Jamie Woods


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YouTube Top Tips

Posted by Jamie Woods on

Sharing visual content from your show? Here are some creator 101 tips for YouTube and other video platforms.

If possible, ask the Head of Visual Content (e: [email protected]) to upload the content directly onto our YouTube channels.

This really depends on your target audience, but if you’re an entertainment show trying to #SocialGoals, this is a great place to start.

1. Short & Sweet

For visual radio, long-form video doesn’t work best. Remember the “one thought one link” rule from entertainment radio – apply that to videos if you want to target .

For instance, if you have a live act performing a set of songs, make sure each song has its own video. It’s fine to have ten or twenty seconds of dialogue at the start and end, as this helps give context.

2. Copyright Check

Cut out all music! Be wary if you’ve used a bed – if it’s a well known song instead of an Insanity specific bed, it may get flagged.

YouTube has a PRS license, which means they pay for song covers (great for live music!) Facebook does too, as of February – covering all their platforms such as Instagram, Messenger.

3. Look & Feel

Make sure you “top and tail” your videos, so they’re instantly recognisable as ours. The top contains our “sonic logo” (as well as logo), so people immediately know what they’re watching is an Insanity production.

The “tail” lets us suggest videos to viewers in the last 5-10 or so seconds of a YouTube video.

If you’re not sure how to do this, you can send your unedited video to the Head of Visual, but they won’t be able to get it published as a priority.

4. Sharing

Videos should, where possible, be uploaded to Insanity’s social media channels. From there, you can share them on your own pages. Due to how Facebook and Twitter’s algorithms work, people are more likely to see your videos this way.

People are more likely to watch videos on Facebook if they’re uploaded as a Facebook video. Opening another app is a pain, and you lose out on autoplay.

Our Facebook videos get thousands of views.

Don’t share music/covers on Twitter, as this is illegal because they currently have no licensing agreement.

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Manual Vision Mixing

Posted by Jamie Woods on

If you’re doing a planned visualised segment, chances are you’ll want to manually control which cameras are live. This is called vision mixing.

Insanity uses a bit of kit it built called automix to control the cameras, but you can manually override it. To do that, open a web browser, and go to http://10.32.0.125:9292 . This can only be done from an Insanity network connected PC (so any one in the office or studios).

This’ll show you a page somewhat like this.

automix remote control – GoggleBox.

When you close the GoggleBox web-page, the camera settings will revert back to default.

In the above screenshot, the cameras are in Auto mode.

None of what we can adjust on this page affects sound.

Turning Off the Slate

The slate is the “holding picture” (currently a vinyl with the classic Insanity headphones) used when the cameras and microphones aren’t live. If we want to override this so that the cameras are always live, we can click the toggle button labelled “Slate”, which will change to “Wide”. In the “Wide” mode, the wide angle camera will always be live when the microphones are off.

Manually Selecting Cameras

Click the “Auto” toggle button. It will slide to “Manual”, and change colour to grey. The other buttons will become visible again, and you can click them.

To change which camera/input is live, double click/tap it. The first click will put the camera into preview mode (this is important for technical reasons), and the second click will make it live. The live camera will not change unless you either shut GoggleBox, change the mode back to Auto, or click another camera.

 

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Audio Checklist – Gettin’ It Right Every Time

Posted by Jamie Woods on

Working on a podcast, video, or some on-air segment that’s pre-recorded? Here are a list of things you should always check off before airing and/or uploading a clip.

This assumes you have a relatively basic understanding of audio. If not, there are some brilliant tutorials out there – we’ll be writing some of our own guides soon!

Pre-production check-list:

  1. Your microphone is close to the source. But not too close – nobody should be making out with the mic. 10-20cm is a good distance.

    If this isn’t particularly easy to achieve, have a listen before you record. If you don’t, it’s almost impossible to remove them in post. So plug in a pair of headphones, and ensure:

    • The target isn’t drowned out by the background noise. If you can’t check, go somewhere quiet.
    • The target isn’t echo-ey (the bathroom effect). Is their speech nice and clear?

      If any of the above are true, move the microphone closer.

