After editing nearly 200 podcast episodes with GarageBand, I figure it’s about time to share some of my tricks for editing 3 fully-produced episodes per week. In the next few minutes, you’ll learn how to organize your podcast sessions, simplify your editing and improve your audio mixes.
Although I use examples for editing a weekly podcast, the same concepts apply for editing music, voice-overs or audio for multimedia productions.
GET ORGANIZED… NO, REALLY.
1. Set-up a file structure, then stick with it
Properly name the folders, sub-folders and GarageBand session files. By keeping a consistent file naming scheme, particularly for podcasts, you can quickly locate all related documents, session notes, and audio files sent in by contributors.
2. Create a GarageBand Template
Take a few minutes to set-up a GarageBand session template. This alone will save you hundreds of hours over the course of the year. If you already have a few podcast episodes under your belt, use a open a previous GarageBand session and use the “Save As…” option under the file menu to create your template. Then, remove all elements that aren’t consistent from episode to episode leaving only the bare essentials. Plan ahead by saving Episode 51, Episode 52, Episode 53 etc…
3. Show the Podcast Track
A handy new addition to a recent update to GarageBand is the podcast track. The podcast track is always displayed at the top of the GaragaBand window and displays your podcast artwork. When you click on this podcast track, you can type in your show notes while editing.
4. Prioritize Your Tracks
Similar to reading a page from top to bottom, you can use the tracks themselves to better visually organize the order the segments of your podcast. Audio that is located at the beginning of your show is found at the top of the GarageBand session, while audio at the end of your podcast, is located at the bottom of the viewer. The end result will be a staggered look to your GarageBand session (See screenshot below). If you master this trick, you’ll never be wondering about the order of your tracks again.
5. Use the “Solo” option
Listen to only the specific track you’re editing by utilizing the solo option which mutes all other sounds. This will help you catch unwanted breaths, sniffles or coughs that may be missed if you edit voice-overs with the music and sound effects turned on.
6. Find a Comfortable Zoom Level
This applies to editing anything digital. Zoom in! Why have a 20″ display and be editing audio, video or images in a tiny portion of your screen? By zooming in, you can accurately cut audio out, and not clip audio waveforms unnecessarily.
7. Enlarge the Editing View
GarageBand lets you vertically increase the size of the waveforms onscreen for easier editing. Take advantage of this snazzy feature by dragging the dark grey area beside the record button up/down. Dragging up increases the size of the editing area, and dragging down reduces the size of the area, which is useful once you’re done editing and are ready to move on to mixing.
8. Center all Tracks
Nothing sounds more amateur than listening to a podcast where an interview is being conducted, and one person is coming into one ear, and the other person piped into the other ear. The podcast starts feeling like a tennis match where everyone’s heads are turning from left, to right, and back to the left again.
Known as the “pan”, this dial allows you to make sound come from only the left or right speakers. The knob should be set in the center or a “0” setting. If it says “+10”, it means that you’ve panned that track the right, and if it read “-10”, you’ve panned to the left. Simplify your mixes by keeping everything centered.
9. Balance Volume Levels
Set appropriate volume levels so that each person talking in the podcasts sounds the same. If you’re having trouble nailing this, step away from your computer for 15 minutes, then come back and listen with fresh ears. Also try listening from across the room. You’ll really notice if someone or something is significantly louder than the rest of the podcast.
10. Make Use of the Master Track
GarageBand has a Master Track element that governs the overall sound of your mix. Think of the Master Track as the big picture view, and your opportunity to shape the sound of your podcast as a whole. Some quick tips are:
– Use compression. Try a default setting. This will smooth out any spikes in volume and increase the overall loudness so your audio is more clear.
-Use EQ. Cutting ( lowering specific frequencies ) produces better results than increasing. The purpose of equalization is to bring clarity to the audio, so eliminate unwanted frequencies by reducing their levels.
-Prevent distortion. If you see the red indicators light up, scale back on the compression and equalization to eliminate a distorted sound.
-Trust your ears.
Remember, you can save your settings for your next recording, so you’ll only need to do major tweaking once.
Your final step is to export your audio from GarageBand by using the “Share with iTunes” option. From there, you can convert the file to an MP3 and upload to your hosting service.
By following these simple steps, I hope you’ll save some time when setting up new podcasting sessions, as well as improve the quality of your audio.