So you’ve listened to a few podfics. They’re something new and different, an exciting way to experience fandom. They’re engaging, and exciting, and you’re really getting a taste for them!
But you can’t help thinking to yourself: “God, this fic would make such a good podfic!” or “why is there so little of this for me to listen to?” Or, best of all: “I think this is something I could maybe do.”
Although some fandoms are absolutely teeming with wonderful, beautifully-made podfics, others can be quite bare when it comes to the amount of these gorgeous audio gems that are available. For anyone who’s ever been curious about how to go about the process of making podfic, here is a little beginner’s guide.
Feel free to reblog and share!
What is podfic?
Podfics are audio recordings of fanfiction that have been read out loud, recorded, and made available for download for other fans to listen to. It can be all lengths, all ratings, all fandoms.
Where can I find them?
All over fandom! For specific archives, however, the Audiofic Archive and Amplificathon are wonderful places to start. Search by tags, find a fandom/pairing/genre that suits your fancy, and download away!
What do I need to start making podfics?
There’s a general rule of three regarding what you need in order to make podfic:
- a quiet place to record
- a microphone
- a computer with sound-editing software
1. A Quiet Place:
You’ll be shocked at how much noise gets picked up by that tiny little mic. In order to record, make sure that you have a quiet space to yourself for a good chunk of time. I personally find that a smaller area - like a bedroom, or even a closet - works better in terms of getting good tone. Make sure you have the space to yourself, without any loud roommates or honking traffic noises outside. The quieter the space, the better the recording.
2. A Microphone:
Mics are a bit more complicated. Some people record quite happily with the microphone that comes ready-built into their computer, and others begin this way and then branch out into a separate microphone later on. Others even use their cell phones! This is totally fine, although I personally admit that I find the quality of my recording infinitely better and more listenable with a separate mic.
It’s possible to buy a perfectly serviceable recording mic for $30-40. (When I started recording, I took a gamble and went out and bought one right at the beginning.) Some people use headset mics and others use standing mics. Personally, I prefer the latter because it allows you to construct and use a homemade pop screen. These can help remove syllabants and plosives from your speech, and they’re a fun little project once you’ve decided you enjoy making audio recordings.
The two main types of editing software that I see used vary depending on your type of computer. Generally speaking, PC users use Audacity while Mac users use Garage Band. Although Macs come with Garageband already, PC users must download Audacity along with the LAME MP3 Encoder. As a PC user myself, I’ll be describing Audacity. I’ve included a tutorial for Garageband at the bottom of the guide.
Audacity is a fairly intuitive program, although there are loads of video guides out there for the technologically-impaired. It really is as simple as downloading the program, plugging in your mic, and starting to record. I suggest downloading it and playing around for a little while! (An awesome tip for Audacity is that when you stop recording and want to start again, hitting Shift + the big red record button will allow you to continue on the same audio track!) It looks more intimidating than it is, I promise. The Podfic Tutorial by pakara has some wonderful images of Audacity to help you along, and Podfic_Tips is another great place to go looking for more information.
How do I choose a fic?
Go for something that really captivates you! Recording podfic is a long, drawn-out process, and there’s nothing worse than spending ages on something that you only kinda like. Keep in mind that, depending on the speed at which you speak, 10,000 words is roughly equivalent to one hour of edited podfic. For your first podfic, it’s usually advisable to start with something fairly short. Perhaps something between 2,500-7,500 words or so!
However, you do need permission to record something that you didn’t write, so be prepared to send a message to the author politely asking whether or not you can record their fic. If they say yes, play it safe and keep their message or a screenshot of it stored somewhere just in case. If they say no, let out a disappointed sigh and look elsewhere. Make sure to let each author know what podfic is, just in case they aren’t aware: it’s best that everyone’s on the same page right from the beginning.
If you’ve written something yourself, sometimes it’s nice to start with that because the writing style should be similar to your speaking style. Or maybe ask a friend if you’re too shy to ask a stranger at first.
If the fic you choose has sexy bits in it, don’t worry! It’s embarrassing for all of us to record explicit scenes at first, but you do get used to it. After a while, those scenes become the same as any other scene!
I’m ready to start. What now?
Get yourself ready. I’m guessing you’ve read the fic at least once if you decided you liked it enough to record it, but give it a skim through. Get your head around the mood, the pacing, any tricky words you might have a hard time with. Have a glass of water nearby if your throat gets dry. (Coughing doesn’t help, and just dries you out more!)
