Part III – How to Podcast from Your Mac (Recording Skype Conversations and Interviews)

Skype Call RecorderAs I reviewed in Part II – How to Podcast from Your Mac, using Garageband to record a simple podcast is pretty straightforward. I hope you got a chance to try out the process I outlined in that video and found it rather easy to get started.

For most new podcasters, the challenge is finding a certain level of comfort in front of the microphone. It is a funny thing, considering we have no problem talking throughout the day, either in person or on the phone.

A great technique that many podcasters find appealing for their listeners is to record a conversation or an interview over the phone. Traditionally this would require a phone tap of sorts or a paid recording conference service.

Today it’s much easier with Skype. I f you’ve never tried Skype it’s basically an online phone service that let two people talk over the Internet anywhere in the world for free. You can also purchase blocks of minutes and call people on their land line from your computer.

WARNING: it is against the law to record a phone conversation without mutual consent.  You must disclose the fact that you are recording the conversation and get verbal agreement from all parties that this is acceptable before you proceed with the recording.

The beauty for podcasters is that you can record Skype calls and the quality is generally very good.

Install Skype and Recording Plugin

  1. Visit Skype.com and download the free application
  2. Sign up for Skype Out if you plan to call people who do not have Skype.  I highly recommend this even as a backup security measure should they have trouble connecting with Skype.  Calls are only $.02-$.03 per minutes.
  3. Download ECamm Call Recorder – this plugin let’s you record calls and split the tracks for editing in Garageband.
  4. Get a good headset.  Skype has a number of models they recommend.  You can also use a mic like the Samson CO1U (aff) and a separate set of headphones.  In either case I recommend the mic inputs are USB rather than using the mic input jack.  Check out Part I – How to Podcast from Your Mac (Equipment and Software) for more tips on this.

When you first install Skype, you have the option to make a few free test calls.  I also recommend you find a friend to also install Skype and familiarize yourself with how Skype works before you start doing any recording.  Of course, I just dove right in and learned the hard way, though I must say Skype is simple to use.

Skype Recording Preferences

Skype Recording Preferences - Click to Enlarge

Once you install Call Recorder, you have the option to modify its setting from within Skype, but you will be fine with the default settings.  Personally, I set the recorder to record by default so as not to miss something by accident.

Once you’re ready to record, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Minimize any background noise.  Turn off the ringer on your phone and any other machines that make white noise (fans, printers, etc).  Close the door and put a sign outside if necessary – you don’t want someone barging in and ruining your great recording.
  • Click the red record button on Call Recorder when you are ready and let the conversation begin.
  • You might want to start off with an introduction of yourself and anyone else on the line.
  • Keep it conversational and do not read from a script.  You may find a list of leading questions helpful, but try to talk as if you were have a regular discussion.
  • Speak clearly and ask open ended questions – those that require more than just a simple yes or no response.  This will help keep the discussion going.
  • At the end of the call, ask your guest how people can find them (website, contact info, etc)
  • Thank your guest and finish the call.

At this point Call Recorder will stop and save the recording to the default folder.  You can change this folder in Preferences.

After the recording is complete you have a few options:

  1. Save the recording as is.
  2. Open in QuickTime Pro and split the tracks.  Save both tracks and import into Garageband, so you can tweak individual tracks
  3. Open the recording in Garageband and edit or add some intro music and other elements.

Extract Apple Quicktime Pro Tracks

In my upcoming posts, I will review how to send this new podcast episode to iWeb or WordPress, among other details for making your podcast public.

What do you think? Have you tried recording calls with Skype for your podcast?  How is that going?

Please leave a comment below or on Twitter @steinarknutsen.

Thanks,
Steinar