasts.  Here is the link.

Once downloaded, just install it, if you have questions on how does one install a program on a computer, stop, you have failed the first test, you’ll need to be at least this cluely to go any further.

Also check back with the website periodically, they may have updated the software.

2) Open podcast template

Audacity has to ability to start projects with templates.  I have uploaded the templates (inside a zipfile) to the website.  Download the template from here.

Once you get the template, unzip it into a working directory.  In audacity got to file open and navigate to the file name that ends with aud. You should be greeted with a page that looks like this:

open_templateIn this case there are two tracks the upper contains the intro and outro music we use.  The lower is a spoken intro.

3) Import recorded podcast audio

If you are using a Zoom audio should be inside one of the folders on the SD card.  I use an SD card reader and it appears as an external drive. Here is where you usually find it:

foldersAlternatively it may be a file I or someone else uploads to a server for download.

I usually copy the contents of the directory to a local folder, and then delete from the SD card.

Once the audio is local you can simply drag and drop the mp3 from your folder straight into audacity, some of the podcasts are about an hour long so it can take a minute to import the full audio.

importedSo the imported audio is down the bottom, and I have muted the top two tracks to allow me to do some prep work on the audio.

Now is a good time to save the work as a project.  It is good practise to have a different name for each podcast just in case you need to go back in and edit it again later.

4) Normalize and Leveller

Usually the audio we pull off the Zoom is pretty good, but can be a little low.  I always run a normalization over the audio, and sometimes a leveller. Select all the audio and then just apply normalize:

normalizeNormalizing looks at the audio as a whole, the high point and the low point and tries to pull it up.  It some times fails if a portion of the audio was very quite and another portion of the audio is very loud, this can happen when some one starts of the podcast with microphone away from themselves and then pulls it in later, you can normalize over small ranges it doesn’t have to be the whole portion. As to levelling that is more of an art, I found it can help some times, I recommend you play with it, initially you can get away with out it.

The resulting audio should look like this:

aboutrightThe peaks all fall between 0.5 and 1.0 at around 0.75.  When you listen to it it should be obvious.  A way to do a sanity check, import a mp3 of a song you know very well or another podcast and have a look at their levels.

This is a visual of an audio stream that volume level is too low:

toolittleAnd this is one that is way too much:

toomuch5) Editing the audio

As much as I would like to just slap the intro and outro onto the podcast there hasn’t been one that didn’t need a few snips, some times it is a simple as an unusual pause other times it’s whole chunks.

Here are the main tools you will need to use:

controlszooomSo they are selection tool, time shift tool, zoom in and zoom out. Use zoom in and out when you need to do micro cuts, you can get between people’s words just by looking at it visually.

When you want to make a cut find the start point in the visual tool, and hit ctrl-i, make sure your audio isn’t paused, it must be stopped to work. Then find the end of the portion of audio and do a similar cut.  If you are happy with the cut just select the portion of audio that has been snipped and delete it. That should pull the other two chunks of audio together. If you don’t like the snip just reverse your work with ctrl-z. You can only cut and select audio while in selection tool, time shift tool won’t work. A tip, if you want to join two sections of audio after a snip, make sure they are touching, mouse over the join, left button click and that should be it.

There are a number of ways you can do this.   Review all the audio and then move it or review and move linearly.  The first move you have to make is to align the start of the podcast audio with the end of the intro music.  Just select the time shift tool and then drag the audio in the frame.  I usually have it so that there is a little bit of over lap between the two, say 5 seconds, seems cooler that way. Experiment with it. Unmute the intro track about here.

There is a bit of work here may be it needs to be fleshed out.  But at a ceratin point you should have all audio tracks in the right location relative to each other at the right levels (a good time to save the project)


6) Exporting the podcast

We now need to push all our work into a mp3. We start by going file -> export in the options bar.


For your first attempt you will need to configure how audacity renders the audio.  I believe audacity comes with lame by default (I may be wrong here, insert more detail otherwise).  Again as we are not doing music we don’t need to encode to high quality.  At the end of the day it comes down to file size versus quality. Click on options and you should get this window, make sure the choices line up:

mp3_optionsAgain, you should only have to set this up the first time, but do do a sanity check, a few more times.

The naming convention we have been using coep_ep_XXX.mp3, where XXX is the podcast episode number, please keep convention and change it when exporting the file, it keeps obsessive compulsives like me sane.

The next thing you will be asked is to fill out the meta data, you should get a blank form like this:

meta_emptyiTunes and other podcast aggregators look at this info so it is important it’s right.  Just so you don’t have to fill out the whole form every time, it can take a template.  In the unzipped directory from earlier you should see a file called EDGE.xml, well that’s it.  If you hit Load under “Template”, navigate to that file and load it, it should prefill it to look like this:

meta_partialNow all the edits are for this podcast alone have to be edited, there are:

Artists Name – fill out the remainder with who Mark was chatting with, “Dave Jory and Daniel Townes” for example (avoid using ‘&’ for ‘and’)

Track Title – Add the Episode number here

Track Nmber – Also add the episode number (hey belt and braces)

Comments – If you edited and you are not me, feel free to change this to reflect, you may want to save you own version of the template to make that change permanent.


Once complete hit OK and it should run off and render the podcast to an mp3

7) Review

As a sanity load the generated mp3 into a audio player (winamp, itunes) and do a quick check to see if it all sounds good.  For me it is checking the lead ins and outs of the music. Also have a look at the meta data.

That’s it for editing a podcast, I will deal with upload and tagging on the website later, see if you can get that far.