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08 November 2011 @ 09:41 pm
Blanket permission thought + podfic + "making-of"  
My post for today contains two different things: first, my thought about blanket permission, and then a podfic I recorded and edited this afternoon, while documenting the whole process, kind of like a making-of. I'm cutting both parts, so if you just want to get to the finished product, just scroll down!

Blanket permission is a way for fan artists to let other fans know their comfort with others playing with their works. It's particularly helpful to podficcers when authors give blanket permission for anyone to podfic their works without having to ask first. To find out more on blanket permission with regards to podfic check out pod_aware on LJ or DW.

Blanket permission: a way to get your stories recorded

I don’t really have deep thoughts about it, I’m sure after I listen to the podcast for today I will have many more, but I haven’t had time today yet. (This also means that my thoughts might repeat what was said there).

Here is what I do have to say:

Writers: By all means, you don’t HAVE to give permission, blanket or otherwise. But, if podfic of your work is something you are enthusiastic about and would like to encourage, then blanket permission is a good way to get some!

Provided, of course, that podficcers know about it, which means you have to state it visibly. Put it in your userinfo, and/or your masterlist, and/or sign up for one of the blanket permission lists (those are 3 links).

Permission is never implied. It’s not enough if you gave permission to someone before, or if many people have podficced your work. Someone out there is always not going to know about it, and stress about contacting you. You might think it’s the easiest thing in the world to ask you, but trust me, some people are going to be intimidated, or just not know where to start.

Clearly-stated blanket permission will encourage podficcers to record your work, because not having to work up the courage to ASK is kind of nice, not having to figure out HOW to ask (how to word it or even, which channel to go through) is also nice, knowing that you’re not going to be denied is very nice, and being able to just record something on a whim is extremely nice! If a podficcer suddenly feels the urge to record something, who are they going to go to? If you have to ask permission it might take hours, or days, or weeks, and you might not get it in the end. But if I just have a few hours in front of me and want to record something, I’ll start by thinking “who do I know has blanket permission?” and go through their stuff. I’m pretty sure this – along with fic quality/popularity/length etc – influences who gets their stuff recorded the most.

Podficcers: how to know if a writer is pro-podfic or has blanket permission? Look at their userinfo, their masterlist or if they have a podfic tag in their journal. If podfic of their work has been made before, it might be more likely that they will tell you yes (but getting a gentle refusal is not impossible!) If you’re worried about being turned down, maybe sending the writer a private message, or email, will feel safer than doing it in a public comment.

There are lists of blanket permission writers: on Fanlore, Multipodicity and Amplificathon.

However don’t assume that if someone hasn’t clearly stated that they are pro-podfic, or there is no podfic of their work, or if they don’t appear on the lists, they are opposed to it.

Ask, and if you don’t get an answer within a couple of days, maybe ask again. It’s possible that they just didn’t get your comment, or don’t have notifications turned on, or they were just away from their computer. I have yet to encounter a writer who wasn’t extremely nice about my request. Most of them will flail at you for even mentioning it, because, as I said yesterday, podfic is a pretty great rec! Someone wanting to spend hours working on your words must like your fic kind of a lot.

Maybe if you’re shy, you could prepare a stock request, so you only have to think about it once. This is what my requests usually look like:

“Hi! I love your story [X], especially [reason], and I would love to record it! I would link you when I’m done, and would probably post on a couple of communities and at the Audiofic Archive. Would that be okay? Thanks!”

Nothing too complicated there! So, don’t be shy, maybe prepare a stock question you can re-use all the time, so you only have to think about it once, and get going! :D


Now, my little making-of, and podfic! :D

Disclaimer: the point of this is not to make a “my life, so hard” post, or to imply that my way is the best, or only way to do things, or should be replicated or whatever. It’s not a tutorial. I don’t even replicate this exactly every time; it changes from podfic to podfic, depending on many factors, including how much time I actually have. For this, obviously the fact that I was documenting the process as I went influenced the timing. Also, the fact that I want this to be posted today is probably preventing me from obsessing too much *g*

What I wanted to do, is provide an example of what I do when I’m podficcing, because I thought 1) it’s a nice thing to document for myself, 2) I always LOVE seeing what goes on behind the scenes and 3) I’m so curious about how other podficcers work, maybe someone is curious about how I work.

