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:

A Fist Full of Credits

While we prepare for the Next Chapter of the Coldfire Chronicles, join series regulars and very special guests as they find themselves in looking to pay off a debt to a Very Bad Man.

As luck would have it, all they need to do to repay this debt is steal an experimental bio-weapon from occupying Imperial forces before the planet erupts into all-out war.

Simple enough, right?

Where’s My Droid?

As well as being full of hillarious outtakes from the show, the Patreon also includes fantastic special features.

We don’t have a rewards system for tiers – so for as little as $1 you can listen to these all of these goodies.

For example – Prinkle had a bit of trouble getting to sleep when we first came back from the Coster Thibarum; you know – due to the absolute and mind numbing terror.

So J’Ren offered to read him a bedtime story. This snippet has been with the Patreons for months now and now you get to listen to it.

Aren’t you lucky?

Come and join us on the Patreon. I heartily recommend that you join us and listen to “The Highs and Lows of Heights and Depths” – it was originally supposed to be an advert for early Season 3 – but turned into a 13 minute documentary for the popular day-time holonet show.

An Actual Play Star Wars Podcast