After you have created a screencast there is always extra work to do on the audio especially if you are going to sell your training. Let me show you how you can tweak the audio to make you sound like a pro.
The steps to creating great Screencast Audio are:
- Download Sound Editor
- Export Audio From Screencast
- Create an Audio Project
- Clean up Audio
- Record Replacement Audio
- Check Sound DB Gain
- Adding Music & Sound Effects
- Advanced Effects
- Import Back Into Screencast
Now you know the steps we are going to go through. Let’s expand on them to explain exactly what you are going to do to make your audio that much better.
No matter how you create your Screencast and what software tool you use there are always problems with the audio that can be easily fixed. Fixing them ensures you sound professional in your videos especially if you are charging people to see them. If you are then going to load them into some eLearning or onto your LMS then you will be also ensuring they are all at the same quality.
2. Download Sound Editor
My personal preference for sound editing for screencasting and eLearing is by far Audacity. There are heaps of tools out there for editing audio but I find this free tool has everything you need and is quick and easy to use. And why pay for something that you can get a good quality one for free? You can find Audacity at this link.
Link : Audacity Download
3. Export Audio From Screencast
No matter which tool you use for screencasting whether it be Techsmith Camtasia, Active Presenter, Articulate Storyline or Cam Studio you can export just the sound as a wave file (.wav) or .MP3. If you are unsure how to do this with your particulate screencasting tool just do a google search for its name and “Export Sound”.
Once you have it as preferably a wave file. Wave files are larger but are a lossless format. That basically just means it is not compressed and has all the real recorded data. With an MP3 it is compressed to make a smaller file and some of the raw recorded data is lost. It is ok if you one have an MP3.
You can then create a new windows folder on your desktop or wherever you store your development files for the Audacity project and move the exported file there.
If you wish to use Windows Sound Recorder to create a test file to walk through this How To or you wish to use an MP3 file instead you will need to download the Audacity driver for either or both.
To do once Audacity is open go to Edit > Preferences.
Then go to the Libraries option to download both the FFmpeg and MP3 libraries. There are instructions for downloading the Windows Installer file (.exe) that you can use to install the library for you. Both Internet Explorer and Chrome will ask if you really want to download this type of file and just say Yes or Keep in Chrome.
Download Libraries Link : https://lame.buanzo.org/#lamewindl
Once they are downloaded you can go to your downloads folder and double click on them to install or do so by clicking the downloaded file at the bottom or Chrome or Edge browser.
If you then click the Locate button on the Libraries properties in Audacity settings you will get a window saying it has located the library already and you can then click no for each library.
You have then installed both libraries and you are ready to open MP3 or Windows Sound Recorder files.
If you want to record a sound file to edit because you are not using a screen casting tool just yet you can type in Voice Recorder to the windows search box and make a recording now and save it in your project folder.
4. Create an Audio Project
In Audacity you can open the software tool and import the audio file from either .WAV or .m4a or .MP3.
Then Audacity will look something like this.
The first thing you are going to do is save the work you are doing as an Audacity Project from the top left file menu.
You will get a warning saying that this will save as an Audacity Project and that to export the file to MP3 or Wav you need to use the Export option instead. You can either check the box to never see this message again or leave it unchecked to remind you next time.
Then go to your folder you created earlier and pick an appropriate name related to your screen cast to save the project as. I often keep this project in the same location as the screen cast project save files so I can find it again later.
Now you have saved your file you are ready to continue to the next step.
5. Clean Up The Audio
Now we are all ready to clean up the audio files in Audacity. Your audio does not have to be perfect when you are recording your Screencast but you need to get your timings right.
Important Note : Don’t change the length of your audio recording
The reason your should not cut out or delete time from your audio is that it matches the video you recorded. Instead of removing audio time it is better to mute that section of the audio or replace it with something else.
Important Note : Clean your audio with the same setup that you made your Screencast and straight after recording the screencast.
The reason for this is the sound may be different the next time your record and we want any replaced audio to be pretty much the same as the original audio. The depth, tone and inflection may change the next time you record and it will be more noticeable when you update sections of audio.
What we will be cleaning up in your Audio:
- Mute non speaking sections
- Mouse and Keyboard Clicks
- Background Noise
- Non words – Umms, Arghs etc
Before we clean up our audio we should zoom in enough so we can see the wave file clearly enough using the Zoom in and Out Buttons.
