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Webcast Academy - web2learn Webcasters Report

My standard “rig” for webcasting is as follows: Hardware: iMac G4 desktop with 1Gb RAM, Logitech USB desktop Mic Software: Nicecast (for broadcasting and recording), Audacity and Garageband (editing), Skype (conference calls), iTunes (music broadcasting via Nicecast) The above rig is what I have found the most dependable to date. Even though my Mac has fairly good system specs, I find that it still tends to struggle when running Skype and Nicecast simultaneously. Using the web-based Skypecast facility definitely helps to reduce the load on system resources. I have initially had Nicecast recording the broadcast stream in MP3 format, but have since discovered that it can be set to record in AAC and some other formats too, so I will begin to experiment with recording in some of these other formats. I also have a PC at home and have just recently recorded a broadcast by making the PC a participant in the Skype call and recording that directly through the sound card into Audacity, just a matter of playing around in Audacity and Skype to get the source settings right, which usually doesn’t take too long to figure out. I initially experimented with the audio repeater software on the PC, but have since found I don’t really need it. My plan is to continue recording on a different machine from that which is broadcasting, so that the machine that is broadcasting has the maximum system resources available for the broadcasting work. The only real issue has been getting the audio into a format from Audacity that is friendly for Garageband to import, as I sometimes like to use Garageband for editing. Another problem that I have experienced with Garageband is that it will not import recorded audio that is over an hour in length, portions over an hour long have to be split into smaller portions before importing to Garageband. Even when editing MP3 recorded audio, there is not much degredation when exporting back to MP3 after editing. Having said that I am interested in capturing the broadcasts at the highest possible quality to reduce degredation as much as possible. I am currently experimenting with recording webcasts in a number of formats, including WAV, AAC and AIFF. I am also interested in trying to produce some enhanced podcasts, but time for editing is a factor. I also tend to not worry about “umms” in conversations, to me they often allow for natural pauses in the flow of a conversation. However if there are long silent pauses I do tend to edit those out, just to keep the audio flowing. Finally, I have experienced problems posting attachments to the Academy Drupal, so I instead upload to my own server space at Bluehost and link to any files from there. I have also found the code at this link for an audio player that I particularly like. It has a number of options for changing the appearance of the player and will also display data from the ID3 tags. Also, if the audio is stopped, it will resume from where it finished playing. My future plans for the Academy and webcasting are to learn how to configure the software required for PC webcasting, so that I can provide support to interns on both platforms. I also plan to begin using screencasting to provide training resources for interns and for other web 2.0 tools that I’m providing training on elsewhere. Thanks again to Jeff, Dave and Doug for the great support they have provided during my time as an intern.

blog | by Dr. Radut