[Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of a 4 part series: Podcasting Sermons]
This is the second is a four part series on how to podcast sermons. In the first part we looked at recording sermons. Now, it’s onto the editing!
Using Audacity (Windows/Linux/Mac)
Audacity can do some pretty clever editing, but most of the time you’ll only need to do simply editing. When you open audio within Audacity, you’ll see the audio as a wave form with lots of wiggly lines (a technical term!). You can use the zoom icons (they look like magnifying glasses) to zoom in and out, so you can have more or less in time on the screen.
Cutting out ‘dead audio’ (such as before and after the sermon and any very long silences within a sermon) is very easy indeed. Simply click and drag a ‘region’ in the audio and hit the delete key and that region is gone. The audio before and after the deleted region close up so there’s no gap.
One of the most powerful tools within Audacity is ‘Noise Removal’. This can be especially useful if you’ve recorded from a cassette, as you can normally get rid of most of the tape ‘hum’. This is a very good guide on Noise Removal in Audacity.
You might also want to fade the beginning and end of the sermon in and out. This can be simply done by selecting the region of audio you want to fade (again by click and drag) and then choose ‘Effect => Fade In’ or ‘Effect => Fade Out’. If you need to add some silence in somewhere, click in the audio to get a ‘place head’ (click in the wave form) and choose ‘Generate => Silence’ and choose an amount of time.
If the whole recording is too loud or quiet you can either select a region or all the audio (‘Edit => Select All’) and use ‘Effect => Amplify’. But be careful, when amplifying up, you can easily make things too loud and distorted!
You might want add an intro or outro to the sermon saying where the sermon’s from (your Church!), who’s speaking, what the sermon’s about and any readings, etc.
With Audacity, I find it best to do a ‘File => New’ and record the intro/outro in there and then select it all and copy it and then paste into the front/end of the sermon audio (put the place head where you want and then paste).
Like recording the sermons, there are a few different ways you could record the intro/outro. These include a webcam mic, a digital recorder or a ‘proper’ mic and audio set-up. For more on this, see the section later in the article.
Once you’ve got you sermon all edited and ready to go, you need to ‘encode/save’ it as an MP3 file. To encode/save as an MP3 in Audacity, you might need to install a special file known as LAME. (Later versions of Audcity for Windows have MP3 encoding build it.) How to install LAME in Audacity.
MP3 files can be encoded at different qualities, known as ‘bit rates’. You can choose the quality in ‘Edit => Preferences => File Formats’ (win); ‘Audacity => Preferences => File Formats’ (mac). The smaller the number, the smaller the file but the quality will be lower. I encode the MP3s at 64kbps (kilo bytes per second), as I think this is a good balance balance of size/quality. At 64kbps, a 30/40 min MP3 is about 15-20mb in size.
Music needs to be encoded at a high quality than speech as it’s got much more information in it.
To encode the sermon, do ‘File => Export as MP3’, choose a location and click ‘Save’. A window will then appear with some different options and boxes. These are known as ‘tags’ for the MP3 file and are used in programs such as iTunes and Windows Media Player and on MP3 players to tell you what the track/file is. The boxes are fairly self explanatory: the Title (of the sermon); the Artist (the Church); the Album (I put ‘Sermons’); Track Number can normally be ignored for podcasts as it’s not really relevant; the Year; the Genre is a bit more tricky, ideally you want ‘Podcast’ as that can help some MP3 players. But that’s not in the list! You can use ‘Speech’ or use another program, such as iTunes, to edit the tags (see the iTunes tagging section below). In Comments you can give the speakers name, Bible references, etc.
When you’ve entered the tags, click ‘OK’ and you’re done! You now have a an MP3 ready for the web. However, you might want to tweak the tags or even add an image to the file. You can do these in iTunes.
Using Garageband (Mac only)
As in Audacity, in Garageband the audio is displayed in a wave form. However, editing it is done a bit differently!
Garageband makes more use of tracks and there are two views, the top ‘tracks overview’ (where all the tracks are listed) and then down the bottom you can turn on the ‘Track Editor’ (using the button that looks like a pair of scissors cutting a sound wave). This gives you a much larger view of the track to edit. You can zoom the tracks overview and the track editor by using the zoom bars on the bottom right of each view/pane.
Audio in Garageband are in a movable regions that you can drag around to the right time(s). Different types of audio are different colours. Imported music is yellow, ‘software’ instrument tracks are green and ‘real’ instrument tracks (including microphones) are purple.
