There’s a broad spectrum of editing workflows in the podcasting community; some producers drop a largely unedited recording into their feed and others go over every inch of the wavelength. To achieve, at least what I like to believe, is the consistency and quality of Movie-Go-Round’s production, I tend to lean into the latter camp. (To a reasonable degree, of course.)
Starting at the top, Movie-Go-Round has experimented with dozens of recording platforms. Mainstays like Skype and Google Hangouts, commercial solutions like Zoom, and start-ups like Zencastr and Squadcast have all been tested throughout the last several years by the team. Ultimately, we landed with Google Hangouts, and now the enterprise version, Google Meet. Consistent stream quality and ease of use for all parties, especially guests, has made Google the perfect solution.
Many programs have each person record their audio locally to then sync in production. This is a compromise we’ve made on Movie-Go-Round in favor of both production time and reliability. On the master machine, virtual audio cables record a main (and backup) recording of incoming audio. My audio is recorded locally. Hence, there are two tracks to work with.
At this point, another compromise is made, albeit in the other direction. Originally produced in Audition, now Hindenberg, Movie-Go-Round is edited in real time. As the producer, I go through every second of the audio to fix any potential issues: everything from a stray cough to a technical malfunction. The trade-off here, of course, is time. This process takes at least as long as the recording is.
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We moved to Hindenberg in early 2019 because it had the most efficient suite of options. It’s the only DAW that can natively record from two interfaces at once, for instance. (The pro version) I wouldn’t recommend doing that for numerous reasons, but in the case of Movie-Go-Round it allows us to set one device as my local microphone and the other as a virtual audio cable.
Additionally, Hindenberg’s built-in suite of compression and noise reduction plug-ins are top notch. A very light touch of both allows me to maintain consistent audio levels across both tracks and account for any extraneous noise I wasn’t able to take care of in my real-time edit. Hindenberg has loudness normalization that works better than most DAW suites, too, but we don’t use it.
Instead, we then take the finalized file from Hindenberg and bring it into Auphonic. (The desktop version has more capability than the online version, for what it’s worth, and will be most cost-effective over time.) Auphonic runs a loudness normalization process that doesn’t blow out the audio levels or mess with your fidelity. For the average podcaster, it’s exceptional. (It’s here that our default settings are also set: 96kbps in mono with metadata. More podcasters should add their metadata!)
This lengthy process is well worth it, I’d argue, and produces a clean audio file that we can pop right into our host: Pinecast. Of all the hosts I’ve personally worked with in the past, I’ll give credit where it’s due: Pinecast has been incredible.
Ultimately, this article is for the fellow podcasting audio geek who is interested in another’s workflow. Sometimes, you cut corners. We do by using Google Meet instead of locally recording audio individually. Other times, the long way around ensures the best product. That’s why I listen back to every single episode to edit each piece. Your mileage will vary depending on your workflow and what’s most important to you for your show!
Please feel free to drop questions or comments below; I purposely strayed from diving too deep into some of the technical elements above. (We don’t have all day, and not everybody cares about metadata as much as I do…) The last six years of producing podcasts has been an incredibly educational journey for me, and I’m still learning! That’s the beauty of this art — it’s always changing and we can all strive toward the best sounding audio possible.
What would you change about this flow, or what will you take away from it? Let us know!