One last thing: I would ask you to please refrain from commenting with well-meaning things like “I can’t hear the difference between before and after,” or “you don’t need to do all this, I never notice anyway” etc. Thanks! :)

Here is the podfic, in two versions:

Title: Doppleganger
Author: tabula_x_rasa
Reader: greedy_dancer
Fic info: MCR, with guest appearances by Pete and Spencer. Gerard/Frank and others implied. R for language. Crackfic.
Length: 0:13:52

Summary: There were two Franks. The Franks seemed just as confused about this as everyone else.

Two versions:

Doppleganger (MP3, 12.71Mb) Voice only.

Doppleganger [FX] (MP3, 12.71Mb) With some sound effects. Description of those can be found in the making-of. ETA Nov 9: This is a NEW version of the effects file, since I realize I'd left out Spencer's phone conversation in my effects /o\


Of course, the whole thing starts with a reading. I'd read the fic a while ago - I had it on my Delicious Pinboard when I went to bookmark it. But someone recced it recently, and it jumped at me how much fun it would be to record. Usually, when I start to say the lines aloud in my head, that's the sign I'm going to want to podfic it.

So there's that "omg, must record" reading, and then I probably re-read to confirm, and start thinking about what I want to do, specifically. This fic was right up my alley. I love doing short, cracky/humorous things (in fact, it's most of what I've done so far), and I love playing with effects, and I saw an opportunity for that.

Then I contacted tabula_x_rasa to get permission, which was granted a few days later.

Let's say that, as a whole, up until now I'd spent 30 minutes on the podfic - reading, figuring out how to contact the author.


Today, 1pm: I re-read just before recording, but don’t do “text prep” with highlights or looking up words in advance. I try out the set up, adjusting mic/pop screen (Blue Snowball mic, homemade pop-screen using a metal circle and nylon tights), trying out ideas for effects.

1:45pm: Finished 1st recording, including a 1st take that got dumped halfway through because I thought it was boring. At this stage, the recording is 19:07 long, 25% longer than the finished podfic will be. This is a pretty good ratio, I'm guessing because the sentences were short, and so was the recording. The longer they are, the more complicated the structure or vocabulary is, the longer it takes me to record and the more mistakes I make.

Then comes the extra audio I'll use for effects.

In total, I spent 50 minutes recording.


1:50: Now editing starts (ugh).

First, I do a rough edit, which means cutting out mistakes. I use visual editing, clicking my tongue to identify mistakes, which makes them easier to cut out. Also, this is when I congratulate myself on buying a 17" computer, because being able to see a lot of the track while editing is so convenient. I used to waste so much time editing sections of the text, only to realize afterwards I'd recorded it again in the next portion of the track, that I couldn't see.

This is what my track looks like, before editing:

After editing (not actually the same moment in the track):

No more tall vertical lines!

Visual editing lets you see where you messed up, but sometimes I still have to listen to the bits right before and after the click, to make sure I'm cutting out the right part, so it's not entirely visual, either.

At this point, I realize I forgot to save an unedited version. I'm hoping I didn’t cut out anything that I shouldn’t have, or I’ll have to re-record /o\

I also have to go look up the pronunciation of “scarred”. Should it sound more or less like “scared”? Fortunately I have both pronunciations in my recording and can just pick the right one. Thanks HowJSay!

I finish the rough edit, which took 17 minutes, although tbh, typing this is also cutting up the process and taking time, so let’s say 15 minutes. The recording is now 14:49 minutes long.

It’s now 2:08pm. Time to listen back to the recording and check against the text, to see if I left anything out, or if anything needs to be re-recorded. Logically, this should take 15 minutes.

2:22: Omg, I apparently deleted A WHOLE SENTENCE /o\ Actually, I can’t actually remember recording it... O.O

I re-record and insert at the right place. I think the volume is slightly lower but it sounds okay.

