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Podcasts conduct many interviews. Because of the flexibility of podcasting, remote interviews are the norm. At the same time, it can be quite difficult to get great audio while doing a remote interview.
Skype for Remote Interviews
Skype has become a very common tool for podcasters recording remote interviews. Using VOIP makes it extremely easy to collaborate with others when creating amazing content.
If you give it some thought, how else can two people who live on different continents able to work together on a regular podcast? Skype to the rescue!
But, why Skype over other communication devices? Well, firstly, when Skype works, it’s about as good quality as you can get short of a dedicated ISDN. Granted, it doesn’t always work perfectly, but having recorded dozens and dozens of Podcasts via Skype, I can say it’s let me down on probably less than 20% of attempts, which isn’t too bad I’d say.
One option would be to use a normal phone, but the audio quality isn't even close to that of a Skype call. The upside of a phone interview is that it won't drop out and it won't get all wonky on you–something Skype is prone to do 20% of the time. Listen to a podcast recorded by a normal phone and you will quickly hear the difference.
In mid-2018, Skype introduced the ability to record calls natively without the need for other software.
The process for recording natively in Skype is actually really simple. Make your call in Skype the same way you always would and once connected, click the + symbol at the bottom right of the call window.
Click on “Start Recording” and that will start recording the call (duh!). Your guest is notified that you're now recording the call.
To stop the recording, either stop it prior to ending the call or just end the call and the recording will stop.
When you stop recording, the recording itself appears in the text chat section of the call window enabling you to save it to your computer.
This will save an MP4 file, even if you've been on an audio-only call. Your podcast editing software will convert the file on its own.
Currently, Skype does not allow you to get a separate track for each person on the call. This reduces the flexibility you have to clean up the audio later.
Pamela for Skype
You can get Pamela for Skype to record your Skype calls. It is capable of recording both the audio and the video on the call.
One great feature of Pamela is that it allows you to record in separate tracks for each participant. This makes post-production so much easier.
Amolto Call Recorder
Amolto Call Recorder is exactly like Pamela. It enables you to record your Skype calls. It allows for separate tracks. This was what I used when I was using Skype for interviews.
The concept behind Zencastr is extremely simple. You and a guest (or multiple guests) get on a voice call through your web browsers. Zencastr then records local audio from each person and uploads it to Zencastr's servers. The host is then able to download the individual tracks to splice together or the software can do it for you automatically. It even has some volume leveling capabilities as well as noise/hum reduction.
Oh, and the best part? Neither you nor your guests have to install a single thing. It’s all cloud-based. Not even a browser extension.
Ringr is a similar concept to Zencastr.
The first time I tried Ringr, I was very impressed by the simplicity of the entire process. It was extremely easy to use at every step of the way.
Ringr lets you invite a guest (or multiple guests) to a call. Invited users join the call via the website or a mobile application.
When you schedule a call, you and your guests will both get a calendar invite.
Like Zencastr, you get separate files for each participant.
My only issue with
CleanFeed is a website that makes it very easy to record remote interviews. It works in much the same way as Ringr and ZenCastr.
The audio quality is exceptional, sounding like the other person is in the same room as you. CleanFeed accomplishes this through the use of the Opus Codec.
At a bare minimum, you need a browser and a mic (I've had some great interviews where the guest is using earpods). CleanFeed makes it easy to conference in multiple people at once (and they can be recorded on separate tracks).
SquadCast is very similar to Zencastr and Ringr. It handles things in a very similar fashion by letting you record a separate track per participant.
Currently, SquadCast limits you to 3 guests total, but so far that has been plenty for me.
SquadCast has one feature the others do not have–video. No, you cannot record video using SquadCast, but you can see your guests via their webcam. It creates a feeling like you are all in the same studio. It helps a great deal during an interview to be able to see the reaction of your guest.
SquadCast is the software we recommend at Yogi's Podcast Network.
Cellphone for an Interview
It is definitely possible to use a cellphone to record an interview, but it will require the use of a mixer. You will have to learn the mix-minus technique in order to get the best quality sound. In the end, the quality of the call is never as good as one of the examples I've already provided.
If you have a FreeConferenceCall.com account, you can use it to record interviews. You will have just one track, but the quality is decent. I've used this method when in a pinch and it has done me well.
Things to Consider
When you schedule a remote interview there are a few things you should pay careful attention to first.
Make sure to communicate with your guest about the minimum equipment requirements for an interview. Let them know what time to arrive for the interview. Give them a brief overview of your usual process. If you like to chat beforehand, let your guest know that.
The idea here is to make the process as comfortable for your guest as possible. Ease their mind so they know it isn't going to be something extremely complicated.
At Yogi's Podcast Network, we've created a PDF that we provide our guests that explains the entire process from top to bottom. We also include links to some acceptable headsets just in case our guest does not have one. It just makes the entire process much easier.
Preparation for Success
All of this preparation may seem like a hassle, but it helps ensure the success of your interview. Think over what you just heard.
- Find the right way to record the interview. It will take some stress off of you.
- Have an on boarding approach.
- Provide your guests with instructions to help make them comfortable.
When you walk away with an amazing interview that sounds perfect, you will be glad you took the time to prepare.