16. December 2013 · Comments Off on On recording audio · Categories: My personal learning journey, video

""If you’re new to audio recording for tutorials or video voice overs, or, like me, you’re always looking for ways to refine your practice, here are some practices and preparations I’ve found to be useful:

General advice

  • Record everything on the same day with only short breaks.
  • Be conversational. Pick one person to talk to and talk to him or her. If you sound like you’re reading, you’re going to bore your audience.
  • If you fluff a line, start at the beginning of the paragraph/scene and start again. Vocal quality and intonations change every time you read – you cannot just drop a sentence into the middle of a paragraph after the fact and have it sound like it belongs there.
  • Give three seconds of silence before and after everything you record.

Recording environment

  • Find a quiet room with a low ceiling and lots of drapes, carpeting and soft furnishings to record in.

 If recording straight to computer

  • The easiest to use audio recording software is also free – Audacity.

 If using a mic on a stand

  • use the highest quality USB mic possible. Many laptops now take a single plugin like a mobile phone earpiece so pin mics don’t function well if at all with them.

If you cannot get a room as above

  • grab a couple of sofa cushions and put them in a V behind the mic being used. Ensure the mic stand is resting on something soft so it doesn’t pick up desk vibrations.

 If using a lapel mic

  • the very best thing to wear is a soft t-shirt with no jewellery – especially no necklaces, bangles or jangly earrings.


If using a Toshiba Satellite laptop, to charge it up before and NOT try to record with it plugged into power as Toshies plugged in can cause issues.

If using a camera to record the audio

  • If not using a tripod, ensure the camera body is resting on something soft.
  • Position yourself with your back up against a wall. If you can get those aforementioned sofa cushions and can put them behind you to deaden sound, all the better.
  • If using the mic off the camera, see if you can adjust the mic’s “cardiod” pattern. Some cameras allow you to narrow the focus of the mic to cut down on background noise.


  • Get a copy stand for whatever it is you’re reading – like the ones used for typing . I use my computer’s second monitor.
  • Read through a few times and mark up script to allow for pauses, breaths, word combinations giving you trouble, etc.
  • Hit record and say nothing for 30 seconds. Play back and eliminate what background noise you can. If the volume of the background noise increases during your recording, chances are you may have “auto gain” on. This pumps up quiet sound. Turn it off. Record your 30 seconds of silence again.
  • Record the opening few sentences and ensure that you’re not recording too “hot” (loud and distorted) or too low. Adjust volume, seating positing, etc.
  • Check that you have adequate “pop” and sibilance barriers or strategies.  Record the following sentences “Sammy the snake confesses his desire to see some sea snakes.  Then “Popcorn, big boy, peanuts, people.” Play it back and adjust. If you have a pop filter, ensure it isn’t touching the mic. If you don’t, back away from the mic.
  • Once you’ve adjust for background noise, sibilance and popping and you’ve checked all your levels, start recording. 
  • Record in coherent chunks or scenes.
  • Drink a small bit of water after recording each scene. Avoid milky, viscous drinks.
  • Play back what you’ve recorded and fix any errors before going on to the next scene. Label as you go.
  • When you are finished, save your work.
  • If you take a break, take a mental note of where you were in relation to the mic before you get up.
  • When you return from a break (even a short one), play back your earlier recording to pick up the rhythm and timbre of your work so that you can match it.
  • Record a test phrase and compare it to your earlier work.
  • Save as you go.
  • If you do multiple takes, mark on your script which bits you did second and third takes for. Say what your favourite one is.
  • Play back the finished recordings in sequence to ensure it sounds like one piece, that all scenes match in terms of pace, quality, timbre, pitch, etc.
14. March 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: video, W3C

YouTube’s Close Captioning results in word salad – but it’s easy to fix. Here is a pictorial on it – it’s not pretty, but hope it’s useful. Needed to do this in a hurry:

Step 1: Run Captions, let YouTube do its thing. When finished, play again and see result. Click Edit Captions and Subtitles.
Step 1, click CC and let captions run, when finished, click edit captions

Step 2:  Click The pencil to view the machine transcription

Edit the existing caption by clicking pencil icon

Step 3: I don’t bother editing here – I like to edit in my own software. Click the download button.
Don't bother editing online, click download

Step 3b. Download and save the SVB file.
Save as SVB file
Step 4. Edit the file in a plain text editing program like Notepad or  I use Notepad ++. Save it.

