The Multi-track Recording Studio in Your Pocket
(unless you bought an iPhone 6 plus).
Voddio is an iOS app that runs on iPhones and iPads. It allows you to record interviews, sound effects and links and then mix them into a ‘package’. It’s a multi-track editor – like a cut down version of Adobe Audition. The iPhone version allows 3 tracks to be mixed while the iPad version has 6 tracks. As the name of the app suggests it can also be used to create an A&B roll video package with mixed audio underneath it. Voddio costs £6.99 (it’s free to download and try but you need to pay for the ability to ‘share’ or export your audio or video).
The Old Days
Radio stations used to have lots of staff. There were reporters who went out to report. Producers who produced and news editors. Now there are fewer staff but just as many hours to fill. That’s where Voddio comes in.
The Status Quo
Reporters are sent out to report on things. They carry a “flash mic” or digital recorder with them. Or an iPhone. They gather far too much material and have to come back to the studio to edit it. Of course, there isn’t a studio available – nor time to work in one – so they end up topping and tailing their interview and dropping the finished audio into the running order. The producer is so busy trying to fill the 18 other slots in the programme they don’t bother listening to it but it fills a hole and the producer sends the reporter an email after the show saying “yeh, it was great” (this rings far too many bells with me….).
Was it Really Great?
The trouble is that everything’s sounding the same. Head to head interviews conducted in an office where the only editing is cutting out the name of the guest, the first question and the awkward fumbling for the OFF button at the end. Mixed audio (aka “a package”) is a rarity and when it’s done it’s done badly.
Why It Doesn’t Need To Be Like This
1. Reporter gets sent on story. Records three quick interviews plus wildtrack in each location.
2. Reporter edits material on location – saving radio station thousands on building “workstations” and having desk space for reporters who, by very definition, should be OUT REPORTING! Remember: the only stories to happen in news rooms involve extra-marital affairs and on-air resignations.
3. Reporter files it to the producer or intake system. Because it’s been tightly edited out on the road it doesn’t need to be tweaked or edited by the desk and can be played out as soon as it’s put in the gate.
There are lots of audio editors around but most only allow top and tail edits. If you make a mistake in the middle you have to cut it in two and save the piece as two clips which the producer has to stitch together. It wastes valuable time. With a single track, linear editor you can’t delete coughs, mistakes,”ums” or “er”s. In Voddio you can use three, separate, tracks:
one for track, one for sync, one for fx
use two tracks like a brick wall where the clips flow from one track to the other, slightly overlapping to make it flow more easily.
Voddio also allows you to alter levels, fade in and out and “version” things really easily. You don’t just use the iPhone as an audio recorder – you use it to mix the audio and file it into the studio. It cuts the workflow of the radio piece dramatically.
Voddio 1: First Recordings
The best way to see how Voddio (and its earlier versions: Poddio & 1st Video) has transformed the way I work is to show it in practice. The app, of course, was designed for video work too – perhaps I’ll get round to that in the future – but for now it’s all about the audio.
This is how to record your first link.
Voddio 2: Simple Edit
The second video looking at Voddio shows you how to do a simple edit. There are probably dozens of other ways to do it, but this is a good, basic way of doing it. The trick is to remember that Voddio does not delete bad bits of audio, it saves off the good bits into a new file. It’s a non destructive editor – unlike Cool Edit Pro, for example – so you don’t lose your master recordings.
Voddio 3: Multitrack
This is the difference between every one of the thousands of apps that record audio and Voddio (there are another couple of multi track apps on the market but they all tend to be written for musicians – remember that Voddio was written by reporters for reporters.
Voddio 4: Multitrack edit
Voddio 5: Record & Edit
The package we’re making in these training videos is very simplistic – but when the alternative is sending back raw unedited vox pops to a newsroom bereft of staff who’ll simply cut the first 30 seconds of your piece and then ditch the rest – then you can see why being in charge of your own audio and taking a bit of care can work wonders: mix the thing so tightly the studio CAN’T just cut the first 30 seconds and be done with it!
So here’s the final link being recorded and edited.
Voddio 6: Compiling
If you are an old codger like me, you’ll remember, with fear in your feet, that moment when you realised you were lost in your edit – that you had so many clips of audio on tiny slithers of reel to reel tape and you had no idea where each one went. I went to desperate ends: I wrote, in china graph yellow, on each piece of tape the words that were being said. I didn’t see my family for years.
Organisation and topping and tailing individual clips and links is the way to have a happy life. Compiling the package is a simple case of putting the right clips down in the right order. Quite literally, it can be done whilst drinking a cup of coffee. The alternative is a life without hope. Trust me.
Here we compile the package and get it ready to be sent to the studio. It’ll leave us enough time for another latte before it’s time to go home.
Voddio 7: Filing the Package
So, once you’ve finished it.. how do you transfer your audio to the studio? The key here is to make sure that you have a decent enough signal to send the audio via 3G or wifi and also to make sure that the format you send it in – probably AAC (m4A) is one that your studio can work with. Any problems, tell them to go to zamzar.com where they can reformat it.