The $10 Sound Booth

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Do you – like many podcasters – record in less-than-ideal situations? I know I record the voiceovers for Boston Behind the Scenes in my plaster-walled apartment right near a running refrigerator!

At first, I was getting an echo-y sound, but then inspiration struck:

What does a sound booth have? No refrigerators, that’s for sure, but it also has padded walls. Now, I wasn’t going to go spend hundreds of dollars on sound-deadening foam, but I did have a big squishy thing that was worth a shot: a body pillow. I wrap it around the back of my head with the two ends sticking forward. I lean over the microphone, close the ends in as far as I can without getting in the way of what I’m doing, and record. The results are quite amazing!

All of this for as little as $10.


The Release Form

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As podcasters, we (hopefully) know all about the copyright issues surrounding distributing “copyrighted works”
over the internet. Or at least we think we do:

Did you know that someone you interview for your show owns the copyright on their responses to your questions? That means that you should have permission to use their words. To do this, you need some kind of release. In a lot of cases, this would mean a legal document they would have to read and sign — but for most people, that’s too much (it will scare them away).

So, a way around this is a verbal release. In other words, if you record the person saying it is alright to use their responses, you have a form of release. According to the Creative Commons Podcasting Legal Guide:

As an interviewer, you should make sure the interviewee agrees to the interview, your adaptation of their responses (assuming you intend to adapt them) and to the inclusion of their responses in your podcast and the circulation of your podcast on the terms you choose. In many interview scenarios, you may have an implied license to use the materials, but it safest to get your interviewee’s written consent or (at minimum) record the interviewee’s verbal consent before you use the interview in your podcasts.

I found this in the guide and adapted it to create a little card that I hand to the person and ask them to read:

My Release


Quick Recording Primer

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• Avoid noisy spaces for interviews — unless you really want the ambient sound.
• Plug headphones into the recorder to monitor while recording.
• Hold the microphone 4-12 inches from the subject’s mouth.
• Position microphone to the side of the subject’s mouth to avoid popping.

If you don’t have anything prepared to ask, talk to you subject a little beforehand. Find out what they would like to talk about. If all else fails, you can always ask:

“What did you think this was going to be like before you started, and then what was it really like?”

You’re guaranteed to get a story!

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© 2010 Adam Weiss: Podcast Consultant