Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Automating Sermon Recording

It’s happened to me far too many times. The band finishes up, the pastor gets up to preach, and in the middle of the transition, I forget to hit “Play” on the CD recorder to actually start recording. Or I’ll hit “Play & Record” thinking it’s going start recording, forgetting that you have to hit “Play” again. Or I’ll just plain forget. Perhaps I’m getting old, but I blame it on having to do a bunch of things at once. At any rate, I’ve been searching for a way to automate the recording process so I don’t have to remember to do it. That’s one thing computers are great at doing; repetitive stuff on a schedule.

I recalled a blog post Daniel Murphy wrote over at www.worshiptechie.com a few months back. He was looking to do the same thing with video recording of the services. He hit on something that I had previously not known; that is, you can set up an event in iCal and set an alarm. Well that I knew, it was the fact that the alarm can be an AppleScript. And when the alarm is an AppleScript, you can make the computer do just about anything. He wanted it to create a new QuickTime capture. I wanted it to launch and start a recording in Audacity. Here’s how I/we did it.

Step One: Script

AppleScript is a pretty rich coding language. You can get your Mac to do all kinds of tricks if you can figure out the right commands. The script for this one is pretty simple:

tell application “Audacity”

activate

tell application “System Events” to keystroke “R”

end tell

There is one “gotcha” in this script. In order for the keystroke to work, you must have “Enable access for assistive devices” turned on in the Universal Access pane of the System Preferences. The script is really simple. The first line identifies the application you want to use, in this case Audacity. Activate launches it or brings it forward. Sending a Keystroke “R” starts recording. The last line tells AppleScript it’s done. That’s it. Easy. Save the script in a easy to remember place and you’re on your way. I also created a stop script. It’s the same as start only the keystroke is “space.”

If you want to use another application, just look for the keyboard shortcuts for starting and stopping a recording and make the appropriate substitutions. If there are none, you can probably create them in the Keyboard Shortcuts pane of the Keyboard preferences in System Preferences.

Step Two: Schedule

The next step is to set up an event in iCal to start the recording. Here is an example:

I gave it some generous time on the front and back end of the message time slotNormally, our pastor starts teaching around 9:30-9:35. Sometimes it’s earlier. So I fire the recording off at 9:19. It’s easy to trim the recording in post. Same for the end. Normally, he’s done around 10, but I don’t stop it until 10:20, just in case. It doesn’t cost anything to run it longer, we just trim it up when we’re done. We can also stop it manually if we notice that he’s finished. The script won’t hurt anything if it goes off after we’ve stopped it.

Since we also have an 11:00 service on Sunday and a 5:00 on Saturday, I can set up iCal events the same way. And, by checking repeat weekly, I’m done for a long time.

And that’s it! A few quick steps and we make sure the sermon is recorded each week. Thanks to Daniel for the original idea.

29 Comments

  1. mikest90@gmail.com

    Do you have any ideas for those of us still stuck with Windows? 🙂

  2. mikest90@gmail.com

    Do you have any ideas for those of us still stuck with Windows? 🙂

  3. tylermckellar@gmail.com

    We still start and stop our recordings manually in Audacity but I have given something like this some thought. Audacity does have the Timer Record feature for us folks out there that don’t have a Mac as well.

    In November we did start using a bash script on our Sound Computer running Ubuntu Linux that has made the creation of an mp3 and upload of that mp3 to our website a completely automated process. We save all our services as a mono flac file to a folder in the home directory. The script scans that folder for flac files, copies the flac file to a folder on our file server according to the year metadata tag for the file, creates the mp3 then uploads it to the website. Our script is set to run in cron every Wednesday and Sunday. It can process multiple files so in the event we have services on other days as well, like on New Years eve a few weeks ago, it won’t freak out and forget anything. Scripting is a marvellous thing.

    Here is the link to my http://patrickmckellar.com/?p=119“ rel=”nofollow”>post on my blog for a deeper look into it if anyone is interested.

  4. tylermckellar@gmail.com

    We still start and stop our recordings manually in Audacity but I have given something like this some thought. Audacity does have the Timer Record feature for us folks out there that don’t have a Mac as well.

    In November we did start using a bash script on our Sound Computer running Ubuntu Linux that has made the creation of an mp3 and upload of that mp3 to our website a completely automated process. We save all our services as a mono flac file to a folder in the home directory. The script scans that folder for flac files, copies the flac file to a folder on our file server according to the year metadata tag for the file, creates the mp3 then uploads it to the website. Our script is set to run in cron every Wednesday and Sunday. It can process multiple files so in the event we have services on other days as well, like on New Years eve a few weeks ago, it won’t freak out and forget anything. Scripting is a marvellous thing.

    Here is the link to my http://patrickmckellar.com/?p=119“ rel=”nofollow”>post on my blog for a deeper look into it if anyone is interested.

  5. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Michael–
    Get a Mac? ‘;-)

    Honestly, no. I’m a Mac guy and do as much as I can to stay away from Windows. However, I know there are a bunch of Windows guys out there–perhaps they have some ideas!

    mike

  6. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Michael–
    Get a Mac? ‘;-)

    Honestly, no. I’m a Mac guy and do as much as I can to stay away from Windows. However, I know there are a bunch of Windows guys out there–perhaps they have some ideas!

    mike

  7. cjessee@metrolife.org

    This is great – thank you for sharing – would you have any ‘post’ automation tips?

    (e.g. – encoding for the web, tag updates, upload for the web, etc.)

  8. cjessee@metrolife.org

    This is great – thank you for sharing – would you have any ‘post’ automation tips?

    (e.g. – encoding for the web, tag updates, upload for the web, etc.)

