Little Details Can Make A Big Difference

Dylan Messerschmidt – Drunk History of the World

This may apply to the perfectionists more than anyone else, but to some degree, it still holds true for anyone that wants to make a good podcast. Like any other creative project, putting together a podcast usually involves starting out with the big picture of what one wants to accomplish, and then moves down into the details that may or may not get overlooked. The attention that those parts get generally depend on how important they seem to the podcast, but believe me when I say that most of the decisions you make, even the ones that don’t seem to matter, will have an effect on your end product. My advice would be to have at least one person work on thinking about everything that is being done and why. That goes for music choice, the amount of silence between clips, episode topics, where you’re recording, and so on.

For example, when Molly, Tom, and I recorded episode one, we all sat about two feet away from the microphone that was on a low table. It sounded okay, but I suggested putting it somewhere that it was closer to our faces, and when we did that for episode two, it sounded so much better. We also did this for our episode topics. We started by simply picking moments in history that interested us, but then we realized how much weird and interesting stuff from history was out there that no one knew about, and we started looking for that to do our shows. It made episodes more interesting and we had more fun making them.

Basically, try to listen closely to each episode and pick up on little things that you can do better. The big problems will be easy enough to spot. The hard to spot problems usually end up being things that no one notices when they’re done right, but when you start making a habit of stomping out little issues and tweaking stuff you were already doing well, it makes a world of difference in the long run.

For an extra challenge to all this, do a podcast involving alcohol consumption and try to keep all of this in mind.

Don’t force it

Making a podcast is a big commitment and anyone who goes into it wants it to be well received. This is where you may run into a problem. It is easy  to set expectations for what you want your podcast to be, that you may try to force it to happen without even realizing it. This can come when you want to be funny, want to interview someone, or when you are in the final stages of editing your work.

First, most people find comedic relief their go-to entertainment and it is often the first thing people worry about when posting something online. “Will they get my joke?” “Will this make them laugh?” The truth is, if your goal is to make others laugh, then it is going to have to feel effortless. Humor is not something you can make happen, because other people can see right through the falsity. Be patient, and the flow of the conversation should lead you right to the joke.

Second, you can not force an interview or a conversation for that matter. Sometimes talking to strangers, or even people you are working with for the first time can be uncomfortable for everyone involved, but it is important to remember that everyone in the room probably feels the same way. If you go into an interview hoping the conversation will go a certain way and it just doesn’t, then be okay with that. You cannot force something that was not meant to happen. When you start to push something that just is not working, it is going to sound just like that when you’re done; like it isn’t working. So, when that happens, go into the conversation with a “go with the flow” attitude, just let it take you where it needs to go, and you may be pleasantly surprised with the out come.

Lastly, yes, the editing process is the time to manipulate the audio, but that also means be careful. Sometimes you may expect your recording to have a certain theme or tone and you listen to it and it has become something else entirely. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because now you have the opportunity to make it into something even better. When editing be careful not to take so much out that you sound like a robot that cannot hold a conversation. It is important to leave some vocal cues, like you actually took a breath.

Overall, when creating a podcast, authenticity is the key. Listeners can tell when you are trying to force something to happen that just isn’t there. So, be patient and the rest will follow.

Best of luck in all your podcasting ventures.

-Kaitlin Brinker

Graphic Design and Making a Logo

Michael Wright (Ben Franklin’s Playlist)

Throughout the duration of the semester, I found that I thrived the most in the behind-the-scenes work on the podcast. I loved editing, I loved writing and most of all, I loved working on the graphics for our show. The two most notable ones I worked on this semester were the Logo that we used for our SoundCloud account and the poster that we created as a way of advertising our show.

The Logo was one of the first things that I worked on once we were assigned into teams. My group and I threw around a couple of ideas but the one we ended up going with was simple and to the point. We took the classic iPod advertisement that showed silhouettes on a distinctly colored background simply listening to music and applied it to our Philly-scene style. I found a picture of Benjamin Franklin and shaded it in so he was simply a shadow and I edited in headphones once this was done. From there, we put a bright green background in and most of the hard work was done. All that was left was to tack the show name onto it so I used a slightly cursive-looking font and simply switched the “A” in “Playlist” with a Liberty Bell to continue with the Philadelphia theme. We had two slightly different logos, one for thumbnails and one for the main account photo. The only difference is the placement of the show title.

small-logo-2                   logo
Thumbnail Image                   Account Photo

In addition to the logo, we also had a poster that I created in order to advertise the show. I used a program called GIMP, basically a free version of PhotoShop, to create this. Because our show is about the Philly Punk Scene, we wanted to take Benjamin Franklin, who the show is named after, and make him look as though he were a part of the Punk Scene. I basically took a regular picture of him and edited in a handful of things to make him seem more “hardcore”, such as giving him tattoos, green hair, an ear piercing and putting a cigarette in his mouth. Overall, creating the poster took me three or four hours but it does a good job of taking a traditional Philadelphia figure and molding him to give off the appearance of someone who would listen to our show.

bf

The creation of this poster was intended to show that our show was about punk music but we made it ridiculous enough to show future listeners that there is a comedic aspect to our show. We didn’t take things too seriously and we joked around a lot and we wanted our poster to reflect that.

The graphics design for this show was incredibly fun to work on and given the right tools, it’s easy enough to figure out that anyone can work on it. You don’t need a background in Graphic Design, you just need to have some good ideas and the equipment to create them. We wanted our graphics to display both what the show is about and the general vibe of it, hence why we parodied Apple’s advertisements and made Benjamin Franklin into a ridiculous looking Philly Punk guy. They both show it’s a musical playlist about the scene and that it’s an easy and fun listen. As long as you have ideas can really show what your show is about in a simple and accurate way, the Graphic Design part of creating a podcast is easy and incredibly fun.

 

Learning From Mistakes

Dylan Harrison(The Platform)

Having never done a podcast prior to this semester, it’s understandable that I’d be making more than a few mistakes along the way. Making mistakes in any aspect of life is expected, it’s how you use those mistakes to your advantage that will make you successful. From listening to the first episode of The Platform to the fourth and final, I can hear a huge improvement in not only the quality of our voices, but also the podcast as a whole.

The first episode was done in a number of different takes, with a lot of pausing and “ums” and “ahs” in between thoughts because it wasn’t recorded like a normal conversation and didn’t sound natural at all. That was the biggest critique listeners had of the first episode, and something we definitely improved on. From the second episode on we recorded our podcasts in mostly one take, had back and forth dialogue so it sounded like a normal conversation, and I think it helped immensely.

We also went from having one speaker for a long period of time to having a back in forth conversation, especially in our final episode. It can get boring listening to the same person speak for a long amount of time, so we needed to switch speakers often to keep the information fresh and have listeners stay entertained. Overall, each podcast in the class went from decent to great in a matter of four episodes, and I think that’s a great accomplishment since most of the students had no prior podcasting experience.