Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Adventures in Podcasting: The Behind the Scenes Bloopers

Garin and I rocked the house this weekend. We recorded 4 Episodes. Every week we do a review of what we read the week before. That was a fun recording this week since it was a single book each. Weekly we also record a previews episode of the comic books that will be released the following Wednesday. Some weeks we are lucky enough to score an interview. Sometimes we want to dive into a particular story line, character, or theme. Lately we have been doing Top 10 lists. I talk quite a bit about how that came to be in my David's Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Characters post. We have also been deep diving DC comic book continuity and pulling threads on really important moments. 

When you record a great episode you feel the magic in the air. There is a certain energy that just flows out of our back and forth that screams good content. I don't think we ever phone our it in. Garin and I are both too into the subject matter for that. We are fanboys at heart. Some shows are better than others though. This last Sunday was one of the magical sessions. 

You can see the results on YouTube and hear it anywhere fine podcasts are posted. What you won't see or hear is our screw ups. Now, we don't script our show. Garin and I come off the cuff with all our content with only the general subject matter of what we are going to talk about. He and I both have had episodes where it was important to have a few notes, but we really do make the show spontaneously. This post is not going to be about all the hilarious times that we had recording outtakes. Those don't exist. I refuse to allow any editing of the show. Since I am the jerk who records and edits, that is an easy thing to control. If you want to see or hear us royally screw up just got check out our content. Half the fun is seeing where we goofed.

Our bloopers are fun in whole different way. My favorite screw ups have been human error. Eventually video will capture us pulling the great we-didn't-press-record adventure. The controls on my Tascam DR-05 are incredibly intuitive. Power it on. Hit the record button once to start a file. Press the button again to begin actual recording. The record timer will start counting up. You are live. 

If you go listen to the show it is VERY common for there to be a 1 to 2 second pause in the beginning. You know what it is from? One of us, typically me, is looking at that counter to make certain we are actually recording. I know the above paragraph may have spoiled this goof, but there have been so many times that Garin and I have been talking for minutes without anything being captured. In fact, the reason I purchased a Zoom Q2N-4k that records high def sound in addition to being a good cam is so that we would have a reliable back up in the event we kept repeating this little error. 

When Garin and I talked for 25 minutes only for me to realize nothing had been recorded it was funny. The second take wasn't as good. We both know it. We don't talk about it. Because there is no script, it is impossible to capture the magic again. Would we have thousands of listeners now if that 25 minutes had been recorded? No. Still, we both know we lost something there. It is a little funny and a little sad. We don't really talk about that lost episode. 

That is actually what caused us to start goofing our intros. I had started the opening script. It used to be fairly uniform. After a couple of not-hitting-record false starts it became more routine for one of us to mess the other up on our second start. Typically, We were so busy laughing at ourselves to be serious in the introduction anyway. I think it is part of our charm.

This weekend saw a brand new screw up. Lady Luck was, as always, on my side in this one. I call this blooper,"YouTube with extra steps." The Zoom Q2N-4K has been an amazing camera. Is. It IS an amazing camera. I am in no way doing away with it. As usual, I set up the Zoom and I also set up my new GoPro Hero 8 Black. We filmed and recorded the first episode. Since it was the trial run of the GoPro I decided that I would record from two very close angles and compare video and sound quality.

Somewhere between the first and second episode the external volume control on the Zoom Q2N-4K got dialed down to zero. It recorded the second, third, and forth with absolutely no volume. I had no way to know this during the recording session. In fact, it wasn't until I was home and working on the monotonous task of uploading things to YouTube that I discovered the blooper. 

Yep. Had God not had my back we would have had 3 silent episodes for YouTube. Now, I MIGHT have been able to salvage something and cut the episodes down to match the audio file from the Tascam DR-05, and then I MIGHT have been able to sync the audio. Those are serious mights because I have never done those before. I have no software that would do that for me. I could figure something out. Maybe Possibly. 

Instead I had video on my GoPro Hero 8 Black. The Hero part really sounds pretty accurate to me at about the time that I am pulling the files off of it to upload to YouTube. This is a good news/ bad news situation. I am very brand new to the function of the GoPro. There is a chance that the GoPro has a setting that records video straight through any duration, but when I open up the files they are limited to sequential clips that max out as 11 minutes and 48 seconds. I love the randomness of that time. So my 40 minute episode is in fact 4 smaller clips that need stitched together somehow. 