  9. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Chris–Yes I do. Do a search for Podcast and you’ll likely find a 2 or 3 part series I did last spring about that very topic.

    Hope it helps!
    mike

  10. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Chris–Yes I do. Do a search for Podcast and you’ll likely find a 2 or 3 part series I did last spring about that very topic.

    Hope it helps!
    mike

  11. erik@jerde.org

    I’ve used the Marantz PMD580 a few times recently, and for ease of use and reliability it’s a real winner if you’re just doing 2 channels. It supports scheduled recording. Most of all I’m just a big fan of the reliability of a dedicated recorder.

  12. erik@jerde.org

    I’ve used the Marantz PMD580 a few times recently, and for ease of use and reliability it’s a real winner if you’re just doing 2 channels. It supports scheduled recording. Most of all I’m just a big fan of the reliability of a dedicated recorder.

  13. phil@philrowley.net

    Just curious – what kind of turnaround time do you (Mike or others?) have for sermons? Are they posted THAT Sunday….Monday….later, maybe up to a week later?

  14. phil@philrowley.net

    Just curious – what kind of turnaround time do you (Mike or others?) have for sermons? Are they posted THAT Sunday….Monday….later, maybe up to a week later?

  15. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Phil,
    Normally, ours are posted on Sunday afternoon. Though based on our new workflow, we may move it to Monday. When I was at Upper Room, we posted them on Monday or Tuesday, depending on when I had my day off.

    mike

  16. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Phil,
    Normally, ours are posted on Sunday afternoon. Though based on our new workflow, we may move it to Monday. When I was at Upper Room, we posted them on Monday or Tuesday, depending on when I had my day off.

    mike

  17. bill@billwhitt.com

    Very cool. Thanks for sharing!

  18. bill@billwhitt.com

    Very cool. Thanks for sharing!

  19. danielmurphy02@gmail.com

    The Applescript addition is awesome! Nice work!

  20. danielmurphy02@gmail.com

    The Applescript addition is awesome! Nice work!

  21. Worship Techie » How to

    […] Update: Mike Sessler expanded on this concept to be able to record in Audacity, and with a little tweaking, other applications as well. Check it out. […]

  22. jeremy@lifewayfamily.org

    Mike, thanks for sharing this posting. I especially appreciate the ability to multi-task/automate since I have a small team.

    I am however having trouble with the script. It launches Audacity just fine but I keep getting an error in Script Editor that “Audacity got an error: Can’t get keystroke R.” I’ve made sure that “R” is the quickkey in Audacity Preferences, and “Enable access for assistive devices” box is checked in Systems Preferences. What am I missing?

    Thanks,

    Jeremy

    Lifeway Church, Celina, TX

  23. jeremy@lifewayfamily.org

    Mike, thanks for sharing this posting. I especially appreciate the ability to multi-task/automate since I have a small team.

    I am however having trouble with the script. It launches Audacity just fine but I keep getting an error in Script Editor that “Audacity got an error: Can’t get keystroke R.” I’ve made sure that “R” is the quickkey in Audacity Preferences, and “Enable access for assistive devices” box is checked in Systems Preferences. What am I missing?

    Thanks,

    Jeremy

    Lifeway Church, Celina, TX

  24. Kevinkluckhohn@gmail.com

    Hi Mike. Thanks for sharing this. Have you ever experienced iCal not starting the recording? I have attempted on several occasions to schedule and have iCal start Audacity/GarageBand and start the recording, however each time, it goes right past the time, and doesn't run the script. Is there something I need to turn on in the System Preferences to allow iCal to run an AppleScript? Thanks for all the info!

    Kevin

  25. Kevinkluckhohn@gmail.com

    Hi Mike. Thanks for sharing this. Have you ever experienced iCal not starting the recording? I have attempted on several occasions to schedule and have iCal start Audacity/GarageBand and start the recording, however each time, it goes right past the time, and doesn't run the script. Is there something I need to turn on in the System Preferences to allow iCal to run an AppleScript? Thanks for all the info!

    Kevin

  26. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Kevin,
    Yes, we've run into it. While I'm not sure of the "official" fix, we've solved it by setting both iCal and the AppleScript editor to launch when we start up the Mac. We assigned them to other spaces, so they just kind of run in the background, unseen. Ever since we've done that, it works 99% of the time.

    mike

  27. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Kevin,
    Yes, we've run into it. While I'm not sure of the "official" fix, we've solved it by setting both iCal and the AppleScript editor to launch when we start up the Mac. We assigned them to other spaces, so they just kind of run in the background, unseen. Ever since we've done that, it works 99% of the time.

    mike

  28. kevinkluckhohn@gmail.com

    Thanks Mike! As you can tell I'm reading your blog backwards and am learning a TON of things! I finally got this one to work as well. It was a preference in iCal which had been turned on…it shut down all alerts so it didn't fire any alerts. Very strange, but once I unchecked that box it worked like a champ! Now I have all three of my AppleScripts ready to go (1 to start recording, the second to stop and resample it, and the third to export it). I have one more Script to write and that is to upload and then shutdown the computer. Needless to say, learning a new language is fun!

  29. kevinkluckhohn@gmail.com

    Thanks Mike! As you can tell I'm reading your blog backwards and am learning a TON of things! I finally got this one to work as well. It was a preference in iCal which had been turned on…it shut down all alerts so it didn't fire any alerts. Very strange, but once I unchecked that box it worked like a champ! Now I have all three of my AppleScripts ready to go (1 to start recording, the second to stop and resample it, and the third to export it). I have one more Script to write and that is to upload and then shutdown the computer. Needless to say, learning a new language is fun!

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