Presentation Primary School Clonmel Easter Newsletter 2013
When a Spunout Web Page Isn't Worth Six Figures

Annotating Audio on the Fly

X10 ICD MX20 connectionBernie Goldbach in LSAD-Clonmel | My photo of a line-out.

I LISTEN TO SEVERAL HOURS of pre-recorded audio every week and I'm interested in annotating audio on the fly.

The perfect solution for me when listening to audio while mobile would be to tap a button as a segment worth annotating played in my earbuds--and then being able to pull that annotated segment into an audio editing package. This would probably involve working with WAVE files and the Broadcast Wave Format. That's how I work some sound files on my desktop. I use Sony Sound Forge 10 to mark specific segments of clips for editing and reimagination. The Sound Forge software displays the time codes and annotations of everything I mark with the software.

But as audio engineers know, the BWF files appear in ways when using different programs to read them. While I might see the marker made by my mixing deck, I won't see any other text along with the marker. So it's often difficult to remember what to do with the annotated segment.

I work around this challenge by using Shifty Jelly's Pocket Casts app to harvest audio on iOS and Android. When I get to a specific part of an audio clip, I use Pocket Casts'  "share" menu to annotate a specific time code as a direct message tweet sent to one of my Twitter accounts. Then I run through those direct messages like a tick-off list, sometimes pulling audio segments into Sound Forge for further work.

I also pull segments from audio clips directly from my phone's Pocket Casts into my Sony ICD MX-20 digital dictaphone as shown in the photo. That little dictaphone lets me cut clips into the perfect segments that I'll later use with follow-on productions. Plus, I can make an audible comment about the segment directly on the dictaphone and then cobble the results together as a reimagined clip.

Finally, I often have an Evernote window open to a note about my weekly listens and when I want to follow up on a segment, I'll list the podcast episode, time code and simple follow-up. I'll toggle back into the specific part of the original audio when I'm ready to edit and follow up with my spoken comment.

I wonder if there are any other suggestions for annotating audio on the fly.

Bernie Goldbach teaches creative multimedia to degree students in the Limerick School of Art and Design.