Editing Podcasters Assemble (Probably): a long process that’s getting easier every time

Podcasters Assemble (Probably) has been a crazy undertaking… It’s taken a lot more time and energy than I expected, and it’s starting to really wear me out. However, I absolutely love the product that we’re turning out and am super proud of this show. I wouldn’t change anything about it, except for maybe starting it about 6 months in advance, instead of at basically the last moment.

I’ve learned a lot about editing in the course of doing this show, so I figured I’d use this weeks post to talk about the general process I use, partially so I remember it later and partially in the hopes that maybe it’ll give someone else ideas on how to edit their own stuff. I’m using Adobe Audition CC to edit this show, and the process goes a little something like this:

  1. Open the template that I’ve already made.
    1. A few days into the process, I made myself a template that has the CC0 music file I use for a theme/backing track already imported and set to loop, so that I can drag it out for any episode length without too much stress.
    2. The music file is also set to the “Music > Smooth Vocal Ducking” preset in the Essential Sound panel. This should, in theory, make it automatically turn way down anywhere I put a vocal clip later. More on that when it breaks.
    3. I’ve also got the bulk of the “outro credits” in this template… make things far easier later on.
  2. Import the submissions into the template.
    1. First, try to drag them all on to one audio track, then get frustrated, make separate audio tracks like you intended all along, then import them properly.
  3. Export the whole thing as a new session.
    1. Be sure you don’t start editing in the template, and then save the template, otherwise, you’ll have to undo all of that next time you use the template.
    2. Note: You will do this. Every time.
    3. Note: Stop doing this. How hard is it to remember not to do this!?
  4. Chop up all the audio into interesting bits.
    1. Run the “Match Loudness” utility before you get going, so that you won’t accidentally blow your ears out with a sudden loud recording.
    2. Naming the clips as you chop them up will help you remember what people were talking about later.
    3. Bonus points if you speed everything up to double speed while you are chopping!
  5. Arrange the clips
    1. Introductions go at the very beginning, where you’ve got a “… and this is…” sound clip built into the template.
    2. Stuff that’s mostly general thoughts about the movie either goes at the very beginning or very end, depending mostly on whether the perspective is of going into the movie or coming out of it.
    3. Everything else gets laid out more or less in the order that stuff comes up in the movie.
  6. Chop the clips up some more.
    1. If multiple people are talking about the same action scene, or dialog, or emotional moment, try to find transition points to move from one speaker to the other… it helps things feel a lot more dynamic.
    2. If someone quotes a character in their clip, chop that section out, and then add a slight echo effect on to it. Mmm… epic.
    3. When you find a bit of a clip that doesn’t work, it helps to have an audio track called “garbage” that’s permanently muted. Move the clips you aren’t using there, instead of deleting them, so you can quickly get them back when you find the perfect place for them later on.
  7. Wrap up the credits
    1. Find a few clips that don’t quite fit in the flow of the episode, but are still funny, and put them in as mid- and end-credits scenes.
    2. Be sure to include the name of the next movie after the “Podcasters Assemble (Probably) will return in…” clip that’s part of the template.
    3. When you realize you have no recordings of you saying the name of the next movie, go record that and come back.
    4. Also, throw in someone yelling “Podcasters Assemble” at the very beginning of the episode
  8. Listen back in Audition
    1. Mostly this is making sure that the “Smooth Audio Ducking” preset from step 1.2 is working properly.
    2. When you realize that the ducking isn’t working for one 28 second clip, spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out why on earth it isn’t working.
    3. Get the ducking working for that clip, only to realize that it’s probably stopped working somewhere else.
    4. After about 10 episodes, discover that it’s just the realtime aspect that isn’t working on the ducking, and that just waiting until you’ve got everything arranged and then hitting “Generate Key Frames” means that it works perfectly.
  9. Export for final QA
    1. I use 128kbps Mono sound, and upload to Overcast privately to listen through once, taking screenshots every time I notice something I want to edit.
    2. Load up Audacity, and work backwards through your screenshots, starting with the ones at the end of the episode so that the other timestamps stay accurate, and re-edit everything.
  10. Export the final file
    1. 128kbps and Mono sound again.
    2. As you’re exporting, remember that you forgot to regenerate the keyframes from step 8.4, cancel the export, generate keyframes, and then, finally, export the final audio.
    3. Schedule the episode to post at 9am.
  11. ???
  12. Profit.

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