Drop Shadow

Recording podcasts

Remember that you can contact Instructional Media Services for assistance recording lectures on either audio or video. Many of the classrooms have recording devices built-in, and they can show you how to use them.

A podcast file is just a media file, usually an audio or video file. Where media recording was once the province of specialized hardware and software, nowadays there’s a good chance your current computer already has everything you need for recording audio and video. If you have any iMac made in the last three years, for example, you have a camera (and microphone) built-in, as well as iMovie for making video and GarageBand for making audio.

What do I need?

If you don’t have a microphone on your computer or connected to it, you’ll need one. If you are making a video podcast, you’ll also need a video camera.

You’ll also need software. Take a look at the manual for your computer—it might already have the software you need. If it doesn’t, there is good software available for free download that will record audio and video.

All of the recording packages listed here are freely available and let you hit record right “out of the box”. I’ve also listed a few media converter packages at the end that can convert from one format to another.

Video OptimizationWhen you take a master video file and need to put it in the web, it should be optimized for playback, download, and quality. This tutorial describes how to create videos for download using Quicktime Pro.
AudacityAudacity is audio recording and editing software for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. It excels at noise reduction in the sometimes noisy environments of podcasting and is a great choice for editing audio for podcasts.
Capturing lecturesYou can capture lectures using the Castaway application for Mac OS X.
Quick Media ConverterDesigned for converting between various media formats on Windows, it also includes a “web/DVCam capture mode” that might help you make a video podcast.
VidnikVidnik is designed specifically for making video using your Macintosh’s iSight camera (it can also upload to YouTube).
VODcasterMacintosh software for creating audio and video podcasts, it helps you manage your media files and record them.
MediaCoderMediaCoder is free software for Windows that will convert WMV files and WAV files to MPG files and MP3 files (as well as convert several other formats to several other formats).
QTAmateurIf you need to convert video on your Macintosh from one format to another, this is a good choice. It will convert any video that Quicktime can read into any video that Quicktime can write.

What format do I use?

You’ll want to save as .mp3 files for audio, or either .mov or .mpg files for video. If you need to use another filetype, let us know, but those formats will have the widest appeal for podcast files.

You can convert audio files to mp3 using software such as iTunes, or with a special add-on for Audacity. The video software above will automatically save video as .mov files.

You’ll want to optimize your file for people to download—these media files tend to be very large and take time to download. Even a 10% reduction in size can shave sixty seconds or more off of the download time of what would have been a 10-minute download.

A good rule of thumb is that audio should be no more than one megabyte per minute, probably about half that for most voice podcasts.

Video is a lot more difficult to provide even a rule of thumb for, but you should try for no more than six megabytes per minute for most podcasts; if there is a lot of camera motion in the video, it might rise to ten to twenty megabytes per minute. 320 by 240 is a good choice for video width and height, or 480 by 320 for larger videos.

If you want to be able to resize movies and reformat them to different formats, Quicktime Pro is inexpensive on both Macintosh and Windows platforms.