They say that ‘Harley Davidson’s are like haemorrhoids, sooner or later every arsehole gets one’…I think that in 2017 we will probably be able to swap ‘Harley Davidson’ for ‘podcast’. With that in mind, I’d like to announce my new podcast!!!!
Well first and foremost, I love podcasts. For the last 5 or 6 years they have been my escape hatch while I do menial tasks like the dishes, or hanging out the washing, or colour-grading a video. They also help me block out the real world if I’m ever on public transport, and they are pretty much the only thing that gets me through any long run.
Secondly, so much of the video work that I do comprises half hour chats that are edited down to 2-3 minutes. While I love the process of editing a conversation down to just the essentials…there is invariably good stuff that never sees the light of day, and there is often something nice about being able to ease into the flow of a conversation, rather than just hearing the highlights. I simply don’t have the hard-drive space to do long form videos (plus I think that if you’re going to use a visual medium, you need to make it visually engaging…and two people chatting for an hour just doesn’t cut it), so the audio only world of podcasts seemed like a really good solution.
Thirdly, I really like getting to know people’s story. But life with 3 kids doesn’t allow for a whole a spare hour where you can just talk to someone about their life…unless you schedule it in. So this is my way of scheduling it in. Also, after 40 years on this earth, I feel that I’ve met a number of really interesting people, who have a great story to tell.
Finally, I wanted to set myself the challenge of creating a range of content, from a single session. So my aim with this project is to create; a podcast (45mins to an hour), a video where the person talks about something they have done that they are really proud of (3-5 minutes) and a portrait photo.
Why has it taken you so long?
Weellll, the honest truth is that I attempted to start a podcast about 4 years ago with my brother, Tom. Both of our lives were pretty frantic at that time, and despite having a lot in common, we were spending less and less time together. So I thought that if we could catch up once a week to record the podcast, then that would be a good, regular excuse for a catch-up. So after a bit of coaxing, I borrowed an audio recorder, and Tom and I sat down to chat about a range of topics. From memory, it was pretty good. There were some jokes, some witty insights and some fond reminiscences. I say ‘from memory’ because at about the 1 hour mark of the recording I looked down to see how the audio recorder was going and realised that while I had armed the recorder, I had not actually started recording (on that recorder you press ‘record’ once to get it ready…and then again to make it record)…I think that if I had at least got it recording at that moment I would have heard one of the world’s great exasperated sighs emenate from my younger brother. But I didn’t even capture that…and I’ve been too embarrassed to ever ask him to do it again.
Traps for young players
Hoo Boy! I can remember when I went for my driver’s license thinking that if a friend of ours (who was not the sharpest tool in the shed) could get his license…then surely I could get mine! Similarly, I’ve listened to some pretty amateurish podcasts, and so I thought that if they can get a podcast recorded and uploaded…then so can I. But I was wrong. So very, very wrong.
From the start I had to decide if I was going to have my questions as part of the podcast. If they weren’t, then I would only need one microphone…but I would have to edit the answer in such a way that the question was self-evident. Or I could hold the microphone and ask the question, then pass the microphone to the interviewee for their answer…but this sounded like a terrible way to have a conversation, or I could put the microphone in the middle of the table and we could both talk and sound equally faint and echoey.
Alternatively, I could use my two radio mics that I use for my videos, and that way both myself and my interviewee would have a mic. But then I would need to work out how to plug the two mics into a recorder (that can accept to different audio sources) and then get that to plug into Garageband so that I could monitor the audio. In the end this is the option I went with…but this meant having two wireless mics, two wireless mic receivers and an audio recorder and a laptop all on the desk in front of me while we recorded (and me desperately trying to pay attention to my guest, while also checking battery levels on the various devices, and monitoring audio, and making sure everything was still recording). In short the whole set-up looked some carnival freak show where a snake eats itself while their handler looks on in confused disbelief.
I’ve now done 4 recordings…and while I think I’m getting better, the simple fact is that I will need to buy some dedicated microphones, as the sound is still pretty average and ‘roomy’.
One highlight was spending an hour trying to work out how to get the two mics to work on the recorder and then how to get Garageband to recognise the recorder. Suddenly after another flurry of settings changes I could hear my voice through my headphones. This was great as it meant I had finally cracked the code and got the computer to recognise the mics. But the only problem was that there was a weird scratching noise (like something rubbing on the mic). I checked both mics and nothing I did could get rid of the scratching sound… it even made it when the mics were just sitting on the table and clearly not touching anything that would lead to the scratching. Eventually I turned them both off and let out a sigh…which came through my headphones clear as a bell. With both mics off, this shouldn’t have been possible. Then I realised that I had my headphones (my iPhone headphones) plugged into the Mac…and Garageband had been recognising the microphone on the headphones not the microphones I’d been trying to set up. So everytime I picked up one of the mics and did a check, I could hear my voice, because my iPhone headphones could hear my voice.
That was not a career highlight.
Then there was learning how to edit on Garageband, writing some theme music in Garageband, creating artwork for the podcast, finding somewhere to host the podcast, learning how to share from wherever you’re hosting the podcast to iTunes…in short, it’s a whole lot harder than ‘upload video to YouTube’.
Another little thing I had to overcome is that whenever I’m doing a video shoot, I don’t appear in the final product, so it’s really important that you don’t hear me talking from off camera. As a result I’ve become very good at responding to what people are saying, without actually making any noise (there is a lot of nodding and smiling). But on a podcast, it’s ok to audibly support the person speaking…in fact, it sounds kind of rude if you’re apparently not responding to what is being said. So over the course of the first 4 episodes I think I’ve got a lot better at responding to what is being said and making the recording a genuine conversation.
*Insert call to action here*
This is all just a rather long winded way of saying, the podcast is now live.
You can head to the website to find the podcast and video here:
or you can just listen to it/subscribe here:
I’ve got a bank of 4 more up my sleeve, so as long as I keep recording one every couple of weeks, I should be able to release them fortnightly (even if I miss a week or two).
I’d love to have your feedback, it’s still very much a work in progress, so I’d love to know what works and what doesn’t. But if you have anyone you think would be good to talk to, then please let me know (I’m looking to maintain a 50/50 gender split, so if you could give one of each that would be awesome!)
In terms of a creative project, it has been awesome to try my hand at creating a music intro/outro, I’ve loved having an excuse to shoot four portraits and hone my skills there, I’ve been excited to have that ‘this could all go horribly wrong, but I’m doing it anyway’ feeling back in my life…but most of all, it’s been great to just sit down and have a chat with some really interesting people.