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. 

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