HOW TO – Record a full draft of an audio transcript


After you’ve made a trial recording of your audio transcript, you will work on further developing, organizing, and improving your transcript, in response to feedback from your classmates as well as what you learn by listening to your own and other students’ trial recordings. You might also make an appointment to see me to discuss ways to develop the draft.

Then you will prepare full draft of the transcript and audio recording, which will be more polished than the trial version but not yet close to the polish required for the final version. If you didn’t use GarageBand or Audacity to produce the trial recording, you’ll need to do so for this full draft. You should also include any music for “bumpers” or soundtrack as well as any other sound effects, so you can get feedback on how well those work.

REMINDER: Always save your audio recording as you work on it, as neither GarageBand nor Audacity will auto-save. If you want to experiment with different effects or with editing, make a copy of your recording first, so that you still have the original in case you mess something up.

Tips for Preparing a Full Draft

Also see: Tips to ensure a good quality audio recording

For a full draft you’ll follow steps similar to those for the trial recording, with a few additional tips as described below.

  • Consider inviting a friend to join you, so that you can read the transcript to a live audience.
  • Have a glass of water handy in case your throat gets dry. You might record in small chunks to spare your voice.
  • Make your audio recording in a location that has good sound absorption, to reduce the chance of echoes or a hollow sound to your voice.
    Ideally the location should be small and enclosed as well as filled with soft, padded surfaces, such as the inside of your car or your closet. A small bedroom with carpeted floors, a closed door, and lots of padded furniture in it might also work well. CU students also have the option of using a sound recording booth in the Digital Media Lab in ATLAS (contact Tim Riggs).
  • Be sure to record plenty of silence at the start of your file as well as between each major section. You might even want to stop recording after each section or subsection and take a sip of water or rest your voice, before starting again. These breaks also make it easier to edit each portion.
  • Also pause for a few beats between paragraphs, both to let the listener catch up and also to make it easier to edit a particular paragraph if you make a mistake while reading it (rather than having to go back to the beginning).
  • If you stumble briefly over a word here or there, or if you end up coughing or clearing your throat a few times, that’s fine. But if you have a major stumble or a coughing fit, or if a background noise intrudes (like a ringing phone, barking dog, etc.), either delete and re-record (if you weren’t far in) or record 10 seconds of silence and start over at the beginning of the paragraph. Later you can find the silent portion (the flat line) and edit out the stumble.
  • When you’re finished with the recording, listen to it with earphones and your eyes closed, to experience it like a listener will. Then listen again with your eyes open and take notes on your transcript on what you might want to change, both in the writing and in the way you deliver the audio recording. If you have time, make another recording.
  • After you’re comfortable with your audio narrative, you might want to experiment with adding music, as described below, but doing so is optional.

Music soundtrack: Select a piece without vocals or with very quiet vocals and adjust the volume of the music track so that it doesn’t overwhelm the voice track. It would be better for listeners to be barely able to hear the background music than for them to be barely able to hear you!

Also fade the music out after you’re sufficiently into the voice over and fade it back in as you reach the end of a section.

Music bumpers: Short music “bumpers” are useful to set a mood at the start of your recording and/or to provide transitions between sections of your narrative. Choose copyright-free clips that seem appropriate to your topic and style and gradually fade the bumpers in and out between sections. GarageBand has many music clips you can use in the “loop browser,” and you can also find suitable clips on the web.

Sound effects: I recommend using real world sound effects, as they often come across as cheesy. The only possible exception would be if your goal is to deliver the recording in the style of a radio play or live radio show (like Prairie Home Companion).

Share Your Full Draft

Follow the same steps as in the trial recording to produce an mp3 version of your full draft, using this file name format: lastname-audio-fulldraft.mp3

Also save your revised transcript using the same file name format (although of course the file will end in .doc or something similar instead of .mp3)

Upload the mp3 and transcript to the appropriate folder on Google Docs.