I get a new idea for effects: making Pete’s phone voice different with equalizing.

It’s now 2:29, I’ve been working on this for 90 minutes. The track is 14:47 minutes long at this point. Time for fine-editing, for which I get my headphones so I can drive myself crazy with EVERY SINGLE NOISE in the background, and every single time you can hear saliva in my mouth or whatever. *deep breath* I shall let go, I shall let go.

2:37: I magnify the track so I can see every thing better. See the tiny bump just before 52,0? That's a mouth click.

I take out some mouth noises, some breaths - although not all of them, so I’m getting better.

This is what a sample sounds like, before/after "mouth-noise removal". I know, I know, it's barely audible if you're not listening on your headphones at top volume...

Doppleganger unedited by greedy_dancer

Doppleganger edited by greedy_dancer

I also reduce levels when I’m shouting, so it doesn’t startle people or break their ears if they are listening at top volume with headphones.

3:25 : 1st fine edit done. The recording is now 13:49 minutes long. Leaving out the 2 minutes I used to make the audio samples, it took about 45 minutes of editing for a 14-minute podfic, so 3 minutes of editing for each minute of finished podfic (so far), which is really not that bad. I’m really happy right now that I bought my good mic, because although it picks up a lot of background noise, it also doesn’t produce pops whenever you nudge the cable, like my previous one did, and that was HELL.

One of the things that takes the most time, for me, is regulating the breaks. Like, I want to make sure that my silences are long enough, or short enough, that the breaks in the rhythm of the fic will be clear. On the page you see the punctuation, the lines, the new paragraphs or the *** separating sections, but with podfic you have to make sure that they come through, and it’s not always as easy as I thought it would be, especially if there aren’t a lot of “X said, Y said” in dialogue.
Sometimes I think I’m reading the way it’s written on the page, but often there are breaks in my reading that have nothing to do there and break up the meaning. The length of breaks also totally influences the cause-consequence relationship. Like, if two things are close together, I tend to imply that they are related in causality? So by playing with that you can more or less influence the meaning of the sentences.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that, if you remove loud breaths, you can’t just replace the length of the breath by an equal length of “silence” (which is in fact “silent background noise”, because obviously if you just paste computer-generated silence it’ll sound very different) or it sounds really strange. I think our brain is trained to process breaths during speech as “this is not actually here” so the breaks can be longer is there’s a breath in it? But if you just have a long break between “It so does!” and “Frank shouted”, for example, I feel like the flow is ruined. And flow, especially in a podfic with humor, is one of the most important things.

The other thing about editing and how important it is to me, is that I feel like I’m already asking listeners to make an effort to process my accent, and possibly the dodgy pronunciation that might have escaped my attention. So I want to make sure that nothing ELSE is going to distract them on top of that, or throw them off a story. I have weird pet peeves that make it hard for me to enjoy some recordings, so I want to limit the factors that will make someone not be able to enjoy mine. (And of course, there's also the looking up to people/being a perfectionist in all things. I want to be as good as my favourite podficcers, one day!)


3:50 : Made more tea, time to get back to it. Now: effects! *g* Although before I do that, I should probably re-listen one last time, apply noise reduction and save a “non effects” version, in case I fuck everything up, or to provide an effects-less version along with the effects one. Not everyone likes them, and I wouldn’t want them to be the reason someone can’t listen to this.

4:20: exporting the “no effects version” after one listen through, minor pacing edits and noise reduction. This is a tool provided with Audacity that's really awesome, but needs a lot of fiddling with settings to really work. If you apply too much, you end up sounding like a robot. You also have to resist the temptation to try and make your "silences" DEADLY SILENT, because there's still going to be some of the background noise in the parts where you're talking, and the contrast can sound pretty strange. I'm slowly learning that less noise reduction for the sake of preserving the quality of your voice, is better than no noise but fucked-up voice.

