The Making of Couch Podtatoes

I’m taking a page out of Syp’s book today, where he discusses what actually goes into the making of the Battle Bards Podcast. I found it interesting because there are a number of things that we have in common in the process, but there are some bits that differ. You, dear reader, might be a fan of the show, and might wonder about how it came about, the programs I use, and how me and J3w3l fit it into our lives.

An immediate difference between Couch Podtatoes and Battle Bards is the fact that CP is weekly, and BB is bi-weekly. That changes around the planning and recording/editing right off the bat. But this isn’t meant to be a side-by-side comparison, I’m just drawing comparisons as I go through the process in my mind. Allow myself to introduce myself. Anyway.

The podcast’s origins started with the NBI where there was a focus on bringing more podcasters/livestreamers/vloggers into the fold. At one point I was a guest on the Contains Moderate Peril podcast, and that saw me immediately being interested in doing my own. I started talking to other people about helping me with the project, eventually deciding on J3w3l and Doone as my brainstorming partners. Doone admitted to not wanting to be involved besides for a monthly spot, and J3w3l agreed that she wanted to do a weekly show. With the involved parties decided, it was on to decide the other particulars. We had multiple brain-storming sessions, and eventually decided on the Couch Podtatoes title, and found some of our gimmicks. From there, I mostly modeled the show around the podcasts I was listening to at the time: CMP, Massive Failure, and Cat Context, among others.

Pre-production:

Our initial schedule was a little different from what it is now, and we did do a couple of practice episodes before we had an official release. At this point, we usually start thinking about the next week’s episode on the weekend. Between Sunday and Tuesday we take what time we can to make up show notes. We were pretty strict on meeting up on Mondays, but that has changed as we’ve become more comfortable. Usually we draw upon what’s going on in the blogging community, in the news, and any other points that we might find interesting to talk about. We throw around ideas, and once we’re semi-decided on a topic or topics, we will start up a Google Document where we’ll detail what we want to bring up during the show. Once that is finished, we wait until Wednesday for the next step.

Recording:

Wednesday afternoon (for Me/Doone, Pacific time, US) or Thursday morning if you’re an Aussie (like J3w3l), we meet up on Steam. From there we’ll open up the show notes, and fire up Skype. I’ll make the call, and then we’ll both open up Audacity and record our individual parts. I have used Call Graph which is a plug-in for Skype which records the call, but depending on who is involved, I’ve found that the quality can be pretty bad. Syp mentioned Call Burner, so perhaps I’ll try that one out. When I have a group of guests, recording Skype is more efficient than waiting for everyone to send me their individual bits (plus they might not be familiar with the software). When it’s just me and J3w3l or even with Doone, we’ll usually just record individually, then they send me their parts for editing. Sometimes I do both, just to have a backup, because sometimes things happen (like the one time I forgot to hit record and missed the whole show).

Editing:

On top of using Audacity for recording, I also use it for editing. In the case of using a separate program like Call Graph, it still outputs an mp3 file so I can simply import that into Audacity for editing. There’s a little more to it in that case, but that’s not the norm. Once I get the individual parts from my co-host(s), I import them all into Audacity, and then import the intro music. I get everything placed and then listen to the show and edit as needed. Each week I pick a few songs from my music library and edit them down to 10-15 second burst to help break up subjects. A typical show starts with the introduction, we go into what we’ve been playing, music break, we have a discussion topic, music break, Idiots on the Internet, music, Community spotlight, music, outro. We have changed up the format a few times, where one topic is good for the whole show, or we have a bunch of mini stories to cover, but typically that’s how it goes. I have made sure to give credit to the music’s owners, but Syp’s post enlightened me to some of the free use policies that exist on the Internet, so that’s good to know. A typical hour show takes me about 3-4 hours to edit, but I enjoy the hell out of it.

Post-production:

Once the show has been edited, I usually listen to it in full to make sure that everything sounds good. I take notes for timing and layout the template for the post that will eventually end up on the blog. At that point I’m done for the night (I typically edit the same day I record, but sometimes it holds over to the next day). On Friday, I upload the new show to Libsyn (where we just moved) and post the notes on the Libsyn blog, my blog, and more recently Anook. Posting on my blog also posts to Twitter. I might also re-link on Twitter later during the weekend for folks that might have missed it. From there, it’s ready to listen to, and we start the whole process over again on the weekend.

Despite taking quite a bit of time it’s something that I’ve been passionate about. If you’d be interested in guesting or have questions, feel free to let me know in the comments. Want me (or us) on your show? I (we) do that too!

#couchpodtatoes #podcasting #blaugust

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