I’ve been doing audio editing all day, and at the end of that day, editing episode #5 of the Downloadable Concept Podcast, it’s time to do some writing about it.
I didn’t really consider the time investment in making a podcast when I started making one. I didn’t know what was involved, beyond some of the basics. I figured there was the record, and there was then an editing process where you just cut out all the bits of the record that didn’t work. This is, as it turns out, a gross oversimplification. You can do a podcast this way. Indeed, if you are a new podcaster, do a podcast this way! It’s totally easy and it’ll let you get your eye in. Get a microphone, record about an hour of dialogue – of you talking about anything – and then cut it down to say, half an hour – and then listen to it over again a few times a week or more later. It’s a practice that’ll teach you about how you express yourself.
In a greater context, the DLC podcast is either a three-stage process or a five stage process. To use the three-stage model, it’s basically Plan, Record, Edit. If we look at it as five stages, it’s Long Term Plan, Short Term Plan, Record Channel A, Record Channel B, Edit. This second model is only slightly different – it’s if we consider the plan of the episodes we want to make in the future as part of the plan.
The thing that’s interesting to me is that each of these three major components are different skills. Planning and structuring an episode helps everything else a ton, but you need to have an eye for that plan. You need to recognise that 50 minutes of talking about just old adventure games in a rambling unstructured mess can get dull. So you get used to making ideas that are only a little bit bigger than 20 minutes, you break them up, you get segment ideas.
The edit, that’s another set of skills. Because you’re not under the same time pressure. It’s an endurance test. I used to joke that when you’re dealing with Magic set reviews, you could see the point where a writer had run out of patience because every card comment was just sort of ‘eh, could be good’ or ‘probably good for draft.’ In editing the podcast, you have to put your attention to all the parts of it. If you’re going to do something like I do – trim out coughs and ums and crosstalk – then you have to maintain a high level of attention for a long period of time. Sometimes it’ll crash and you’ll have to resuscitate the whole thing. Sometimes you’ll grind your way through chunks of work multiple times. And as you try more things, you’ll become better at things – you’ll start using effects, you’ll start developing shortcuts, and that means instead of the task getting much faster, it’ll take the same amount of time, but you get a better product.
Then there’s the record. In the record, it’s all individual task skill. You have to avoid cross-talk, avoid touching the table, time when you relax, time when you tense up. You encourage one another to talk about interesting topics. You provide set ups for others’ jokes, and you try to make sure you give as good as you can when you do. And all of this is getting tighter and better and more focused as well.
It’s a surprising amount of work.
We’re five episodes in. We’ll get better and it’ll get faster. Just right now, haugh it’s a ton of work and I’m not even thinking about things like the curation/consistency side of things.