Creating a page-by-page narration course

I am about to start a new course with page-by-page narration by the course instructor.  I have never done this before, so I thought I will check with the community before I start to build the course.  I have been reading a lot on Tom’s blogs about getting the right audio equipment, setting up the recording environment and such, but there are still a few things I am not quite sure about, so I’d like to get some support from this group. 

For this course, I will be building it using Storyline.  It will contain approximately 150 slides breaking up into 3 course modules (i.e. ~ 50 slides per module)   The instructor already has all the slides built in Powerpoint, so I have the following questions:

1.       Should the instructor use PowerPoint narration to record the audio, or should the instructor use Audacity?  (Is Audacity easy to use for someone who is not technical?)

2.       Should the audio be recorded for each slide, or should audio be recorded for a group of slides, or continuously for the whole module?  Which way is easier to import into Storyline or to clean etc.?  Should I cut up the recording by slides after it is being recorded before importing to Storyline?

3.       If we create a sound file for each slide, does that mean there will be a longer loading time when learners flip from one slide to another?  Alternatively, if audio is recorded as one big file for the whole module, does that mean the loading time will be very long when learners click on a learning module?

4.       Are there any settings to deal with to make sure sound files are kept to minimal size before recording starts?  I am just afraid that the sound files are way to big to handle after all recordings are done and have to re-record all over again. 

Any responses and tips will be really helpful.

Thanks

Alice

9 Replies
Josh Uhlig

I'm sure there will be different opinions, but here are answers based on how I work:

1. I would use Audacity as there will be less steps to get the sound file and import it into Storyline.  Audacity is pretty easy to use - especially if you are just recording and saving the file.  Make sure you use a good naming convention so it will be easy to know which sound file will be imported to each slide.

2. I prefer a separate recording for each slide, but it is best to do it all in the same setting, with the same equipment, and in the same day.  This will help keep the sound consistent through all slides.  With a good naming convention, it will be easy to import into the Storyline project - just a couple button clicks.  Storyline doesn't have the function Presenter does that allows you to spread a single sound file over multiple slides.  In Storyline, you would have to import the same file into multiple slides and trim it separately for each slide.

3. The loading time will be the same regardless, since you can't import a single file to work over multiple slides.  Each slide will end up having it's own file(s)

4. Audacity will have settings that you can use to adjust the quality of the sound when saving.  I would try a few different ones and see what is acceptable.  You can also adjust the sound quality when publishing in Storyline.  Look under Properties for the Quality link.  Click it and you will see a slider bar for sound.

Brett Rockwood

I mostly concur with Josh but would add that when doing the recording I sometimes find it smoother if you record in managable chunks and not strictly slide by slide. Narration done slide by slide can sound choppy and unnatural so I've found recording in a useful chunk that may span several slides and then splitting the chunk up into individual sound files makes the narration flow a bit better.

Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

Hi Alice,

I agree overall. Here's what I do:

I love Audacity. I do try to record in chunks. Most newbies will think they need to restart every time they make a mistake, so be sure to understand that you needn't do that. In fact, it will drive you (you being the narrator) crazy. When you use tools like Audacity you just keep going; that is, pause after the mistake, then start again.

By chunks: depending on the amount of script in a slide, the narrator may be able to record several slides over a period of several minutes.So, similar to what Brett said. In addition, when I'm recording over several days/weeks, I'll often go back and listen to myself so I can "pick up" the same tone.

Anyway, after recording a chunk, what I would do, is to go back and edit out the mistakes (other things can be done as well, such as normalization...).

Regarding your question 3: ShouldI cut up the recording by slides after it is being recorded before importing toStoryline?

If you know ahead of time which audio goes with which slide, Audacity has a really neat feature that allows you to label those sections and export them out separately, so all you need to do afterward is insert them into the appropriate slide. These are the steps I use. Mostly, you can use the keyboard. It takes a bit to get into the rhythm, but it's such a great feature.

Keyboard labeling
  1. Begin playing the audio. can be done by pressing the spacebar
  2. Press the left bracket [ at spot where the section (e.g., Slide 1 audio) should begin (nothing shows on the timeline when you do this).
  3. Press the right bracket ] at space where the section (e.g., Slide 1 audio) should end.
    This will automatically highlight that portion of the audio
  4. Press the spacebar to pause the audio
  5. Press the combo keystroke CTRL+ALT+V to add a label name box. You'll see this white box appear on a new timeline.
  6. Type in the label name (e.g., Slide 1)
Then click on the timeline where the new section (e.g., Slide 2) should begin and repeat the process.

When all the audio has been marked, you can export it and each labeled section will be saved as a separate wav file.

To Export:
  1. File >Export Multiple
  2. You may need to change the Export location
  3. I leave all the defaults. .wav files are automatically created
  4. Click the Export button

If you go to the export location, you'll see each wav file has been saved with the matching Slide names...or however you named them in Step 6 above.

If you have any questions, just holler! Also, if the narrator is new at recording, s/he may want to do some Google searches on recording tips. I have a few URLs stashed away somewhere if you're interested

Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

Hi Brett,

Well, I tend to over-analzye and read EVERYTHING, so I won't share all my links. I've just poked through my OneNote notes to find a couple that highlighted some of what I found to be the most helpful when I began doing voiceovers

http://www.guidesandtutorials.com/audacity-voiceover.html

Tips include mic positioning, environment, food, and pacing tips; plus links to other tips and trick

http://retrogrrl.blogspot.com/2008/06/audio-recording-tips.html

Tips include "Before you Start", Equipment, Software (others besides Audacity; I like Audacity), How to Speak

http://www.guidesandtutorials.com/audacity-scriptwriting.html

Great tips on script writing which helps the script reading!

Jeff Nauman

I've found a great tool to use in conjunction with Audacity and I'm sure it's been recommended in this forum before. In case it hasn't, check out 'The Levelator' at Conversations Network- http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator. It was designed to equalize sound files that contain two or more voices, but I find that it works quite well for single-narrator scripts and production. It couldn't be easier to use and it really helps to keep the voice and gain variations under control.Just drag and drop your recorded files onto the Levelator and it creates an output file identically named. They're no longer supporting it, but it's still available (free). Hope that helps.