Author Archives: 5tevie

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Spice up your (Audio) life

We’ve focussed on things a budding audio journalist needs, but there are always things a budding audio journalist definitely does not need in any way.

Why bother with below-par laptop speakers when you can get a kick out of these utterly bizarre excerpts from the Book of Mental? Thanks to PC Mag, here are some of the weirdest speakers on the market:

Care for some Rave with your audio? The internal tube light on these 2W speakers flashes in red, green or blue.

Mental Rating: 2/5 (due to usefulness at house parties)

More info here

It’s USB powered and designed for fragrances. No, really. Plug it in an set your senses alight.

Mental Rating: 5/5 (buy some Oust)

More info here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever wanted your speakers to contain ice cold beer? WELL NOW THEY CAN. Enjoy the sounds of the summer while you snake an ice-cold brewski.

Mental Rating: 1/5 (because it’s a great idea)

More info here

…And they did. Yep. Who needs headphones when you can have sound emanating from your undergarments?

Mental Rating: 5/5 (what’s wrong with earphones?!)

More info here

 

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Ethical Audio

Editing an interview for an audio slideshow is a tricky skill. In fact, getting the words to match the images is the least of your worries, especially when the narration is someone candidly, and so more poignantly, discussing the topic you’ve chosen.

Do not fear. Outlined below, thanks to The Journalist’s Toolkit, is a list of ethical do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when collating and viewing your soundbites:

Firstly, the golden rule is to never change the meaning of what the interviewee said. This obviously applies to all journalism, but can still be overlooked in the face of a tight deadline and a wealth of photos to coordinate.

The Do’s

  • It’s okay to cut out verbal stalling. Ums, ers, “can I go back and say that in a less slurred fashion” and “ooh this a great packet of crisps” can all go. Unless the slideshow is about crisps, of course.
  • Extraneous words can be edited out. In candid speech people tend to overuse words such as “like” and “kind of” and “you know” which can slow down the audio.
  • Au revoir to reiterations. As people think, they repeat sentences and this is often unnecessary. Make sure this doesn’t result in a jarring final edit, as it requires some skill to do well.
  • Subordinate clauses should also only be attempted by editing whizzes. It can usually result in a weird jumpy edit making the interviewee sound somewhat robotic and/or mental.
  • Always identify the speaker if it’s an interview piece. Either through captions or actually within the audio.
  • It sounds obvious, but let the interviewee know beforehand that they have to answer fully. So not “yes, I thought it was brilliant actually…” but “yes, I thought the Walkers foray into condiment flavoured crisps was brilliant actually…”

Summary of Do’s: You CAN edit anything that smooths out the interview and tightens the soundbite.

Don’ts

  • Never tell the interviewee or narrator what to say. It’s unethical to force opinions on anyone.
  • Don’t forget to make sure the interviewee or narrator gives full permission for their audio to be used. Written and signed.
  • You cannot dub other questions in other than the ones you asked. This is often used on pirate radio interviews and is bad practice. Even if the wording is slightly altered, it could change the semantics of the person’s response. Similarly you can’t use someone’s narration out of context with the one given by you in the recording.
  • Avoid re-asks unless the interviewee chokes on a question and cannot answer it.
  • Do not change location. Different background levels will sound bizarre.

So there you have it. Follow these guidelines and you can guarantee yourself a better soundbite, and a distinct lack of being sued.

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Filed under Audio editing, Interviews, Uncategorized

Light Bedtime Reading

Well, maybe not light. Or for bedtime. But it certainly involves reading.

“How has this got anything to do with audio journalism?!” I hear you wonder. Well, everything actually considering it’s Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production by Jonathan Kern.

This is essential for anyone wanting to pursue the grassy field/knoll of audio journalism. NPR, aka National Public Radio, is an American online service dedicated to podcasts, audio clips and online radio stations across the US bringing up to date news, culture and style to the masses. Jonathan Kern, who trained with the NPR on-air staff for years and this book has been described by the Library Journal as “bringing sound reporting to life,” while top Californian audio academic Judy Muller says: “there is no other how-to manual to compare.”

Well.

