Podcasting

From YWAMKnowledgeBase

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Podcasting for beginners.

Introduction

Podcasting is a growing tool and useful for all kinds of presentations! What is a podcast? A podcast is a short audio broadcast available for users (free of charge) to download to their computer or mp3 player. It usually lasts no longer than 20 - 40 minutes. Often with audio only, but more and more now with music!

What You Need?

It may sound like you need expensive equipment - however basic software which is available as a free download works fantastically! So you don't have to go out and buy the professional software like Adobe Audition (although that is really nice).

Software and Hardware:

  • Audacity, audio recording and preparing your recordings, and mixing down to mp3.
  • Good quality microphone: This is important to limit hiss & background noise (I use an SM58).
  • PC or laptop with reasonable quality sound card and a mic input, although if you don't have a mic input (i.e. Apple Mac) then get a USB input device, i.e. iMIC, or go through a Mixing Desk.
  • Garage Band on Apple Mac that comes with ILIFE '06 comes with excellent tools to make jingles and your podcast built in!

Other Hints Before You Start

Most podcasts are available free, it is possible to add music but you need to be careful! Don't just add any old commercial music like from a CD or you will be infringing copyright!

  • Podsafe Music - An excellent resource is available where many bands & artists have made their music free for podcasters, many will even send you mp3 files to use, I've even had CD's sent to me! For podsafe music the Podsafe Music Network is fantastic resource even with many Christian artists too all eager to get their music out!
  • Programme content - Think about what you want to achieve with your podcast.
  • listen to other podcasts - get a feel by listening to examples and decide what is your purpose? What do you want to say with the podcast and who is your target audience?
    • Do a search in iTunes music store for 'ywam' and you'll get some international ywam podcasts (mostly teaching) or 'richnews' you will get my podcast which has some music on it. Another good example of music podcasts is one24worship, again do a search in itunes music store. These podcasts are free.

Getting Started

Working with the software and recording with your microphone.

Getting Interviews

Using Skype

Using Portable Recorders

Publishing Your Podcast

You've got a great show! Now you need to get the word out. There are a many of ways you can use to publicise your podcast and get the word out!

On iTunes

On Your Blog

Using Feedburner

Online Radio

If you have a programme for my online radio station, well why not share it with the world! I'm looking for programmes, testimony spots or things that God is doing around the world, please help me by supporting this station, get the word out sponsor your programme! Check out: RICHNEWS MEDIA

Resource People

Podcast

General speaking a Podcast is a media file / series of media files (mainly audio or video but technically could be any file type including images, PDF, etc) that can be subscribed to and downloaded with suitable software, similar to RSS, and then listened and/or viewed on a computer. If desired podcasts can then be transfered to portable media players.

1. History

This is just a brief summary of the history of podcasts. If you want to know more detailed about its development read the Wikipedia about the History of Podcast.

Beginnings

The ability to distribute files has been around since the beginnings of the Internet. The foundations for Podcast was layed back in 1995 when the idea of syndication was born. Though it was not wide spread at this time it was developed further and in 1999 RSS 0.9 was released by Netscape for the use of their portal. Dave Winer's ideas where incorporated to RSS 0.91 in July 1999. Winer added the functionality to RSS 0.92, a element called "enclosure", which enabled so called "audioblogging".
In 2003 Kevin Marks demonstrated with a script how such an "enclosure" could be passed on to iTunes which then could be syncronised with an iPod.

During further development the term "podcast" became common usage.

Mass Adoption

With the release of Apples iTunes 4.9 in June 2005 with added podcasting functionality and adding 3000 podcasts to the iTunes store was inevitable. Only 2 days after the release of this new iTunes version Apple announced 1 million podcast subscriptions.

Name

The name is a morph of the words "iPod" and "broadcast". However, even if the term "podcast" is sometimes used for both audio and video it mainly refers to audio subscriptions. For videos the term "vidcast" or "videocast" became common usage.

2. Use of Podcast

Possibilites

The possibilities of podcasts are only limited by the ideas and creativity of the producer. What ever is recordable and, in the eyes of the producer, worth publishing can be found in the numorous podcast channels.
That includes sermons, lectures, Base / ministry news, etc. But can very well be used for evangelism.