Edit text in text editor like Notepad or Notepad ++
Step 5: Upload your file 
Click button to add subtitles
and name it
Choose file, upload, give it a name
Step 6: Disable the YouTube word salad track
Disable the YouTube Word Salad track and enable your new caption. Done!

Step 7: Tweak colours and backgrounds
Click CC to bring up menu to format captions

09. February 2012 · Comments Off on YouTube video editing · Categories: video

I love the new video tweaking/editing functions on YouTube.

Today I produced a tutorial on how to configure a headset with microphone on Windows 7 because I couldn’t find any out there and our students need support in this.

I created the video with no sound, uploaded it and then once YouTube finished processing it, I could ‘Swap audio’ and pick a soundtrack. The ones offered were within 10 seconds of the length of my video. I couldn’t choose when to start and stop the audio, but for a quick fix it was okay and I found something I liked.

I then realised I forgot to trim the ending of my video. Rather than having to delete, edit, upload – YouTube now has a handy, dandy trim feature. Lovely!

07. August 2011 · Comments Off on HTML5 – Why I couldn’t see it in IE9 and why Windows XP users never will · Categories: e-learning design, HTML5, Technologies, video

Download an MP3 file (2.4 MB) to listen to this blog post: HTML5 goodness

Or, browser willing, play it back here:

A few posts ago I was po’ed at IE 9 because I couldn’t see video captions or HTML 5 content. Neither could my husband.

Before you recommend other browsers, yes – I use other browsers. The students whose lives I am trying to make easier use Internet Explorer (or Internet Exploder as some like to call it). So I look at what I create for them through their eyes.

Today, my hubby figured out why our bright shiny new IE 9 browsers were not able to see HTML 5 goodies.

Internet Explorer 9 has web developer tools you can display by either clicking the F12 key on your keyboard or by going up to your settings menu (cog in far top right corner) and selecting F12 developer tools.

More »

26. July 2011 · Comments Off on YouTube captioning · Categories: My personal learning journey, video

I’ve been researching YouTube’s captioning abilities as part of research I’m doing into Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)  compliance for the organisation for which I work.

Under the WCAG 2.0 standards set out by the W3C (an international consortium looking to set out standards for accessibility for web sites and content), there are four principles of accessibility. Anyone who wants to use the web must have content that is:

  1. Perceivable. It cannot be invisible to all their senses.
  2. Operable. It cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform.
  3. Understandable. Information and operation must be understandable.
  4. Robust. Content must be able to be interpreted by a wide range of technologies and user agents.

Under each of these principles are guidelines that help to address issues for people with cognitive and physical disabilities. Under the guidelines are success criteria that describe in detail what must be done to meet the guidelines that support the principle.

Under the category of perception is the success criteria pertaining to pre-recorded audio and video. 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded): Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labelled as such. This is base level compliance with WCAG 2.0 guidelines.

To understand how YouTube’s captioning might help us, I did an experiment.

I chose an old video of mine and asked YouTube to attempt a machine capture. It did.

Then I watched the video with captions. They were waaaay off.

But I was able to download the caption file, edit it and upload it again.

It was in .sbv format, but I was able to open, edit it and save it using Notepad ++.

Here is a sample of the YouTube generated captioning:


they call a woman who has spent gifted

and creative design

and it’s someone who is overly generous
with her time in their knowledge

scholar landlady or george okay

on the joan k or join an italian realign


horrendously islands of g_a_t_t_ a
in second life and uh… has been an

educational designer and programmer

and all over again corral uh… for andone half mile and stan

when i interviewed her for a podcastaround and


consented to be in view about september
but she said i had to come in and i had

to experience it for myself

so i couldn’t karen on cocktail is asecond life

And here is the video with the corrected captioning. To view the captions, click play and then, click on CC on the video control bar. Notice that the title of the caption file appears at the start of the video.

Note to self: Sony Vegas 10 can do captioning via a text file transcript broken into caption sized chunks and using markers. Watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD5jcdLEp3I

Adobe Captivate advises users to create captions manually:

(Excerpt from Adobe Captivate Help)

??For users with hearing impairment, add text equivalents for audio elements. For example, when delivering narrative audio, it is important to provide captions at the same time. One option is to place a transparent caption in a fixed location on slides, then synchronize the text with the audio using the Timeline…