Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Listener, you need to turn down your radio! Observing the mechanics of podcasting

I have reached new heights of wishi-washiness, as it were. I won't get into the details now, but one of the themes that has been emphasized in MANY of my blogs is that it's best not to make a definitive statement, because a few minutes after you make that definitive statement, it will immediately become invalid. But now I've reached new heights - a statement has become invalid before I technically made it in the first place.

As I've mentioned previously, I often write posts in advance and schedule them for later posting. In one of these future posts, I originally wrote:

I listen to a few podcasts here and there, but (with one exception) the podcasts that I listen to are usually less than five minutes long.

By the time you actually see the post, that "one exception" will become "two exceptions." (Of course, by the time you see the post, it may have become three....)

Late Sunday night/Monday morning, Jesse Stay shared this post at his Stay N' Alive blog:

I’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and go forward with a dream I’ve had for awhile. Monday (today), June 8, 2009 at 8:30PM [MDT] I’ll be recording my first, yet-to-be-named podcast under the Stay N’ Alive Productions umbrella. We’ll broadcast the recording live on Ustream on my SocialGeek channel at http://ustream.tv/channel/thesocialgeek.

I'm not going to discuss the content of the podcast here (which was good - Jesse had some good guests, including Louis Gray and Kirk Yuhnke, Tech Junkie). I'm going to talk about the mechanics of a live podcast. Because, while I've been known to opine about podcast playback software, I don't know anything about actually PRODUCING a podcast. Live. And in that respect, Stay's experience was educational for me.

First off, this was (to my recollection) the first time that I had ever watched a live podcast, with the exception of those that are produced by people who do this for a living. (Because Ffundercats' live show occurs while I am commuting, I listen to it after the fact.) While Stay is a respected technologist, he is not a podcaster by trade. And he bit off a lot in his first podcast, when you think about it:

  • First off, you need the local setup so that the viewers can see and hear you. Stay had a camera and a microphone. Check.

  • Next, you need the software that captures your image and voice. I'm not sure what Stay ended up using, but he obviously had that.

  • Third, you need a service that will allow the rest of us to see and hear what's going on. Stay uses Ustream, as he noted in his blog post.
Sounds easy, huh? Well, let's throw something else into the equation.

  • Kirk Yuhnke was also involved in the podcast, and he was at another location in the Salt Lake City area. So he had to have the audio and video setup, and he and Jesse needed a service that would allow Kirk's audio and video to be accessible to Stay.

  • Stay then needed to bring Yuhnke's audio into the podcast.

  • Plus, at selected times, Stay needed to insert Yuhnke's video - for example, when Kirk was holding his new Palm Pre.
Oh, and as they DIDN'T say at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, "one more thing":

  • Louis Gray was also involved in the podcast, and he was way over here California way. Audio video, share with Jesse, bla bla bla.

  • Bring the Gray audio in, bla bla bla.

  • So now that you have three people in the podcast, it would be great if you could integrate video from all three of them into the podcast at the same time.
Again, all of this is no sweat if you do this for a living. When Yuhnke goes to work, they do this all the time. When Leo LaPorte wants to do this, he's had a ton of experience in it.

Well, as it turns out, the audience for Stay's podcast consisted of technologists and semi-technologists, people who realized all the work that goes into this. And some of them sympathized - nay, emphasized - with Stay as it took him a few minutes to get everything up and running. (jeff)isageek, for one, realized that the mechanics of a podcast are not a trivial matter:

we are bearing - (jeff)isageek

it happens to everyone jesse - (jeff)isageek

skype decides to always mess up when you really need it to work :) i have learned doing the social geeks podcast - (jeff)isageek

must feel good to hang up on louis gray :) - (jeff)isageek

everyone knows what louis gray looks like we dont need to see his face :) - (jeff)isageek

But after a few minutes everything was set, all were on audio, Stay was fading in images of Gray and Yuhnke as needed, and he even showed a video during the podcast (the Palm Pre Part 2 video that you can see here).

Now a confession of my own - I couldn't figure out how to link directly to that video. But Stay was linked to it during the podcast (he brought it up to show it). But I think this is it.

If this is the wrong video, then I guess I'll have to edit this post again.

Now I've spent a lot of time discussing the mechanics of the podcast, but the most important part of any podcast is the content. In this case, Stay, Yuhnke, and Gray discussed the launch of the Palm Pre, as well as Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. Stay tuned to http://staynalive.com/ to find out when the edited version of the podcast is available. The unedited version is available here.

P.S. The phrase "Listener, you need to turn down your radio!" has nothing to do with Jesse Stay, Kirk Yuhnke, or Louis Gray. It was taken from another podcast.

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