I’ve always been a huge fan of audio creations. There’s such a subtle, but obvious, art to them. So in order to prepare for the audio story assignment, I began by reflecting back on some of my favorite podcasts for inspiration; Radio Lab, The Joe Rogan Experience, This American Life and The Ricky Gervais Show. While listening, I tried to pin-point the characteristics and traits that I had enjoyed the most, and assessed which aspects I could potentially utilize in my own audio project.
Since the objective of my course topic is to connect art and non-profit, I wanted to make sure that the direction I took, and interviewee I selected, would closely align with those interests or at least be in a similar field.
A good friend of mine, Kyle Rinta, had recently told me about a podcast that he was in the process of creating. The idea for the podcast had come from the current political climate in our country, and the growing divide between political parties. Kyle wanted to create a platform where people could respectfully discuss, face to face, their views and opinions. A safe environment to hear each other out, and possibly bridge the divide we seem to be facing in society.
Aside from it being a wonderfully optimistic idea for a podcast, it also perfectly joined together the fields of art and non-profit, in a creative way, to help people. It would be an audio story about the creation of an audio platform.
Prior to our informal interview I wrote up a brief, but thoughtful, list of questions and topics that I wanted to cover in the audio recording. I didn’t want the interview to sound scripted or stiff, but I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t accidentally leave out any key aspects.
To record the interview, I used the “Voice Memos” program on my laptop, and placed the computer in between the two of us to get an even audio recording.
I utilized the editing tip in last weeks readings and organized the content I recorded by “logging tape.” I created six individual audio clips ranging from 00:40 seconds to 03:06 minutes. For the first and last clip I recorded an interview introduction and story conclusion. The four middle audio segments referenced the general questions and ideas that I had previous established, as well as the short story, “I,Pencil“, written by Leonard E. Reed, that had inspired Kyle to create his podcast.
Once I had completed the interview and logged the tapes in chronological order, I sat down to listen through the recordings and transcribe them on to paper. Adding this step allowed me to visually organize and archive the audio content. For each tape I wrote down a brief summary of the conversation with approximate time-stamps referencing the key highlights and best parts to potentially include in my story.
After establishing a visual reference for the interview with Kyle, I began the editing process.
To edit the audio clips, I launched Adobe Audition and imported each of the six clips to work on, individually, as new Multi-Track Sessions.
By utilizing the razor tool, I was able to select and delete specific time frames of each clip that contained unideal audio, such as long pauses, redundancies, or awkward “ummms” in the conversation. In order to make sure the edited clips merged together seamlessly, I used the fade-in/ fade-out tool, as well as overlapping the adjacent ends of certain segments for audio continuity.
Once all six files were edited and finished, I exported each session as a Multi-track Mixdown, saved them as MP3s and then imported all of them into a new Multi-Track Session.
Next, I cut, moved and placed the clips into the appropriate order, and listened to the final audio compilation to ensure everything was accurately placed.
After having a few days to evaluate and think-over aspects of my draft story, I was eager to listen to the audio stories of other group members and read their feedback and suggestions. Two specific areas of improvement that were mentioned were the background noise and audio length. There was a subtle, but noticeable “humm” sound throughout the background of the interview audio. To remove the sound, I referenced the “Advanced Audio Techniques” link in the Week-10 readings, and followed the steps laid out for “Noise Reduction” in the Adobe video. Using this effect, I was able to select an audio sample of the “humm” noise, capture the noise print, and drastically reduce the decibel volume.
In addition to the background noise and audio length, one group member suggested I incorporate a more informative introduction to my audio story. I decided to give it a shot, and set about writing a brief script for an attention-grabbing, but informative intro.
Given the current quarantine situation in Washington, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go back downtown to the original interview location, so I set up a very rudimentary recording room in my bedroom closet. It’s a more centrally located (small) room, so there would be no street traffic sounds coming in from the windows. It’s too small to allow for any sort of echo effect, and the abundance of clothes hanging on racks and shelves would work as a soft surface to absorb the sound waves and prevent any interference.
After successfully recording the intro, I was inspired to add a few additional layers and effects to my story. First, I downloaded an ambient-background sound from a copyright free music station on YouTube called “AShamaluevMusic.” I used this subtle background music to layer behind my introduction.
Next, I wanted to add a couple details to the story using Foley Sounds. I referenced the Creative Commons Audio readings and created an account with the FreeSound site. With a simple search I was able to find a sound bite of a door being opened, and a three minute audio clip of busy restaurant sounds to play throughout the duration of my story.
The next step I had to complete was by far the most tedious. Once all the sound bites and audio files were imported into Audition and arranged over five different levels, I had the daunting task of trimming slices and seconds off each layer until my story was edited down to three minutes. I razored out every awkward “umm” or unnecessary pause, until I reached that goal. By the time I was finished, I had edited down the interview audio to 19 separate sections, and it sounded great.
The final touch I made to my audio story was to listen through while adding “key frames” to adjust the volume levels in specific sections. For the restaurant-ambience, I used the key frames to fade in as the door opened and fade out as the interview began. For the interview audio, I used the key frames to emphasize certain words, or tone down louder areas. The subtle changes and details I was able to create with this technique gave the story a more polished and professional feel.
I was delightfully surprised with how much fun I had with this project. The audio stories from my group members were inspiring, and their feedback was thoughtful and essential in making my own story. I found the program to be fairly easy to use, and the level of professional quality audio content you’re able to produce is thrilling. I’m looking forward to using Adobe Audition again.