How we make a podcast

By Andy Daniel

We've made ten episodes of our world-famous (well our world, at least) podcast now. At first the production was a little sketchy, and took some time to produce. Some of the cuts were fuzzy and ill-timed and our music was non-existent, along with our actual scripts. But now, 20 weeks on, we've hit our 10th episode, and we'd like to share how we actually got this far.

Andy and Rich joined the allaboutgames.co.uk team shortly after Eurogamer Expo 2009. It wasn't until May did the team decide to start a podcast. With editor Matt hosting, and Rich and Andy joining in on the banter, we used Skype to have our discussions, and used Audacity to record our local streams. We also used Audacity to piece the 3 recorded files together, and let the magic happen.

The team decided to share the podcast editor role, switching each fortnight to a new editor. When it reached Rich, he added an intro music, taken from a sample loop from Apple Garageband. It's still in there now, but with some alterations that Andy made later on. After Andy did a decent job of editing the podcast in a reasonable amount of time (6 days from Skype conversation to release), the team decided that Andy should become the permanent editor of the podcast, and a schedule was set; Monday to record, Sunday to publish.

Gradually this changed as Andy got faster at editing the streams, and the schedule is now to record on Wednesday, and still publish on Sunday, with any technical mishaps permitting. Twice now in our history have we had a corruption of the locally recorded audio streams, and Andy resorted to using a backup coming from a recorded audio stream of the entire Skype conversation done by Matt. This has always resulted in a delay in the publishing of the podcast.

So how does Andy edit the podcast now? We record on a Wednesday night and publish the resulting audio, after some quick proof-listening, on a Sunday evening. If you factor in a 9-5 day job plus commuting time (Andy currently spends over an hour and a half commuting to London, each way) and a social life, there actually isn't a lot of time to edit; it needs to be quick and efficient. Using Apple Garageband on his Apple MacBook, Andy first starts by importing all three audio files into three separate tracks. The tracks, for all the Garageband fans out there, are customised to the audio inputs of the team, with some bass amplifiers and noise-gates to even out the vocals and remove some background buzz.

Next, align the tracks. It may sound simple but it sometimes isn't. We devised an ingenious way to synchronise the three audio streams, though. All together now, say "sync!". Align the three tracks at the sync point, and voila! If Rich didn't maliciously say "sync" every minute, as he often does to make life difficult, then you have a sync'd track!

Chop off the banter we normally have before we get to the actual start of the podcast content and add in the custom intro music. This is an edited version of an Apple loop and now has an 8-bit filter section cut at a strategic moment to add some personalisation to a very common piece of music; this way we can say it is our own, and also we aren't very good at composing some music. Not yet, anyway.

Garageband loop edit for the intro music with custom 8-bit track

Garageband loop edit for the intro music with custom 8-bit track

Now it's time to start chopping! Using the split function, Andy systematically follows the podcast second by meticulous second, and cuts out all of the coughs, splutters and sniffles that the team does while someone else is talking. You may not realise that this actually is meticulous as all of it is gone by the time the podcast is out. Also he shortens the time between some sentences and between some conversations, otherwise it would be very boring to have 3 seconds of silence (believe us, 3 seconds is longer than it may seem!). Next is to cut out all of the boring conversation and banter that we think our audience probably doesn't need to hear about, such as a brief conversation about what we plan to eat for lunch the following day, or what colour underwear we plan to wear. Okay, we don't actually talk about underwear.... out loud. This process is the most time consuming, as if to listen to the podcast at about a quarter of the speed. Oh, did we mention that the original recording starts at about 1 hour and 20 minutes long, and finally ends up at about 1 hour or less? That's about 20 minutes of cuts around a second or two long.

Chopped up audio thrown in with some jingles, background music and volume transition

Chopped up audio thrown in with some jingles, background music and volume transition

Not long after Andy started editing the podcast, we started a news section. This heralded the era of a scripted podcast. Using the now unsupported, yet very useful, collaboration tool, Google Wave, we have a loose script of the episode, and use it to prompt our sections of what we're playing, the news, and latest website updates. This was also when we added more jingles for news items, listener items and outtakes at the very end (make sure you do listen to them!). Shove these Apple loops in at certain locations of the chopped up audio streams, and you have a completed podcast episode!

So, we have a lot of hope with our podcast and this article. We hope that this was a good insight into our process of making a podcast, along with some of the history behind it too. We also hope this may inspire some of you to begin your own podcast, with amazing features. Be sure you do use Apple Garageband. It is extremely easy to use and very useful, and comes with some great loops and jingles that you can freely use and modify (we hope!). Finally, we hope you, our beloved readers and listeners, appreciate the effort the we (mostly Andy) put into making our podcast, and how much effort other websites and teams put into their podcasts too.

If you would like to get in contact with us about our podcast, to comment on our features or upcoming news items, or to just say something random, you will surely get a shout out. You can contact us via twitter, our name is @allaboutgames and you can also email us at podcast@allaboutgames.co.uk. And don't forget you can catch episodes of the podcast weekly or on iTunes.

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