Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Editing the Full Circle Podcast Part 5 - Post and Packing

The final part of this series: Packaging and Exporting the show.

We've planned, recorded and mixed the show. At some point I have to decide that the episode is finished.  I'll apply the final filter of dynamic range compression to the edited voice tracks, check the mix-down, then it's time to export the episode for release...


In Audacity that means File, Export, then choose my output options. I create a quality-4 ogg audio file and a low-fi mp3 audio file in joint-stereo at a bit-rate of 65-96kbps.

I produce both mp3 for iTunes and proprietary music players (like my phone) and ogg for the open-source evangelists and my desktop.

I also produce a high quality original flac file in case I need to drag it back in and create any other file formats and quality settings at a later date.

In order to keep the download size manageable, we've already converted the constituent tracks from stereo to mono audio. That nearly halves the data. The audio files themselves now have to be scrunched down for the release version. OGG quality is 4, the MP3 is on variable bit-rate, joint stereo and middling quality of 65-105kbps.

Meta-data
Meta-data; that's tags to you and me. Before the first export, the extra dialog box prompts me for the track tags or meta-data. Meta-data is data about the track and not the audio track itself. Clear? Good. In other words this is artist, title, album, year, comments, copyrights and so on.

Episode meta-data
  • Title: Episode 5: Its Only A Trademark
  • Artist: Full Circle Side-Pod
  • Album: www.fullcirclemagazine.org/podcast
  • Year: 2010
  • Duration: 50 minutes 8 seconds
  • Comment: All Original Content Licensed Creative Commons SA v3.0
Select the filename to export to and ok. Go do something else for a while.

Check the output file
When I have the files, I import them back into Audacity to perform a spot-check and visually check the waveform - no embarassing silences, gaps, drop-out or levelling issues. I also go through the show noting the time-marks for each section to include in the shownotes.

Check the tags in an audio player.
Audacity doesn't write perfect tags. I have to edit the mp3 as the Year tag from audacity doesn't get populated - but it does in the ogg and flac. The Comment field doesn't get populated in the OGG file. Go figure. I also check the segment time index to put the times into the shownotes, so you can jump straight to your favoured segments.

Upload
I will upload the ogg and mp3 onto the Full Circle server using ftp through Filezilla, my current favoured file transfer program.

Shownotes
I think these are almost as important as the show. This is where the extra value is derived for the listener - additional description and links to original sources or supplementary links for more detail, reviews, downloads and so on. All the links are stashed into a text file until it's time to post the show.

Episode Posts
Our main distribution platform is the Full Circle Magazine site. This means dealing with Wordpress, creating the post remembering post tags, descriptions, run-times.

If you've been watching the comments pages and the forum you will know I've had problems with the podpress plugin. In short, Podpress hass been modifying the Wordpress posts and creating custom fields for some (not all) external music links in the shownotes and dumping those files into the RSS and Atom feeds - usually at the expense of the ogg or mp3 file for the show. So you get the incidental music but not the episode itself. Since we started using our own link-shortener for external music links, podpress is left with just the specified episode files defined in the media files section.

Entering the show-notes 
It's not quite as simple as I would like. You have to remember the settings for the embedded OGG and MP3 players, include the links for the topics, news stories and software discussed. Timings go in manually and I try to format the thing the same each time.

Link the media into the shownotes
  • I create the entries for the media, linking to the uploaded media files.
  • The RSS and Atom feeds will get updated from here.
  • I'll add Dave's transcript for a game review if he has one.
Letting the World know
Wordpress builds the RSS and Atom feeds automatically, so as long as I've entered the information correctly, the feeds should be good. Except some feed-readers seem not to like the format Wordpress applies... We're still working on that.

RSS Subscribers get the notifications, as do sites such as iTunes which I configured earlier this year.

Other notifications include:
  1. Full Circle forums - where I add to an existing post or sticky or start a new thread.
  2. A summary entry on the podcast teams' working site
  3. My blog
And that's it. Until the next episode when it starts all over again... RC