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Research Guides@Tufts

ENV190 Practicing in Food Systems

This guide supports the podcast assignment in course ENV190 Practicing in Food Systems.

Media Management Tips

Media management encompasses the organization of media assets from research and writing through sharing and archiving.  Below are some best practices for keeping track of files as you work on your project.

 

Box

We recommend creating a shared Box folder to store all your digital assets.  You can share this folder with the members of your group and your professor and TA. iMovie files do not save on box without creating a zip file.  See the instructions below for how to backup your iMovie library.

 

USB Flash Drive

 

You can also purchase a small 16gb USB drive to save files and move your project file around between computers.  You can specify the location and name of the library/project prior to starting your project and set it to your groups shared USB drive so you can edit on any computer.  For help, see Starting Your Project below for step by step instructions.

 

Organization

 

Staying organized is essential as you collect and create various assets for your project.  Organizing and naming all your files will help make collaborating smoother.  Above is an example of how you can stay organized during this process.

 

Backup

Always backup your media and project files in at least two locations!  It’s important to always back-up your media and project files in case your computer crashes or hard drive malfunction. All machines in the DDS are wiped weekly.

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General Settings

Prior to recording, review all of the settings in your application. Where applicable, change settings to the following recommendations:

 
  • File type. If possible, select WAV as this is an uncompressed file format. If you do not have this option know that the higher your bitrate setting, the bigger the file and the higher the quality of your audio recording. Ensure every time you record that your settings are the same.
 
  • Recording quality. Set your recording quality to "high" and change your settings to record in 4800Hz, 24-bit. Your application may only offer 4100Hz or only 16-bit or another distinct combination of settings. Choose the highest quality of these settings. Ensure every time you record that your settings are the same.
 
  • Channels. Some applications may allow you to select Stereo or Mono for recording channels. Set your settings to record Mono if only recording one voice.  If you are recording two voices, ideally each individual would be mic'ed and have their own dedicated mono channel.
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Airplane Mode. Turn on Airplane Mode to avoid audio interruptions like texts and notifications if recording on a phone.

Recording Techniques

Be intentional. Paying attention to your surroundings, monitoring the volume of your recording, and considering mic placement are all important steps to take when recording quality audio regardless of device or application. Below are some recording techniques to consider prior to recording:
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  • Levels. More than likely you'll be able to monitor the levels (input audio volume) prior to recording in the software you are using to record.
    • Color coded meters. Most audio meters are color coded, some are labeled in decibels. The ideal level for a voice recording on a color coded meter would be at the higher end of the green meter with occasional spikes in the yellow.
    • Numerical meters. If measuring levels numerically, aim for the sound to be between -6 and -12.
    • Waveforms. If your application does not include a live audio meter you can do test recordings and monitor the waveforms. Waveforms that are strong and pronounced indicate good levels. 
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                           Too Soft                                                                            Good levels                                                               Too Loud
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  • Audio that is recorded above these points is too loud and will be distorted. If the visual display of the recorded waveform is flat on the top, this means your recording is too loud. Audio that is lower than the recommendations above may be too soft to hear. That said, if you are recording ambience in a quiet space, having lower levels makes sense. Context matters. 
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  • Know where your mic is. Test where the microphone is located by speaking into the microphone and watching the levels. When you see your levels get stronger, this means you are near the microphone. 
 
  • Microphone placement. Make sure your hands are not covering the microphone. To prevent handling noise and rustling sounds, place your mic down on a stable surface while trying to avoid laying your phone on a flat surface, e.g. use a mini tripod or make a makeshift support for your phone from paperclips or books. Make sure the microphone is pointing at your subject.
 
  • Listening. Prior to recording listen to the space. Is the heat on? Are you near a window with heavy traffic? Find a space with minimal background noise to minimize undesired background noise.
 
  • Test test test. After you record a track, play it back and listen through headphones for any interference and check your levels. 
 
  • Identify your tracks. At the beginning of every recording, state what you are recording, e.g., Intro Narration take 3, slower pace. Having this at the beginning of each audio file will help with organizing your files later. 

Remote Interview Workflow

We recommmend recording remote interview using two simultaneous methods:

  • Asking your guest to record themselves on their phone
  • Record a video or audio interview with Zoom
 
This method assumes that your guest has access to the internet and two separate devices, a smartphone and either a tablet or home computer.  If your guest only has access to one device, we recommend simply conducting and recording a video or audio interview through Zoom.  If your guest does not have access to the internet we recommend downloading a recording app that can record your phone call live (Android l Apple).  These applications usually require some type of subscription or payment to access the files or enable longer recording times.  
 
To record your interview via Zoom:  
  1. Instruct your guest to download Zoom on their home computer or tablet.  They can setup a free account with their personal email address. 
  2. Login using your Tufts credentials
  3. Send your guest the link to your Zoom meeting room.  Zoom has a comprehensive set of guides for inviting and joining meeting rooms.  If your subject does not have familiarity with Zoom, guiding them through the process of joining a meeting is a good idea.  
    1. Make sure in Preferences > Recording you select Record a separate audio file for each participant
  4. Record your interview.  When selecting where to save, save the file to your computer.  Simultaneously, ask that your guest commence recording themselves using an audio recording app on their phone (see below).  This will ensure that you have a backup file should the internet connection weaken.
    • If one party has an unstable internet connection, do not share video.  Record audio only.  
    • If you've never recorded a Zoom meeting before test this part of the process with a friend or colleague! 
  1. Every 30 minutes, or whatever length of time feels appropriate, take a break.  Have your guest stop recording on their phone and save and label the file. This ensures you won't accidentally loose the file due battery loss or insufficient space.
  2. Once you are finished with the interview, stop your Zoom recording.  You can use the resulting mp4 to edit the audio files in an editing application.
  3. Ask your guest to share their audio recordings from their phone with you via email or a cloud based storage app like Dropbox or Googledrive.
 
Recording on a Smartphone:
You will need to review properly setting up, recording and share audio files with your guest prior to your interview.  
  1. Identify the app your subject has free and easy access to.
  2. Research what settings (see below) they can adjust using that app.
  3. Walk your guest through settings, recording techniques, recording, labeling and sharing process.
    • Test test test!  Have your guest send you a test file so you can make sure their setup is optimal.
  1. Have your guest begin recording at the beginning of your interview.
  2. Every 30 minutes, or whatever length of time feels appropriate, take a break.  Have your guest stop recording on their phone and save and label the file. This ensures you won't accidentally loose the file due battery loss or insufficient space.
  3. At the end of the interview, ask your guest to share the audio recordings with you via email or a cloud based storage app like Dropbox or Google drive.

 

Backing up your audio files

Once you are finished recording, name your audio file on your device. Sharing your audio file to a computer will differ based on your phone, operating system,and application. Most applications will allow you to share your files with yourself via email or to an application like Box or Google Drive. Connecting your device to a computer via USB is another way to retrieve these files from your phone. Transfer all your recorded files to a platform that will let you download the individual media files, which you can then open in an editing application.

Production Credits

At a minimum, you should still include these components at the end of your podcast:

Individual Credits. If you are working as a group, you should include each individual and their respective role in the production. If you partnered with any individuals or organizations outside the class at any stage of the process you should also include their name in the credits. 

Purpose. A short statement can be read at the end of the podcast such as, “This podcast was produced for [course name] at [institution’s name] in [semester, year]”.