HOW WE MADE A PODCAST | the challenges.
I never quite predicted the amount of podcast work that would land on my desk in recent months. So much so that I hastened to redesign my mothersite and make more emphasis of it. The Auroch Digital podcast, 'How to Make a Video Game', is now in its fourth season - I'm going to talk a little about how we tackled the challenges of recording and producing a podcast in amongst an active and buzzing game development studio, where the environment is largely without sound proofing, complete with glass windows and a high ceiling.
| Us VS Reverb
The first thing apparent when we were deciding upon recording a podcast, was where best to setup and hit the red button. We were fortunate to have space to use, but the immediate hurdle was tackling the natural reverberation any given space will have (outside of sound proofing). I hasten to add that we do use some existing sound proofing that proves it's worth, but the challenges in recording are still felt.
I used Shure PGA48 dynamic cardioid vocal mics for presenters and guests. The PGA48 is a very cost effective mic, with little pickup on the backend, nulling out any reverb bounce being picked up more than you'd like.
With good direction of mic technique, staying close and maintaining that consistency throughout, this has proved to be a very straight forward, and super effective combo to kill that reverb as much as possible from the start, before getting to post audio - where a little cleanup of any straggling reverb tails can be shot down in flames. We'll get to that shortly.
| A Trusty Zoom
Now, it's a well known fact I'm a massive Zoom handy recorder fan, my H6 goes pretty much everywhere I go - for its out-of-the-box recording capabilities, and interface flexibility.
With four XLR inputs, (up to six if including the peripheral), this is more than enough for recording on the fly, with something low maintenance and highly powerful.
Easy to use channel controls and -20db pad switches (although rarely used for this), are all great additions to my recording arsenal.
My Zoom H6 sits proudly on a tripod, front and centre as I watch levels, keeping around -12db, and watching for dynamic spikes in vocal delivery during the session.
| Speak Easy
I read an article prior to recording for this podcast that said, for a great delivery of content, the speaker should be comfortable, at ease - and able to speak freely with hand gestures if necessary to help deliver a point.
This simple and effective idea was supported by mic strong arms, attachable to desks - keeping a consistent mic position, and allowing presenters / guests to do exactly that: speak easy. You can hear this in the recording as the passion for gamedev is cuddled by that support net. These mic arms are super cost effective, and have proven their worth over and over.
| In the Edit
Of course, all this sounds great - but without sound proofing during the recording, there will inevitably be need for post-work, to remove noise pollution - getting that sound as crisp and warm as possible. Sometimes the office hub-bub will creep through into the recording, but when giving context to this, this can actually add a subtle but impactful texture during a conversation.
My secret weapon for this projects post audio work has largely been the ACON Deverberator. Again, it's very cost effective and incredibly powerful. It'll never remove all reverb, as that'll be forever burnt into your recording - but with the above in mind and verb tackled hard from the start, whatever's left can be thinned to a point where it's barely noticeable, if at all - especially as most listeners of podcasts listen via onboard Smart Phone speakers, or standard bud earphones.
That's often the challenge of audio across the board however - producing with highend in mind, but knowing that level will likely not be met anyway.
Everything mentioned up to this point is only really scratching the surface, there's so much more I could bang on about, but then that would be a lengthy blog post. I've found these choices in gear and techniques to be highly effective that feel like 'life-hacks', something with big impact but with passive effort.