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JOURNALISTS' RESOURCE CENTRE: technical advice


Minidisc and DAT recorders are preferable to cassette. Please DO NOT record in long play mode.

Take care to set the right recording level on your recorder. Too low a level gives a hissy recording, too high will result in distortion. Check the level with a test of the real material – reading the actual script or asking your interviewee a question – don’t just say “testing, one, two”! Always make a test recording, then play it back to check the quality.

Unless you feel that stereo recording is important to your piece, it might be better to use a mono microphone for interviews. It makes editing a lot easier.

It is often desirable to have a bit of background effects on a spoken piece on location (eg “Here in busy downtown Lagos …”), or on certain interviews, but too much background noise can make it unusable. Make a test recording to check. To reduce background noise, get your microphone closer to the voice and reduce the recording level accordingly.

It might be appropriate to have vox-pops or short interviews in a busy place, but for longer interviews always take the person to somewhere quiet.

Collect sound effects where you are recording. Try to collect five sounds even though they might not seem relevant – your script might be able to justify them. So if you’re reporting on health care, record in a hospital and get plenty of trollies, footsteps, doctors discussions, nurses discussions, cleaners, porters, bleeping, doors, sirens, ambulances drawing up, and so on.

You only need to send us the rough assembly of your chosen clips and we will do all the fine editing and mixing. If in doubt, it’s better to send us the original raw material with a marked-up script showing tracks and time codes of your chosen clips.

If you do copy your original recordings to another recorder or a computer for editing or assembly, make sure that you set the right levels again, otherwise you can spoil the quality. If possible, leave five seconds of background effects or room atmosphere at the end of each clip you create.

For a professional-sounding piece, perhaps the most important thing is the recording quality of your presenter “links”. If they are not deliberately written as being on location, they should sound clean and clear with no obvious background. Choose a quiet room, away from any background noise such as traffic, air conditioning or computers. A room with soft furnishings is much better than an empty, one with hard surfaces, which will sound too reverberant. Close the windows. If there are curtains, close them. Use the microphone about 20cms from your mouth. Make a test recording, then check the quality.

RECORDING AND EDITING SOFTWARE

There are many commercial, shareware (cheap), and free audio editing programs available. A good place to start looking is , and a good free option is Audacity (). Commercial programs will create their own MP3 files, while free programs may not. To do this you can search  for free encoders. Cdex () is a good one for PC users. To upload to the IWR site you may need an FTP program. Once again, there are several free ones at . CoffeeCup is a good one ().

MINIMUM AUDIO SPECIFICATIONS FOR IWR

Sampling Rate – 44.1Khz

KBPS – 128kbps

Stereo

MP3 (please not MP2)

 
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