As podcasters, we live in search of new ways to make the editing process faster. It is a necessary chore that can take over our lives and suck the enjoyment out of producing our podcast. Here is my list of ten things to consider that may make your podcast editing quicker. Always a work in progress.
1. Do more of it
Editing takes time but practice will make you quicker – at least to a certain level (most people assume a ratio of 4:1 but not when you first start). You need familiarity with how to use your software and also the editing process. Selection across multiple tracks and ripple-editing will keep things in sync and help you move quicker. You should also know how to override the default ripple-editing when you want to silence bleed-through or too much verbal affirmation of your guest – learn to nod ‘loudly’.
2. Do less of it
Longer episodes need more editing. Only go as long as you need to tell your story and still have your listeners still there at the end. Your editing capacity (time, energy and focus) should be included in determining your episode length and complexity.
You need enough good tape to produce a good episode – but don’t give yourself a headache by recording too much. How much good content are you prepared to throw away to leave the best? We all need to do it and will get better at knowing how to decide, but it still takes time and mental energy to make the decisions.
If you need to remove a lot of filler words, learn to stop using them or automate their removal with a tool like Descript.
3. Don’t do it
There is an implied authenticity in sharing it like it was – real and unedited. It seems like we should include it as an option here but it is definitely not my recommended approach. I think we should edit our work – our listeners deserve it (“they haven’t got time either” – HT to Olly Mann who mentioned this on a recent Zoom call).
You could take this approach and it would save editing time. Most of us are not good enough to avoid interminable rambling and excessive filler words. I think this should have been at the bottom of my list.
4. Get someone else to do it
My control-freak tendencies now come to the fore. I wouldn’t (at the moment) consider getting someone else to edit my podcast. I like editing. I like the control it gives me.
I think there is a difference between editorial control to create the story you want to tell and audio editing to remove mistakes and filler words, adjust levels and deal with problems like reverb and plosives. Some of the latter could be given away or at least outsourced for a fee.
Potentially this means less editing time but you need to be organised in advance to allow for turn around. At some point, it could become essential for you – when you get big and famous. It is something to bear in mind.
There are many places offering podcast editing services if you are interested – do some research with an idea of your budget in advance. I have a few thoughts but no recommendations based on experience.
5. Record better tape
Already referred to above, if you restrict the number of things to be removed – filler words, mistakes and bad audio, it will speed up your editing. Keep your ears about you during recording so you don’t get surprised in the editing.
With interviews, planning your story-arc and questions in advance will help you keep focussed and include what you need to make the episode work.
Check with your guest in advance that they have appropriate equipment (mic and headphones) and are in a suitable environment. If you can, do a quick sound and recording check before starting the interview.
Be mindful of background noises as they appear and repeat the question or answer when possible without destroying flow. A simple cut is easier to make than spectral frequency isolation of a mobile phone ringing.
6. Use a transcript
I have found a transcript often gives a clearer sense of shape to a recording and speeds up finding something I remember being said but without knowing when and where to find it in an audio file. Tools like Otter.ai and Descript can make life easier. In the case of Descript, you can automatically remove filler words plus edit the audio by editing the text of the transcript. Worth exploring if you think it would fit into your workflow. Some investment is needed in learning the tool and in a monthly subscription.
7. Find a DAW that suits you
DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) come in different flavours. Many are designed for music creation, mixing and mastering. The level of complexity and price tags vary but all will have a learning curve (some more than most). Some are more suitable for spoken audio. Some are considered to be an industry standard. If you are starting out, do your research before committing yourself.
It is a big step to switch from a DAW that you know. Ideally only make the change once and for a good reason. Consider future needs and recurring cost (many are subscription based; a few are free). Bells and whistles are nice but make sure the essentials are easy to use and feel comfortable to the way you think and already work.
8. Learn to use your software
Find some sources of information and tutorials that you can trust. YouTube is an obvious place to include but ask around and do some searching more widely too. There is even the software manual and help menu you can make use of.
Have a look through the menus and stay curious beyond the basics.
Separate practice and production. On a deadline is not the time to be learning how to do something new.
9. Learn the keyboard shortcuts
Most basic functions (and many advanced ones) will have a keyboard shortcut to speed things up.
Back to the menus – search out the keyboard shortcuts listed next to many menu items.
Learn a new one each week – and use it. Zoom in/out and delete are bound to be useful to you.
10. Use protected time
Recognise that editing is a particular type of activity. Give it the appropriate time and space. You can do it in chunks but not too small.
Limits are useful. Work on editing – and only editing for a length of time (check out the Pomodoro Technique – in essence: 25 mins focussed work; 5 mins break). Avoid interruptions (from others and yourself).
There are strategies and techniques that can help speed up your podcast editing but it is still going to take a significant amount of time. Keep working on it and make it better next time. And if you find something really useful, please let me know so I can share it with our fellow podcasters, who live in hope of a quicker way to edit podcasts.
Something to see
Languishing is a hard word to live. Adam Grant gives an alternative – getting in flow, with three points that speak to podcasters
Something to hear
The prolific podcaster Olly Mann with his new “on this day” history podcast. A round table co-host show. Worth hearing how they make it work.
When U2’s new album, Songs Of Innocence, was rumoured to be bundled in with the iPhone 6 on 8th September, 2014, the band’s official spokespeople denied any involvement with Apple’s product lau…
Something to read
23 statements to provoke, challenge, encourage and empower you. Courtesy of David Hieatt of the Do Lectures
MANIFESTO OF A DOER.
1, Leverage your energy. You can’t increase the number of hours in a day, but you can multiply your effort. Understand the power of the…
- tune in to the rhythms around you
- tune in to your own rhythm