Whatever the celebrations may have looked like in your neck of the woods, fireworks of a different kind began flying late last week. Muse Group, the new owners of Audacity, publicly announced changes to their data collection policy which lit the internet’s fuse. A variety of articles and posts began labeling the audio recording application as “malware” or “spyware” without a lot of specifics. Most of those seemed to quote other articles which chose the most sensational posts.
I’m not saying there is no threat. In all honesty, it does seem to be a concerning development. But there’s been nothing to support the idea that it’s actively harming your computer system (which is what malware does) and it’s hard to call it “spyware” if they tell you what data will be shared (assuming that’s all they share).
This article from Engadget seems to have the most cogent information. If you use Audacity as your main recording tool, I would recommend reading it so that you understand the story so far. Of course, all of that could change as Muse refines or updates their initial policy statement. At this point, they have said little and not replied to public questions.
Two things caught my attention:
This will likely continue to play out over the coming days. Meanwhile, I hear the collective groans of people who have established workflows in Audacity and are dreading the change. In many cases, it may be the only audio recording software you have ever used. It’s scary to think about a change to something less familiar.
I’d like to offer some hope there.
In addition to learning the specifics of Audacity (or any recording software you have used), you’ve actually learned a fair amount about voiceover recording in general. File formats, input levels, the basics of Amplification and Normalization, audio signal paths and editing skills will all transfer over into any new recording software which you choose to use.
Sure, there will be some annoyances when a certain keyboard combination or mouse trick doesn’t quite work the same way. That’s just mechanics. You’ll learn new muscle memory fairly quickly (and you can also assign old keyboard shortcuts to the new applications).
Over the years, I’ve used and discarded many different software tools (does anyone remember Opcode Studio Vision?). But each time I did so, the process actually became easier. When I kept focusing upon what I wanted to do rather than the specific steps in the program, the conversion went more smoothly. Faced with a new program, I’d approach the challenge from that point of view. The result was that as I got more familiar with the new working environment, it became a translation process.
Within a few sessions, I found that the clumsiness disappeared.
If you plan to make a change away from Audacity, I’d look for a lull in your production schedule, or block out some studio “play" time to try other software options when you aren’t up against a deadline. I’d certainly encourage a move to Twisted Wave if you are already on MacOS (and there is still space in this month’s Twisted Wave Deep Dive workshop on July 23rd).
Alternatively, Adobe Audition is certainly a solid option, as is Studio One or Ocenaudio. All of those are set up nicely “out of the box” and can be optimized for voiceover workflows. If you want to tinker a bit, then I’d consider Reaper, which will require a more fine tuned setup process. I'm happy to assist in any way.
I have a workshop coming up on Twisted Wave:
Twisted Wave: Deep Dive -
Friday, July 23 from 1 - 5 PM Pacific US Time
Time to take a deeper dive into Twisted Wave? Join me in this live, small group workshop. We'll cover clever setup tricks, efficient editing, eLearning workflow, creating processing stacks, using plug-ins effectively and making your computer work for you through the batch processor. Includes Q&A and review materials (and a follow-up session!)
Prerequisites – Students should generally understand VO recording techniques and be familiar with the basics of Twisted Wave recording/editing software. Cost – $150 - Register here to reserve your spot via Paypal
Thank you. Now go be brilliant!
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