Case Study

Here are a few examples on how podcasts and vidcasts can be used. Simple ideas which find a large audience. Maybe this is an inspiration for you to start using podcasts for your Base, ministry, school, support raising, or what ever else. Just be creative.

Create International

Create International is a frontier mission media ministry of YWAM. In February 2006 they released their first podcast called CalCast. Since then many more podcasts and videocasts had been produced. Some of the staff talk about what they do. The episodes talk about what God is doing in and through the ministry, how arts, media and technology can be used to reach the world.
Due to their many travels Create International partners with many missionaries on the field, visits missions conferences, etc. and by this sees and hears a lot of good news directly from the mission field. Unfortunately this is nothing that would be broadcasted by any of the news agencies. God Network News (GNN) was born. This mixed podcast and vidcast informs about what God is doing in the world.

As of 2007 these 2 distributions have about 800 weekly subscriptions.

Evangelism

The "Bridge Strategy" is an easy approach to evangelize online. It uses a general topic like ones hobby and fills in some biblical truth, e.g. have a scripture on the page, links to further content, etc.
In this case study Calvin, the founder of Create International, has a podcast about his cats. On that site is a daily Bible verse and links, besides others, to the 2 above mentioned podcasts. This is nothing too overwhelming for non believers but the opportunity is there to get to know more about God, the "Creator of these Kitties".

Of course this is only one way how podcasting can be used for evangelism.

3. Software

Now that you are interested in these podcasts how do you actually download and listen / view them?

How to

On websites that offer podcasts you'll find some icons or buttons which are designed to directly put in the subscription details into your favorite aggregator. The aggregator, a computer software, is able to either periodically or on request check if something new is available on one or multiple podcasts sites. In a sense it's working like downloading emails with an email client onto your computer.
These aggregators are in most cases able to play the downloaded files as well.

If you want to subscribe to a podcast that does not provide a subscription button for your favorite aggregator you'll usually find a subscription link on the site. This link can be copied and pasted into your aggregator of choice.

All aggregators provide a way to manage your podcasts. You can delete selected episodes or un-subscribe as you wish.

iTunes

Probably the most common software used for aggregation is Apple's iTunes. On almost all podcasting sites you'll find a subsciption button for iTunes. To subscibe it doesn't matter if you have a Mac OSX or Windows based PC.
If you have an iPod you can syncronize your podcasts using iTunes just like you are used to. Then you have your new podcast or vidcast, if you have a video iPod, with you where ever you go.

Amarok

Amarok is a iTunes like media player for Linux. Since Linux is not as wide spread there is generally no subscription button on podcast sites. However, subscription links can be added very easy by pasting the URL into the player.
Amarok can synchronize with a number of different portable media players, including iPods.

Other Software

There are many other aggregators available for almost all operating systems you can imagine. Some are cross platform and some are exclusivly for a specific system. Have a look at the following site if you want to have an overview of available software: http://www.podcastingnews.com/topics/Podcast_Software.html.



Even Easier? -- Simply Download

Most podcast sites offer to download the episodes directly via a download link. If you come across something that you would like to hear / see you don't have to necessarily subscribe to the podcast for that one single episode. You simply can download the desired file and save it on your computer.
Usually a podcast is a *.mp3 file and vidcasts are most likely in *.mov or *.m4a format. Therefore you can play them in any media player of your choice.

4. Creating Podcasts

Hardware

If you want to produce your own podcast and/or vidcast you don't need a professional recording or film studio. Depending on what you want to do even a built-in webcam and microphone in a laptop can be enough. E.g. if you want to send your supporters a monthly greeting via a vidcast with only you talking into the camera this can be good enough, assuming that the image of that camera is not too bad and you have no surroundig noise while recording. In that case all you need then is a recording software on your computer which many times comes with the camera. However, a headset usually increases the sound quality a lot.
In desperate need people even use mobile phones to record an episode. Yes, I have seen that.

But this really is the lowest quality so far. It's nothing you'll be able to break the records with.

