How to make an interview with WhatsApp and Ableton Live

John Ross Delahunt

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The best way to create an interview with WhatsApp

This week I will be showing you how I created last week’s interview with Luke O’Faolain. I used Ableton Live to master the audio and WhatsApp to record the interview. I will also be showing you how and where to get a backing track for the interview, how to upload the interview to soundcloud and then how to embed the interview into your new post on WordPress. I also make an explanation on why you should use this method for your interview. Check out the video below!

All software and relevant links can be found below.

Studio Recording VS WhatsApp
Bringing your audio up to studio standard

 

Making an interview with WhatsApp and Ableton Live (Tutorial) from John Ross Delahunt on Vimeo.

Contacting your interviewee:

Firstly, you will need to contact the person you want to interview and inform them of how you want to produce the interview with WhatsApp – you will need their WhatsApp contact number (this is usually the same as their phone number).

Once they are O.K. with this, you will to need to create a few interview questions to ask your interviewee. I used the “Notes” app on my iPhone to write them out, you can also use similar apps or even write them out on paper. Once you are happy with the questions to ask the interviewee, send them through WhatsApp.

WhatsApp:

You will need to tell your interviewee that it is a self-interview and ask them to use the record feature in WhatsApp for each question, there is a small microphone icon at the bottom right hand side of the WhatsApp chat window which allows you to send voice messages, use this. Once the interviewee has sent you all of the answers, tap and hold the first voice message – “Forward” should appear, tap on it. Select each voice message and then select the forward icon at the bottom right hand side of the chat window, after this, send all of the clips to your own email address.

On your computer:

On your computer – Create a file named: “Interview Clips”. Create two files within this file and name them: “MP3” and “OPUS”. Go to the email that contains the voice recordings and download them to your “OPUS” folder.

CoolUtils.com:

Once all files are downloaded – go to this site: coolutils.com

This site allows you to convert the OPUS files to MP3 – which are usable in Ableton Live.

Click: “Select Files” and then select – “From Local Computer”. Find the “Interview Clips” folder on your computer and select the “OPUS” folder, then select all of the OPUS files for conversion. Once converted, select – “Download Converted File” – Do this for each individual OPUS file. (Make sure that you download all of the MP3 files to the MP3 folder in “Interview Clips”).

Ableton Live:

Download Ableton Live

Click and drag each MP3 file into Ableton Live. Now align the MP3 file to the first audio track in Ableton. Double click the MP3 file and then click “unwarp”. Right-Click the “Marker Snap” at the bottom right and select “1/4” –

This makes it easier to align the other MP3 clips to the grid. You can zoom in and out using the slider function located at the top of Ableton Live.

Align and unwarp all other MP3 clips, each MP3 files should be aligned about 1 second apart – It does not have to be exact! Double-Click on the “Track Title Bar” to bring up the devices for an audio track. You can ‘Solo’ an audio track with the “S” button located on the track bar.
I have used a recorded clip from BBC Radio 1 as a reference to help get the WhatsApp audio to the same characteristics.

Explanation:

  • The first device is “EQ” – this gets rid of any unwanted frequencies
  • “Multiband Compression” helps compress the high and low frequencies to a consistent volume
  • This is the most important process – “Compression” – this brings all of the quiet and loud parts of the audio to the same level
  • Further “EQ” – I boosted the low and high-mid frequencies, this gives the same sound as the Radio 1 microphone/processing.
  • Further compression to completely normalise the volume and high-end frequency enhancement
  • The device: “iZotope RX5 De-Reverb” removes any unwanted room reverb/”echo”, It’s a third party plug-in – you can download this online. It isn’t essential but definitely helps enhance the audio
  • The next two devices are also from iZotope, both remove the background noise / any white noise within the audio
  • The next device is called “Utility”, this makes the audio completely monophonic, all dialogue is usually centred.
  • The next device is a “limiter” – it stops the audio from clipping.
  • For this audio I have used “A.O.M Invisible Limiter” – Download –  You can also use Ableton’s “limiter”

You can use Ableton’s own plug-ins for all of this, I have chosen to use these third party plug-ins because I feel they enhance the audio a lot better.