And get started! When I record a fic, I begin by stating a phrase much along this line. “[Title] by [Author], read by [Your Name]”, and I finish the recording with “The End”. :3 It makes it easy to follow!
There are many different techniques for when you’re recording, and none of them are bad. Some people record the whole thing through and edit out mistakes later, others fix mistakes as they go. It’s a personal preference! Some people find it easy to hear when they’ve made a mistake; others need to listen to the recording to spot the error. Don’t worry about not knowing which kind you are at first: that’s why you’ve chosen a shorter fic to record for your first time. It’s usually best, if you make a mistake, to repeat the line that you messed up immediately so that you have a solid recording of it on record.
(I do have a super awesome method that has quite literally saved me HOURS of editing time. I call it the clapping method: every single time you make a mistake, clap loudly, and then repeat the line. When you’ve finished the audiotrack, tada! Every mistake is marked with a large spike of audio, and you don’t even have to listen to the whole thing in order to see where your errors are. :3 However, some people find this method confusing the first time around. Do your first podfic however you like, but I do suggest giving this method a try at least once.)
Some people have a podfic beta that they send their completed files off to once they’re done, which is awesome!
What about technique?
Everyone has a different approach to podfic, and that’s a-okay. In general, try to speak at a pace at which your reader can understand you. (Listen to this recording of Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter if you want a simple example of a nice reading pace, although obviously depending on the mood you’ll vary your speed.) Clarity and enunciation are important, as well! You’ll soon become very aware of the way you speak, and things you have to watch out for. Spacing is a wonderful creature, too. Remember to give your listeners time for the words to sink in.
Also, look up the pronounciations of words you don’t know, and make sure you pronounce the characters’ names correctly! (Otherwise that could be embarrassing later.)
For me, the most important thing is to perform. It’s a one-person performance, in many ways, and things like tone, inflection, and mood all go such a long way to create an interesting and captivating listening experience! Try to get engaged with your story, and not to speak in a monotone. I also personally like to distinguish my character voices from one another, but not everyone likes to do that. Have fun with it!!
I feel awkward about my accent
Don’t! Just remember that everybody has an accent. No matter what your accent is like, a great podfic is a great podfic! Even if your accent doesn’t match up to the fandom you’re recording in (an Australian accent and recording Supernatural, a Canadian accent and recording Doctor Who, etc), don’t worry! People will love to listen to it anyways: the recorder’s voice melds into a seamless story after the first few minutes, I promise.
I’m done recording! Now how do I edit?
Editing is, without a doubt, the most tedious part of making podfic. But don’t lose focus! Everyone edits differently: some people listen through the entire file multiple times and edit and re-record as necessary, others use things like the clapping method to quickly edit without having to listen to the file again. Some methods take more time than others, and it’s best to find the one that works best for you. This is another reason why choosing a shorter story is recommended for your first podfic!
If you’re recording a multi-chapter fic, I recommend recording and editing one chapter at a time before moving onto the next, just to keep things lively. There are loads of wonderful editing tips to be found at podfic_tips, too, if you need any help.
Not everyone chooses to add music to the beginning and the end of the recording, but I find that it makes for a wonderful segue in and out of your performance. Find a good song and import it into Audacity/GarageBand, making sure to adjust it so it’s at a comparable volume to the recording itself. I usually put about 35-50 seconds of the song at the beginning and then fade out, and the whole song fading in at the end. Again, though, you can finagle this however you want or choose not to at all.
It’s done!! How do I share it?
Export the file into Mp3. Garage Band can do this inherently, but you’ll need to download the LAME MP3 Encoder to do it with Audacity. Once you have the completed Mp3, back it up somewhere just to be safe! Then go create an account with uploaders such as Mediafire and begin to upload the file to the internet! (Keep in mind that some countries block the use of some of these programs, so it’s usually best to use at least two.)
When the file is on the internet, now all you have to do is post it! Definitely post it at Amplificathon, as well as in your fandom/pairing communities and on tumblr. And voila! You have created your very first podfic! :D It’s an incredible feeling of creation, staring at your mp3 library or listening to the story and knowing that you made it happen. That people all over the world will download your podfic and listen to you tell them a story, maybe over and over again.
This guide is very much for beginners, and once you start recording you’ll probably have more questions as you start to become more confident. Feel free to ask questions at Podfic_Tips, or even to ask questions of your favourite podfic recorder if you feel comfortable! Those of us you love podfic? We LOVE podfic with all of our hearts; it’s always a wonderful thing to help people create more of it.
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