  2. Ensure that you’ve got enough microphones. Try and get the Zoom, not the Tascam, as this lets you plug in more mics. Make sure:
    1. You have a different microphone for everyone talking. For instance, your interviewee has a handheld (with better quality), and you have the portable recorder
      OR
    2. You have the one microphone closest to your interviewee. You can always re-record your questions later on, but obviously not theirs.
  3. If outside, you have a windshield on your microphones to prevent that yuck whooshing sound.
  4. Check the levels before you record.
    1. When your guests speak, the level ideally shouldn’t go above 75% on the VU (volume unit) meter.
    2. It shouldn’t be normally below 40%, as for technical digital recording reasons your quality becomes lower & noisier.
  5. Record phone calls using the unit in the studio, not off a mobile phone. Cell tower quality is really poor.
  6. If you’re shooting video:
    1. Avoid using just the shotgun microphone on your camera. The audio from these is almost always unusable. Give your presenter a handheld, use a clip-on/wireless mic, or find a boom operator.
    2. If covering an event, ask the organisers ahead of time if they can provide you with an audio feed. The Union are usually willing to do this. You can probably plug the XLR directly into your camera.

 

Once you have the audio back in the edit suite, import it into Audacity and split all the tracks into mono. This’ll make mixing easier.

Post-production checklist:

  1. The overall levels are OK. The volume shouldn’t go between loud and quiet across different segments. You can apply some compression to achieve this, or use Audiomatic on your final mix to master the audio.
  2. Speech isn’t panned to the left or right. Put on a pair of headphones – if one of your ears receives special treatment, ensure the audio tracks are split to mono.
  3. The average volume of your clip, in Audacity, sits at about 80% height on the blue wave form (or, when you play it, doesn’t go above -4 on the green meters). Try to avoid red vertical lines, as these represent clipping (which your audience can hear as distortion).

You can fix some of these issues using Audiomatic – an internal tool we built specifically to help you do this with minimal effort. If you’re not an Insanity member, you can achieve a similar effect using Stereo Tool and the Syrtho preset – our tool is just a shortcut for this.

Production

Playing Out Syndication: Student Radio Chart

Posted by Jamie Woods on

In this post, we’ll explain how to syndicate a show (such as the Student Radio Chart Show)

You will need:

  • The raw streaming URL for the server in question. It might look like one of these, but could be anything
    • http://0.0.0.0:8000/stream
    • http://0.0.0.0/;
    • http://stream.bbc.com/listen.mp3
  • Access to the main studio

This implies the show starts at 2PM. Adjust accordingly.

  1. Open VLC from the start menu
  2. Go to File, Open Network.
  3. Enter the streaming URL from above
  4. Press “Play”
  5. Pre-fade listen OB1 on the mixing desk to see if there is signal. If not, check Stereo Tool is running. Open its window, and see if there are any green signal bars showing up on the monitor.
  6. If there is signal, use the green knob on the mixer to adjust the volume. It should peak at around 5, and never exceed six.
  7. On Myriad, set the current (1PM) hour to Auto Fade, so that it finishes exactly on the top of the hour (i.e. at 14:00:00), instead of early or late.
  8. On Myriad, empty the log hour (2PM) completely, except for the green Top Of Show. Empty any following hours (3PM) completely, including the green Top Of Show.
  9. Make all hour(s) (2-3PM) Live Assist.
  10. After this log item, add the “SRA Chart Show” purple marker. (It will show up green in the log, this is normal!) This is on the second page of the Audio Wall sweepers page.
  11. Set this to a stop.
  12. Once you reach the SRA Chart Show, and the stop, turn on and fade up OB1.

At the end of the show, fade down OB1 and hit “Go”, like you would finishing any other link.

 

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Tips for Sourcing Music

Posted by Jamie Woods on

All music used in broadcast needs to come through the right channels. If it doesn’t, then the broadcaster risks getting in huge trouble. Obviously, we pay for all our music. Scary bits aside, let’s discuss how to source high quality music for your show.

Prerequisite: Music Quality

Music comes in all shapes and sizes. You’ve probably head of MP3 and WAV. There are other formats such as M4A, AAC, and FLAC that we use in broadcast. This will explain what all of that means. If you don’t care, you can skip over it. It’s useful to know, though.

