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Mike Mulcahy

"Remote" audio interview

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Hi,

 

A low-budget doc I have been working on is going to try remote audio-only interviews. I've been tasked with suggesting some workflow solutions.

 

I did check the site but didn't see anything; if I missed it I'd be glad to be pointed in the proper direction.

 

I am currently thinking along two approaches.

1. Via the Internet

- Basic guidelines provided to each interviewee to minimize "noise" in their environment.

- Headphones that could be mailed to each interviewee, connected to their phone in order to hear the director's questions

- A USB mic mailed to each interviewee that could be connected with some ease to their laptop; they would use the mic to respond top the director's questions

- An internet connection, such as Source Connect, which would feed to interviews voice to my system from which I could record directly in Pro Tools

- The equipment package (mic and headphones) would then be mailed to the next interviewee

 

2. The Interviewee recording directly into a portable recoding

- mail an equipment package of mic, headphones and H5 type recorder to each interviewee

- do a zoom session to help each interviewee set up the equipment and check rec levels.

- Basic guidelines provided to each interviewee to minimize "noise" in their environment.

- The equipment package (mic, recorder and headphones) would then be mailed to the next interviewee

 

Am I missing a more obvious solution? Or a better one?

 

One mitigating factor - the director wants the solutions to be "plug n' play" easy...

 

Any help appreciated.

 

Mike

 

 

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Could you do something like to send them a USB mic, like a Rode NT USB-Mini. Have them plug it into eg Zoom, and have them record the Zoom meeting/call??? If the director mutes their own mic when they are 'listening' then audio quality coud/might be quite good??? Might need a proper test though.....

 

sb

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We're looking at all of the above, depending on willingness and techo-level of the remote folks.  Many of them are recording themselves on their phones ("Voice Memo"), some are recording Zoom meetings various ways, some are mailing handy-recorders,  that get mailed back. One client has gone with a brace of these https://tinyurl.com/r28dttz

A whole interview crew in one box!  He's mailing these to the subjects (instead of handy audio recorders)--they have to send them back or he sends a delivery service for them.

 

Screen Shot 2020-04-11 at 8.00.16 PM.png

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23 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

A whole interview crew in one box!  He's mailing these [Zoom audio/video recorders] to the subjects (instead of handy audio recorders)--they have to send them back or he sends a delivery service for them.

 

Interesting. Would love to know how that works out for him. I know people sending out USB mics, little Zoom recorders, headset mics, and similar setups. Sort of Unguided Tape Syncs... The plans are send the equipment with a one-page setup guide, and use a Skype/Zoom/etc video feed to tweak things, and then hope for the best. Seems like good limiters or a cheap 32-bit recorder could be handy... But people are rolling with what they have or can find (since so much remote production/streaming stuff is sold out right now!).

 

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This thing is too fiddly-techie for most doco interview subjects, even with a live Zoom meeting to talk them through using it.  I wish they'd made it simpler, like one button. 

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It seems some of the podcasters out there are using things like "Squadcast" to remote capture interviews right now since they can't (or shouldn't) have guests visit in person to their respective studios.

https://squadcast.fm/

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Squadcast is Android only right now, and the remote talent has to initiate record on their own machine (they say the app will upload the audio automatically after recording).  Our problem is that many of our talent are not using Android devices and aren't very tech-savvy. The directors don't want to sour the vibe of the interview with much of any tech stuff having to be done by the talent.  One of these developers will probably figure out how to make this even simpler--maybe a further development of Squadcast that can use Apple devices and transmit high waulity audio to the host live.

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Lots of challenges, but a couple radio friends mentioned this two-minute video from a couple years ago that they've found helpful when interviewing not-so-techy people who own iPhones (b/c of the fairly consistent interface). 

 

Your iPhone makes interviews crystal clear

https://vimeo.com/83811743

(Sorry the video doesn't appear embedded).

 

Another article that takes into account the need to minimize the burden on interviewees/guests. Audio/radio focus, but still some good thoughts, imo:

 

====

Remote Recording

How to record long-distance audio interviews in a time of social distance and studio shutdowns.

 

Prepared for the podcasters at Teaching Tolerance (Southern Poverty Law Center)

 

In times like these, entering a professional recording studio isn’t smart or, often, possible. Rather than stop our recording schedules, let’s adapt. Let’s find options for recording guests remotely – to get us through current and future emergencies.

 

The solution must be easy to use and hard to mess up, for hosts and for guests. Audio won’t be studio quality but it must be good. (Each part of the production process — edit, EQ, mix, encode — loses a little more audio fidelity. So the better the quality of the original recording the better the audio left in the end product.)

 

My best cost/sound recommendations:

For host tracks, set up a simple home studio for each host.

For guest interviews, use a remote-recording service audio service.

Details follow (loaded with Transom and other links). Please comment and correct…

https://hearingvoices.com/2020/03/remote-recording/

====

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Looks like that two-minute video I linked to earlier now appears embedded (sorry if it did so earlier for you all). I like the "put the phone on a stack of books" advice. 😉

 

 

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Hi All,

In the past 2 weeks I have been asked to record 2 interviews remotely for ongoing documentaries and I opted for sending a simple audio kit along with an 8 minute "how to connect it" video I made on my phone.  

I sent a Zoom H6, a short XLR cable and a small folding tabletop mic stand to hold a Schoeps MK41.  

Did the usual COI with client and sent everything via FedEx.  

I had to wait 3 days to get the gear back and then hear if worked out.  I did ask the interviewees to wear headphones for the first minute to make sure there was no obvious problem but beyond that there isn't much one can do to judge the quality of what is being recorded.

