Planning: Thank goodness for the storyboard—which I finished in less than 30 minutes on a very productive day—because when the time came to begin my first podcast, I was in the midst of a very busy week and I didn’t have the same creative spirit that had spawned the storyboard in the previous week. I was so swamped with work that I was relieved that my storyboard did all my organized thinking for me and all I had to do was follow the steps I’d laid out for myself.
Again, since my week was hectic, I realized early on that there was no way I’d be able to produce what I’d planned as my first podcast (an introduction into voice-acting) in the way I’d envisioned. There was just not enough time and too many sound bites to find. So, I decided to change the podcast order. Instead of beginning with an intro into voice-acting, followed by a comparison of professional voice-actors and amateurs, and finishing with a look at the legal issues around fan-translations for anime and manga, I choose to produce the fan-translations podcast first.
Although it required the most research (or so I assumed), it would be the easiest of the three since I didn’t need to hunt for sound bites. I’d just have my own voice and edit in some sound effects. I pushed the intro to voice-acting podcast to the 2nd due date, and since I can’t very well discuss pros and amateurs without introducing voice-acting, what would have been the 2nd podcast will now be produced as the 3rd.
Researching: I already had begun my research for this podcast half a year ago when I stumbled upon the subject of scanlations during a late-night random Wikipedia links browse-fest.
I’d been reading manga—in book their book and scanlation forms—since the 9th grade, but only recently had I been interested in the legality (or, in this case, illegality) of the medium. I began with the articles sourced in the Wikipedia article and my investigation branched off from those sources and from a Google search.
First, I read all the articles and forum comments on the matter, taking notes throughout. Then, I scanned the thesis essays because they were each 30+ pages long and I simply did not have the time. Finally, I checked out what YouTubers had to say. I found some single rant videos from YouTubers who had anime-themed channels and some panel discussion video series from anime conventions.
Once I had spent more time that I’d planned for on the research stage, I forced myself to stop note-taking and to move on to the organizing and scripting phase.
Scripting: I condensed my notes into chunks on the various topics I wanted to cover. I tried to make sure there was as little wordiness and jargon as possible. I attempted to concisely outline the concepts behind fan-subs and scanlations, enough so that even a total novice would be able to follow along.
I spent a while arranging the sections in an order that flowed smoothly. I had some trouble with this part because my research sources usually went back and forth between discussing fan-subs and scanlations and I wanted to separate them enough to be able to discuss them both alone and in contrast to each other.
Recording: After a cup of coffee, I somehow managed to record it all in one go. Afterwards, no matter how chipper I tried to make my voice sound, I just couldn’t get the same tone as I’d used in the first recording, so I tried to use parts from the original as much as I could. I did have to re-record a few lines where I misspoke or jumbled my syllables, but for the most part, I just edited the first recording.
Luckily, in a previous recording session of an audiofic, I discovered that the best way to hold my dinky desktop mic was to hold it upside down with the end brushing the tip of my nose. This way, it caught none of the popping noises from my “p’s” and “h’s”, but still recorded at a good volume.
Editing Just Voice: I learned the hard way that, on Audacity, if you need to move parts of your recording around or add sound in later, the best thing to do is to separate the sections into their own labelled track. This way, you won’t lose your place. So, the first thing I did after I was pleased with my recording was to put each segment on its own track. Granted, the downside to this method is you sometimes have to move all the recordings over. I also wanted to see my segments on separate tracks because I’d re-recorded certain bits and I wanted to hear them one after the other to determine the best one to use. If I removed them from the recording, I’d lose the spot they came from and would have to find it again each time. With separate tracks, I could just mute/unmute what I wanted/didn’t want to hear and move the tracks up or down and even shrink them.
Music & Sound Effects: This part took almost as long as the research part. Last year, I’d already put together a long list of sites that offered free sound effects and music under creative commons licenses, so this time, I referred to that list.
I wanted to find new sources of sound effects and music than the two I’d primarily used last time: Incompetech.com and FreeSound.org, but I soon found myself returning to those two reliable sources when I ran into roadblocks on some of the other links on the list.
I had to mix together my own opening music because I wanted an opening that sounded like Funimation’s; primarily because Funimation is an anime company, so it matched my subject, and secondly because my ears instantly fell in love with it. So, I first tag-searched sounds that were similar to the eerie crescendo of the THX opening (you know, the one that is eardrum-poppingly loud in movie theatres). Then I looked for whispering voices and a deep but muffled booming noise. They edited together fairly quickly and painlessly and the final result is exactly what I wanted.
Editing everything together and getting it under 5 minutes: I listened through my voice-only recording several times to identify spots where some music or sound effects would fit nicely or could be added to make transitions more aurally pleasing. I knew I’d have a heck of a time trying to get everything under 5 minutes, so I tried to make sure I wasn’t incorporating too many sound effects (it always hurts me a little inside to have to get rid of a segment for time-constraint purposes, especially one where I’d already edited in some lovely music or sound effect).
I gave each sound its own stereo track, and adjusted the timing accordingly. This multi-track method is also handy when adding sound underneath a voice segment as background music, you can lower the volume and mess around with the speed and tempo as you like without affecting the voice recording.