Teaching Audio, part 11 -- Raising Your Game


EXCELLENCE IN AUDIO

In terms of raising your game, going for enterprise features, really becoming an expert at a beat, it's essential to have a strong backbone of ethics in your audio reporting. Here's a chapter from the NPR guidebook on fairness. It's not a bad idea to also look into NPR's guidelines for honesty, accuracy, and respect. Here's a chapter from the same handbook on excellence in reporting. While you are it you can read the whole handbook. You also want to really refine your storytelling ... tease, have twists, surprises, character development, an unfolding story to tell in addition to the informational and audio poetry you are producing. Ira Glass on storytelling is a good series to listen to ... here's one part of it ....



LOVING THE AUDIO CRAFT

Here's a behind the scenes, process, how you make the sausage type, mini-doc on an NPR political reporter who loves his job. It also compares him with print and web reporters.



A SUMMARY OF AUDIO TIPS

Here's a condensed summary of some of my tips for producing great audio stories ...

My Eight Absolutes

Always wear headphones (watch out for bad, scratchy, high audio, also wind is evil so bring foam for your recorder), never go too hot with your audio, if using an audio recorder always record in .wav, always start your day with fresh batteries and empty disks, always record at least 30 seconds of nat sounds continuously, nat sound is broll for each character and sense of place so always record with a story purpose, eliminate audio distractions especially for intvws, and lastly take your time collecting good audio, you won't regret it ...

More Tidbits

Audio is not just a technical issue, if you get into it, it can become an art form ....

NAT SOUNDs .... subjects .... dress them up / dress them down analogy ... dress your subject up with the nat sounds that surround them / lay them bare in the interview when they tell you their deepest thoughts ...

AVOID cliche nat sounds like ... mosque in Middle East, crying babies at refugee centers ....

Identify distinct, rich sounds that are on location, and go get them as close to the source of the sound as possible, and stay on the sound without making any of your own noises to record 30 seconds / even 45 seconds ...

Show and tell is really good too with a subject, and if there's something specifically audio rich on tour stop there and get that audio closeup for 40 seconds .

Take your time ... you went all the way out there ... no shortcuts ... think what good audio can I get from this place where I am right now ....

Always record with a purpose .... don't quit halfway into recording ... always that 30-40 seconds of what you are getting .....

As backup get ... room tomes, kitchen, work area, atmospheric tones, background noise to a place ... one minute ... before or after interviews get that room tone... very useful in editing to smoothen everything out ....

Before you go on recording trip think in your head or write on a notepad bucketlist of sounds you want ....



SUMMARY OF INTERVIEW TIPS ....

interview inside a car is best spot ... you can do it in a spot with accompanying sound / background sound but not too much ...

turn cells phones off ... get subject's full attention ...

don't let equipment get in the way ...

take control of interview ... but also let those awkward pauses run ... interviewees might jump in and say something interesting ....

there are informational questions and get a good answer questions ... play dumb, ask same question over and over, coach answer if it's too jargony .... don't make any noise whatsoever during answers ....

remember to always have good mic placement ...

end of intvw ask if subject has anything else they want to talk about ... could open up new themes ... even a new, more interesting angle ...



ALWAYS THINK IN TERMS OF AUDIO

Always think in terms of story, sounds and scenes. Cast your characters, and pursue only the best ones. This can be done on the phone or when meeting possible subjects. Imagine, storyboard in your head a best case scenario and what answers, stories, sounds you will be getting. Go with the flow and allow yourself to be surprised and go in new directions. Get to your destination early, get broll additional audio, start recording before you are in contact with subjects, so you get hellos, car parking, nat sounds for a scene ... the same goes after the interview ends, keep rolling for the goodbyes, people leaving, doors closing, tires screeching ....

IMMEDIATELY AFTER RECORDING

check it's all there before leaving scene ... mark down what you got ... example: track 1 cow mooing .... track 2 cutting firewood .... track 3 interview .... 2"00 of track 3 really good quote about drought conditions and local farming ....

let everything sit in your head for a while ...

when it's ready to come to the surface it will and you won't need to look at any notes, the story will compose itself with the audio made up of nats and interviews as the backbone ....



If you found this tutorial useful, check out other installments. Here's the full list of chapters from my audio tutorials:

Teaching Audio -- Instilling Passion

Teaching Audio part 1 -- Recording Audio

Teaching Audio part 2 -- Writing for the Ear

Teaching Audio part 3 -- Audio Editing

Teaching Audio part 4 -- Sound Effects, Using Music and Audio Libraries

Teaching Audio part 5 -- Anchor Leads, News Writing, Judgment and Features

Teaching Audio part 6 -- Voicing

Teaching Audio part 7 -- On the Scene Reporting

Teaching Audio part 8 -- Interviews

Teaching Audio part 9 -- Newscasts and Stacking the News


Teaching Audio part 10 -- Commercials

Teaching Audio part 11 -- Raising Your Game

Teaching Audio part 12 -- Podcasting Intro

Teaching Audio part 13 -- Window Dressing

Teaching Audio part 14 -- Podcast Lists

Teaching Audio part 15 -- Big Podcasts, Little City

Teaching Audio part 16 -- Listening to Podcasts and Publishing your Own

Teaching Audio, part 17 -- Joining Podcast Communities

Teaching Audio, part 18 -- Podcasting for PR

Teaching Audio, part 19 -- Promoting Your Podcast

Teaching Audio, part 20 -- Making Money in Podcasting

Teaching Audio, part 21 -- Building a Career in Audio

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