Monday, April 2, 2012...9:00 am

Podcasting week #1: preparation

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Journalists are increasingly being called upon to produce multimedia content, so, for the next couple of weeks, Freelance Unbound is all about podcasting, and video interviewing.

Former Granta editorial director and now freelance multimedia content producer George Miller is in the chair for a series of interviews, in which he shares some of his tips for getting the best out of a multimedia interview – in terms of technical preparation, equipment and interviewing skills.

Our interviews were conducted in Bath’s charming Coffee@Camden cafe – which is the cause of some of the ambient noise you’ll here (and sells excellent cupcakes). Any other sound issues are the result of my inept microphone handling.

1. Prepare your equipment

[powerpress]

Know your kit
Practice, practice, practice before you get into the interview. You want to feel comfortable and you want to make the interviewee feel comfortable, especially if they are unused to being interviewed. Know where you plug things in!

The technical side has to become second nature
Force yourself to sit down with the equipment and get to know it. Record members of your family and read the instruction manual properly. Don’t arrive at an interview under-prepared – you will get anxious, and your interviewee will become anxious.

Check your bag
Have a mental or – better – physical checklist and go through it twice. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the interview and realising you don’t have enough batteries or memory cards.

Check your location
When you arrive at a location, try to find the best place to record – where there is the least extraneous noise, and where you won’t be interrupted.

Carry out a sound test
Get the interviewee to chat about something innocuous. This helps put them at their ease and allows you to check the sound a level.

Use a tripod to hold the recorder in view
This lets you see the display properly so you can see how much time has elapsed. Know roughly how much you want to record before you start. You may record significantly more than you will use – but know what you are aiming for.

Use an external microphone
An internal microphone is lower quality and is less easy to direct at the sound source.

Use headphones to monitor the recording level
You might hear the sound of an aircraft more clearly using headphones than you would ‘live’. Using headphones gives you a chance to pause an interview to avoid the worst of the external sound.

Above all – keep calm

Next: choosing your rig – what equipment do you need? 

1 Comment

  • Good stuff. The list is mandatory and ensuring the interviewee is relaxed makes it a lot more relaxing for the interviewer. This is not Radio 4, with aggressive questioning and rude interruptions. It’s about building up the kind of reputation that means people want to talk with you. I can see this going further than cupcakes.