There are a lot of podcasts out there where the hosts are not in the same room. Some are not even in the same state or even country. “Skyping in a podcast” is one way to have guests and hosts on a show. There are also other great options for audio and video podcasts that could improve quality.
With my show This Week in Google Glass, co-host Luke Wallace is in Texas while I’m in Wisconsin. Every week we connect up and record with minimal issue. Especially nowadays when there are multiple ways to connect and communicate. Here are some options for you to get guests or even get quality audio/video from a streaming host.
Before You Podcast:
Check the Bandwith for Podcasting
Test Internet speed before podcasting
Before we get into this, make sure you have enough bandwidth to stream audio or video. Audio only services require less bandwidth – Video connections work best if your Internet upload is 1.5 MB or greater. Video also gets trickier – higher bandwidth can mean multiple causes for failure. Also, don’t download or upload anything else while you are hosting or being a host / guest. If the kids are watching TV, you might want to ask them not to use streaming services like Netflix or Hulu during the show. Stay away from the Hotel bandwidth unless you know it’s reliable. Hotels nowadays have upgraded their networks to give you a better experience, but it could once again depend on who in the hotel is on Netflix or who is trying to Skype or Facetime call their loved ones.
Close Programs that Could Cause Conflict
Make sure you’ve turned off any services on your computer that could conflict and slow your network. Close apps in the toolbar, system tray and more. For a Mac, command-tab and close out programs. Services like Dropbox should also be closed – especially if you share a dropbox with another user.
Don’t Move too Much!
Sounds weird, right? The more you move in your video, the more bandwidth it takes. With a static background, the video doesn’t have to “redraw” that area – only the areas of movement. So if you have an active background, you might want to move somewhere else.
Your Mixer for the Podcast – Mix-Minus
Connecting to Skype
One reason why I like my Alesis MultiMix8 is because of the Mix-minus option. I can bring all microphone and auxiliary audio (like the Skype audio) into the board and each has their own outputs. With an active gate and compressor on the channels, we all can hear each other without any squelches, squeals or background noise. With that said, let’s look at some of the ways we can connect and create podcasts.
The “Everyone Records” Method
Some podcasts used to do this technique – which you can still do but it will take some time to sync things up. Simply put – everyone records their own audio or video. Since the connections of some streaming hosts could be diminished (bandwidth issues or program restrictions), recording at everyone’s computer creates multiple files in which one person would gather and turn into a higher-quality show. To do this, you need to start with a marker. One way to do that is have everyone count from 5 to 1, then clap your hands.
5… 4… 3… 2… 1… CLAP!
This becomes the audio guide for the person splicing it all together. They align the tracks and then remove the guide.
This has been the most popular way to get a host or guest on a show. Since Skype is also a One-on-One service for the most part, people have made multiple-Skype machines to bring in different guests. Most popular is Leo Laporte’s Skyposaurus. His 4-computer Skype machine allowed him to bring guests on from all over the country. I don’t believe the Skypasaurus is still around since the move into the Brickhouse a couple years back. The crew does move TVs into place to bring others into a conversation – and they do use Skype as a medium from time to time. Here is TWiT’s config of the Skypeasaurus. You definitely don’t need to make a multi-Skype machine to bring in guests nowadays. It does make for a good showpiece.
Skype Ducking Issue
One problem podcasters experience with Skype is a “Ducking” issue. Basically, when you speak over them, their audio will lower – or duck under your audio. IAIB has an article how to fix ducking.
Google Hangout Podcasting
Since the introduction to Google Hangouts (and the even important Hangouts Live option), people have created podcasts and YouTube videos through this medium. Everyone jumps into a hangout and someone hits record. You can have up to 10 people in one hangout and you can even record it all straight to YouTube. Luke Wallace joins me on TWIGG through a Hangout. When we have other guests, they will also join us via that option.
Problems with Podcasting via Google Hangout
Some downfalls include Hangout VBR (Variable Bit Rate) which means the quality can get really bad for a few seconds if network problems. It’s very rare that you get dropped connections, though. Also, if you are constantly switching between guests, Google will have a ramp-up video quality. This means the first second or two can look really pixelated or blurry. Once the video stabilizes, the quality comes through. The audio is still CD quality unless you have the “Studio” option. This makes the hangout prioritize the audio for a CD quality sound.
Facetime for Podcasts
While only an Apple product, you can easily use Facetime for podcasts in audio or video. with the right software you can send to any audio or video recording software for improved quality. Only issue is Facetime’s portrait video frame.
Webcam Recording Software
If you have a Logitech Camera, you can download Logitech Vid HD. This software will allow one-on-one calls. You contact via win
Other Connection Services
If you are doing audio only and don’t want to mix sound too much, then Free Conference Call HD might be a good answer. *9 will allow for you to record the call, or just record it using your own audio software.
TWiT used Vidyo at first while at the brickhouse, but had connection problems. I have talked to Vidyo a couple times and really like thier features for web conferencing. Keep in mind – this is a paid service.
Another paid service I have used is called Watchitoo. They do cater to higher-end broadcast companies to bring in guests, but they are also a conference meeting company.
My friend Andy McCaskey uses Zoom for his video conferences. They have a free account that allows up to 25 people into a 40 minute meeting. However you can also have unlimited meetings. The Business version is pretty low-priced for a SMB.
With that said, I do have to also talk about Citrix GoToMeeting with HD faces. It can be perfect for anyone doing a screencast podcast. You can record straight from the program, then download and post-process. We have done that with our TechPodcasts Roundtables.
There are many other options out there for conferencing, one-on-one interviews and more. I have seen people create podcasts using shoe-string options, setting up IP camera connections to control their own settings and more. What do you use