Using Podcast Producer

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Screencasting workflow

A screencast or video screen capture is a digital recording of a computer screen often accompanied by audio narration. A typical example of a screencast would be a video recording of all the slides from a guest speaker's PowerPoint presentation along with an a (synchronized) audio recording of her lecture. The audio and video are then made available online as a single movie (sample screencasts). Please see the Podcast Producer Samples page for an example of a PowerPoint screencast.

The way your screencast is created (or "captured") will depend on your particular needs and whether your presenter is working off a Mac or PC. Currently the simplest and most effective way to produce screencasts of laptop based presentations is to use an Intel-based Mac laptop running Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) together with Apple's QuickTime Player application.

Under this workflow it is sufficient to start the QuickTime Player screen capture function at the start of the talk and turn it off at the end of the presentation. The contents of the screen (projected presentation) will be captured and saved on disk in high-quality in addition to any audio from the laptop's built-in microphone. This works well if the presenter is speaking directly in front of her laptop. If however, she moves away from her computer or if you want to also capture questions from the audience you will need to employ an external microphone. For example a Zoom H2 or Samson Go Mic  can simply be plugged into the laptop via a USB port for this purpose (you can borrow both from Carl Nash in the Humanities Division's events office). These devices are particularly well suited for this task since their microphones are broadly bi-directional and can capture audio from more than one location. We recommend the use of BB Flashback (Standard) if your speaker is a PC user running Windows or working off an older Mac laptop running Mac OS X 10.5.

Once you have the video of your screencast in hand you may wish to lightly edit it to set the proper beginning and end points and cut out unwanted footage. Typically no further editing of the video will be necessary. We recommend the use of iMovie on a Mac for this purpose. Humanities Computing does not support nor has tested any Windows based editors, however based on recent favorable reviews we recommend the use of MoviePlus X3. When you have finished editing your movie, please save it in QuickTime (.mov) format. Alternatively, the Pro version of BB Flashback also allows Windows users to edit their movies.

The (edited) screencast is then uploaded to the Humanities Podcast Producer server. After filling out the necessary metadata the server will provide you with your web-ready audio file and instructions for uploading it to your website/blog and/or making it available as a downloadable podcast, via a RSS feed and on iTunesU. Depending on the length of your screencast it will take the Podcast Producer server circa 30 minutes to an hour or more to create the final, web-ready media file.

Audio workflow

If you are recording just the audio of an interview, presentation or lecture you will need to use a portable digital recording device to digitize and save your audio (unless of course you already possess pre-recorded audio files). The Humanities Events office owns several portable audio recorders and microphones (Samson Go MicZoom H2, Sony PCM-D50) which can be lent out to you.

For more complex recording situations (e.g. multiple conference panelists or questions from an audience and a guest lecturer) we can also lend out additional external Sennheiser (handheld and lapel/lavalier) microphones and portable mixing console. Such events are usually best handled by a professional group such as the Chicago Media Initiatives Group(CMIG).

Once you have recorded your audio it can be transferred to a Mac or PC and edited with a free, easy to use audio editing tool such as Audacity to set the proper beginning and end points, normalized for optimal volume and optionally filtered for unwanted noise and hiss. 

The edited audio is then uploaded to the Humanities Podcast Producer server. After filling out the necessary metadata the server will provide you with your web-ready audio file and instructions for uploading it to your website/blog and/or making it available as a downloadable podcast, via a RSS feed and on iTunesU. Depending on the size and format of your original file it will take the Podcast Producer server just a few minutes (short audio file) or circa an hour (large video file) to create the final, web-ready media file.

Please see the Podcast Producer Samples page for an example of an audio recording.

Video workflow

If you a recording a video presentation, performance or lecture we recommend that you work with the Chicago Media Initiatives Group (CMIG) to ensure professional results. Shooting high-quality video in a classroom/lecture environment is often technically challenging and can lead to poor footage if not handled properly. In other environments where lighting and sound are not limiting factors it is possible to get good results even with modest, consumer grade DV camcorders. CMIG will be able to offer advice on how best to proceed in these cases. Depending on the type of event you are recording and where shooting will take place you may also be able to rent or borrow AV equipment from NSIT AV Services

Once you have your (newly shot or pre-existing) video files in hand you will want to edit them to set the proper beginning and end points, cut out unwanted footage, possibly re-order your shots in a different sequence and optionally add titles, transitions and additional visual elements such as still images. We recommend the use of iMovie on a Mac for this purpose. Humanities Computing does not support nor has tested any Windows based editors, however based on recent favorable reviews we recommend the use of MoviePlus X3. When you have finished editing your movie, please save it in QuickTime (.mov) format. Alternatively you can ask CMIG to edit your video for you to your specifications. 

The edited video is then uploaded to the Humanities Podcast Producer server. After filling out the necessary metadata the server will provide you with your web-ready audio file and instructions for uploading it to your website/blog and/or making it available as a downloadable podcast, via a RSS feed and on iTunesU. Depending on the size and format of your original file it will take the Podcast Producer server just a few minutes (short audio file) or circa an hour (large video file) to create the final, web-ready media file.

Please see the Podcast Producer Samples page for an example of a video presentation.

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