You guys have asked for it since the first day the TopSpeed Podcast hit the site. “We want video,” cried the unified mass of listeners. Well now we are looking into making that happen for you, but we need some help. The act of creating a video version of your new favorite podcast is proving to be a bit more challenging and time consuming than originally anticipated, so we need feedback and input.
How much does the video feed enhance your enjoyment of the podcast? Is the quality on par with what you expect from us here at TopSpeed? We need to know if we are truly giving you the best content possible. This is a learning experience for all of us, so we thought we should give you guys some background on how we are bringing you the new video format, and we are looking for criticism on what we are doing right or wrong, and what you guys want to see changed.
Here is the most important part, guys. If we don’t have enough response and support for the video, we will be sticking to audio only. So if you want this video, LET US KNOW.
We have put the new video version of Episode 005 after the jump, along with a full run down of how we made this happen; complete with software and equipment lists.
Click past the jump to see the TopSpeed.com Podcast 005 video and how it was made.
Let us start with the big important bit, the actual video podcast. Click play and enjoy, then we can get into all the fun technical details of how we made this happen.
So there you go. You have seen our funny looking faces in all their fuzzy glory. What do you guys think? Does this make things better, and do you think we should keep chasing this as a future format? Hit the comments, Twitter (@TopSpeedPodcast) and email (Podcast@TopSpeed.com) to let us know!!
Now for my favorite bit, how we made this all happen. If you have ever tried to create a podcast between people in different parts of the country, you likely know that it isn’t the easiest thing to do. The easiest way I found to get a high-quality recording without buying any extra equipment or software was to use a combination of Audacity, Google Hangouts and an extra computer.
- Computers – 3 for chat, one for recording
- Chat Handler Software – Google Hangouts
- Audio Recording Software – Audacity
- Video Capture Software – OBS
- Microphones – Blue Microphones Yeti
- Other – Patience, lots of patience
The basic setup is this: We have each of us on our own computers in a Google Hangout, and I have a second computer at my house “listening” to the Google Hangout and recording the audio. The program I use to record and edit the cast is called Audacity. It is a free and open-sourced audio editor that is very easy to use and understand.
Now, to get our video cast I employ the same technique, but instead of just having my second computer “listening” to the podcast, I also use a screen capture software to “watch” the video window. For this first test I used another free and open-sourced piece of software called OBS (Open Broadcaster Software). While OBS will record audio, it is compressed to such a point that it falls below our quality targets. Instead I record the Google Hangouts image without audio. After we have the video and audio feeds both recorded, I splice them together to create the video you see above.
Now, this is where things get a little tricky. Though experimenting on a couple different computers, it has become blatantly obvious, that an older or slower computer will not work as both the “listener” and the “watcher.” If you want to create a video podcast like ours, and all you have are laptops that are more than three years old, I would suggest using one laptop to “watch”, one laptop to “listen” and then one for you to chat with.
I am fortunate enough to have a very powerful desktop workstation computer and I still had some issues managing the workload. (If you are a fan of technical and nerdy details, there is a full technical specification image of my current desktop posted at the very end of this piece.)
Now, there are some easier ways to manage a video podcast, but I have yet to find anything that can be done without dumping a relatively large portion of money into software and services. Sites like UStream and even Skype require premium accounts to use for a multiple-person video conversation with recording.
For the actual Audio version of the podcast, the editing process is usually quite simple. I merely cut out the dead air before we begin talking, and insert our intro music. I do the same for the outro. If we had any major audio drops or issues in the middle of the cast, that would be cut and spliced as well. To create audio suitable for the video version of the cast, I use large, sharp sound cues in the beginning of the cast to ensure a perfect sync with the image. Sadly, because of these cues, I can’t use the cut and edited Audio podcast for the video. Syncing becomes too difficult. As such, I will attach the raw audio to the raw video and re-edit the entire composition. Finally, I add an intro and outro image with music and begin the encoding process.
The program I use to put the video and audio together is simply the free Windows Movie Maker available for all Windows PC owners. If you are a Mac user, iMovie would work just as well. This is one of the parts that requires patience. It took my PC more than hour to encode the entire video into something usable that could be uploaded.
Once you have your encoded and exported video you can upload it to your favorite video hosting site. We are using YouTube. YouTube will give some uploading options and allow you to some more editing, but if the video was good to start with, there should be no real need to use most of these functions. Time for a lot more patience, as it took several hours to complete the upload and video processing. For this first podcast it took us a bit over 12 hours to go from a recording to a functioning and posted pair of Audio and Video versions of the Podcast.
If you want to do this process yourself, please make sure you have plenty of space on your computer. Between the raw footage and final edited files, we have more than 12Gb of data saved for this one cast.
We hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at our process for bringing you guys the awesome video you have asked for. Now make sure you give us as much feedback as possible. We want to make this the best podcast in the world, and your input is what is going to make that possible.
Thanks for tuning in.