The first two weeks of this Audio & Video design course will focus on audio design through the creation of a 2 – 10 minute PSA podcast. Podcasts are extremely popular due to their on-demand nature. The most successful podcasts are well researched and combine flawless audio recording and editing techniques with good storytelling to engage and delight the audience.
The textbook for this course is The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Audio. In this module I focused on chapter 8: sound. This chapter explains in simple terms how sound is recognized by the human ear through vibrations, and how mimic this process. It also discusses the different types of microphones – dynamic and electret condenser – types of pick-up – omnidirectional, cardioid, and supercardioid – styles of microphones – lavalier, handheld, and shotgun – and in what situations each microphone will best perform.
The chapter gives helpful tips on getting the best sound from your surroundings, including adjusting the reverb in the room by adding or removing hard or porous materials.
The chapter really shows how you can use sound to impact how your audience will react to your program. Adding or removing background noise can make a scene seem more hectic or more calm to the viewer.
The rest of the week’s reading was from thepodcasthost.com. The article The Art of Creating an Invisible Podcast Episode Script describes how the use of a fully realized script can kill the feeling of spontaneity in a recording. Instead, the article suggests that you organize your script in bullet points to ensure that all topics are covered fully and in the correct order. The article goes on to suggest that you script certain portions of the episode such as the intro and the call to action. The most important part of writing a script for audio is to write like you talk, not how you read.
The article Podcast Scripting: How Do I Write a Podcast Script? describes the different levels of scripting a podcast. The first level is a word-for-word script which will ensure that you cover all topics that you want, but often can sound stilted and unnatural. This style of scripting is best for people who aren’t as confident in front of the microphone as they’ll have all the information laid out in front of them. It is really important to read your script aloud and get comfortable with the subject and then revise until the writing sounds as close as possible to how you speak. Another option is a detailed episode plan which heavily outlines all of the subject matter, but is more of a guide than a script. The final option is flexible, rough bullet point plan with only the top level info laid out. This can offer the most conversational podcast, but often leads to tangents. This is my least preferred method of podcasting. While I enjoy listening to people who seem to have a nice rapport, I have no interest in listening to people gab on off the topic of the episode.
In the article Podcast Taglines, Hooks, and the Power of Words we reviewed the importance of taglines and hooks for a podcast. These important pieces of language can make your podcast stand out to the audience. The tagline is an introductory statement that lets the audience know who or what your podcast will be about. Hooks can help your audience understand where they are in the show or what will be discussed next. LPOTL Side Stories utilizes many hooks like Hero of the Week and Correction Corner to let their audience know what will be discussed next.
6 Tools for Podcast Planning Perfection covers tips to help podcasters get over the daunting feeling of starting out. These tools include:
- Write first, edit later: writing is a creative act and editing take a lot of structure. Do not give into the temptation to edit as you go. In my line of work, we call this the SFD – Sh*tty First Draft.
- Have a strong outline – whether you use your computer notepad, index cards, or create a mindmap, having a strong outline will ensure that your topic is covered thoroughly and correctly.
- Editing – finding an editing tool that can help simplify your writing, shorten sentences, and highlight repeating words.
The episode How to present a perfectly scripted podcast discusses the fact that not only is the topic important, but the presentation and delivery will make or break your success. Rereading and rehearsing your content will identify places where your language doesn’t work spoken aloud or your information isn’t presented as clearly as you’d like. Highlighting words that need to emphasized or natural pause points will help you deliver your information in a pleasant, conversational way. An important point that I cannot be reminded of often enough is to slow down and annunciate. Especially when speaking in front of people, I have a tendency to rush through my speaking points. Slow it down so the audience can take in all of the information that you’ve worked so hard to present to them.
I have found several podcast episodes that I believe incorporate music, hooks and taglines, and ambient sound very well.
No Dogs in Space is a podcast from the Last Podcast Network. It is a music podcast hosted by husband and wife team Marcus Parks and Carolina Hidalgo. I particularly enjoy this podcast because you can tell how passionate Marcus and Carolina are about the music they’re discussing. The first season covers punk rock in depth and each band has several episodes dedicated to it. My husband is a music buff, but I now know more than he does about The Stooges! They do a great job weaving music seamlessly into their podcast. Which is good, since it’s a podcast about music!
A spin off of the well researched podcast Last Podcast on the Left, LPOTL Side Stories is hosted by Ben Kissel and Henry Zebrowski and covers absurd news stories on murders, aliens, UFOs, and other fringe topics. Several segments have become regular parts of this podcast, including the most regular – Hero of the Week. This segment uses fan created music as its hook and although sometimes the music changes, it is often catchy, recognizable, and something you’ll recognize from week to week.
This podcast, hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontie focuses on crime culture in the U.S. and utilizes a lot of ambient sound to help their storytelling. Episode one starts with the hosts interviewing a barber who used to cut hair for the mob. They include the sounds of the phone ringing, the barber taking appointments with customers, and the sound of a blow dryer to let the audience understand that you’re in an old-school barber shop.
Attached you will find a planning document for my podcast episode. The episode will focus on the importance of doing breed research before buying or adopting a dog. Dogs end up in rescue for many reasons, but often the issues could have been avoided if the owner did their due diligence and learned about the breed before bringing the dog home.