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The Taipei Frog Conservation Project Part II
In this podcast, I introduce the Taipei Frog Conservation Project in Taiwan and share my reflections on the case study.
Comment from Mr Andrew Thorpe: HI Ming-Yeh, I’ve just had a quick listen to both these podcasts. The first thing that strikes me is I think you need to use a microphone that is external to the recorder, rather than the in-built mic- the sound of your voice is very “thin” in tonal terms. This is especially evident when you cut back to some pre recorded material. I don’t think you’d need anything fancy- maybe a tie clip mic would be the most effective in giving you a fuller sound ( I don’t think it’s the recorder itself that’s at fault). Other observations are that some of the junctions are a little “harsh” in terms of levels. I don’t know if you know the “rubber banding” technique- a process of fading the sound in more gently? Also, just leaving a short pause would ease things a little. One final observation is that if you have a translation, it’s always better to hear the natural native language person speaking for a few seconds at full volume, then fade that into the background (but keep it going) whilst you bring in the English translation over the top. It seems that you started this technique but then you lose the sound of the native language and have some ambient sound in the background of the English translation. So- I reckon all that’s needed is to brush up on your rubber banding and perhaps get a separate mic.
A related article can be accessed from two website: (1) My Blog: http://blog.chinatimes.com/mingyeh/archive/2012/07/05/2228840.html (2) SHS Website: http://case.ntu.edu.tw/shs/?p=13297
Comment from Mr Yiben Ma: 2). I really love the dubbing in the audio which has made the programme even more attractive. In the second part of the programme when you are explaining the definition of network theory, you say 'The notion of network will help us to reconcile the two contradictory aspects of technoscience and to understand how so few people may seem to cover the world'. I feel a bit confused about 'the two contradictory aspects', and it may as I think require a little more clarification.
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The Taipei Frog Conservation Project Part I
In this podcast I introduce the Taipei Frog Conservation Project in Taiwan and share my reflections on the case study.
Comment from Mr Joe Hickinbottom: - There is an audible “hissing” sound throughout the parts in which you are speaking. This will be due to the microphone you are using. Out of interest, how are you recording your podcasts? What microphone/software are you using? Chances are that you are using the mic that is inbuilt into your computer, which is fine, but if you would like a higher quality audio I would suggest that you invest in a standalone mic that you can plug in. The hiss is by no means off-putting though, so I wouldn’t worry about this unless you really want to go for a clearer sound. - Sometimes when you are speaking some parts are louder/quieter than each other. I assume this is due to a shift in your distance from the mic – it sounds a bit silly, but try to keep as still as possible throughout the recording to ensure that the sound level does not drop or increase after you join the clips together. I don’t know what software you are using to edit all the clips together, but ‘Audacity’ is very good and it’s free. You’ll be able to remove some background noise and alter the volume levels with this, but it may be too complicated to use if you are a beginner. If you are interested in using it, let me know and I can forward you links to some guides that will be able to guide you through the processes. You can download it from here if you need to: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/ - At 02:24 in Part I, the farmer’s voice can be heard briefly underneath your speech. I don’t think this is necessary as what is more important is your description and explanation of the farmer and the frog’s habitat. I would only include audio clips under your own speech when it is ambient noise, music or atmospheric sound (e.g. the noise of the students in Part II works rather well I think, although it is slightly loud). - Although I like the inclusion of audio clips of some of the “characters” of the story (it provides a bit of variety and a personal edge), I do think that the short sections of the original speaker’s voice at the beginning of each clip is unnecessary. Often, the audio is unclear and/or noisy yet improves when the English translation begins. I would do either one of two things here: 1) Trim each clip so that it begins when the English translation begins so that the noise at the start of each clip is eliminated (if you were to do this it would be a good idea to highlight at the start of the podcasts that the quotes have been translated into English throughout). However, it would be best to keep a very small part of the original speaker’s voice at the beginning and fade it in briefly as you are still speaking so that the clip doesn’t start too abruptly. Also, make sure that you clearly introduce each clip as to provide a more fluid flow (e.g. the first clip in Part I seems to just suddenly appear as you are talking about the simplistic approach of “the experts” – perhaps say something like “as we can hear from this quote from…” would work?) 2) As the English translator often seems a bit stunted or clunky in his/her delivery, you may wish to simply read out some of the translations yourself. However, I understand that this may reduce the level of variety throughout, so it is really up to you if you wish to do so or not. - The clip at 13:15 in part one comes in slightly too early and disrupts your speech. This isn’t a significant problem though, so I wouldn’t worry too much about changing this if you don’t want to. - Part I ends very suddenly, almost as if you are halfway through a sentence. I understand that this may be due to the fact the software you are using has been forcing you to split the podcast into two parts. If you would like to try using Audacity, I’m pretty sure it would not force you to do this. I don’t think the podcast being in two parts is particularly detrimental, but seeing as the total running time is only about 20 minutes it may be better to have it in one single part, creating a better flow. If you don’t want to use Audacity but do want to just join two audio files together, there are plenty of free programmes that will allow you to do this. If you are using a Mac you could try this: http://join-together.en.softonic.com/mac and if you are using a PC you could try this: http://www.shuangsoft.com/Shuangs_Audio_Joiner.asp Just download the programmes and they should be pretty easy to use. - The clip of Dr. Robin Brown works particularly well I feel. The microphone has captured his voice very clearly and there is very little background noise to be heard. I appreciate that every audio clip will be different and that you may have got each clip from a different source, but I thought I would also let you know what parts do work well rather than only pointing out the problems! - I agree with John Corner and Christine Bailey’s comments on your delivery. In Part II you seem to relax a bit more and the speech flows more freely. Try recording a particular section a number of times (some fast, some slow, with different tones of speech) and play them back one after another to hear which one sounds more natural. Your voice is always very clear and authoritative though, and I congratulate you on that!
Comment from Mrs Christine Bailey: I enjoyed listening much more than reading, having the feeling of you being there to help & guide the listener through the tale. Also it was much easier to follow the voices than to read the text. I found the written text (which I tried first) interesting but a bit awkward in places. I enjoyed the immediacy of the spoken word, and the modulation of your voice helps too to engage the audience. It was an interesting case study and I enjoyed the personal tale of Uncle Stone & his farming problems (probably more than the bit about network theory, to be honest, but I always did like a story). The music divisions were a bit sudden & sometimes came in a bit early, and when that happened I found them a bit intrusive/unnecessary. I agreed with John Corner's comment on your voice early on, when it sounded very much as though you were reading out text very exactly, but later on you speeded up and the flow was much better - it was a bit like a ringmaster (or -mistress) getting used to her job; maybe an inevitable result of trying something new & gradually getting used to what you are doing. It was amusing listening to Robin's voice (but that was personal because I knew him). It is indeed a very handsome frog! (I put that in originally as a light way of finishing, but actually the use of a photo again helps to draw in the audience, get you interested and wanting to learn more.)
Comment from Professor John Corner: Listened to the podcast too. Again, very clear. But the correspondent who mentions the desirability of getting better continuity acoss the sections, including the background acoustic as different speakers come in, is right. I also think you could loosen up just a bit in your delivery, moving more towards the conversational and away from the 'formal'. This would be more attractive to audiences, I think without losing expositional force.
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