Not only does Kern go into podcast creation, storytelling through the art of slideshows and general radio production- he also traverses the more technical audio ground. Ensuring the clips you get are top quality. Editing them to a professional standard. The nuts and bolts of the different stages in audio production.

A must for anyone interested in the sound industry.

(Buy it on Amazon here)

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Back To Basics

In an industry hurtling toward new developments and different, faster, ways  of relaying information, it’s refreshing to stumble upon a more traditional, though no less effective, use of the audio slideshow.

In conjunction with the Rediscovering African Geographies exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society, African-born Cliff Pereira and Zagba Oyortey look at ancient maps of Africa’s ever-changing continent.

A video would probably have to contain reconstructions  to hold the viewer’s attention, there being not much footage from 1375. Pure audio would be impossible, as the interest lies in the images of the map just as much as the narration. Images without the commentary, however, would also be meaningless for the same reason.

No. It’s simple, old fashioned story telling best presented in audio slideshow format.

I mean, we are obviously biased, but still…

 

Have a look here

 

Rediscovering African Geographies is at the Royal Geographical Society in London between 22 March – 28 April 2011.

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Filed under Audio Slideshows

Get Your Podcasts Out

It’s time to sort the aural wheat from the chaff. In the words of The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage, who was nice enough to chat to us: “Finding a podcast that I like tends to involve wading through about a million hopeless, boring, crappy ones first.”

Very true, Stu.

Thankfully there are a few sites you can check to make sure you cut right to the good stuff without all the, you know, other stuff. The less good stuff.

First up we have the iTunes podcast chartlist which should be your first port of call for a topping ‘cast. All the genres, all the forms, this combines every podcast into one easy to read table. Perfect.

Want to see if your favourite comedian’s recorded a podcast? Check out the British Comedy Podcast Guide for a taster of what’s to come- they’re set to launch a full blown directory in early 2011. Which means any time soon…

While you’re waiting for the funny stuff, you might want to educate yourself on the tube. Whether you’re interested in grassroot politics, english literature or brushing up on your languages, The Podcasts for Educators, Schools and Colleges will be right up your alley.

FT columnist, author and presenter of Radio 4’s “More or Less” Tim Harford has recently sorted through shedloads of Economic podcasts on his brilliant blog. He’s done the legwork here so you don’t have to.

You can thank us later…

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Filed under Podcasts

New Wave Arts Plug-In Released

You may notice that a lot of the easy to use, audio apps and voice recording programmes are, well, a bit crap. Here’s one of the more serious new releases on the market. Today, Wave Arts released Dialog which  has caught the attention of the industry. Described by Wave Arts as: “[combining] in one plug-in all the processing needed to clean up, adjust, and sweeten recordings of the spoken voice,” this is quite an eagerly anticipated bit of kit. Check out Pro Tools for Media for an overview of its best features. Or you could probably just Google it, but we like the way Pro Tools rolls.

Anyway, back to Dialog.

Ideal for professional audio journalism, two notable (and GREAT) features are the de-plode and de-ess processes which adjust plosive and sibilant sounds. Basically, it saves you a lot of pain and effort having to reinterview people who insist on spitting into the mic or exploding your eardrum everytime they say the word “people”. Yes we’ve all been there.

The moment the reviews start hitting the net, we’ll let you know. Considering it’s still quite a new product, and retailing at $249.95, it might take a few days for the industry to give it a proper listen.

Stay tuned….

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Roving/Mobile Journo

The iPhone app Cinch from Cinchcast.com seems like the perfect answer to recording audio on the go. Compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch it allows you to upload audio, archive your work and broadcast what you’ve done across social media platforms. Quite snazzy. If you’ve installed the blog widget on your iPad/iPhone/iPod touch your audio will also be automatically published on that too, which is always nice.

The only problem is, predictably, the quality. For quick snippets of audio to stick up on your blog, or in times of desperation when the dictaphone runs out, all five of your biros have broken and you’ve accidentally eaten your notepad, it’s a good time to crack out the Cinch. For more serious audio journalism pursuits, such as audio slideshows or four-hour podcasts, this is probably not the best option. Equally, it’s a bit pointless if you haven’t jumped on the apple train and laden yourself with iProducts.

In saying that, it’s still a handy little tool to have in your audio arsenal…

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