Author Topic: Creating podcasts, screencasts, virtual teaching, microphones, etc.  (Read 163 times)

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Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Any podcast, screencast, video (with voice narration) creators here? ? ?

Anyway, a few weeks ago, we university faculty were told to convert all of our classes to virtual mode--due to COVID-19. I feel sorry for some of the old dinosaurs who had no clue how to do this (Yes, I'll be a dinosaur myself one day.), but I was able to pick up with this pretty quickly due to my previous experience (put an entire course online a couple years ago). Our Dean told us that "we are in triage right now", and that no one expects us to replicate our full content online in such a short period.

I have been using Camtasia to create screencasts, which consist of my PowerPoint slides with my voice narration. I am using Zoom to hold virtual office hours. My previous online classes received excellent student and peer reviews, but I am always looking for ways to improve. I give them Jeopardy games I create at Jeopardylabs.com, but i am interesting in other gamification, if anyone has ideas...

We have pretty good technical/instructional/IT support to help us with anything, but I wanted to ask a few questions if any of you have experience with this.

My dept bought me a Yeti Microphone https://www.bluedesigns.com/products/yeti/ , that seems to me to have pretty good sound quality for just voice in cardioid pattern with a bit of attention to placement and recording level. I told the students that video lectures are very information dense, because there are no questions, and they don't have to hear all of my stories, digressions, pontifications, vicious attacks on colleagues who are wrong  :laugh: ,   and I edit out all the inhalations, throat-clearings, and other bodily sonics. I told them that a 20 minute video lecture = about an hour in-person. Based on slides I would cover in person in an hour, this is generally correct.

Good thing too, because I spend 3-5+ hours to produce that 20 minutes. I want it to be near-perfect, because I will use it again. Between tweaking slides, making figures (don't have a board to draw on), recording, pausing to avoid recording inevitable background racket, post-production, editing, exporting as MP4, and uploading to YouTube it often does take that long.

The hardest damn thing is finding the quiet background. Today, during my 20 minute lecture, I was interrupted by my phone buzzing (vibrating), my idiot neighbor yelling in his yard, and a two-second power failure.  It would be better late at night, but that is my time for reading, writing, relaxing, drinking booze, and music listening with my wife.

Anyway, a few questions:

1.) How do you minimize background noise, assuming you live in just an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood like me? Does it drive you nuts? I have a pause button I use, but it is very distracting trying to re-find my place. My office at work is a lot quieter generally, but I haven't been out to campus in a few weeks and don't know when I'll return.

2.) Is cardioid pattern with the mike about 18" away a good setup, or should it be closer? I notice that if it is much closer, it is very sensitive in picking up all the lip-smacking goodness of my speech (lots of little noises accompanying talking).

3.) Is there something I can place in front of the microphone to lessen the laser-like resolution and filter out noises from speech?

4.) WHat software do you use?

5.) Anything else you find helpful?











« Last Edit: April 14, 2020, 08:52:53 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Ratliff

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Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Creating podcasts, screencasts, virtual teaching, microphones, etc.
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2020, 09:45:38 PM »
Yes, thanks, that's what it is called. I heard about this before , but I forgot what it was called.

(Hope you're settling in in your new place!)
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline Rinaldo

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Re: Creating podcasts, screencasts, virtual teaching, microphones, etc.
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2020, 11:58:50 PM »
I've been in the podcast business since its first boom around the year 2006, doing weekly episodes in a 3-4 people setting. Nowadays I do mostly voiceovers and the occasional episode.

Anyway, a few questions:

2.) Is cardioid pattern with the mike about 18" away a good setup, or should it be closer? I notice that if it is much closer, it is very sensitive in picking up all the lip-smacking goodness of my speech (lots of little noises accompanying talking).

3.) Is there something I can place in front of the microphone to lessen the laser-like resolution and filter out noises from speech?

4.) WHat software do you use?

5.) Anything else you find helpful?

2 & 3. Depends on the mike gain, but 18 inch (if I'm converting this to cm correctly) seems a little bit too far.. I'd experiment with moving it a few inches closer, but you really do want to avoid loud plosives. A decent pop filter should certainly help, or you can go the DIY way). I see the Yeti is a condenser – its sensitivity makes it ideal in a controlled audio setting, but any extra noise will be picked. If you have the choice, try a dynamic microphone, e.g. an SM7B (a workhorse favoured by many podcasters/broadcasters) or some of its cheaper (but still very reliable) alternatives like a RØDE Podcaster, which is the same ballpark as the Yeti, price-wise. Dynamic microphones should be placed closer to your mouth, 6-10 inches at most.

