FeenPhone

No-cost software for real-time high-quality remote podcasting, radio and voiceover
 

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Mockup for floating FeenPhone recorder interface

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FeenPhone recorderMock
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It may be a couple months, but we’ve decided that one of the more important next features in FeenPhone will be recording. Recording will be WAV only, with a choice of 44.1k or 48k; and a choice of Mono (all hosts mixed to one mono WAV file) or Stereo (with sliders to pick how far left or right each host goes in a stereo WAV file.) We’re not including MP3 as a recording option, because that degrades the audio if you’re going to edit later. If you’re not going to edit, there are plenty of free programs to convert a WAV to an MP3. More importantly, having a program output to MP3 actually requires paying a royalty, believe it or not.
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Files will be automatically named with date and time recording starts. (Or that combined with user names of the hosts connected when recording starts.)
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And we’re not going to offer a multi-track option (one host to each track for more than two hosts), because, well, that’s a nightmare to mix, not many people could do it. Trust me, I know what I’m doing. I could do it, but I am also an experienced audio engineer. Most podcasters aren’t. And Derrick and I like to keep things simple. Podcasting and radio should be simple and sound great. Put it this way: I could properly mix four tracks of four hosts but I don’t. I get it right on the fly, during the show. People who tweak that much on podcast editing, recording and editing more than two tracks, tend to podfade pretty quickly. Also, adding more than two tracks of recording would increase CPU usage which would increase latency and drop outs, especially combined with more than two hosts.
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Notes to Derrick:
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Hey Derrick,
I do like the idea of having the recording interface a moveable pop-up window, like the thing I sent you today. At the top of this post is a quick-n-dirty mockup. From a user standpoint, it’s the right size, has everything it needs, has nothing it doesn’t need, and everything on it is the right size. (Especially the Stop and Start Record buttons.)
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I don’t think the recording interface will need volume sliders or Vu meters, since the recorder will be recording what you’re hearing in your headphones. The sliders and meters on the front basic interface of FeenPhone will suffice.
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Controls and stats included in the mockup are based on our discussion last night, your suggestions and mine, and also based on usability from my experience.
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The user will be able to have FeenPhone minimized or behind a browser or behind a document of their show notes, but still have the record interface visible in a corner of their screen. Or on top of any program. The pop-up interface should stay in front of any other program:
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FeenPhone-recorder-floating3
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There should be a thin black border around the recording interface so the interface is easy to see against other programs. Keep in mind this is something people are going to need to access in a hurry while multitasking, possibly several times during a show. (I always recommend saving a file and starting a new one at least every half hour in any recording program. Saves on the heartbreak of crashing and losing data. This will be strongly recommended in the now-to manual section for the recording function when we roll it out.)
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It’s important from a user standpoint to have a separate Stop and Record button, not one button with two states. And that they be as large as in the mockup so they’re easy to hit with a mouse when you’re multitasking. Doing a live show can be unpredictable and stressful. You don’t want to have to hunt for an important button while doing a show.
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When not recording, the black and red indicator that says “Recording” should say “Ready.” It should NOT flash. Some programs have an indicator that flashes, but it’s very distracting. The indicator could be less-bold colors when in the Ready state though.
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The Pan Mixer sliders would not appear in Mono mode. And in Stereo mode, if someone is foolish enough to have more than four hosts on, the overall box would need to automatically scroll wider, or have a scroll bar appear to access all the sliders. (I say that more than four hosts is foolish because it is. That’s always a “bad radio” clusterfark, even if they’re all in the same room, but especially if they’re not.)
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The Pan Mixer sliders should be accessible while recording, not hidden in a sub-menu. You want to be able to adjust them on the fly.
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There should be a button on the recording interface that will only show up in Stereo mode called Raw / Mix. It will change what the meters on the program front are metering and what you hear in your headphones. It will only have two states and will switch both the meters and the headphone mix from Raw (post-Vu sliders on the front) to what’s being recorded.
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The Raw / Mix button should be on the recording interface, not the basic front. Basic front should be simple as possible. And in Stereo Mode you’d likely want to listen to the mix without needing to see the meters more often than vice versa.
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The whole recording interface box should pop up when you push a button on the main FeenPhone interface in basic mode. The button should probably be just the word “Record” or “Recording” in a little horizontal box. I can’t think of an icon for “Recording” that all people would know and that wouldn’t be archaic.
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I’m sure you can make the recording interface a lot more pretty, but this is basically the features it needs and how it should behave.
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Worms!
–MWD
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