This is what a short sample looks like, when noise reduction is applied to the first half. I think you can hear the difference pretty clearly:

Doppleganger noise reduction comparison by greedy_dancer

I also amplify the whole thing by 15dB. I didn’t know to amplify before I exported when I started podficcing, and some people have told me they can’t listen to my early recordings because they can’t hear them in their mp3 players, since the sound is too low. It’s also a problem that I have with some podfics, especially if you’re listening somewhere where there’s a lot of background noise, like on public transport. I import to iTunes to make sure it’s good, volume wise.

4:25 I save as “dopplegangers effects” to start working on the effects without possibly ruining all my previous work *g*

First thing I want to try is double up Frank’s lines, so it sounds like there’s two of them. Of course now I realize I should have also applied noise reduction and amplified THAT track as I was doing the main one, because I can’t remember which settings I used /o\

I'm done with those effects by 4:40pm. How I did them: after the recording I made several versions of each sentence (“I’m Frank 1”, “I am” and “Bob Bryar, you’re a genius”). I placed one version under the original one and played them together, and if I didn’t like it I just slid the “ribbon” to the next take etc, like this:

The top track is the text, the bottom is my "doubling up" takes, with different tones of voice or inflexions.

Funnily enough, some of the takes were indistinguishable from the original one! Funny how you basically sound the same when recording the same sentence, even at different times *g*

Now, I’m going to try and make Pete’s phone voice a little different. I’m going to use the equalizing tool for that. I used to have a pre-set “phone” filter but for some reason all my filters are flat lines right now /o\

Google tells me phones basically cut bass and trebles, so I create a filter that looks like this in the equalizer:

It's not *very* different, and ideally I'd also add some static to make the whole thing more realistic, but... to be honest I don't really have time to go through the whole podfic again, looking for the parts that would need it (no, I didn't write them down /o\) and I think static stopping and starting suddenly in sentences like "Oh," Pete said. "And tell Gerard it totally doesn't count as a threesome if two of the people are the same person." would be distracting.

5:01pm : FINAL EXPORT! I’m done! *g*

The finished file with effects is 13:53 minutes long, and it took me a little less than 4 hours to create, from 1st recording to exporting, which honestly, is pretty good!!

I think I’m getting better and more organized at this, which also saves a lot of time. I’m starting to know my way around Audacity, which saves a lot of fumbling, and I’ve played with effects before, including noise reduction and equalizer. I’m also able to record more quickly, and edit for longer periods of time. I remember my first podfic, which is 19 minutes long, was recorded in three different sessions, then I had to do reshoots, and the reshoots don’t sound anything like the first bit, and it’s basically a mess and took FOREVER to do… So… there’s hope for everyone, I guess! Lol

Alright, that's it for today! Probably tomorrow I won't be doing as much, since I have class and I still need to prepare, but I'll be in the podcast about accents on Thursday! I hope you all enjoy :)
randomicicle: Stock - Fluffy scarfrandomicicle on November 9th, 2011 02:19 am (UTC)
Oh, this post is gorgeous ♥. Paid special attention to the bit about editing and effects because that's where I basically get stuck and.. urgh, it's such tedious work after having fun recording. Anyway, I was actually wondering about two things. First, you said, "I also amplify the whole thing by 15dB". Ehm, how do you do that? *shuffles feet* I don't have too much trouble apparently when exporting without doing it, but the volume is certainly lower. Also, when you say to apply noise reduction, if there an special key for that in Audacity? I have to say, Mac's recording quality is quite good, but if there's a way to make it clearer, I'd be delighted.

Anyway, thank you so much for this post! It had tons of interesting useful tidbits ♥ :")
the slashy side of me ...: Podfic Projects modgreedy_dancer on November 9th, 2011 10:18 am (UTC)
Editing is probably the BANE of every podficcer's life! But it can also be fun! I like seeing it come all together, and definitely watching as all the mistakes go away is also kind of satisfying!

Amplification and noise reduction are in the "Effects" menu. There's a basic description here, but I think it's probably for a previous version of Audacity, because in my version, "noise removal" has been renamed "noise reduction". But you can find your way around it pretty easily, I think.

