Podcasting in the Classroom A Robert Bourgeois learning journal

Final Reflection

Audition is far and away the Adobe application that I struggle with the most. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to take this class: to improve my skills so I can better help my students with their audio editing. And, I was not disappointed!

The course materials and activities were great. My skill set improved by leaps and bounds in just two short classes. And, it got me thinking about using Audition and podcasting to promote my classes. The skills are also useful for my lessons in audio editing for game design. I have students do a little Foley work using Audition and getting a better handle on the tools and techniques in Audition is extremely helpful. On top of that, it gave me a couple of ideas for assignments I can use such as podcasting a game reviews or news reporting on new tools or techniques they learn about in class. The skills i picked up were also useful in making some video tutorials as the audio didn't pick up with my screen capture and I had to record it again in Audition to place on top of the video in Premiere.

In short, this was a great course and I hope there are more courses on Audition in the future. There is still so much more for me to learn about it!

Game Design Student Interview

The second and final assignment for this class was to do an interview in podcast format. I had to find someone to interview, record the session with them, find some relevant sound effects and some background music. And, we had a one minute time constraint to meet.

For starters, I decided to interview one of my students in the game design concentration where I teach. Students tend to stick with me for a solid four years and I knew from the get-go which of my seniors I wanted to use for my podcast: Graham Buhrman. So, I wrote a couple of quick questions and asked him if he would mind being interviewed for the assignment during lunch.

In just a single take, we recorded just over two minutes of audio. When I went back and listened to it later, I found all kind of places to trim. First, I shortened the blank gaps in the conversation. Then, I took to removing all the "ummmms". These alone shortened the track by almost 30 seconds. Next, I thought about the questions and responses. I found an entire question I could remove as it didn't really add to the interview. I was now barely over the one minute constraint. So, a little more trimming of silence and I was good.

The next problem to overcome was the ambient noise. My classroom has a constant sound of air moving through the ventilation system, so I applied a noise reduction effect to the entire track. While not perfect, this helped clean up the sound considerably.

With the conversation all set, it was time to move to the next segments and make the podcast more interesting. I searched for some background music and once again found something I liked on bensound.com. His royalty free pieces are amazing and have become my standard go-to for background music in both audio and video editing. I also logged back into freesound.org to find some sound effects based on things Graham stated in his responses to my questions. He mentioned his interest in playing games, so I looked for an arcade ambient piece and for his spot on computers/technology, I found a beep. Not perfect, but not bad. Once I brought everything in, I faded the music up and out while placing the same clip at both the start and end of the interview. I then lowered the decibels for the sound effects and music so they don't overpower the speaking. nd I was ready to do the mixdown.

Probably the most difficult part of this activity was keeping the whole thing within the time constraint. Five to ten more seconds would have been perfect, but I feel I managed to do a pretty good job on the trim in terms of overall quality and in meeting the goal. Here is a link to the final product, Game Design Student Interview, along with a piece of Graham's 3D modeling work (below) which he talked about during the interview.

Model created using 3ds Max by Graham Buhrman

Recording a Short Story

Our first assignment for this course involved recording a short story with a time constraint of 45 seconds. I found this to be exceptionally difficult in general. First, I had to locate something that I felt would be short enough to meet the constraint. I tried several books but couldn't get a single one under two minutes! This was particularly difficult because I was trying to read at a slow enough pace to not sound rushed. Eventually, I settled on reading Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman.

Once I had my reading selection, I recorded myself reading the story using a wav track. Like every other story I tried, reading this short children's book still took over two minutes. So, I decided upon using a small excerpt from the book. I decided to include the parts where the baby bird was interacting with other animals so I could include a few sound effects to make the reading more interesting.

Next, I collected different sounds of animals to use from Freesounds.org. This gave me the audio clips for each animal the baby bird interacted with (kitten, hen, dog, and cow). I then found some background music onĀ bensound.com.

Once I had all the pieces assembled, it was time to pull it together in a multitrack session. I dropped my reading into one track and edited it down with the razor tool to the selection I wanted to keep. I then deleted the rest of the clips. On separate tracks, I placed the animal sound effects, which had to be edited down as well to fit smoothly into the reading along with a third track for the music. When listening to the playback, the sounds overpowered my voice, so I lowered their decibel levels and tested again. When I was happy with everything, I did a quick mixdown of the session into an MP3 format.

The one major problem I ran into was posting the finished product online. I tried creating a soundcloud account but was constantly told they thought I was a robot???!!! So, I gave up after several refreshes and decided to simply post my finished file in the assignment upload. I will examine this problem more in-depth later or perhaps search for a good alternate site to use for audio sharing.

A quick solution for sharing my first podcast (since Soundcloud didn't seem to want to let me create an account) was to place the file on my Google Drive and share a link to it. So, here is the link to my short excerpt from Are You My Mother.



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