How to create a podcast

What you will need

Recording in University venues

Many University lecture theatres have recording facilities available. You can record a lecture directly onto the computer in the theatre. Information about the recording facilities in individual rooms and theatres can be found at the Venues website.

Audio Visual Services may also be able to assist with recording equipment.

Generally the lecture will be recorded from the lapel or lectern microphone. If you are recording a question and answer session remember that those asking the questions will require a second microphone. Lapel and lectern microphones are not suitable for recording questions asked by members of an audience.

Once the recording has been made it can then be transferred from the computer with a USB stick or similar to another computer for processing.

Venues without recording facilities

If your venue does not contain recording equipment you can use a mp3 recorder, an iPod or a computer. You could also obtain a microphone and headphones if the podcast involves just one person speaking without an audience.

See the following for information on using:

Recording

University venues

If you are recording using facilities supplied in a University venue the recording will be saved as an mp3. It will be saved to the local computer from which you can retrieve the file.

Recording using other equipment

Your recording should be saved as an mp3. It should be recorded in mono if it features only voice(s). Recording in stereo results in a larger file size.

General tips:

  • Ensure your speaker knows they are being recorded and that they use the microphone(s) adequately.
  • Seek the permission of the speaker to have their lecture or presentation broadcast over the web through a podcast. Not all speakers may be comfortable being broadcast or there may be copyright issues that prevent broadcast.
  • Use a second microphone for question and answer sessions.

Processing

Once you have your recording you can then edit and process the file in preparation for it to go on the web.

Software

There are a number of software options for processing your audio file. A good piece of free software is Audacity. It is available in PC, Mac and Linux varieties and is relatively easy to learn and use.

More information on recording and editing a podcast using Audacity.

General tips:

  • Check the beginning and end of your recording to ensure that any superfluous material has not been recorded and is so, delete it.
  • Check the file all the way through looking for dead spots. If you are using Audacity you can do this visually. You can then amplify as required.
  • Try to keep the sound levels relatively constant throughout the entire podcast.

Key settings

The bitrate of the recording should be set as low as possible. A bitrate of 64 usually provides enough quality while delivering a file that is small enough to be distributed on the web.

ID tags are metatags attached to the mp3 file that help identify it. These tags are important as they identify your podcast in a podcast RSS feed and they also provide information on the file when it is saved onto a computer and used in software such as iTunes. If you do not provide information for the ID tags your podcast will not have any identifying markers and it will be difficult for your listeners to manage it in their collection or on their computer. The most important ID tags are:

  • Name
  • Artist
  • Description
  • Year

If using Audacity you will be prompted to provide information for these tags when you export your podcast to mp3. You can also edit the tags by opening your podcast in iTunes, right-clicking on the name and selecting 'Get info'. Under the 'Info' tab you can enter information into the relevant fields and click OK when done. You will see the effect of your changes immediately in the listing for the file in iTunes.

Making your podcast available

To share your podcast with the world you need to make it accessible from a website.

To do this in the CMS:

  1. Podcasts are treated like images and other non-html documents. Upload the completed podcast to the htdocs directory of your site. You should ideally create a dedicated directory in htdocs. For example, the main University podcasts are stored in htdocs/podcasts/ . Such a directory keeps the podcasts separate from the shtml and image files. When creating this directory also consider the resulting URL. You may wish to create separate directories for different podcasts series so you can promote a relevant URL.
  2. Submit the podcast using the 'Generic' workflow.
  3. If you are submitting a podcast to the main University website the podcast feed (an xml file) will be automatically generated and attached to your job.
  4. Approve or have the job approved.
  5. Link the file from the appropriate place in your site.

If you creating a podcast and feed on your own CMS website, discuss the creation of the field with your Webmaster.

To upload a podcast to a non-CMS website:

  1. The podcast should be treated in the same manner as an image or non-html document. The uploading method will depend upon your site setup and your access to it.
  2. Your podcast will not appear on the main University website podcast feed. To create your own podcast feed, ask your local web master or web editor.