All posts by Maddambeltaine

An unapologetic geek and occasional writer.

Editing Podcasts on Audacity

or

Adam Beltaine’s Audacity Editing Process Map!

Hello everyone!

Podcast editing can seem a daunting beast, and in many ways it is – there is a considerable investment in time and effort that may well take you by surprise!

Certainly, when we started Force Majeure, I didn’t realise how long it would take to get an episode edited, nor how fiddly editing can be. Thanks to YouTube and judicious Googling I managed to fumble my way through it but, as time has gone on, I’ve developed a routine that helps me maximise my time and end up with a pretty decent sounding product.

One of the things we believe very strongly in, here at Force Majeure, is paying forward a good deed as well as providing support and advice for others in the community.

To that end, I’ve put together this document to show people my process and reasoning, as well as a few tricks, to hopefully make life a little easier for those of you who are thinking about starting your own show, or just want to compare notes.

I use Audacity for editing, it’s free and reasonably user-friendly, and there are many online tutorials available for how to use it, and so that’s what this guide is going to cover.

I hope this is useful to you all! If you’ve got any questions, or want any advice, or just fancy a chat then drop us a line on Twitter @forcemajeurepod or pop into our Discord!

Handy shortcuts:

Select audio and press C – plays (by default) two seconds immediately prior to the selected audio and the second after, so you can line up cuts without having to do loads of fixes.

Select audio and press Z – neatens the selection to the zero-point on the line, meaning you get less half-sounds cut off

Select audio on one track and press Ctrl + Shift + K – Extends that selection as a column across all tracks, allowing them all to be cut at the same time without misaligning

Select audio and press Ctrl + Alt + K – cuts that selection but leaves the gap, so your tracks don’t misalign

Ctrl + I – puts a break in a track so you can delete / add vfx / etc without doing it to the whole track. You can also select audio and press this to put a break either side.

Stage 1 – The Basics

1) Start a project and import the raw audio files into that – project 1 is just for the game audio and potential voice fx – music, sfx, adverts etc all come much, much later.

2) For each track, do noise reduction. You should record ten seconds of silence at the start of each session to allow the ambient sounds to be captured; this then is the basis for your noise reduction.

3) Edit the raw audio. I cut out completely bits where that person isn’t speaking as that reduces echo, cross-talk bleed, that sort of thing. Use Ctrl + Alt + K to cut that without moving the rest of the audio track down. Don’t worry about leaving massive gaps! That gets cleared up in stage 2.

4) You can use Ctrl + Shift + K to select a whole column across all tracks, which means you can remove that chunk and neaten things up in one go.

5) This stage I also add any specific VFX needed – so droid voices (using Echo), comms voice (using High Pass Filter)… basically, anything that just needs to be done to one person without affecting anyone else

6) When all the raw audio is done I do the following to each track individually:

 – Run Compressor

– Increase Bass and Treble

– Normalise to -1 db

All these steps mean that each track has a roughly equal volume across itself, and the bass / treble boost also increases the richness of the voice.

7) Finally, when all that’s done, I export as a mono mp3.

Stage 2 – The Polish

8) At this stage, I start a new empty project, and import the “working” mp3 from Stage 1.

9) Truncate silence to get rid of the gaps and bring it all back together.

10) Compress and normalise. So, doing that at step 6 balances the audio within each individual track. This then balances that across the entire show, so those occasional peaks and troughs should hopefully get levelled out.

11) This stage, I then start adding ambient music, sound effects, my intro and outro (which are prerecorded and I just copy over) – all that good stuff. I have a project for each season where I store the SFX for that season, normally recorded over from Syrinscape or Star Wars soundboards and thing.

12) When you’re happy with it, export it again as a mono mp3 and ta da! Done! Pass to the cast for an initial quality check, and where they’re happy with it queue that bugger up and celebrate!

Other tips:

– I use OneNote a lot while editing. I have one page where I record what music I’ve used for each chapter so I can make sure they’re properly credited in the show notes. I have another where I make a note of the VFX I’ve used for various characters so I can make sure I get that the same each time.

– Limit how many characters need VFX, and how complex you make that. One droid isn’t too bad. A Gand, three slightly different droids and a Wookiee with a translator is an entirely different story!

Audacity Settings:

Compressor:

Bass and Treble:

Normalise:


Truncate Silence:

Changes to our Patreon structure

Hello everyone! This is just a little message to let you know about a change in our Patreon structure. We (the cast) have been looking long and hard about how we approach our particular Patreon, especially in these times of austerity. We’ve looked at how a number of other of Actual Play / TTRPG providers manage their Patreons, and have pitched this to our existing backers too.

We’ve also had to consider what rewards we can offer to you as our thanks for supporting the show and have had to be pretty realistic about that given our own time constraints and other projects.

The decision we’ve made is to expand the number of tiers we offer for support, especially at the lower end of the scale, but to offer every backer the same rewards regardless of how much support you give us. This means that those who can’t afford to support us at a higher level don’t miss out on the goodies.

The rewards for backing us at each tier will be:

  • Automatic entry into any giveaways and competitions we run.
  • Access to the Backer only board of our Discord server.
  • Access to our archive of out-takes, starting with Season 2.
  • A shout out on the show.
  • Access to whatever additional stuff we can get together for you that we think you might like, including message tones from characters in the show – there’s a R-01 one in there already for our backer’s entertainment!

We’ll round this off by thanking you all for the support you already give the show by interacting with us on social media, retweeting our episodes, leaving reviews and all that sort of thing – without you, this show wouldn’t exist, and we’re extremely grateful to you.

Special thanks go to those who are already supporting us financially– because of you we’re able to improve the show we bring you more and more, and we’re blown away by your generosity.

Until next time, may the Force be with you!

The Meditation Chamber

He breathed.

The scream of engines, the jolt as the dropship stopped suddenly, doors opening. The scent of alien spices carried on the hot air.

He sat cross-legged. His eyes were closed, his breathing rhythmic and even. He thought of nothing, emptying his mind and seeking peace.

The hail of blaster fire ricocheting off the walls. The screams of the dying and wounded, the acrid stink of burned metal.

In through the nose for four seconds. A pause. Out through the mouth for four seconds. A pause.

Over his head, a figure leaping, pirouetting, dancing to a tune only they could hear. In its hand, a blade of pure light. That humming sound, always that humming sound as it carved the air.

First, the left lung filled. Held. Emptied. Then the right. The frigid air circulating in him as he focused on the lessons he had been thought, the disciplines instilled in him.

The echoing sound of metal feet marching in step. The enemy, so laughable on the briefing material, repurposed and refitted for death. The reality on the ground so different.

His breath steamed. Dim light reflected and refracted through the stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the meditation chamber. Shadows flitted and danced of their own accord.

Brothers dead beside him, men wearing the same face, the same skin. Each one identical. Each one unique.

He could feel the vibrations of the power plant through the floor. He could feel, just below his hands, the space where the handles hid, the handles which would open the door to his past.

The scream and the recoil of the rotary blaster in his hands, laying down a deadly hail as his squadmates dived for cover. The sparks and explosions as the enemy were caught and scrapped.

He could hear his heartbeat increasing. Could feel the blood pumping in his ears. Felt the temptation once again to shed this mask, to return to the mantle he once wore.

That day. That dreadful day. His will being crushed beneath the tide. His hands moving in unison with his brothers, against his control. The betrayal. The blood. The darkness. The darkness…

His fists clenched, then released. His heartbeat slowed. A single tear rolled down from his left eye.

He breathed.

He breathed.

He breathed.