Garageband defaults to bars and beats, but you can change it to time by clicking the ‘LCD’ monitor on the bar between the panes.
To move a region of audio put you mouse to the ‘outer’ side of the region so you’ve got a cursor that’s a vertical bar with two little arrows either side; to click-drag for editing move it to the middle of the track so the cursor is cross-hair.
Editing out ‘dead space’ is similar to Audacity, click-drag to select a region of audio and hit the backspace button. Unlike Audacity, the audio doesn’t close itself up, but leaves a gap. You can either move the two sections together (but be careful as if you over lap the audio on one side will be lost) or shift-click to select more than one region and ‘Edit => Join’ the regions together (if there’s space between the regions, it will be be added as silence).
Fades are added using the ‘Track Volume’ bar (expandable using the little down arrow on the track name section). You can add points by clicking on the blue volume bar and then move them up and down to create fades, raise/lower volume, etc. So you can have two regions separated by a couple of seconds and put a fade out and in for them by making a ‘V’ out of points. To remove a point, click on it (so it gets a bit larger) and hit the backspace key.
To move/change the place head in Garageband click in the timeline in either of the panes. For more on editing in Garageband see the Garageband Support. These are some more general tips on recording with Garageband.
There’s no ‘noise removal’ tool as such in Garageband, instead you can create effects on ‘real’ instrument tracks when recording them. These can especially useful when recording in a tape or recording intros/outros. For recording intros and outros I use a ‘Real Instrument Basic’ track and put a few effects on it such a small amount of ‘gate’ and a small ‘compressor’.
When recording in Garageband you need to set the input and output source. The settings for these can be found in ‘Garageband => Preferences => Audio/Midi’. For more on recording intros/ourtos, see below.
If you’re feeling really fancy, you can add ‘chapters’ to your podcast using Garageband.
When you’ve edited your sermon together, again you need to encode it to an MP3. You need to choose ‘Share => Send Song to iTunes’.. In the dialog box that opens you can
choose the audio options. You need to tick ‘Compress’ and choose ‘MP3 Encoder’ and the quality level you want. ‘Good Quality’ is 64kbps (which I use). Like Audacity you can tag the MP3 file. You need to put something in all the boxes (like ‘Composer Name’), even if you then remove it later in iTunes (as I do!).
When the file has finished exporting it will open in iTunes in the playlist that you specified when ‘Sharing’. The MP3 file will be on your hard drive in Music/iTunes Library/ in the ‘Import’ folder.
You can now finish tagging the file and even add an image.
Recording Equipment for Intros/Outros and other vocals
There are many options for recording intros and outros for you podcast (if you want to add them). I think they help explain what’s going on, especially if people are finding your podcast on iTunes or a podcast directory and so might not know about the Church.
I started using a webcam ‘lapel’ mic and some of these are very good (especially some of the USB ones) and with headsets being used more for applications such as skype, you can also use those. Many digital audio recorders and some MP3 players also have mics built into them.
If you want a top quality sound, you really need to use a ‘proper’ (condenser) or studio microphone. There are USB mics like this availibe such as the Audio-Technica AT2020.
You can also use a ‘normal XLR’ microphone with a mixing desk/audio interface (as mentioned earlier in the article). I use an XLR mic with a small mixing desk and firewire audio interface, but then I’m a geek!
Tagging MP3s in iTunes
iTunes is my program of choice for tagging MP3s as it’s so easy to use.
To edit the tags on a file, find the file in iTunes and right-click => Get Info. In the ‘Info’ tab there are many boxes where you can add tags. I use the following: Name (for the title of the sermon); Artist (the Church); Album (Sermons); Genre (Podcast) and in Comments I put the details of the speaker and Bible references, etc. (You don’t seem to be able to add carriage returns/line-breaks in the comments box, so I write those details in a text editor and copy and paste them in!)
If you want to add some extra ‘nice’ to the MP3 you can add an image to it. Adding an image means it appears as artwork on an iPod or in iTunes and just helps to brand your podcast. Ideally you want a square image that’s 300x300px or 600x600px. It can be in a gif, jpg or png. You can either go to the ‘Artwork’ tab, do an ‘Add’ and find your image; or if you open the artwork viewer in iTunes (it appears under the playlist, etc. section on the left and is opened by the right one of the four buttons at the bottom left of the screen) and when the MP3 file is playing you can drag an image file onto the artwork viewer box.
So hopefully now you’ve got an MP3 file ready to become a podcast. The next step is to put it online somewhere so the whole world can listen to it and we’ll be look at that in part three of the series.