 

Definitely don't want this to be the new normal even though it turned out really well both times.

 

The Voice App idea isn't bad either.  Thanks for sharing that Jim.

 

Adriano

 

 

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The "voice memo" app has become a major axe for us in these times...I try to get the particpants fo Zoom meetings to record on their phones too--WAY better audio than Zoom's recordings.

 

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Nothing against Android phones, but I'm finding variance in audio quality and voice-recorder interfaces. I don't have an Android phone these days, but I think I'm going to track down some similar video/text+pix tutorials to the one above from Aspen Public Radio. 

 

Also, let your producers know that when they're using Zoom etc to interview the film's protagonists and antagonists, they could assign one of these official Death Star backgrounds. Really helps viewers distinguish heroes and villians.

 

star_wars_backgrounds_featured_tall.0.jp

 

JOIN MEETINGS FROM A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY WITH THESE STAR WARS BACKGROUNDS

TAKE YOUR VIDEO CONFERENCES ANYWHERE FROM TATOOINE TO THE RESISTANCE BASE.

Have an upcoming video call? Don’t dial-in from your living room — send your transmission from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.

 

https://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-backgrounds

 

 

 

 

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Client looking to do remote intv-- probably going to use IOS Voice memo.  Did a few tests with other apps but tough to beat simplicity and relative quality of Voice Memo...  

 

I looked at REV , Voice Recoder and Awesome Voice Recorder.  Awesome Voice Recorder(AVR) sounded really good.  However- outputting a AVR file that i could read in Audacity or wav agent was a problem.  Seems to come up as a text file.  Quicktime could play it.. but that is not very handy and has me concerned about the client having issues.  Even iTunes could not the files...  

 

Anybody here have any better apps that sound better than Voice Memo?    Tough to balance simplicity and quality.  

 

Thanks-  

 

j  

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3 hours ago, johngooch said:

Anybody here have any better apps that sound better than Voice Memo?    Tough to balance simplicity and quality.  

 

How tech savvy is the client? Two quick/easy(ish) options that I've narrowed it down to:

 

Apple Voice Memos- higher quality setting

An easy thing to do, if they're on iOS 12 or higher, is to go into Settings and under Voice Memos, go to Audio Quality and select Lossless (on my up-to-date version of iOS, at least...IIRC, earlier might have said Uncompressed). That records in Apple's ALAC format, 48K at 720 kbit/s...Or so the internet says (ALAC? Huh...). The other, default, quality option is Compressed which appears to be AAC at 64 kbit/s... It's easy to switch, but the files will take longer to upload (duh, but perhaps a factor?). If your client is hip to Dropbox, Google Drive, or whatever, getting the file to you should be no big deal. 

 

Rode Rec App (alas, currently not available)

It can record 24bit/48k WAV (and other formats), provides some dynamics control (a good or bad thing, depending on the user), and integrated upload to FTP, Dropbox, and SoundCloud (though I think the user needs to already have accounts set up there). It's pretty simple to use and either free for very inexpensive (I think it was free and more recently was like $5US)... But Rode says it's currently not available since they say a new version is coming. Maybe there's some codec licensing thing going on? Anyway, since it's currently not available, I guess it's just something to keep an eye on.

http://www.rode.com/software/roderec

 

You know there's also Hindenburg Field Recorder that some radio friends use for their work. Looks totally cool, but it's totally overkill to give to a someone you'll be interviewing, imo. https://hindenburg.com/products/hindenburg-field-recorder

 

In fact, I kind of feel that for most iPhone-owning people we're likely to interview, anything beyond maybe the Apple Voice Memos Lossless option is just inviting trouble. They have Voice Memos, they may even know how to use it, and the file-sharing/uploading UX is a standard iOS UX. And there aren't any settings to screw up. Instead of downloading a new app, I'd rather they spend time piling up books to position the phone better (check that video in post #14 above)...

 

But what are other people settling on?

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I like Twistedwave on iPhone / iPad, though it might be a little intimidating to a really non-technical person as it shows several editing tools (not that they need them). File Export (sharing) is easy and comprehensive.

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This is for interviews of financial market people....  So no idea how tech savvy...   I would not assume not very....  Voice memo-- seems like the best option.. Also free versions of many recording apps are riddled with ads...   

 

thanks!

 

j

 

 

 

 

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Doing some remote recording the end of this month. The client decided that having the interview subjects record audio locally was too much work and they were fine with the audio quality that comes over their meeting software of choice.

 

So my workflow for this is digitally routing my computer's output back into protools and joining the meetings.

2 days of recording and 2 days of editing will be some of the easiest work I've had in years. Plus, it is for a big corporate client, so I'm getting full rate plus a rush rate for turning around the edits that weekend.

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Hi,

 

Thanks all for the replies and help. An update on what we did:

 

We bought a Yeti Blue Nano and inexpensive headphones and shipped to the interviewee, along with emailed instructions for how to use and set up best conditions for recording sound.

 

We used zoom to connect:

- the director

- the interviewee

- the sound recordist

 

The sound recordist used Source Connect to route the interviewee's computer sound into the recordist's ProTools rig; we made sure the director's questions got recorded separately but stayed out of the interviewee's sound feed.

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Zoom Meeting has an option in 'Recording' to 'record participants audio separately',  I have not used it though. The mic,  environment and other quality issues are the same though.

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The recordings Zoom can make of a meeting are far lower quality than even Zoom's live feed.  To get the local audio it is better to route the audio to recording app.  The easiest way to get the audio of the remote speaker is have them use voice memo and a properly-positioned phone, and send the file in. 

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