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Making Library Videos: Recording Audio

When creating library videos, librarians must decide whether or not to include an audio track (or multiple audio tracks) and/or a music soundtrack with the video.  In live action recording, most digital cameras have built-in condenser microphones to capture the performers speaking, as well as other surrounding sounds (or simply background noise), and this audio is embedded in the video track.  There are times, however, when it would be desirable to have a separate audio track (or tracks).  For instance, a voice-over narration can enhance still images.  Here's an example below.

Paul Hadley Biographical Video, Part One,
by Mooresville Public Library
(created using Windows Movie Maker Live)

Most video editing software (e.g.Wondershare Filmora) has the capability to insert one or more audio tracks, in addition to a music track, alongside the video track.  Windows Movie Maker Live (WMML), however, allows only one separate audio track, so unless you've used your camera to record sound, you'll need to choose between audio (e.g., voice-over narration) and music if you're using WMML.  (In January, 2017, Microsoft discontinued downloading of Windows Essentials, which included WMML, forcing many video makers to switch platforms.  Many of those who already have WMML, however, continue to use it.)

To create a separate audio track (or tracks), you will need a computer or mobile device, audio recording and editing software (or app), and a desk or lapel microphone (unless your mobile device has a built-in condenser mic; if you're using a computer, you'll need to attach a mic).  There are many audio software choices available (some free, others for sale).  We have used two programs:  Audacity (for Windows, Mac, or Linux) and GarageBand (for Mac or iOS).  Both were free when we acquired them (GarageBand came preloaded on our iMac laptop; Audacity was a free download).

Both Audacity and GarageBand offer full-featured audio recording and editing capabilities. They are sophisticated programs but are easy to use with a little practice.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'll let the companies themselves explain software features (click the logos above to learn more).

Desktop microphones with USB connectivity are reasonably cheap.  We have a Logitech USB desktop microphone that we purchased around 10 years ago at Radio Shack for about $20 (currently priced on Amazon at around $40).  It records sound reasonably well.

Logitech USB Desktop Microphone

We've used audio recording/editing software for more than videos.  When we created a self-guided walking tour of historic downtown Mooresville, Indiana, we originally furnished a paper handout of particular points of interest.  Subsequently, we recorded an audio tour guide (using GarageBand) on an audio CD to accompany the handout.

We have found audio recording/editing software to be indispensable in our video-making projects.  We don't always use it--many of our videos have video/still images with text and music only--but when we need it, we're glad to have it.


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