Creating podcasts, either audio or video, requires software for bringing the various elements of the podcast together. These tools have to be able to produce a single audio or video file from a variety of sources which may include soundtracks, narration, video clips, still images and text. There are industry standards for the audio and video formats produced, respectively mp3 and mpeg, which if adhered to enable the podcasts to be accessed through a wide variety of devices, from PCs to iPods, mobile phones to games consoles. The following introduces some of the free tools that may be employed in creating podcasts for both Mac and Windows PC users.
The following grid highlights the attributes, strengths and weaknesses of each tool which is then expanded further in the text below.
Best for Podcasts
Nintex (Windows only)
Nintex is a centralised easy to manage solution to create, manage and distribute Podcasts via an easy to use interface. Built within Tulip, Nintex Podcast Recorder has a simple to use visual audio editor that allows the user to record, delete, overdub, cut and reassemble recordings before uploading them to a podcast library.
For recording and editing audio files on Windows PCs the freely downloadable Audacity is highly recommended. It has a fairly simple interface, can produce quality recordings with little more than a click of the big red button, another click of the stop button and then saving the file created. It also has a great deal of functionality for the more experienced user, allowing files to be edited, combined, filtered and otherwise manipulated. Recordings can be saved to the mp3 standard which is useable over a wide range of playback devices.
GarageBand (Mac only)
GarageBand is a comprehensive tool which allows the compilation of video and audio into podcasts through an intuitive interface which should be readily accessible to users of all experience levels. It is possible to produce quality podcasts within a very short time of starting to use the tool, and with the extensive functionality included, e.g. libraries of copyright free music, it is possible to produce high quality podcasts with a professional edge with just a few hours of learning to use the basic functions of the tool.
Best for Vodcasts
Windows PowerPoint 2010 (or later, windows only)
Within PowerPoint you can easily narrate a presentation and export to a podcast-ready file creating a resource that can be used again and again.
Windows Movie Maker (Windows only)
Video recording and editing on Windows PCs can also be done with free software. Windows Movie Maker from Microsoft is already available on your university PC, relatively easy to use, and allows simple editing of video, images and soundtracks into one movie file. It is a flexible tool with the scope to combine audio tracks, video clips, still images and narration, and to output quality video productions. The format of the output is viewable with the Windows Media Player, but to make it accessible on a much wider range of devices a simple conversion tool like Handbrake can be used to change the file into mpeg format.
iMovie (Mac only)
iMovie allows you to create video podcasts. Use the built-in iSight camera on a Mac to record video, or import video from a digital still or video camera. Then use iMovie to edit and export your video as a podcast-ready file.
Best for Screencasts
More than a simple screen recorder, Camtasia helps you create professional videos easily. Use Camtasia to record on-screen activity, customize and edit content, then share your videos with anyone.
Numerous commercial products are available for editing video and audio on Windows PCs. Products such as AVS Video editor have an associated cost, but do provide more functionality than the free tools, being much more akin to GarageBand for Macs and not requiring the use of further software to create industry standard video and audio files.
Why not leave a comment below detailing what tools you have been using and what your experiences with them have been?!