Downloading Ableton Files:

You can download the files used in this video –

Download my Audio Effects Rack

To import the “adg” audio effects rack into Ableton, go to “Audio Effects” on the left hand side of Ableton and then go to “Audio Effects Rack”, drag and drop the adg file here and it will save.

Download my Ableton Project File used in the video

Sourcing a backing track:

The next step is to get a backing track for your interview. YouTube, is a great source for backing tracks, be sure to choose a track with no vocals! I chose: “Joakim Karud – Dreams” as my backing track for the interview, Select the full URL from the address bar (located at the top of your web browser), then right-click and copy.

Convert YouTube files with “MP3 Fiber”:

Go to: “mp3fiber.com” – Paste the YouTube URL into the input box, then select “320KB” from the drop down menu, then select “Download Now”. The site will then convert the YouTube video file to MP3. Right-click “Download Now” and save the MP3 files to the “Interview Clips” file. Create a file named “Backing Tracks” and save the MP3 files there.

Importing to Ableton:

In Ableton – create two new audio tracks, use “Ctrl+T” on PC or “CMD+T” on Mac. I have used two different backing tracks for this interview (hence two audio tracks). Create as many audio tracks as you need for the amount of backing tracks you have downloaded for your interview. Drag and drop the downloaded backing track(s) into the newly created audio track in Ableton Live and then align the track to the grid.

Sometimes the audio will have a short silence at the start, using the cursor – drag the clip back to the starting point of the audio, look at the waveform to see where the audio starts. You may need to temporarily switch off the “marker snap”.

The next step is to lower the volume of the audio tracks as to not overpower the dialogue. Click “Track Volume” on the track bar and drag down. I usually have the track volume set to around -9db to -12db, it depends on the track. Make sure the backing track does not overpower the dialogue.

Next you need to add any further backing tracks that you have for your interview, Align the second backing track to the next audio track in Ableton – you can add the backing track next to the outro of the first. Adjust the audio in the same way as you did for the first track.

Grouping Tracks:

After you’re happy with your audio levels – click on each track while holding the ‘shift’ key – Then select “Ctrl+G” on PC or “CMD+G” on Mac to group the tracks. Select the group track. Once selected, drag and drop a limiter from the “Audio Effects” panel on the left of Ableton. On the limiter – make sure “Ceiling” is set to 0db.

From the “Audio Effects” panel select EQ Eight > Filter > “Dance Master”. Once you are happy with your audio – Go to File at the top left of Ableton and then go to “Export”. An export window will appear, click “Export” at the bottom of this window. Save the audio to the “Interview Clips” folder.

Soundcloud:

Once you have exported the interview from Ableton go to Soundcloud. You will need to create an account if you don’t have one. Click “upload” at the top of Soundcloud. A new window will appear, click – “Choose a file to upload”. Select the interview which you have just exported. A new window will appear, Input all the relevant information about your upload. Once done, click “Save”. Soundcloud will then upload your file, once the file has uploaded, go to your profile. Click on “Share” next to your upload and then click – “Embed”. Then right-click and copy the “Code”.

WordPress:

After you have created a new post – Select the “Text” tab located at the top of your post. Paste the embed code from Soundcloud and then “update” your post.

Now you have a full studio quality interview for your blog!

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John Ross Delahunt

  • Stephen O’Leary

    This is an excellent resource for other students John – great work – thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    • John Ross Delahunt

      Thanks for the comment!

  • John Ross Delahunt

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Jeremy Chassang

    It gave me inspiration, thank you John.

    • John Ross Delahunt

      Thanks for you comment, I appreciate it Jeremy!

  • Andrew Irvine

    Well written john, never even thought of doing an interview like this!

    • John Ross Delahunt

      Thanks Andy, definitely the way to go if you want to do WhatsApp interviews

  • Marita Solheim

    This is a great post! I can see that you’ve put a lot of effort into it. Well done!

    • John Ross Delahunt

      Thanks for the comment, I hope the video has helped!