Sunday, February 24, 2008

Editing the heritage walk podcast

Editing the audio files for the heritage walk podcast provided additional challenges. This project commenced in September and was the first project where I used Audacity so it was initially a steep learning curve. However, once I determined that the best way to learn was actually to practise on an audio file, make mistakes, experiment with different features of the program etc I realised that editing audio files could really be fun and there is always the Undo option to use if things do not go to plan. Of course the first thing to do is to make a copy of the original file so if a disaster occurs you can always start again.

Basic editing of audio files follows the same principles as editing a word document but instead of selecting a word or a section of text you select a section of the audio file (a series of wavy lines representing sounds) and then cut, copy, paste, duplicate, delete etc. When editing you listen to the sound and watch the lines, stop the program where an edit is required, edit the program and move on. Sections of the file can be removed completely or moved to another location in the file or into a separate file. Where there is an unwanted pause between sections of the recording - usually indicated by a straight line, part or all of the pause can be removed.

For this project I wanted to add a sound to indicate the end of a section of the walk so that a person using the podcast on a walk could pause the digital player until they arrived at the next place described in the recording. We located the sound of a chime which I then duplicated with a pause between each chime and copied and pasted the chime section wherever it was required.

I also wanted some music to use as part of the introduction to the heritage walk podcast so I investigated a number of sites on the Internet where music is freely available, chose a few bars of one piece and then manipulated it in Audacity to fade in and out to use at the beginning and end of the podcast. Ideally I would like to record a few bars of an original piece to use but that may come later.

When editing the project I decided that the initial walk as planned was too long and fell into two distinct areas so divided the project into two walks. The first part just needs an introduction recorded and added and then it will be ready to go on line. The second section still requires editing.

This project has taken much longer than first anticipated but it has been a good learning experience, particularly in transferring a project from one form of media to another. For instance when the chimes were inserted to indicate a break, clear directions to reach the next site needed to be given before the chimes. As there could be considerable distance between sites, the address of the site was repeated at the beginning of the new segment. The project is still being fine tuned but will be ready to go online when the podcast page is launched on the RHSV website, later this year.

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