For many people the capabilities of a digital Point-and-Shoot camera is enough for video recording if the sound quality either doesn't matter or is not needed at all. In case it matters it's better to use a video camera, prefered with a external microphone.
If you already have a video camera then you have all you need to record and produce higher quality vidcasts.

If you're new to recording, a podcast (audio only) is probably an easier and cheaper start. Any headset should be good enough for first experiments. If you want to go beyond an experiment for better quality recording you will need to invest in a microphone (a Shure SM58 is always a good choice). Also if you have no other option to connect a mic to your computer you'll need a small mixing console. Depending on the quality you also could upgrade the soundcard of your computer.
But trust me, if you are new to recording, the quality of the used hardware will not be the main issue you'll have to deal with. I personally would say, get it to work the way you want it before you put in some money and then decide later on to not do it.

Software

Audio

For audio recording you will need some software. You can get anything in between free / open source software (FOSS) and really (by this I mean REALLY) expensive. 1000US$ and more, plug-ins for effects, etc not included.
New Macs come with Garageband, that is more than capable for podcasting. An often recommended cross-platform program is Audacity. Audacity is FOSS and available for Linux, Mac and Windows. Other FOSS projects are Ardour (for Linux & Mac), Rosegarden and Jokosher (Linux only).
All these programs are more than capable for podcasting.

See Wikipedias comparision of multitrack recording software.

Video

Generally the same can be said for video editing software. Except that 1000US$ is not even close to the upper end of the price range. One of the probably more professional FOSS video editing programs is Cinelerra (Linux only). Although most times a not so "heavy" program like iMovie (Mac), Kino (Linux) and Windows Movie Maker (Windows) is enough to create a vidcast.

See Wikipedias comparision of video editing software.

5. Publishing

Now that you have your podcast and/or vidcast what are you doing with it? Or better say, how are you going to make it available for others to subscribe and download?


Considerations

First things first. You need to think some stuff through before you can make a decision on how to make it available.
There are a few options: using a online service (free or paid) or hosting it yourself. Good news is, there are online services, just like for e-mail (Yahoo, MSN, Gmail, etc.), Blogs (Wordpress, Blogger, etc.) or video (YouTube, GodTube, etc.) that are for free and many times you can upgrade to a paid account if you need more.

So, what you need to think about, evaluate, calculate is:

  • Deleting the uploaded files after a certain time or leaving them available pretty much forever (need of space over time)
  • Who is your audience, how many people will download your production (download quota)
  • How frequent will you upload something new (space and download quota)
  • Are you producing podcasts or vidcasts or even a mix of both. Videos are larger files than audio only (space and download quota)


Online Service

These providers are usually limited, one way or another. You either have limit space to upload your productions or you have limited download quota. Most times you have limitations on both of these factors. Although you might have more space to play with than with a web hosting solution.
For a vidcast you could consider using something like YouTube. This is not exactly a service like a "real" podcast/vidcast provider. But you don't have a limited download quota. Only the size of the video itself is limited.

Blogs

Blogs are mainly too limited to really consider them as an option for podcasting. There might be a few but it also depends on your needs.

DIY -- Renting Web Space

If you want to do it yourself, means not using one of the online solutions you need to get some web space. A web host also gives you a limited amount of disk space and a limited amount of download quota. Just like an online service. Again, you need to check your needs.
The easiest way to give this option a go, is probably using a CMS (Content Management System) that provides a plug-in for podcast/vidcast. Otherwise you need to get into programming. But if you're familiar with that you most likely don't read this article, or at least this part of it, anyway.

The advantage of this option is that you have better (full) control of the look and feel of you site, no adds that you are not able to control at all, etc. Also, if you already have your own website or you plan to build one than the site and the podcast are in one place. You don't need to direct your users to another site.

Unlimited

To say it up front. There is no real option that is unlimited in every way. However, the closest option to being unlimited is renting your own web server. But this will cost real money, this is far from a cheap option. However, depending on how much money you are willing and able to spend you can get 1000GB, (yes, 1TB) disk space and more.

The advantages with this option are the same like with the rented web space. No uncontrolled adds, the design exactly how you want it, etc. You have 100% control over the server that host your website(s) and podcasts/vidcasts. But there is more work involved then "only" getting a CMS up and running.