After a quick series of searches on YouTube, I became really certain that I couldn't upload the videos in segments without making them each their own video. Super bummer. I got to learn a new software and a new editing skill for stitching the videos together. Crisis adverted. I didn't have to message Garin and deliver the awful news that I goofed the video and YouTube was getting shorted for the week. 

That should have been the end of the blooper. I headed off to work Monday waiting for the hours long upload to complete. I typically use my desktop for all the YouTube Production stuff. That frees up my tablet for writing and all the other fun and clever uses I can come up with for it. I did all the video editing on my fancy Surface Pro 7. It has a faster processor and a smoother operation overall. That doesn't matter for Audacity so much. It seems to matter quite a bit when I am working with large video files. 

When I got home Monday night I was really surprised to find out that my videos had paused around 26% completion. I had completely forgotten the power settings of the tablet. It had spent the day sleeping comfortably on my desk. I updated the power settings and waited around with the system for about 4 hours for the upload to complete. I missed our Monday at 10 pm drop time for the shows, but beyond that things ended up fairly well. 

Recording a podcast will constantly throw you curve balls. There is no way to predict them all. If you are going to run a show research things thoroughly. Talk to people who have experience. You can have all fancy, expensive, and professional level recording equipment and still screw up and forget to hit the record button. You will forget cords. Interviews will cancel or reschedule. 

The struggles are half the fun. I have a blast with the bloopers. I learn from all of them. Hopefully, the shows I am involved with are benefiting from these experiences. I really hope that I can keep building the success of these shows and writing these posts. Let me know if they are informative or entertaining. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

David's Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Characters

Garin and I have been having a lot of fun recording more and more creative episodes of the podcast. I suggested that we start a conversation around what our favorite characters were. The resulting 40 minute debate can be found here. Give it a listen. 

Thinking about the list was quite an exercise. I ruled out using independent characters even though that wasn't one of the rules. Garin didn't put any villains on his list. That also was not in the rules. What we ended up with was quite interesting. We didn't have nearly the overlap I thought we would. 

Everything I do in life has some sort of internal logic or methodology. If I cannot define a why for something I will rarely do it. Why do I record a comic book podcast? It is a lot of fun. It gives me something to do with a good friend. It gives me an excuse to continue reading comic books. See. Logic! Spock would be pleased. 

So, What has me thinking about my favorite comics? Minimalism is the answer. I have thought more and more about why I do the things I do and why I allow any given thing into my life. Getting rid of my physical books? It is the logical step for a journey I started on with my very first Kindle. I still have a few books to eliminate. I also still have a few books that really have meaning that I would like to keep. Still, progress has been made.

Movies? Again, going digital wasn't all that difficult. Offloading to the local used books, movies, and games store has been an adventure. I decided that parting with clutter was a LOT more important to me than making money on the adventure. Again, my logic is simple, I collected a massive lot of movies through poor self discipline and incorrect priorities. There were more than a few movies in my collection that I had never watched or watched once and never thought about again. Why should I worry about turning a profit? I cashed in what they wanted and donated the rest to Goodwill with no regrets, a sense of accomplishment, and quite a bit of pride. The kids movie section is still something of an issue, but that will solve itself pretty quickly as Teagan grows up a bit and her interests change. 

So I keep looking at my comics with a bit of horror. Getting rid of that collection needs to be without a sense of dread. I keep telling myself that I do not need a collection of comics. I cannot go digital as neatly as I can with books and movies. My collection is thousands strong. I cannot sell the books I have and replace them digitally at an equal rate. 

I also probably don't want to do that. I do like digital comics. I redeem those Marvel digital codes and have a few thousand digital comics in my library. Even all of those comics are not things I love. Digital clutter can be very real. 

Still, there are some stories I want. There are also some comics that I want original issues for because of their relevance to me and/or a character I identify with. There are some artists I cannot get enough of their art. There are some stories that tugged my heart strings. 