I use Amplification version 1.3.13 beta (in French) so to me amplification looks like this:

I just select whatever piece of audio I want to amplify (or turn down) and slide the bar up or down the line. I don't touch the other setting, I don't even know what it does >.>

Another way to amplify, I've started to realize, is by using the little volume thingies at the beginning of your Audacity tracks:

If you amplify there, by moving the slider towards the + sign, and export without touching those settings, it'll keep the volume that you set. Which I learnt by not having all the tracks amplified the same when I exported, so the volume kept jumping up and down through my recording everytime a new track came on /o\

For noise reduction, I know the tool looks a bit different depending on your version - which I also learnt by asking a podficcer about her noise reduction settings, and she replied with way more settings than I had in my version *g* but the point is, you need to fiddle with it a little and see what sounds the best. I have 4 settings to adjust, which I usually set to something like this:

There's a basic rundown of how to use the tool on the page I linked above. Then you really have to try many, many settings to find the one that you need, depending on your settings and mic and sound quality etc, and to reach the balance between noise reduction and voice distortion, which will happen if you get too excited *g*

Oh, and one thing to remember with noise reduction: it will sound better to set lower settings, and repeat the process several times, than to try and get all the noise on the first pass.

Hope that helps! I'm glad you thought it was interesting! :)

Edited at 2011-11-09 10:21 am (UTC)
randomicicle: JE - GN. Beatrandomicicle on November 11th, 2011 02:21 am (UTC)
:O! Thank you for all this info, love ♥ It was very very useful. Also, I just finished editing a podfic and it took me A LOT less time than usual just by doing the visual editing. It's quite wonderful, should've come up with something similar before and save so much time. Anyway, thanks for the tips :D
hardboiledbabyhardboiledbaby on November 9th, 2011 10:10 am (UTC)
This post is made of awesome :) Don't have time to absorb it all now, but am bookmarking for future reference; thank you!
the slashy side of me ...greedy_dancer on November 9th, 2011 10:42 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm glad you find it interesting/useful! :D

anna_unfoldinganna_unfolding on November 10th, 2011 06:31 am (UTC)
Amazing!!! I think I wouldn't get past all that editing. I'm just not a perfectionist enough. I'd love to read fic aloud, though, for pleasure, or for someone else. But this intimidates me!!! I realize when I listen to one of your fics that you are the kind of podficcer who goes to this length, and I totally appreciate it as a listener. Seeing it spelled out here is eye-opening. Thank you for your commitment to it!
the slashy side of me ...greedy_dancer on November 10th, 2011 12:14 pm (UTC)
Oh man, no! That's totally not the point here /o\ If you want to record, you should. I'm not saying this is what everyone should do, and I certainly don't want to intimidate people out of podficcing, you know? Different podficcers have different editing regimes, more or less stringent, I just happen to have crazy expectations and insecurities that I try to address through editing...

But, as I was saying to... someone, somewhere (all the podfic discussion these days makes it hard to keep track! lol) in the end if you love a recording? Editing doesn't really matter. I remember my favourite stories as absolutely flawless, but when I listen to them again, especially since I started podficcing myself, I realize they're NOT perfect. You can hear background noise (computer chair creaking, click of the mouse...), the reading is sometimes quite fast... many little things that I never actually pay attention to, because the reading and the story are so beautiful and so important to me that they don't compute.

So, you know, I'd hate to be the one who made you not try it if you want to. And you know what, if you do record, and WANT it edted but don't have the time or don't know how? You can always send me the file and I'll see what I can do! :)

Edited at 2011-11-10 12:16 pm (UTC)
ケイトリン: KuboToki // Takeout!keitorin on November 10th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
Reading your process was really interesting, it made me rethink some of the ways I do things myself.

It's fun when you find out how to do a new effect, and I think I picked up a thing or two to try while reading this!

As a side note, I actually enjoy the editing process. I've always liked things that take some concentration, that I can lose myself in a bit. It might be different for editing really long podfics though, we shall see.

Thanks for sharing!