Inside The Studio 028: Optimising your Podcast

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On this episode I talk about how to optimise your podcast for web viewing.

Optimising your Audio or Video Podcast for the Web
After you have edited your podcast it’s time to put it on the web. But unlike radio or TV everyone’s experience of the internet is different.

Some people have slow internet speeds, some people have fast internet speeds and some people have medium internet speeds. That means that you will have to try to make sure that your podcast is suitable for all of these people. You also must take into account that people will play back your podcast on many different web browsers and many different versions of web browsers so you need to try to make sure that your podcast will work with all of those web browsers.Another thing to consider is those who are accessing your podcast from mobile devices and those who are accessing it through your RSS feed or iTunes.

Seems like a lot of stuff to consider. Well it isn’t actually that bad. All that you have to do is follow the guide that I outline here. I’m first going to go through what you need to do if you have an audio podcast.

Audio Podcast:
After you have edited the audio podcast in your audio program like Audacity or Adobe Audition you’re going to have to export your show. It’s very important that you use the correct settings when exporting your audio file for maximum compatibility for the web.

When exporting your audio file out of your audio DAW the first thing that you want to do is make sure that you compress your audio file so that the file size is as small as possible while still keeping the high audio quality. The compression settings will dictate that ratio of quality to file size. Here is some jargon that you need to know when compressing an audio file:

Format – The video compression codec that you use e.g. mp3, aac.
Channels – How many audio channels e.g. Mono or Stereo.
Bitrate – the number of bits per second that the audio is streamed at e.g. 100kbps
Sample Rate – The number of samples per second that are taken of an analog signal to create a digital one e.g. 48000Hz.

It might seem daunting that you need to understand all of these settings but now I’ll give you the settings that I recommend to make sure that your podcast file will be best optimised for the web while keeping the best ratio of quality to file size:

Format: mp3
Channels: Mono/1
Bitrate: 64kbps
Sample Rate: 44100Hz

Other things that you should do are add ID3 tags to your file with podcast artwork etc and make sure that if you are using an audio player that it is compatible with all web browsers.

Video Podcast:
In video podcasting compressing files is even more important. Video files are are much bigger than audio files so there are a few extra steps that you have to take to make sure that your video files can be played back by most people. In video there are also another few new compression terms and of course all of the audio compression terms apply as well if you have audio with the video:

Video bit rate – The number of bits per second that the video is streamed at
Width and Height
Frame Rate – How many frames or images are displayed on screen per second.
Aspect Ratio – The ratio of the width to the height
VBR (Variable Bit Rate) – The bit rate can go higher or lower than the set bit rate to provide the same quality but at a lower file size.
CBR (Constant Bit Rate) – The bit rate is constantly the same as what you have set it to.

Now I’m going to tell you what I recommend to export your files to. Firstly, if you have a HD podcast I recommend that you create a HD version for people with less internet restrictions and an SD version for people with more internet restrictions. Here are the settings for the HD and SD version of the video that I recommend:

SD
Audio Format: AAC
Audio Channels: Mono/1
Audio Bitrate: 64kbps
Audio Sample Rate: 44100Hz
Video Format: H264 .mp4 container
Width and Height: 640×360
Video Bitrate: VBR 256kbps

HD
Audio Format: AAC
Audio Channels: Stereo/2
Audio Bitrate: 128kbps
Audio Sample Rate: 44100Hz
Video Format: H264 .mp4 container
Width and Height: 1280×720
Video Bitrate: VBR 1300kbps

It could take a long time to upload all of these files so what I do is I create the HD version of my podcast and upload it to my media hosting server. From there I transcode to the SD version and audio version which saves me a lot of time.

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