Should you edit your podcast after you’ve recorded it, or mix everything together while you record? I’ll give you some pros and cons to consider.
As you know, post-production editing (which I’ll call “editing” from now on) takes a lot of time. It’s quite likely that it may take you several hours to edit a 30-minute audio recording; this could be even longer if you produce a video podcast.
There are essentially three reasons for editing.
- Enhance quality—noise removal, equalization (EQ), compression, color-correction, etc.
- Fix mistakes—deleting, moving, etc.
- Mix in extras—intro and outro, background audio, sound clips, B-roll footage, lower-thirds, segues, etc.
Each of these improve the overall presentation of your podcast and are often necessary. But doing all of these things after recording adds a lot of time between presentation and publication.
- Cheap (or even free)
- Easy to find help
- Total control over every detail
- Takes a lot of time
- Takes a lot of knowledge/learning
If you record “live to drive”—or “live mixing,” as I like to call it—then your workflow can be drastically simplified. But this simplification can come at a higher cost.
There are four main areas you would want to consider spending money in order to save time.
- Core quality—microphones and video cameras
- Abilities—mixers, extra devices, external recorders, and other accessories
- Enhancements—processors, lighting, studio setup, etc.
- Production—audio- and video-editors, plugins, etc.
Investing into each of these areas can save you from spending time fixing things.
- Fast production
- High quality from the start
- Smooth flow (with practice)
- Setup and forget
- Can be expensive
- Takes more time to setup in the first place
- Potentially lose some flexibility
Can you afford the time, or the money?
Consider a few common problems and how they could be solved with either time or money.
Audio or video quality
You could record with cheap equipment and then spend time enhancing everything to sound or look better. Or you could invest in high-quality equipment and get a great recording right from the source.
Also remember “garbage in, garbage out.” You can enhance garbage audio or video to be a little better, but it will never be anywhere close to high quality.
What can you do in your podcast?
You could use a cheap USB headset and scramble when you want to add a regular cohost (patching cables together, using software tools, or recording a double-ender). Or you could invest in a mixer and simply plug in an extra microphone whenever you need it.
You could use a single video camera to fake a multi-camera shot by pausing and reposition or zooming and losing quality. Or you could invest in a second camera and a video-switcher and never have to break your flow.
You could record into a computer and risk losing a recording or relying on a noisy computer. Or you could invest in an external audio recorder for simple (and even mobile) recording.
You could try to record at just the right time of day and weather for good lighting, or spend time trying to enhance the lighting and color in software. Or you could invest in some lighting to get a much nicer picture from the start.
You could record in just any room and have to spend time removing background noise or reverb. Or you could invest in some simple sound dampening
You could point your camera anywhere and either deal with a disgusting backdrop or spend time in fancy software making a virtual backdrop. Or you could setup an attractive studio or invest in a green-screen.
You could use an audio-editor to enhance your audio with EQ and compression. Or you could invest in a compressor/limiter/gate to prevent microphone crossing, record at consistent volume levels, and eliminate audio clipping.
You could struggle with free or cheap software to edit the way you want, and spend lots of time trying to make it do what you want it to do. Or you could invest in better software that does more for you or makes it simpler.
You could hack together different WordPress plugins (after spending time finding them) to get most of what you want, at a potential security or performance risk on your website. Or you could invest in a WordPress plugin that does it much better and easier.
Cheap, quick, and quality—pick two
We need to be reasonable. We can’t make a high-quality podcast quickly and for little money. I have chosen to make things as quick and high-quality as I can, but this comes as a higher investment.
When I first started podcasting, I chose to cheap and quality, but it would take me hours and hours to release a single episode.
Sometimes—I’ll admit it—I reach for cheap and quick/easy, but then the quality suffers.
Where are you with your podcast? What have you chosen to invest in or shortcut?
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