Tag Archives: Audio Recording

Recording Interviews and Podcasts with Zoom

First, make sure that everyone plugs directly into a wired-ethernet connection for internet instead of using Wi-fi, if at all possible.

Next, make sure that all participants are in as quiet a location as possible and are wearing headphones in order to reduce the need for Zoom to use algorithmic background noise and echo suppression.

Then, you will need everyone to adjust some settings in Zoom. If you look at the attached screenshot you can see my recommended settings in the “Audio” section.

  • “Automatically adjust microphone volume” = Off. This isn’t entirely necessary, but can help keep background noise down when people are not speaking. Note that this will require each participant to manually set their microphone volume using the “Input Volume” sider and ensure that the level is not going into the red and clipping. If that is beyond their capability, it’s better to leave this on.
  • “Suppress background noise” = Low. This is of course contingent on the participant’s ability to find a quiet space. If there is a lot of background noise, this should be set to Auto.
  • “Show in-meeting option to enable Original Sound” = On. The other options below will appear when this is checked. Note that each participant will need to turn this on from a check-box in the upper corner of the Zoom call.
    • “High-fidelity music mode” = On
    • “Echo cancellation” = Off. Note that this should only be turned off if the participant is wearing headphones (which is *highly* recommended)
    • “Stereo Audio” = On. This is not 100% necessary, and can be turned off if people are running into bandwidth issues with their connection

Finally, if you are going to be doing any post-production editing, I would also recommend that you follow the instructions at the bottom of this page under  “How to record multiple audio files”:



Completely alternatively, many folks doing remote podcasts have all participants record their audio locally (using software like Audacity, a separate portable recorder, or even their phone) in tandem with the Zoom call and then send the high-quality WAV files to the editor for synchronization.

Media Workflow Series / No. 3: Carrying Out your Shoot


Copy of Media Workflow Series (1)

On the third installment of our Media Workflow Series, We’ll review what you’ll need to know to carry out your shoot. We describe different steps you should take below:

Framing your Shot:

A common guideline for framing a shot is the rule of thirds, in which you divide the frame vertically and horizontally into thirds with an imaginary grid. This helps to utilize the space of the frame and make the video more visually appealing. The following photos demonstrate the rule of thirds:

Still of an interview in the Media Commons Video Studio
Still of an interview in the Media Commons Video Studio
photo of tree demonstrating rule of threes
Photo by Eric Kurt

Lighting your shot:

It is also common to use a three-point lighting system. This consists of a key light, fill light, and backlight. You can always add or subtract lights from your setup depending on the aesthetic you are hoping to achieve.

  • The key light is the brightest light in the setup and shines directly on the subject.
  • The fill light is a softer light that is placed at an angle on the opposite side of the key light. Its purpose is to reduce shadows.
  • The back light separates the subject from the background. It is placed behind the subject.
Image of three point lighting
Image license: public domain. Author: Theonlysilentbob, converted to SVG by tiZom. February 21, 2008. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-point_lighting#/media/File:3_point_lighting.svg

The Media Commons video studio provides a lighting system that can be manipulated to create the desired aesthetic.

Synchronizing Cameras

Shooting with multiple cameras requires synchronization during post-production, because you will likely not start recording on each camera at the exact same moment. The Media Commons video studio contains two cameras that record directly into the computer, which makes it possible to synchronize the footage by timecode. Otherwise, the footage can be synchronized by audio, utilizing programs such as Pluraleyes if necessary.

Monitoring Audio

It is important to check the audio levels before shooting and continue to monitor them while recording. A suitable audio level is somewhere between -6 and -12dB. The audio meters should appear green or close to yellow. If the levels go above that or the color on the meter turns red, you’ll need to adjust the audio.

Battery and Storage Media Limitations

You should monitor the remaining battery power and memory storage during your shoot. Depending on the length of the shoot, you may need to change out batteries for the camera or audio equipment. In that case, it is important to have charged spare batteries so you don’t lose any shooting time.

It is also important to keep track of any limitations with storage media. Depending on the camera you choose, you will do this with the SD card or the camera’s internal memory. Try to figure out how long you plan to shoot and if the memory is capable of storing that much at once. In some situations, you may have to offload footage or swap out SD cards if you plan on recording a lot. Additionally, some cameras are only capable of recording a certain amount of consecutive footage (such as 15 or 20 minutes at a time), which would just require stopping and starting the recording.

When is it appropriate to stop a take midway and restart?

Some instances where it is appropriate to stop a take and restart recording include noticing audio feedback or environmental noise, or perhaps if the subject of the video needs to repeat something they said. The same also goes for situations where you can only shoot for a certain amount of time consistently (such as 15-20 minutes at a time) and need to start and stop the recording for a moment.


