Podcasting Dos and Don’ts

I spent the majority of the last three days recording and editing the first episode of the Gentleman Badass podcast. I don’t want to say I was overconfident in my ability to make this podcast happen, but I will admit I’d thought to myself, “I’ve recorded four albums and edited a hundred youtube videos. How hard could it be?” Needless to say, Murphy’s law showed up in full force.

My initial plan was to show up at 88 Tactical at 1:00 pm on Thursday to get started. Mick would be there at 2:00 and I figured an hour would be enough time to comfortably set up all of our production equipment. I arrived to find the conference room already in use. No big deal. I needed to unbox quite a bit of equipment anyway, so I started in on that in a different room. 

Once the conference room was free I started setting up, only to run into issues with our microphones. Once the mics were fixed I started setting up the iPhone cameras and lighting. It took some experimenting, but I eventually made it work. By the time Mick showed up, I was mostly ready to go, so we sat down and recorded. It went great. I was actually surprised at how well our first recording went. The content seemed solid and the conversation flowed really well. On the downside, I’d been so busy setting stuff up at the beginning that I forgot to switch my phone to airplane mode (the iPhone we were using to film Mick). It rang twice during the podcast and cut Mick’s video. Thankfully it only occurred when I was speaking so we didn’t lose any footage of Mick. I’m also thankful Mick had the wherewithal to start the video again once the phone stopped ringing. That ended up being our saving grace.

Once we’d finished up Episode 1, I had hoped to move right on to Episode 2, but noticed that the audio for Episode 1 didn’t sound right. I did some investigating and found that neither of our mics had actually been working throughout the whole episode. The only mic that had worked was the internal one on my Macbook Pro. I spent the rest of our time in the conference room trying to troubleshoot the mic issue but it was no use. We ran out of time before we could record again. 

As expected, the audio off my computer was unusable. Since I was near my computer, I sounded fine, but Mick was across the room and his words were nearly indistinguishable. Thankfully, the audio from the iPhones filming us was good enough to use. I apologize if when you listen to Episode 1 it doesn’t sound as professional as it should. I’m surprised at how good it does sound considering the circumstances, but rest assured, Episode 2 will be better. Most of all, I’m thankful Mick restarted the video on my phone both times. If he’d just shut off the phone and not hit record again, we would have been SOL.

Once I was satisfied with the audio, it was time to edit the video. As I mentioned before, I’ve edited quite a few short videos, but Episode 1 would be the first long-form, multi-camera project I had edited. Let me tell you, it’s a whole new animal. First off, the audio did not sync with the video. After some research, I learned this is a common problem when using footage from a cell phone. Thankfully, HandBrake is a free video transcoder that took care of the problem (but it took about an hour to transcode all the video).

After conquering that beast, it was time to edit… Let’s just say that after another six hours of problems (googling how to edit multi-cam, Premiere Pro crashing while editing multi-cam due to a programming issue, googling how to bypass the programming issue, and then finally editing the video) it’s safe to say I’m comfortable editing multi-camera video, and any future episodes should be fairly simple to edit (fingers crossed, knock on wood, throw some salt over my shoulder). 

In ending, here are the major lessons I learned from my first podcast. Hopefully, my problems can save you some pain.

1. You can’t plug identical USB microphones (at least not Blue Yetis) into one computer, even if you create an Aggregate Device in the Audio Midi Setup (this should work with two different USB mics, but apparently not identical ones). Thankfully I’ve got some other mics to choose from. We’ll probably be using SM58s or ATR2035s for the foreseeable future. The setup process will be a little more tedious, but such is life.

2. Give yourself lots of time. Plan for the first few episodes to take two to four times as long as you expect them too.

3. Turn cell phones and other devices to airplane mode. In total, we had four phone rings and one text message ding in our first forty minute podcast. 

4. Always record audio on your videos. It allows you to sync video from multiple cameras very easily and it can save your ass if your primary recording system goes down. 

5. Multi-Camera Editing is a lifesaver. A big shoutout to Premier Gal who’s video finally taught me how.

6. If you’re using footage from a cell phone, download HandBrake, or buy a different video transcoding software. 

7. As of the date of this writing, OpenCL causes Premier Pro to crash when editing multi-camera. Change it to Metal by going to File > Project Settings > General and under “Video Rendering and Playback” change the drop down from “Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration (OpenCL)” to “Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration (Metal).”

8. Enjoy the process. It’s pretty amazing what a person can do with a computer and a couple cell phones (which in the end was all we actually used to create our first episode). I’ve learned about a dozen new useful skills in the last couple of days, so even though it didn’t go as smoothly as planned, it’s still a big win. 

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