Wednesday, November 11, 2009

RadiOblivion No.44 - Behind The Party Scenes Pt.1

Today we released the 3rd Anniversary Episode of RadiOblivion on the GaragePunk Podcast Network. And what a party it was, is, and perpetually will be thanks to the magic of modern technology, and podcasting in general!

I thought I'd give you a little glimpse behind the veil to see just how I crammed six guests into one show without a big-budget set-up ala Leo Laporte and his over $100,000 podcasting studio. Of course the TWiT Network sounds like a hundred grand production, but even a poor man's tools can sound pretty good, too!

As far as DAWs go, there are plenty of free/open source options. Many folks like Audacity. Too, plenty of Media lovers have the huge bucks to afford a Mac, which I hear comes with Garageband already installed. Chances are you rich folks have that set-up, and my understanding is that it is both easy and powerful to use. I use Cakewalk's Sonar 5.0 Producer Edition which was given to me at the last recording studio I worked for, and I love it! Technically speaking its overkill for the typical audio podcast, but again, its the DAW that I am comfortable with. Added bonus: Its NOT Protools!

But the point of this post is how to have guests come into the "virtual studio" to participate on the podcast. First things first: Skype is your friend! Most are already familiar with Skype, the software that allows individuals to make voice and video calls over the internet. Skype to Skype calls are always free, or you can (for an incredibly small cost) purchase a calling plan that allows you to call land lines and cell phones; a plan that I have taken advantage of. In fact, I have the Skype App on my iPod Touch and make calls from it often. The option to make audio conference calls is what made RadiOblivion No.44 possible. Its really a no-brainer. Get Skype.

Now for recording that conference call. I have fairly specific wants in a Skype-friendly recording software. Skype and Sonar don't like to cooperate within my current configuration. I'm doing all recording, editing, effects, mixing, and mastering "in the box"; meaning that I have no external hardware save for a condenser vocal mic and a small pre-amp. So when one has the soundcard pointed to it, the other does not. What I need in a Skype audio capture software is simple: high bit-rate recording saved as a wav file, the ability to record my voice on a separate track from the the audio coming in, and a total cost that equals free. After trying several capture software options I've landed on Call Graph, which delivers in all three areas previously listed. The output file is saved as a stereo track (RadiOblivion is mixed-down to mono) which I split in Sonar producing two mono tracks: one with my vocal and the other with whoever is on the incoming call line. While I would much prefer having each person on a separate track, this at least allows me control over my vocal in order to get it to sound as close as possible to what it normally sounds like on the show (remember that Call Graph, while a good program, can not possibly record at the same quality as a professional DAW, i.e., Sonar). I then edit the track containing everyone else to put each individual on their own track in order to EQ, compress, etc. for the best sound for each participant's mic and sound quality on their end.

Until I can afford to add a mixing board and a separate computer with Skype installed for each guest, ala Leo Laporte's Skypesaurus, this configuration is going to have to do. And I think it works pretty well! What do you think? Comments are appreciated. Suggestions are too, if you know of something I've missed as far as recording Skype calls are concerned.

And now onto RadiOblivion No.44

And they said it was a passing fad!

Turn the volume dial all the way up on yer computer machine or MP3 device and step right into the party celebratin’ the third anniversary o’ RadiOblivion!

Meet Jorge “Sect Maniac” from Real Boss Hoss Productions and the Jinxes. Get to know the mighty Steve Terrell of the Big Enchilada podcast. Rub elbows with the real life independent film maker Mike Ashcraft of Thumbin' Cinema. Gander at every single member of the Hydes. Listen to Wild Sounds and Rock ‘n’ Roll by the likes of Thee Shatners, Mad Mike & the Maniacs, Jehosaphat Blow, Sinner Strong, the Brentwoods, the Montesas, Thee Impalas, plus many more…

And stay fer the cake!


P.S. This is, as the title subtly suggests, the 1st part o' this subject. Stay tuned for more behind the scenes info about the 3rd Anniversary Show (probably)!