Killer Interviewing Tips for Podcasters, Part 2
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4

Moving Questions Around

A well-produced interview presents a smooth arc of information. The answers follow logically within the context of the story being presented. However, that's not always the way it works out as you're recording. Often the interviewer will remember a question, or the interviewee will offer more information about a previous question. Both will necessitate re-ordering the questions. Figure 8 shows the interview before and after the question is moved.

Fig. 8: Moving a Question

Figure 8. The highlighted audio in the top window is a question I want to move to earlier in the interview. The bottom window shows the audio after the question is moved.

Again, you need to tread a fine ethical line with these types of edits. In this case I had asked the interviewee to talk about his product. He started with a customer-centric pitch. I then asked about deployment. Then I asked about a customer-use case. Then I asked another question about deployment. To fix the disconnect, I moved the third question after the first question so that both of the customer questions came first, then both of the questions about deployment. That way the interview just flowed better.

Creating Smooth Transitions

Earlier I spoke about recording some ambient room noise before getting into your interview. Here is why. Often you will want to have a short studio segment that introduces the interview. That segment is going to have significantly less noise and better quality than the interview segment. Without any editing there will be a jarring transition between the clean studio sound and the relatively noisy interview.

The top track in Figure 9 shows a multitracked interview segment that starts with a studio sound and ends with a noisy bit of interview. The bottom track, which plays simultaneously, has a small segment of background noise. I used a volume envelope in Audacity to lower the level of the noise when the noisy interview segment begins and then increase it at the end, smoothing the transition.

Fig. 9: Adding Ambience

Figure 9. Using a volume envelope to mix background noise (bottom) with a too-clean voiceover (top).

The effect is subtle, but it eases the listener's mind. This technique works best when you're using studio-produced content in conjunction with audio from the field.

Working Interview Content into a Story

In some podcasts the interview will act as supporting material rather than the central theme. To work segments of an interview into a podcast you will need to multitrack your recording.

Figure 10a shows the container segment. Figure 10b shows the sound bite I want to insert; note that it's about 11 seconds longer than the silent gap in Figure 10a. In Figure 10c, I have opened up the gap in the original file wide enough to hold the audio I want to insert. For clarity, I pasted the sound bite into a separate track, but I could have pasted it directly into the gap.

Fig. 10a: Container Segment

Figure 10a. The recorded story segment, with a gap for an interview sound bite.

Fig. 10b: The Sound Bite to Insert

Figure 10b. The interview fragment I want to insert.

Fig. 10c: The Multitrack Composite

Figure 10c. The final multitrack mix.

To keep it straight as to who is saying what, I renamed the tracks "story" and "interview." You can name them whatever you like to keep it straight as to what channel is holding what audio.

If the sound quality of the story segment varies greatly from the quality of the interview, I suggest you use the "Creating Smooth Transitions" trick to even out the audio.

If you intend to use several fragments from a fairly long interview, I recommend using a notepad to jot down the start and end times of each fragment you need to extract. Then put notations for where each fragment should go in your story script.

Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4

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