4. I'm a PC user and have been faithful to the Sound Forge software family since the late nineties. Can't vouch for the Mac version, as I've got no experience with that platform. If you're looking for something freeware, Audacity covers all the bases and more.

5. When editing your recording, try to make cuts that don't abruptly skip the 'natural' pauses one makes when speaking. Basically give your recorded voice space to breathe. Seems like a no-brainer but I hear this mistake all the time.

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Creating podcasts, screencasts, virtual teaching, microphones, etc.
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2020, 11:22:16 AM »
Thanks Rinaldo,

You are indeed correct about the pauses, and I've been leaving space to mimic natural speech patterns and give the students more time to write things down.

I measured my distance mouth-to-mic distance and it is more like 15-16". I am going to order a pop filter as well.

What is your podcast about??
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline Rinaldo

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Re: Creating podcasts, screencasts, virtual teaching, microphones, etc.
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2020, 01:25:37 PM »
Thanks Rinaldo,

You are indeed correct about the pauses, and I've been leaving space to mimic natural speech patterns and give the students more time to write things down.

I measured my distance mouth-to-mic distance and it is more like 15-16". I am going to order a pop filter as well.

*thumbs up* Hope the pop filter solves your woes.

Quote
What is your podcast about??

It used to be about music (non-classical) / movies / gaming. Me & a bunch of colleagues jumped on the podcast bandwagon early and gained a bit of a following here in Czech Republic, which was nice. The podcast is still up & running but with a different cast, as we let younger blood take over. Myself, I've moved over to public radio and became a regular broadcaster – I'm still learning but the previous podcast experience certainly helped.

Offline Holden

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Re: Creating podcasts, screencasts, virtual teaching, microphones, etc.
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2020, 10:18:27 PM »
It sounds like (pun intended) you've got this nailed.

As my school has gone into online learning mode I've discovered that a program that can let me deliver what is on my laptop is important. Most of us at the school use a program called Screencast which allows me to create a vodcast in which I can talk about what I've brought up on my laptop screen. I'm using it to guide my students through the course that is on our Learning Management System. It's basically do this, do that, here is where to find it, here is where to submit it, get back to me with any questions. Our courses use a variety of media and assessment/feedback protocols to help students cover the course materials.

While I like this offline mode, nothing beats face to face contact with your students.
Cheers

Holden

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Creating podcasts, screencasts, virtual teaching, microphones, etc.
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2020, 11:00:06 PM »
Yes, I know what you mean. I also miss the sanctuary of my office--my home away from home, where I can be very productive. I have beautiful trees right outside my door and window, and in the afternoon the warm sun comes streaming through and I take a little, peaceful nap! Or better yet, it rains, as it has been lately, uncharacteristically for SoCal. I leave the door open and enjoy that too. No one bothers me. Students rarely come to office hours even though I always encourage them to do so! I see my boss (dept chair--not exactly a boss) virtually never. I put a lot of effort into my teaching, always trying to stay current with the literature.   

Creating the videos is labor-intensive, but every one I make is leverage I have for the future; it will save time and effort.

For example, I am tired of teaching the non-majors bio class (Composers, music scholars, how many times can you teach a kid how to find middle C?). I don't do it every semester, but I did it in Fall. Having taught the class fully online the year before, I simply flipped the in-person version. I gave them all the video lectures to watch outside of class, and in class they did quizzes, worksheets (Collaboration encouraged!), and I showed them some interesting videos (TED, Kurzgesagt). We played jeopardy, which they seemed to really enjoy. The response was overwhelmingly positive--the best student evals ever. I did a little lecturing here and there to emphasize some points, but I sure as hell did not miss explaining all of the basics of Mendelian genetics (zzzzzz--comparative genomics is infinitely more interesting, but you gotta walk before you can run) to another group of 19 year-olds!

Anyway, in this job, you are a sometimes counselor, sometimes judge (Excuses, excuses--one of the other faculty and i joke about how many grandmas we've killed this term!). I always tell them to go to on-campus professional counselors (psychologists) if they have serious issues. But I don't mind spending a little time trying to encourage them and cheer them up especially in these troubling times.

« Last Edit: April 16, 2020, 11:05:06 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff