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Enhanced Podcasting

Podcasting is a rapidly evolving technology. Within the past few years, enhanced podcasting—synchronizing still images with audio—has become popular. This type of podcast has many educational applications. Teachers could create procedural enhanced podcasts (like pictures accompanying audio on how to assemble chemistry apparatus/equipment) or assistive enhanced podcasts (like images of test items accompanied by an audio reading of the item for students). Students are particularly enthusiastic about creating enhanced podcasts as it adds another dimension to their communication. Enhanced podcasts are very easy to create using GarageBand!

Before you think about the technology, you need to plan (and write) your enhanced podcast. In this case, the script would probably be in two-column format: the left column indicating the image, sound effects, music and/or jingles while the right column has the corresponding narration. Once the script is done, or while you write it, you want to locate the images and save them in common subdirectory. You want everything planned and prepared as much as possible BEFORE you start production. Minimizing the production time is key; in the real world you can't spend hours at a time in the computer lab. Once everything is located and written and planned, you're ready to work with the technology.

Realize that enhanced podcasts can be downloaded and played on a variety of portable players as well as computers.

Enhanced Podcasting Terminology

an image you want to appear at a certain point in the audio. It is usually placed at a marker. Optimum artwork shape is square; GarageBand will make your artwork square if it is not.

Chapter Titles
a title to accompany a marker. Titles make your life and your users' lives a lot easier, so make them descriptive.

Episode Artwork
an image that will appear if there is a marker with no image defined for it. It is also the album cover for your podcast.

Episode Information
defaults that are very non-descriptive will probably appear. You can change these to give your enhanced podcast a Title, say who is the Author and provide a short Description.

a specific point in the podcast. A new image will typically appear at the marker. If you are viewing the enhanced podcast on an iPod, you can navigate through the enhanced podcast by jumping from marker to marker; this is similar to scene selections on a DVD. Other devices may allow jumping between markers too. People who play back podcasts on computers can usually jump between markers as well.

you know what this is but may not know its function in a podcast. If you add a URL to an enhanced podcast, it will be clickable when played on a device with an internet connection. On an iPod which has no internet connection, the URL will appear on-screen but cannot be accessed.

1. Setting up the Audio Equipment
  • We have a variety of microphones in the COEHS Technology Lab. You may have a Yeti microphone or a Blue Snowball microphone (both of these have built-in preamps) attached to a handheld microphone placed in a microphone stand.
  • Whichever microphone is being used with your computer, make sure the USB connection is plugged into the computer or a USB hub before starting.
2. Setting up the Computer

  • On the desktop, go to the Black Apple (upper left corner).
  • Choose System Preferences. A large box appears with many icons.
  • Choose the Sound icon and a dialogue box appears.
  • Click on the Input tab, select Yeti or Blue Snowball from the list (which you see will depend on which microphone is connected to the computer).
  • Test your input signal by speaking into the microphone. Speak clearly and watch the Input level meter. You should get a volume in the middle to high end but not pegged to the right. If you need to speak very loudly to get a reasonable level, get help from someone.
  • Click on the Sounds Effects tab and double click on a couple sounds. You should hear something coming out of the speakers. If not, go to the Output tab and select Headphones or Line Out.
  • Exit the System Preferences.
3. Starting GarageBand

  • Start GarageBand. Select New Project and Podcast from the opening screen. Click Choose.

  • Save the project in a file folder on the desktop if it's a new episode. Remember to copy the entire folder to your H drive before leaving the computer. If you are continuing to edit a podcast you started at an earlier time, copy the entire folder containing the podcast and all image files needed for the podcast to the desktop before opening the file in GarageBand. Click the Create button.
  • Go to GarageBand—Preferences.
  • Click on the Audio/Midi tab, make sure the Audio Input is set to Yeti, Blue Snowball or Blue Icicle.
  • Close GarageBand Preferences.
  • You'll see the default podcast screen which you need to configure.
    • Switch to the Loops view by clicking on the Loops Icon. It's in the lower right corner of the interface. It looks like a loop.

