Did you know that you can easily record audio interviews using just your phone and a video chat platform? It’s true! This post will give you all the information you need to make that happen.
First, make sure you have all the gear you’ll need. This includes:
A computer with internet access.
Headphones for your computer.
Your phone with a voice recorder (Apple users will have Voice Memo, Android users can download Rev Recorder, which is a free app that you can find on Google Play).
Some books. Yes, you read that right: books! Big, sturdy hardcovers recommended, if possible.
Here’s an overview of how this is going to work: You’ll be conducting the interview with your subject(s) through video chat on your computer, while simultaneously recording only your side of the conversation on your phone. The person(s) you’re connecting with via video chat will be using their phone to record only their audio Then when you’re all done, you’ll all share your audio files with the person who will be editing the interview for your podcast via either google drive (for larger files, i.e. longer conversations) or email (for small files/short conversations).
Now we’ll move on to the set up:
Make sure that the environment you’ll be recording in is as quiet a space as possible. If you have an office in your home or apartment, that might be the best place to record the interview. However, if the best place to record is at the dinner table - that works, too!
Once you’ve chosen the space you’ll be recording in, it’s time to grab those books. Stack the books next to your computer so that they come to the height of your mouth when you’re seated. This stack of books is your impromptu phone stand for the recording.
Make sure the books are to the height of your mouth, cutoff to one side of the computer
Place your phone on the book/phone stand with the part you normally would speak into facing you. For optimal recording, the phone should be positioned at a two or ten o’clock position relative to you and pointed toward your mouth.
You want to avoid having your phone directly in front of you so you don’t get distracting pops of breath in your recording.
IMPORTANT: Make sure your phone is set to airplane mode so you do not get any calls or texts or other notifications during your interview!
Next, make sure you have your headphones nearby. You don’t need them right now, but once you start recording, you’ll plug them into your computer’s headphone jack (not your phone’s headphone jack) to hear all the voices on your video chat call. This will also effectively block the other people’s voices from being heard in your space and ensure that your phone is capturing a clean recording of your voice only. (Each chat participant is essentially creating a separate sound booth to record their own individual audio track.)
Now you’re ready to connect with your interviewee though video chat. (By the way, if you don’t want to do the video part of the chat, you can choose to do audio only.) Once you’ve connected, make sure that you can hear each other.
Now each participant should pick up their phone and get it ready to record.
Preparing to record:
For Apple users, open Voice Memo and press the red record button.
For Android users who have Rev Recorder, open Rev Recorder and press the record button.
In both applications you’ll know you’re recording because you’ll see the waveform bounce as you speak.
Before you plug your headphones in and start your interview, it’s critical that either you or the person you’re talking to claps their hands three times. This will serve as an audio marker so that in post production the editor can easily sync the two audio files together. The reason you need to do this before you have your headphones plugged in is that once they’re plugged in, the other phone won’t pick up the three claps, making it more difficult to sync the files together. (It won’t be impossible to sync those files together, but it definitely won’t be as easy. So remember to clap for your editor and make their life easier!)
Once you’ve done your three claps, you can plug your headphones into your computer. Then enjoy a little moment of Zen. Seriously. Take twenty to thirty seconds and be completely silent. The silence, otherwise known as “room tone”, that you are recording will be important for the editor, who will be using a program that can remove that extra sound in the room from the audio file. And it also couldn’t hurt in terms of centering yourself for the interview. So go ahead and Zen out!
Now you’re ready to start the interview.
YOUR INTERVIEW HERE.
Once you’ve finished the interview, the next step is to share each of the recorded audio files with your editor. The easiest way is to email the audio files to the editor. (Note that if a file is too big, you’ll need to upload it to Google Drive first and then share it with them.) Here’s how you do that:
VOICE MEMO ON iPHONE
If you’re using an iPhone, go to Voice Memo, select the audio file you just recorded, and then press the three dots on the left. This will open a window that offers some different options including Share.
When you press Share, this gives you more options including message, email, Google Drive (if you’ve got Google Drive set up on your phone), as well as a bunch of others. Start by trying to email the file directly to the editor. As long as you didn’t record a two-hour interview, you should be able to send the audio file this way.
However if that didn’t work, try uploading the file to your Google Drive. To do this, follow all the same steps as if you were going to share the audio file through email, except on the last step, select Google Drive. When you do this, a new menu will pop up. Go to the bottom of the page and choose My Drive. Next, go to the “new folder” button in the upper right hand corner. Create a new folder for the interview with a simple title and the date, for example: U of MN_Mike Smith Intvw_4.7.20.
Now that folder is in your Google Drive and you can open it, either on your phone or laptop, and share it with whomever is editing the podcast.
REV RECORDER ON ANDROID PHONE
If you’re using Rev Recorder on an Android phone, you might be prompted to transcribe your audio file. You don’t need to do this to share your audio! (Rev is a fantastic transcription service that VIDGURU uses for all our closed captioning, but that’s a different post.)
Here’s what you do need to do: Select the audio file you just recorded, then select the Share icon in the upper right hand corner. You’ll see a bunch of icons pop up at the bottom of the screen. First, try to email your file directly through Gmail or whatever mail program you use. Unless you recorded a two-hour interview, this should be all you need to do.
However, If you did record a marathon interview and the file is too big to share through email, then upload the file to your Google Drive. Then follow all the same steps as if you were going to share the audio file through email, except on the last step, select Google Drive.
Now you’ll see that you have the option to change the title of your audio file. Next, a new menu will pop up. Go to the bottom of the page and choose My Drive. Then go to the “new folder” button in the upper right hand corner. Create a new folder with a simple title and the date, for example: U of MN_Mike Smith Intvw_4.7.20.
Whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, that’s all there is to it! Now it’s up to the editor to put all the audio files together and work their audio and storytelling magic! We’ll cover that in our next blog post!