Once you have zoomed in one or two times you will be able to see the sections to be cleaned up and the background noise that is there.
To remove most of these we can just mute the sections of the audio where we are not speaking by selecting the area with the mouse like below and clicking the Silence Audio Selection button.
After you have selected with the mouse and silenced the non verbal sections your wave file will look like this.
I know it looks funny to have what looks like two sound files but remember they are just the left and right audio. So what you do to one is automatically done to the other channel and that is exactly what we want.
Have a play around with doing this on a test audio that you recorded with Windows Voice Recorder. Notice that sometimes you have to get really close to the start of the next audio to get rid of any background noise.
If you are recording in a quiet environment with a noise cancelling directional microphone you will limit this background noise. If you record in a small room and don’t have noise cancelling it will sound like you are in a tunnel. So even more reason to get a good microphone.
TIP : Use the spacebar to start and stop playing the audio when reviewing it. And the left mouse click will let you select a place to start playing from.
6. Record Replacement Audio
Sometimes you don’t say the right thing and don’t realize until later and you need to update it. Remember we should not change the length of the audio so we need to keep that in mind when we are fixing this. To fix this I generally create a new empty project in Audacity and save it to a temporary folder and copy and paste the new audio from the temporary project.
Why don’t I just do it in the original audio project file? Well you can mess up the length and do many other things to mess up that audio when you are recording the three or four times it may take to get it right.
You will now have a blank project to create the replacement audio. Remember you have to match the time frame of the original audio and you can stretch it a little if you have some blank audio either side if you like.
You can now make sure the right recording device is selected and it is set to stereo recording if you device can do that and create the replacement audio using the record button.
TIP : Mono recording is good enough for Screencasts and eLearning and it saves you a little in file size. It will still show in Audacity as Left and Right though so just ignore that.
Don’t forget to clean up your audio in your temporary project before taking it in your original or master audio file.
The bar with numbers above your audio will show you the seconds you have recorded and match those with your original audio file. Once you get the recording right you can select the exact audio you want to copy from the temporary file with the mouse and either use the Edit Menu > Copy or hold CTRL+C on the keyboard.
Then you can go to the original audio file and select the same time frame exactly where you want to replace the audio and press CTRL+V on the keyboard or use the Edit Menu > Paste to replace the old audio. Doing it this way will make sure you don’t change your audio length and keep the narration in sync with the video.
7. Check Sound DB Gain
One of the biggest problems with editing audio or recording your audio in different sessions is the balancing of the audio Decibels (DB). When using Audacity you can see the height of the audio to see where you have been louder and softer when speaking. Which you can fix in Audacity as well if you need too. But you may have intended this to draw attention to more important areas of the audio as well as varying your tone and inflection to maintain the watcher’s attention.
When we try to match different sound files together we should match the sound volume as well. You will have taken some eLearning over the years and noticed one video is really loud and another you can barely hear.
To fix this we can change the DB Gain controls next to each sound file we are editing and watch the DB gain during playback to make sure there is no yellow or red. If there is yellow or red drop the DB gain and replay until it is only green.
At step 1 in the image I have increased the Gain or DB until the audio is hard to hear and you can see at step 2 that the volume bar has yellow and red. We want to decrease this until it is only green while the audio is running. You can do this by dragging the gain bar at step one to the left and replaying the audio until you only have green in the volume bar when you are playing the audio.
8. Adding Music and Sound Effects
If you want to add background music you can now do this by simply using File > Open in the file menu and adding another sound file to your project. The same can be done with any Introduction or Ending music you wish to add like they do with all TV shows. This just ads another layer of richness to your audio.
9. Advanced Effects
We mentioned in the last section you could select a section of your audio with the mouse and make it louder or softer. This is done by using the Effects menu option in Audacity. You will find heaps of tools to Fade In and Fade out if you are playing background music. Amplify the whole audio or just a particular section. Have a play around with them on a test file and see what they all do.
10. Import Back Into Screencast
Now that you have completed cleaning up and jazzing up your audio and you have fixed any audio that you needed to revoice. You can simply go back to your screencasting software and reload the audio back in to replace the old audio file.
Now that you know how to edit your screencast maybe you would like to know how you might be able to build that into some eLearning? If so, read this article.