In the first of our new series Digital-IALS, Lindsey Caffin looks at what you need to podcast from home.
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
There is a great disturbance in the Force. Working from home during the current pandemic is presenting us all with challenges, some good, some bad. Amongst all your other tasks, you have been asked to focus on that new podcast series which you have been thinking about for ages. But hang on. The university buildings are closed. The AV equipment is locked away; IT support are valiantly underpinning the university’s digital network so your podcast series is way down their list of priorities. What can you do? Well, pretty much everything. From production to publishing, all you need to create a good quality podcast is,
- An idea
- A laptop, PC, tablet. Or even your mobile phone
- A Quiet Place
- A platform for your podcast series
So, if you yearn to channel your inner Orson Welles or Greta Gerwig, now is the time.
“Is it a bird? Is it a plane?”
First things first, what exactly is a podcast? Podcasts have moved on from the original downloadable audio only recordings; nowadays podcasts are comprised of video as well as audio content but still retain that essential element of serialization. Podcasts can be discursive or instructional; as short as ten minutes or as long as 60.
“Technology gets better everyday. That’s fine.”
Before you can even begin, gather together your equipment. This will determine how what you can achieve. First, decide what you will use for recording. Take a look at your device. Most laptops come with a camera and microphone which give good quality recording, but you may want to use something else, like a tablet or even a phone. You might like to purchase an external microphone to improve sound quality. Second, take a look at the software. For screen recording, you can use built-in apps or download free from app stores or the Internet. Our IALS Guide to Podcasting has some handy hints and tips on software. If you need to edit your podcast (and you will) look at the media software that comes with your device. Windows has a built-in video editor app while Macbook comes with iMovie. Alternatively, take a look at what your university provides. If you have access to video capture software then use it. And remember, ask your friendly digital and audio specialist at your university if they are happy edit your podcast. Why reinvent the wheel. It’s important to feel comfortable with whatever you are using. For example, if you have always used Microsoft’s Powerpoint to record your presentations or have never used anything but iMovie, keep on using it, don’t change just for the sake of it.
“I want to be alone.”
Next stake your claim to a nice quiet spot to construct your pop-up Podcasting studio. It is worth hunting out or creating that peaceful space to work. While total silence isn’t guaranteed, improvise with throws or cushions to deaden any sound.
“There’s no place like home.”
Lastly, where will your podcast series live? Almost all universities will have some sort of hosting facility, be it internal or 3rd party. Check it out first. If you want independence there are a variety of services to choose from, but remember, free hosting may come with penalties; for example time limits, no statistics or no RSS feed, essential if you want to use iTunes or Google Play.
“Let’s make a plan, it’ll be fun!”
So, you’ve worked out what you want to do and why you want to do it. You’ve focussed on what you want and can achieve, and the tech is all sorted. You even have a home for your podcast series. The next step: the Plan.
Plan out each podcast, if necessary, write a short script or introduction. It will be worth it.
If your podcast series has guest speakers, get their permission and if you can, show them the podcast before you publish and be prepared to edit at their request. This also applies if you want to demo a website or data source. Don’t just assume because it is out there on the web, you can use it.
An obvious one, but practice first. The last thing you want is hesitation or a shaky screen cast.
Creating a series from scratch may take a lot longer than you think so factor in the time. Even the simple act of recording can present problems, particularly if you are using screen casting to demonstrate a website or database.
“If you build it, he will come.”
Don’t forget to promote, after all you have invested time and effort into creating what you hope is a useful and informative broadcast. If your aim is to build a following around the podcast topic, then use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or even write a blog post to promote.
And remember, while your podcast series is your current precious, it is just the start. After all, you could be recommissioned for a second series.
Lindsey Caffin is a Principal Library Assistant, part of the IALS Digital Team at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. As you can see, she is rather fond of the cinema.
All film quotes courtesy of The American Film Institute, The Independent and Movie Quotes website.