Which Approach To Podcasting Editing Is Right For You?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to podcast editing. How you go about postproduction depends on the kind of show you want to produce. Do you want it to sound polished and professional, meeting the standards of well known broadcasters? Or are you looking to create a more informal or raw vibe? Maybe you’re looking to move your audience emotionally, or wish to make use of strong music and FX resources?
Here’s a rundown of some of the different approaches to editing you can adopt.
If you’re looking to produce a podcast that would seem at home on BBC Sounds, you’ll need to put some serious hours into the edit. Getting audio to professional broadcast standards involves a lot of small micro edits and treatment.
First there’s the question of speech disfluency – ums, ahs, y’knows, and general stuttering and hesitation. The more you edit, the more you’ll also notice how often people fail to finish their sentences. It can be incredible how much easier it is on the listener, and how much sharper your podcast sounds, when you remove these.
It will be a frustratingly slow process when you first get going but will become easier as your skills develop and you become more savvy at spotting those ‘umm’ blobs on the waveform. But it’s an important example of not religiously sticking to a rule: sometimes too much cutting up of audio can make it sound disjointed and strange, making the listener conscious of your edit points.
You’ll also want to consider how much treatment you want to apply to the audio itself. Do you have a stereo recording that would sound better in mono? Is there a background tone that you wish to remove? Do you need to even out the levels of your speakers?
Your DAW will likely have native plugins for such treatment, or you could go shopping from online retailers such as Waves Audio. But tread carefully: it’s a delicate process, and over treating your audio can take the depth and quality away from the vocals.
If your podcast is along the lines of a one-on-one interview, a key decision to make is whether you want it to be a warts and all reflection of the conversation you’ve had, or if you prefer to give your audience more of a highlights package. The advantage to the latter approach is you’re a lot more likely to retain the attention of your listener: by losing weaker content and pushing the strong bits, you show your podcast in its best possible light.
You’ll also want to think about the order in which you present it. There’s nothing that says your final edit has to reflect the exact order in which it was recorded – maybe there’s a particularly strong section that would work well further towards the start, or a brilliant impactful statement that would round it off perfectly. But be careful that anything you’re moving still makes sense and doesn’t make another section confusing!
Rough and ready
Perhaps you want your podcast to come across as particularly informal, treating your audience like a mate rather than someone you’re desperate to impress. Most appropriate for chatcasts with an emphasis on laughter and wisecracks, this is where you can afford to adopt a light touch approach to the edit.
If you set the expectation from the start that the audience is dropping in on a friendly chat, then they’re less likely to be bothered by ums or the occasional talking over one another. They’ll tolerate the background hum of a fridge or even an interruption from your dog.
Obviously the big advantage of this approach is a huge amount of time saved. However, I would always encourage giving it at least a once over rather than just dropping the raw file. There’s no point in leaving in sections where no one can hear what’s going on, or where there’s outages caused by tech issues – this just makes for a frustrating listen and makes you seem amateur. More importantly maybe you’ll notice something said that could land you in trouble!
The distinction between editing and sound design is an important one. Simple interview podcasts or chatcasts just require an editor, but producers of narrative documentaries or audio fiction will want to work with a sound designer as well (who may or may not be the same person as the editor).
The sound designer is expected to use techniques that cue up the listener’s emotions. This is a role that requires nimble use of SFX and music, and a creative approach to fades and panning. You can really make a podcast sing when you introduce archive audio or a sound collage.
But it’s important to avoid overproduction, using such techniques for the sake of it. Always ask yourself: does this bring any benefit to the listener? Am I really improving the original? Have I used this technique already, and will the audience grow weary of it?
Keep an open mind
Of course you shouldn’t restrict yourself to just one of these – you will likely find your editing style is a blend of such approaches. Take your time, and eventually you’ll settle on a podcast editing method that works for your show. And if you decide podcast editing isn’t for you, give GLProUK a call!
Simon Watson, Operation Manager, GLProUK
GLProUK is a digital marketing agency based in London and Surrey, helping market-leading brands fulfil their content requirements. We bring a passion for innovation to our podcasts, graphic design, professional video and photography, tailoring our expertise and enthusiasm to the unique aspects of your project.
We believe in making the client experience as easy as possible, whether we’re developing a full marketing strategy, fulfilling your production brief, supplying a production crew or offering post-production services.
Visit our website here.