How do I sort out the things I love from the rest? Well experimenting with ideas of how to break the hold of all these comics on my life is exactly what got me to thinking about what means something to me and what doesn't. Here are some ideas I arrived at:

  • I don't care anything about having a "valuable" collection. I could do a lot more by saving up my money than "investing" in comic books. There are probably no comic books in my collection that are truly irreplaceable, but if I part with something I am committing to not trying to replace it. Once I give something up it is gone. 
  • The chances of recovering what I have in the comics is zero. I shouldn't be trying to. If I manage the purge,I will continue to read comic books, but I will set myself a limit of what I have collected up. When I hit that limit I will purge the collection again. In fact, I probably should part with pieces and runs of the collection in a way which inspires other people to read and love comics. I want the hobby to grow. That is also a big reason I record the podcast. 
  • I cannot be a completionist. The cost to put together full runs of characters like Wolverine are thousands upon thousands of dollars. Even collected editions and replicas are hundreds of dollars. Multiplying that by the number of stories and characters I enjoy means the pokemon method (Gotta catch em all!) is stupid! If I cannot have everything then it is ok to only have the really meaningful stuff I love.
  • I should think more about following the characters that bring me joy rather than keeping up with continuity. I will do SOME of that for the sake of the podcast, but there is no sense wasting money reading something that feels like a chore. My reading habits need to change along with my collecting habits. 
  • It is much better to have 10 comic books I love than 10,000 I don't care anything about. 
  • I am really struggling to figure out how to do this. 
  • I do want to do it. I want my closet back. I don't want to move those boxes again. 
  • I need a real system to eliminate the fluff before I get to the hard decisions. 
I literally sat staring at boxes of comics and an entire book shelf full of graphic novels and trade paperbacks scratching my head. How do I pick my favorites from this mess? Favorites... Now there is an idea.

So I messaged Garin and said,"How difficult would it be to put together your top 10 favorite characters to talk about tomorrow?" I think I almost killed him. Even the idea of putting together a double handful of "favorites" is hard for guys like us. We literally access 4 decades plus worth of memories and cultural approval when we think about things like this. In a way, I really envy the people who have the ability to just read one book or character and be totally satisfied. As I have said many times, I am too in love with narrative. 

With a few hours of work, while carefully not looking at my collection I scraped out the following list. It has problems. It needs revision. I already missed at least one character due to my no independent titles rule. Here is what I came up with: 

  1. Wolverine
  2. Batman
  3. Joker
  4. Conan the Barbarian
  5. Doctor Doom
  6. Doctor Strange
  7. Emma Frost
  8. Phoenix/ Jean Grey
  9. X-23
  10. Harley Quinn
My thinking behind the list was highlighting Marvel and DC characters that will cause me to buy a comic book. I thought about characters I follow faithfully. I thought about characters I love even when they are executed poorly. 

I also could rewrite this list by half. I am not sure I got anything right or wrong. I know that this is a topic that I will revisit. The podcast is planning on doing some gatherings. I will redo the list at least once or twice before the first sit down. That should distract me from the problem of having no idea how to part with my comic books! 

Well that is a lie.Today we recorded our favorite writers episode. Next week we are covering our favorite artists. It really is helping me think about the things I want to keep.


May 20 Comic Book Pull List

Ablaze

Mirka Andolfo's UnSacred #5

AWA

Year One #1
I haven't really followed the solicitation on this one, but I love zombie stories. I also really like Benjamin Percy. His X-Force and Wolverine runs have been phenomenal. 

DC

DCeased Unkillables #3
Two Zombie books in one week? Oh yes, I think I will. 

Image 

Deadly Class #44

This is the first week since March 27 that we are getting new comics. I am glad that the offerings are light. I am excited to see what next week will bring. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Comic Book Pull List May 13th

DC

Justice League #44


Comic Book Pull List May 6

DC
The Flash #753
Green Lantern: Season 2 #3
Joker/ Harley Quinn Criminal Sanity #4

This is a pretty interesting return to having new comics. DC has stepped outside of Diamond Comics Distribution and shipped comics to be sold Tuesday May 5th. Since my LCS is holding one line on release date (good decision) books were available Wednesday. I hope we don't end up in a chaotic period where comics are dropping on different days for different companies. The rumor mill says we are about 2 weeks away from Diamond shipping new release comics. It was nice to have a few new books to tide me over and give me a break from reading Multiversity for this week's podcast recording.