You’ve probably noticed that MP3 files are waaaaay smaller than WAVs. This is because they apply clever tricks to remove bits of audio that humans aren’t likely to hear. As a result, this lowers the sound quality – known as “lossy/compression”. There are different intensities of compression that result in different “bit rates”. These are the ones for MP3:

128kbps is regarded as transparent (i.e. unnoticable) to (very very roughly) about 50% of people. But that’s not good enough for broadcast. This is about the top quality of YouTube.

192kbps is regarded as transparent to about 70% of people. Still not good enough for broadcast.

256kbps and above are transparent to 99% of people, which is probably acceptable.

In modern M4A/AAC, anything above 192kbps is probably okay to use in broadcast.

If you’re thinking “why can’t I just increase the bit rate?” – you sadly can’t. If you’ve ever tried to make a small digital photo bigger, you’ve probably found it’s impossible. It’s the same concept with audio. Sadly, some online stores try to fake the bit rate and then pretend it’s higher when in fact it isn’t.

We can’t use tracks that aren’t above 256kbps or similar. This is because the station uses clever processing techniques to make our output sound better, but this does not work well with low bit rate MP3s (i.e. 192kbps or below). You really can hear it, and it sounds very unprofessional.

WAVs and FLACs are large files, but they keep all of the sound quality.

Nerve will do most of the hard work here in determining if a song is of good enough quality. If it isn’t, it’ll reject it. Before Nerve, this was not possible.

Promos

A lot of our music actually comes from record labels. The Head of Music receives lots of emails with links to tracks. If it’s relatively mainstream, chances our you can ask them very nicely to see if they have it.

You can also approach a record label directly. As this blog is public, I can’t share our contacts, but our Head of Music will again be happy to assist! Often, you can find a bands publicist through Google.

Online Stores

I Like Music

This store is designed for broadcasters. Registering an account is free. The best bit about this store is that downloads are significantly cheaper than iTunes and Amazon. It is done on a credits system, so purchasing 50 credits will get you 50 songs at 63p a track. There’s no minimum, but bulk credits give bulk discounts.

When selecting a .WAV, you’ll need to enter/search for the track in Nerve. This is because WAVs don’t include computer readable song info, unlike most MP3s.

iTunes

The iTunes store lets you download tracks at 99p a pop. Don’t forget that this is separate to Apple Music, which is a streaming service not a downloads service.

You can select the M4As from your “iTunes” music folder and upload them directly to Nerve.

Amazon

Amazon will give you an MP3 download of a track for 99p. However, disappointingly in some cases, the actual quality of the download can be very low. Just search for a song on Amazon and buy it like any other track.

CDs

Shop around in second hand stores like CEX, buy new, or raid your parents’ vast CD collection. You can then rip them (DON’T use Windows Media Player, use “fr:eac” with WAV or FLAC as described here) and upload them to Nerve.

 

Have fun, and stay legal!

Uncategorized/Myriad/Presenting/Production

Music Won’t Go In The Hour

Posted by Jamie Woods on

If you’re pre-recording a show you may occasionally come across a really weird bug where music will sit outside an hour.

Not to worry, there’s an easy(ish) way to get around it, it just involves digging into menus a bit more than you may be used to.

First, delete the dodgy hour. Right click on the hour’s purple markers and press Delete. It will panic and say “Do you REALLY actually want to delete this? Please no”. Ignore its pleas and continue clicking Yes.

Next, go to Log, Add Hour To Log. Under there, click Add Hour from Carts

File, Add Hour To Log, Add Hour With Carts

This will open the normal “Select Date” dialogue. Enter the hour at the start of your pre-record, select the right date and press ok. You will have to do this again later for the second hour.

Select Date

Next, it will pop up with a really odd looking Audio Wall browser. This is more or less a list of what you see on the left hand monitor.

Double click “1”, or Top Of Show (in orange), to select it.

ss2

Great. Now, just type “1” into the next dialogue (not 10, otherwise it will insert 10 sweepers in a boring order), and press ok.

"How many carts" dialogue - enter 1

That’s it! In the log you should now have an hour starting with the TOP OF SHOW sweeper, just like when you normally plan a show. You will have to do it again to add your next hour of music, but just leave the other hours non-existent so that they can be filled later on with playlist music.