  • Notice in the Loop browser that you have five categories:
    • All
    • Jingles (many styles ranging from jazz to rock to bossa nova and many come in three lengths: long, medium and short)
    • Stingers (ranging from chipmunks to boings to honks)
    • Sound Effects (animals to weird noises)
    • Favorites (empty, useful only on your personal computer)
  • Notice the four predefined tracks in the timeline. You can always add more tracks if you need them.
    Podcast Track (ignore this track for a traditional podcast, in an enhanced podcast it's where your images go)
    Male Voice (where you should record Voice 1)
    Female Voice (where you should record Voice 2)
    Jingles (where you should put jingles, stingers and sound effects)

4. Recording Voices
  • Select the appropriate voice track (male or female)
  • Do a test recording. Record a few sentences, stop and play back. If there are any volume problems, fix them now before you start recording your podcast.
  • When you're ready, click the Red button to start recording. Give a two or three beat count before the narrator starts to speak clearly into the microphone. At the end of the narration, give a two or three beat count before you click the Red button again to stop recording OR you can click the Stop button and that will stop recording and the playhead.
  • Remember, the letters s and p are terrible problems. They cause hissing and popping in your audio. Adjusting the angle and/or distance between you and the microphone can help as can putting a piece of cloth over the microphone if there is no wind shield available.
  • Good test sentences to check for hissing s and popping p are:
    • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick. (you can add the third part yourself)
    • The slippery snake hissed as it slithered down the steep slope slowly.
  • Listen closely to the practice audio. Sometimes the microphone picks up computer noise from the fan or hard drive. The microphone may need to be repositioned. Also listen for ambient room noise and ask for quiet from other groups if necessary.
  • Make adjustments as necessary and try another practice sentence.
  • Delete the practice recording(s) by selecting it and then hitting the big delete key on the keyboard.
  • Record your audio. Think about breaking it into pieces; each row in your storyboard should be a separate recording.
  • Check your audio and re-record as necessary. Listen closely for stutters, unnatural pauses, ums, background noise, etc. Don't be afraid to do multiple takes to get it right.
  • Add jingles (or your own GarageBand compositions). Make sure ducking is set on the non-vocal tracks. The Jingles track by default has the ducking turned on.
  • Add stingers (if you want any).
  • Add sound effects (if you want any).
  • Rewind and listen to the entire project. Make adjustments as necessary.

5. Creating the Enhanced Portion of the Podcast
It's best to have the audio portion of your podcast completed before you start working with the artwork, chapter markers, etc. So assuming the audio is complete and perfect, you're ready to enhance!
  • Open the directory with your prepared images so they are visible.
  • Drag your images one by one from the directory to the Podcast Track in GarageBand. Refer to your two-column script so you know what images go where in your production.
  • Select the appropriate image from your directory and drag it onto the Podcast Track in the timeline. 
  • Place all your images.
  • Look in the editing pane below your tracks. You'll see each image has a place for a chapter title.
  • Click on the Chapter Title and type a descriptive title for images that are the beginnings of chapters. You can have several images in one chapter; not all images need to have a chapter title. In a procedure, each step of the procedure should probably have its own chapter title.
  • As you added images, you may have noticed that GarageBand cropped your images into squares so they would work on portable devices that often have a square screen. You can control, to some extent, how your images are cropped by using the Artwork Editor.
  • Double click on the artwork pictured to the left of the Chapter Titles.
  • An Artwork Editor will pop up.
  • You'll see your full image with a box on it indicating the setting of your image in GarageBand.
  • Drag your image and use the zoom slider to select what portion of the image and how it is magnified in the box.
  • Click Set.
  • You'll need to do this to each image in your enhanced podcast.

  • Add the Episode Artwork by dragging a photo from the photo pane into the Episode Artwork square. This artwork will be displayed during the podcast whenever you have NOT defined a photo in the Podcast Track.
  • Click the Info icon (in the lower right corner, it looks like a small i). You now have access to set the title, author and description for your podcast.
  • To preview your podcast, rewind and look at the Podcast Track. To the left of your images is a small image. Click it and a preview box pops up. Play your podcast and make any desired adjustments before continuing to the next step.
6. Saving the Final Version of the Enhanced Podcast

  • Make sure your enhanced podcast is complete. Make any desired adjustments.
  • Go to Share—Export Podcast to Disk.
  • Select AAC Encoder for the Compress Using setting.
  • Select Higher Quality for the Audio Settings.
  • Click the Export button.
  • A dialogue box will pop up asking for the file name and where to save it. Save it where you can find it again.
  • Wait. It may take a few minutes to convert.
  • Your m4a file should be in the location you specified.

NOTE: To finish the enhanced podcasting assignment, you will need to post the m4a file to a special server. Talk to me for details.

Questions? Contact koroghcm@uwec.edu
Page last updated March 6, 2013