If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ll know I currently run two podcasts and after a few months it was obvious I needed to change up my workflow.
Let me start by saying that producing and recording a podcast is a lot of work. You can read plenty of articles and tutorials online saying that you can get a podcast up and running quickly and easily for little money and in some respects, that’s true, if you want your podcast to sound pretty poor.
There are three main areas with podcasting that have the sinister ability to sap your time – 1. Recording confidently and “in the mind of podcasting” especially when you’re starting out, 2. Post production which can be anything from a quick edit and upload to EQ’ing, adding music clips etc (it’s this point that is the focus of this post) and 3. Marketing and getting your podcast to the ears of as many people as possible.
In terms of point 1 this is something that comes with time. I follow a lot of podcasters on Twitter and about a dozen of new podcasters mostly say the same thing “woah, it’s not as easy as it looks”. Even now on the Two Shots to the Head Podcast I run with Mark Asquith, we sometimes have to stop half way through the intro and do a second take. Being confident in front of the mic, even though it’s not live (this does apply to live broadcasts too however), is a must. If you’re a confident public speaker you’ve already got a foot up. Otherwise you’ll be doing take after take.
Point 3 (I’ll come onto point 2 after) is an ongoing thing that you need to keep on top of and chipping away at. It’s early days for both my podcasts and while traffic is ok seeing as I’m still under 10 episodes, it’s important to constantly be on it. Tweeting when the show goes live, getting engagement leading up to recording, asking people to subscribe and review. It’s all stuff you need to do. All the time.
Now point 2, the meat and veg of many podcasts. Early on you need to decide which route you’re going to take and this will also largely determine how much you need to spend on equipment. I opted for a pretty decent USB mic (Blue Snowball) and do everything in software on my Macbook Air. So, taking the Two Shots Podcast as an example, there are two of us and we record our vocals three times. I record my own vocals straight into Adobe Audition, Mark records his into Garage Band at his end and I record both of our vocals from Skype using Audio Hijack Pro.
This workflow works great while recording and the bulk of the work is done in post production. And it’s a lot of work. It involves firstly listening through the vocals and seeing if there’s any stand out blips or stuff that needs to be edited out. Once that’s done I then run some EQ on the vocals to get them sounding as good as possible with the limited recording range from the condenser mics we have. After that I bring them into the multitrack view in Adobe Audition and line up the vocals with the recorded Skype track, then it’s deleted. Then I start cutting up the vocal tracks so I can add intro and outro music plus various sound clips throughout the show. Once that’s done, it’s another skim listen through to make sure it’s all good then I export it as an mp3.
Not done yet. I then need to make sure the mp3 file is tagged correctly and has the relevant show information and cover art for iTunes. Before I can do that though I have to write the show notes (which is essentially the WordPress post text) which I then paste into the tagging software which serves as the iTunes summary. Once that’s done I upload the file to my hosting provider (Libsyn) which is then used as a server for just the audio file. Once that’s done, I use the url for that hosted file and paste it into the WordPress post using a plugin and then schedule the post for launch day, which is now a Monday.
Phew, we’re done. As you can see, the approach is great in terms of not needing much equipment and as long as you’re willing to put the time in in post production to get it all edited and EQ’d, you can end up with a decent result. And I was happy with the result, I just didn’t want to spend on average 2-3 hours sorting a podcast out. So, with that in mind I hit the internet again and started looking into how the “big boys” do it. And it’s a fairly consistent approach too.
Think about doing a live radio broadcast. The DJ is doing everything on the fly; going through the program while queueing up music and clips that are run live during the show. That’s the workflow I’m now adopting and for the most part it’s serving me really well. It did involve me getting some additional equipment:
- Mixer (Mackie ProFX 8)
- Mic (Rode Procaster)
- Desk mic boom arm
- Mic gain enhancer (Fethead phantom power – the Procaster needs decent gain but whacking the mixer up full gives off hiss)
- Bossjock sound cart app for iPad
- Some extra audio cables
With the equipment above purchased I’m almost there to the final deal. Running my Doctor Who podcast solo I run my mic and the iPad with sound cart into the mixer then I record everything live via USB in Adobe Audition. This means once the recording is done, I EQ it then save it, post production done. With the Two Shots Podcast it’s still slightly more difficult as I have one more piece of kit to get; an external audio recorder.
The reason I need this is for what’s called a mix-minus set up. This means that I can run my mic, the iPad clips and audio from the Mac (Skype) into the mixer but then using the FX sends (a kind of sub-output separate from the main out) back to the Mac but minus out the original Skype input so that Mark doesn’t hear himself and create a feedback loop. At the moment, we’re still recording as we started out but at least my vocals have stepped up a bit with the new mic. I’m currently eyeing up a Roland R-05 and once this is included in the setup, I can take the same approach as my Doctor Who podcast and record everything on the fly. Leaving some EQ to be done before doing the last stages.
After some immense waffling there that’s an insight into my podcast setup and how I produce both shows. I love podcasting and the benefits and engagement with your audience is really valuable. It’s still early days for both shows but it’s one of those situations where you just need to stick to the plan, keep putting good content out and marketing it. If you’re thinking of setting up a podcast then go for it, just be prepared to spend a lot of time in post production if you go down the route of doing everything mainly in software and in the edit.