Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Appdate 2

I know the app puns are probably getting a little old but I couldn’t resist. I had a short conversation with my app builder yesterday and he told me that things are progressing nicely. The static pages are almost finished and when they are he will start adding the animation pages, vibrations and sounds.

The app will have a “Read to Me” option where the text on each page is read aloud. While I really enjoy the sultry sound of MY voice it doesn’t sound so great recorded. What’s better than an adult reading a story? A child reading the story, of course. So I had the brilliant idea of recording my children as they read the story. Pro’s: They are mine so I don’t have to worry about consent forms and they work cheap. Con’s: I don’t want to pay for studio space and I don’t have the equipment for professional sounding audio. Both of which are very big concerns as I don’t want this app to sound amateur in anyway.

I tried to set up a makeshift audio studio in a coat closet. I figured it had lots of echo reducing clutter that would produce good quality audio. It might have worked except the combination of the Windows’ Sound Recorder on my laptop and the Guitar Hero microphone from the Wii underperformed spectacularly. So I had to figure out another route. I needed to find an option that would be less expensive than renting a studio.

I started researching microphones and came across one by Blue Microphones called the Snowball that sounded like it was designed for my project. It was designed for podcasters who need a cardioid and/or an omnidirectional microphone and want professional quality audio. I do love this microphone. It has special settings on the microphone to turn off the extra microphones inside the receiver which cuts out almost all of the background noise except the desired audio. Very easy to use!

The next step was finding a good audio program that was cheap or free. I tried a couple of programs that said they were free but in fact they were scaled down versions and wouldn’t record MP3’s unless you bought the upgraded version. Then I came across Audacity. This is an open source program that has a complete set of audio utilities and it is free, though a donation can be made to the creators. The only drawback to this program is that it downloads incomplete and you have to do additional downloads if you want to save your audio as MP3’s. The good news is that the directions for downloading these updates are straight forward and the installation is a breeze. Also, this program is very easy to use. Probably the best part of all of this was that I didn’t have to rent any kind of studio. In fact, I had just purchased the microphone and while my son and I were waiting for my daughter to get out of school decided it would give the microphone a test run. I sat in the driver seat, positioned the microphone on the armrest, and my son sat directly in front of the microphone in the back seat. The audio was so good that I decided to record all of his speaking parts while we waited. It was a fairly quiet parking lot so there wasn’t a lot of external noise to contend with and my car has wonderful acoustics. Thank you Honda!

Enjoy these audio sneak peeks:

Do you wat to pet my dragon?

Love this dragon wagon!

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