Be sure to change the hour mode to Auto, not LiveAssist or AutoFade. And don’t put stops (red squares) anywhere in your pre-rec.

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The Silence Detector

Posted by Jamie Woods on

Ever noticed something different playing out on the radio/stream than what’s going on in the studio? Chances are you’ve encountered the emergency programme, controlled by the aptly named silence detector.

Essentially, if there’s silence (or very very quiet) output from the live studio for about 20 seconds, the silence detector switches to the emergency programme. Historically, this has been Bohemian Rhapsody, but it’s now shuffled and could be any song from its playlist.

So what counts as very very very quiet? If you leave the studio and Myriad reaches a stop, it will kick in after 20 seconds until the presenter gets a chance to either press Go or talk (or both). Songs that over-use stereo (like Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd) may trip it if, say, the left channel is quiet. And, finally, songs that just have a really really quiet intro or ramp.

It’s always a good idea when uploading music to make sure that tracks don’t have a long, quiet introduction.

So what do I do if it trips?

Essentially, play some music. If the song isn’t peaking at 5 on the meterbridge (the retro looking dials), adjust the green knob (trim) to turn it up. After about 5 seconds of content in the studio, it will switch back to regular programming.

There’s another silence detector that sits at the transmitter, which will continue to play music on 103.2FM if there’s an emergency at the studio. This one kicks in after 30 seconds of silence, or immediately if the studio goes off air. In this case, the stream will probably sound different to FM.

Myriad/Presenting/Production

Hour Modes – A Quick Overview

Posted by Jamie Woods on

You’ve probably seen and been trained briefly on Hour Modes, but what are they and why are they so important? Let’s explain.

The log (essentially the big playlist that contains ordered songs that’s on the right hand screen) is split into hours. Every hour, the clock essentially resets.

The “TOP OF SHOW” thing that appears when you plan your show is known as a Top Of The Hour/TOTH, and often in radio there are news bulletins exactly at X:00. Usually, we want this to play as close to 00 as possible, otherwise we get either overrun or underrun. Overrun is when an hour has too much content, and underrun is when it has too little.

Both are completely preventable, and I’ll explain how to after we define each of the different modes.

Each hour in the log has a specific mode – one of the following 3. You can change the mode in the studio as you feel fit by clicking one of the 3 buttons on the top right screen.

  • LiveAssist
    This is the only mode where stops (red squares) have an effect. This mode is aimed for hours where a presenter will be in the studio, and automatically loads music into Cart Players ready for them to play to assist them.
  • Auto
    If there are stops in the log, Auto will completely ignore them. This is useful if you have to pop out of the studio for a couple of seconds, but don’t want the system to top it up with music. Overrun and underrun won’t be resolved by this.
  • AutoFade
    (This mode will only work in the studio that’s on air.) AutoFade will try its hardest to automatically time the music to finish EXACTLY at X:59:59. If it can’t, it will fade songs out early. When no presenter is on air, this is recommended, as it is the most accurate. It’s also recommended for pre-recorded shows.
screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-19-18-47

The “Hour Mode” buttons are the three above the top. Note the “On Air” one in green.

What does this mean for me?

When the hour is on LiveAssist, your show will play as normal, even if you’re not in the studio. That means that if the log hits a stop, the music stops, and silence goes out on air. This is very bad and unprofessional.

When planning a show, remember not to change the Hour Mode to LiveAssist unless you’re either:

  • Currently in the studio, or
  • Just about to enter the studio (ie. you’re planning out your show the hour before)

DON’T put the hour mode onto LiveAssist if you’re planning your show a while in advance, and definitely don’t put them in pre-records!

A studio with nothing playing out - disaster!

A studio with nothing playing out – disaster!

When you complete your last link, it is very advisable to put the log back onto AutoFade. This will ensure that you have no overrun or underrun, and is fair on the next presenter, and is the professional’s choice.

Don’t be scared, after a couple of shows this will all become second nature to you! Let us know if you have any questions.

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Welcome

Posted by Jamie Woods on

This blog will give cool tutorials for both presentation, production, etc. not just at Insanity, but for radio in general.

Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed, and join the Insanity Radio Members group on Facebook, where we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest ways to present!

Be sure to message a Board member if there’s anything you’d like us to write about!