Audio Booth Operating Procedure


1) Wake up Mac – Apogee Quartet (microphone input interface) should turn on

2) Turn on Presonus Monitor Station with switch at back right

– You can use the “Talk” button (lower left hand side of the “Monitor Station” to communicate with people in the other room; however, DON’T LEAVE THE TALK BUTTON ON WHILE SOMEONE IS RECORDING – it is very annoying in their ears to hear you shuffling about

3) Set microphone levels

– Click the (1) or (2) buttons on the Apogee Quartet to select the respective microphone (1 is on the left and 2 is on the right, looking into the live room from this room)

– Turn the big knob (right above the “Quartet” label) to adjust microphone level

– Have your subject speak into the microphone (their mouth should be about 1” away front the mic) in a clear, strong tone

– Adjust microphone levels until the meters are at the top of the green range or, ideally, into the yellow

– IF THE LEVELS GO INTO THE RED, THE MIC IS DISTORTING. Turn down the microphone levels, and click the “A” button on the Apogee Quartet to clear the “Clipping Indicator” (red mark at the top of the level meter)

– A good setting will probably between 40 and 50, if you have to turn it up much more than this, have your subject move closer to the mic and/or speak louder

4) Open Reaper recording software from the dock at the bottom of the screen (the green, blue, and grey icon with the white “sickle” in between the “rocketship” Launchpad icon and the purple “A” Apogee control panel icon)

5) Select “Open” when the prompt ask you if you’re sure you want to open Reaper

6) When Reaper finishes loading, it will prompt you to save a new project (if you’re working on a previous project you can select “Cancel” and load your old project from the File menu)

7) Make sure that the “REAPER Media” folder is selected (click it in the “Finder” to make sure)

8) Name your project in the “Save As” box and click “Save” – this will create a project directory in the “REAPER Media” folder (accessible from a shortcut on the desktop)

9) The two tracks in the upper left hand corner of Reaper correspond to the two microphones in the Live Room

10) Click the red button on each track, respectively, to “Record Arm” it. Any track that is “Record Armed” will record audio from the corresponding microphone when you click the “Record” button (in the lower left hand side of Reaper) or press the “Command” + “R” keys

11) You will now see a waveform being drawn as your subject speaks into the mic. This should reach ~2/3 to 3/4 of the way from the top to the bottom of the track to ensure a good, loud recording level. If the waveform touches the bounds of the track or is very small, follow the instructions above for microphone levels again

12) When you are finished recording, hit the “Stop” button in the lower left side of Reaper (or press the Spacebar) to stop the recording

13) If you were happy with the recording, click “Save All” if you want to discard it and start over, click “Delete All”

14) To record another take, zoom out on the timeline by pressing the “+” and “-“ keys on the keyboard until

you can see the whole waveform. Then, click further along in the timeline to move your cursor. Now

you can hit record again to start a new waveform file without overwriting the old one.

15) When you are finished recording, go to “File” -> “Render” (or press the “Command” + “Option” + “R” keys). This will open the export dialog box.

– Select either “Entire Project” or “Time Selection” under “Render Bounds” (you can make a time selection by clicking and dragging the mouse on the timeline)

– The directory should be set to “/Users/mc_audio_booth/Desktop/Reaper/Reaper Exports” (this folder is accessible from the desktop)

– Name your file in the “File name:” box

– Choose either “WAV” or “MP3” in the “Output Format:” drop-down menu

– Click “Render 1 file…”

16) When the export process finishes you can click “Show in Finder” to find your file, or access the “Reaper Exports” folder from the desktop

17) If you want to edit your project at home or later on the Media Commons Editing Workstations upstairs, copy your entire project folder from the “REAPER Media” shortcut on the desktop” to a flash drive or online storage

18) When you are finishes please do the following:

– Turn of the Presonus “Monitor Station” with the switch at the back right

– From the small “Apple Icon” in the upper-left corner of the screen select “Sleep”

(this will also turn off the Apogee Quartet)

– Turn off all the lights

– Lock the doors behind you

– Return the Audio Booth checkout bag with the key and sign

If you have any issues, you can ask the Circulation desk upstairs if anyone is available to help with the Audio Booth or email mediacommons@illinois.edu

Thank You!

NOTE: Reaper is available for free to use on your personal machines! Download from www.reaper.fm


– Make sure that there are little red dots above the microphone icons on the left hand screen of the Apogee Quartet interface

If there are not, hold down the “1” or “2” buttons, respectively, and use the big wheel to select the “Mic 48V” option, then click the wheel and repeat for the other (if it also does not have a red dot)

– Make sure that the headphone levels on the “Monitor Station” are set to about 12 o’clock (halfway)

– Make sure that nothing is muted (“M”) or soloed (“S”) from the “Mixer” tab of the Apogee Control Panel (accessed from the purple “A” icon in the dock at the bottom of this screen

– In the “Output Routing” tab of the Apogee Control Panel, make sure that the Software Outputs “Mixer 1” and “Mixer 2” correspond to the Hardware Outputs, “Line 1/2” and “Line 3/4”, respectively

– In the “Output” tab of the Apogee Control Panel, make sure all the meters are set to “0.0” and neither of the “M” or “D” buttons on the right-side are selected