Recording and editing Skype calls can be a great way to bring authentic voices into your classroom as well allowing students to reflect on their speaking work and give them assessment for learning opportunities.
In these two screencasts, Lisa Hartnell from Audible Marketing describes in her own inimitable relaxed manner how to set up Pamela for Skype to record each speaker as a separate channel and then how to mix the channels together in Audacity so both voices appear in both ears, not one in one and one in the other. Please note that this is not possible in the free version of Pamela, but it is definitely worth upgrading as it gives you much more control when editing and your conversations no longer have a time limit.
I first learnt this trick at PodCampUK two and a half years ago and I've used it ever since when editing Skype interviews. I also learnt about using iTunes to encode mp3 files instead of the Lame encoder in Audacity. See the clip below for more details:
In the second tutorial, Lisa explains how you can edit each track independently by clicking on the dropdown menu and selecting Split Stereo Track. This is very useful because it means you can remove extraneous noise by highlighting a section, clicking Generate and choosing Silence.
Alternatively, you can copy a quiet section of a certain length and paste it over the equivalent section which contains the noise you want to remove. As long as both sections are of the same length, it will work seamlessly. Don't forget to click the drop down menu again on the upper track and select Make Stereo Track before proceeding though otherwise the tracks will no longer be in sync.
When you've finished editing, split the tracks again. Click on the drop down menu and select Mono for each one. Select both tracks by holding down Ctrl and pressing A or clicking Edit/Select/All. Then click Project/Quick Mix and you're done. To achieve stereo separation, slide the L .. R pan control 20% to the right for one of the tracks and 20% to the left for the other before mixing them both together.
Pretty May also allows you to record Skype calls as two separate channels with one speaker on the right channel and the other on the left channel. For Mac users, the software of choice seems to be Audio Hijack Pro or Callrecorder.
A free DIY method is for both speakers to record their end using Audacity and to create a marker by clapping or saying a countdown at the same time so that the tracks can be properly synced afterwards. One speaker then emails their side of the conversation or sends it as a file through Skype and the second speaker mixes it together with their own.
Lisa has created some more great tutorials about using Audacity including:
- Audacity Tutorial Part One
- Audacity Tutorial Part Two
- Audacity Tutorial Part Three: Basic Editing
- Audacity Tutorial Part Four: Voice editing in Audacity
- Audactiy Tutorial Part 5: Simple Mixing Music with Voice
- Audacity Tutorial 5b: Simple Mixing Music with Voice cont...
- Mix Your Podcast with an Intro and Outro using Audacity
- How to Use the Time Shift Tool in Audacity to Mix Your Podcast
- Audacity Tutorial: Amplification, Compression, Normalizing and Exporting Your Podcast
- Audacity Tutorial: Splicing Audio Together (Correcting Mistakes)
- simple - introduction, recording, editing (first half), editing (second half), exporting as mp3
- slightly more challenging - adding music, creating your intro (1st half), creating your intro (2nd half), creating your outro
- more tools and tricks - solo and mute, naming tracks, moving tracks
Language teachers Rachel Hawkes and Amanda Salt have been investigating the potential of Audacity too for recording GCSE orals and answering questions. Their advice is well worth checking out as well.
Thanks to Wes Fryer for tweeting about this post
and for others like Skolanet for tweeting or retweeting too. Much appreciated!