Adobe DITA World 2018
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Adobe DITA World 2018

Recording for Menlo Park API documentation workshop now available -- and some thoughts on using cardioid versus omnidirectional microphones for recording

by Tom Johnson on Dec 4, 2018
categories: api-docstitcherpodcasts

The recording for the full-day API workshop that I recently gave in Menlo Park, California, is now available. This recording provides more than 5 hours of instruction about writing API docs — for free. I also share some thoughts on cardioid versus omnidirectional microphones, and which is better in a workshop setting. The audio narration of this post switches around the microphones so you can hear the difference.

I published the recording of the API documentation workshop that I recently gave in Menlo Park (on Nov 8, 2018). You can view the recordings on my API documentation site here: Recorded Video Presentations.

This API documentation workshop (which I mentioned earlier) was a full-day workshop, so there are more than 5 hours of recorded material here.

If you’re really into workshop recordings, you can also listen to the Denver API workshop that I gave earlier this year (March 2018).

Notes on recording – cardioid versus omnidirectional

For the Denver workshop, I used a Movo cardioid lapel mic. However, I think cardioid was the wrong choice because it requires you to have a consistent distance from the mic. When you’re presenting, you might turn your head from side to side or up or down. Cardioid mics are very sensitive to changes in position like this, and the volume fluctuated a lot as a result. Also, the audio sounded flat to me (though I fixed that somewhat in post-production following this technique).

For the Menlo Park workshop, I used a Shure omnidirectional lapel mic. Omnidirectional worked a bit better, I think. The sound capture was more of a consistent volume, and my voice didn’t sound as flat. I also applied some post-production enhancements to the audio. However, for video I mistakenly chose to capture the projector rather than my own computer screen, so the resolution isn’t as good as I hoped.

Both the Movo and Shure lapel mics have XLR inputs that I attached to a Zoom H4n Pro recorder, which I then put in my pocket (the setup is bulky).

The microphone I use to record my blog posts (like this one) is a Shure RE20 cardioid microphone, commonly used in broadcasting. While it is a cardioid microphone, it’s fine because when you’re sitting at a desk recording something, you can keep your mouth a consistent distance to the microphone. And close-up cardioid capture is superior to omnidirectional anyday.

Note that in the audio recording of this post, I switched around the various mics so you can actually hear the difference.

The Denver API workshop had quite a few views: 2,424 views for Part I, 970 views for Part II, and 433 views for Part III. I expect the Menlo Park API documentation workshop to have similar views, though the view count doesn’t matter too much to me.

Why provide free recordings for a paid workshop? As I mentioned in an earlier post (If writing is no longer a marketable skill, what is?), traffic to my API documentation site is now greater than the traffic to my blog. By putting information assets online for free, it adds to content discovery and visits, which in turn attract advertising and other benefits (like speaking engagements or readers for the API doc book I’m working on).

I think the way the Write the Docs conference posts video recordings of their events but continues to sell out each year reinforces the fact that people will still come to your event/site even if they can consume the content on YouTube for free.

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