- End of Module Reflection
- Audio Interviewing Tips
- Practice Audio Recording and Converting Audio
🎙️Audio Interviewing Tips
Gathering audio that is clean, clear, and crisp is no easy task. This post outlines some hints for you to consider before you conduct audio interviews. It is developed from the hints listed on MediaStorm’s audio training page and Ch. 7 in our textbook on audio.
Know Your Equipment: Be comfortable operating your recording device. You should know where the buttons are without looking at it. You should know what all of the buttons do. If you’re uncomfortable with the audio recorder, your subject will be as well.
- So, practice with your audio recorder, even if it’s just your phone, BEFORE your interview. Decide which recording app you want to use and learn its basic functions. Practice your workflow.
- Also, be sure that you can confidently get the audio file from your phone to a computer and opened in Audacity. Practice now.
You can reserve One Button Studio in Coe Library and use that equipment for your audio recording. Or, you find a quiet location with little background noise.
- Find a spot with soft surfaces that absorb sound. A couch or fabric chair is better than a wooden chair. Cover a table with a blanket.
- A car with closed windows or a small study room or your home office are great location choices. Avoid hallways and large rooms that echo.
Avoid Distracting Noise During Interview: While you can use appropriate, relevant, and purposeful ambient noise in your audio story, you don’t want the ambient noise to interfere with the person speaking to you. Avoid consistent background noise by picking a small quiet room with carpet and soft chairs.
If Ambient Noise is Unavoidable: Press the record button before you begin the formal interview. Record for 15 seconds. Allow the recorder to collect the ambient noise without anyone’s voices interrupting the ambient noise. This gives you clean ambient noise to insert into any pauses during the editing process so that the sonic background of your final editing is consistent.
Get Close, But Not TOO Close: Experiment with the recording device so you know you’re close enough to the person’s mouth.
When editing, it’s easier to bump up the volume than bump down the volume. Thus, err on the side of caution and do not record at a level that is TOO LOUD.
Speak Up: Ask the person to speak loudly and clearly.
Don’t Fidget: Do not fidget and play with the audio recorder while gathering sound. The audio recorder picks up the noise when you rub your hands on it. Avoid this by not fidgeting. Ideally, you would place your recording device on a place where you and your interviewee won’t touch during recording, such as a separate table or a separate surface that you use.
Focus: There’s many things to think about while conducting an audio interview. Can you hear them clearly? What are they saying? What’s my next question? Where is the interview going? How can I take the interview in a different direction or somewhere I hadn’t planned if they say something interesting?
If you go over or under 5 minutes, or if you aren’t happy with the 5-minute interview, then do it again! There is no penalty for doing the 5-minute interview multiple times.
But Also Engage and Allow Silence: Listen to the person. Make eye contact (don’t look at their mouth). Seem genuinely interested in their story. After they’re done speaking, stay in silence for a moment. They may add more detail to their thoughts.
Happy Nonverbals: Instead, nod, smile, use eye contact, “talk” with your eyebrows, use hand gestures, and lean forward to encourage the person.
Uh Huh: Don’t do it. Avoid saying those filler words during an interview. You don’t want YOUR voice recorded when the person is talking.
Avoid Comment. Resist the urge provide in-depth responses or comments to your interviewee during and after everything he/she says–that means more editing for yourself or not being able to use the audio at all.
Pause. During the audio interview, leave a brief pause after the interviewee finishes answering a question and before you begin your next question. Giving more pause will leave you more room for editing.
💡Prepare Your Interview Questions
Prepare Your Subject: Work together with your subject to determine an interesting topic or story that the subject wants to share. Talk about some questions that you may ask. But remember to avoid figuring out EVERYTHING before recording your audio; you want an element of authenticity in the recorded interview.
Ask Explanation-Needed Questions: Don’t just ask, “How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a journalist?” You’ll get the answer, “A few years ago.” Ask questions that need more explanation, “What inspired you to become a journalist and when did you make this decision in your life?”
Ask questions that the interviewee always answers in complete sentences that clearly address the question, not short phrases that may need a narrator’s explanation.
If your interviewee answers your question with: “yeah, it was great,” then I suggest you ask the question again and ask them to answer in complete sentences like: “yeah, the experience of studying abroad was great.”
Ask Again: Don’t be afraid to ask “Why?;” “Please explain that more in-depth.” “Please say that again, I didn’t quite understand the first time.”
Ask Sensory Questions (if relevant): “Tell me about…”; “What did it sound like when…”; “How did it feel when…”; “What did it smell like…”; “What did it look like when…”; “Describe the scene for me.”
Last Question (if you need to fill time to reach 5 minutes): Ask, “Is there anything else I should have asked? Is there anything else you want me to know?”
📱Practice Audio Recording with Your Device
You’re free to use the standard audio-recording app on your smartphone. If you want something else though, here’s some recommended audio recording apps.
Remember that you can also record directly with Audacity on your computer if you have a microphone. The internal mic is not a good option because Audacity will capture your computer’s own humming noise.
🌟NOW! Let’s practice audio recording and getting the audio files off our devices and onto the computer.
- If you don’t have an audio file on your phone already, then go ahead and record yourself counting to 10.
- Then, move the file to your computer. Depending on how you record your audio, this step will vary among students. If you use your phone, you can email the file to yourself or connect your phone to your computer with a USB and get the file off your computer manually.
- After it’s on the computer, can you open it in Audacity? Or, do you need to convert the file? (see section below on Converting Audio)
Google your questions about your specific phone or device.
The biggest complaint that students have about the audio unit is having trouble getting the audio off their device and onto the computer in a workable file format. So, it’s best if you figure this out BEFORE you use your phone for your audio interview.
A lot of iPhones save the audio file as a “m4a” file.
A lot of Android phones save the audio file as a “3ga” file.
When you upload your raw audio file to SoundCloud, you may not need to convert your audio file to another format.
However, when you edit the file in Audacity, you will need to convert the file to a “wav” or “mp3” file. To do this, you can visit a popular audio conversion website: Zamzar (m4a to wav) or Zamzar (3ga to wav).
You can always Google for assistance, advice, or other questions. And, of course, you are free to ask me questions as well!
🎙️Sharing Audio Stories with SoundCloud
You will use Soundcloud to share your audio files on your blog. Let’s register if you haven’t already.
- To upload your audio file, sign-in to SoundCloud. Then go to “Upload.” Select your audio file to upload.
- When the file is done uploading, copy the URL of the track. You can find the URL via “Share.”
- On your WordPress blog, go to “Embeds” block list and select SoundCloud block or simply search “soundcloud”. Paste the copied URL. Your track should now be embedded on your blog post.
🌟Now! Practice this by embedding a track you find on SoundCloud in a draft post on your WordPress blog. Preview the post and see if the embedding works. You don’t need to publish or save this post.
🌟ALSO! Explore alternative recording apps on your phone.
- In-Class Time to Work on Blog Post 4 & 5 (Optional In-Person Attendance);
- Submit a one-paragraph work summary on the discussion page via Wyocourses.
💪In-Class Assignment for Blog Post 5:
- Decide who you want to interview.
- Decide the interview topic and prepare 5 interview questions.
- Get in touch with your interviewee and discuss when to meet up.
- Decide where you want to interview. Is it a good place to gather audio? Make reservations if needed.
- Post a one-paragraph work summary for the work you’ve done today on the discussion page via Wyocourses, including your answers to 1-4.
- Peer review: Comment on a peer’s interview questions and their interview plan by replying to a peer’s work summary post via Wyocourses.