Thursday, May 24, 2007
Advise me about comic book podcasting, please!
This Thursday evening, I'm participating in my first "podcast" (I think that's what the kids call it nowadays; we used to call it "ray dee oh").
I'm joining Devon of Seven Hells, Ben of Those Wednesdays, Jonnie of Jon Hex Lives, and Jon of Facedown in the Gutters. I fully expect brain-lightning to crackle out of the skulls of these unstoppable rampaging man-children, kind of like Validus's family reunion.
Meanwhile, I've listened to some of them there "podcasts" that other people have done, and it certainly has generated a list of do's and don'ts in my own electroblasting brain. But you have more experience in this medium, so I'm asking you:
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE DO's AND DON'Ts IN COMIC BOOK PODCASTING?
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wow! I'm looking forward to listening to it tomrrow! My experience with other podcasts has been..
-if you have guests, ask them questions and let them speak. Nothings more annoying than waiting for a juicy interview with the recently-resurected Jack Kirby than a host who goes on and on about the pot roast they had the other day...
-Its good to be excited on air! Enthusiasm should convey.
-As with all public media, be aware that once its out there on the internet EVERYONE (including people in other countries) can hear it!(for better or for worse) so think twice about how you state opinions (ie "I dislike the work of X" vs. "I think X is a douche bag"
-DO get some cool music to open the show!
-If successful, be prepared to be celebrities!!
"I'm looking forward to listening to it tomrrow!"
We are recording it tomorrow; I assume it will take some time to "post" such a thing, so I'll let you know when it's available.
A few things that come to mind as a listener:
- A long unedited ramble isn't good. Don't be afraid to edit.
- This is a personal, possibly idiosyncratic, preference (mostly due to my transferring them to IPod), but I like podcasts to be no more than 1 hour long, and if they're longer, split them into segments.
- Within the podcast, even if you don't have "commercial breaks," you need breaks of *some* sort on occasion to break up the monotony.
Another thing...along with what suedenim said...try to give some structure to the podcast...The part about long unedited rambles is that they are random rambles with no apparent point.
Also, if you have structure, then everyone will know when to tune in (or out) for the "I hate Halo" variety show...
The only thing you need to know is that the, "We're all naked in the recording booth" line never get old.
You might want to think about eventually having "smaller" shows - instead of a "five-person roundtable." Maybe pair off or go solo for different segments, etc. - especially if, say, Devon and Ben are super-interested in some particular subject, but the others don't really care about it.
I listen periodically to a podcast that has a whole bunch of people with a general "5 guys sitting around talking comics" format, and it's OK, but the problem is that, literally and figuratively, the guys don't have distinctive voices for me.
I would recommend doing a couple of "practice broadcasts" to work out some of the bugs and establish your 'dynamic" as a group of people communicating. Far too many comic podcasts are clearly "not ready for prime time", and it would benefit you and your group to really sharpen your presentation before you go "on the air".
It's one thing to just join the crowd...and another thing entirely to stand out from it. Nothing is easier to pass up than yet another glitch-plagued, meandering amateur hour.
Editing is important. When in doubt, cut it out.
Make sure everyone is properly miked.
Identify each other by name now and then. Use your powers of introposition!
Try to complete your thoughts, and be as succinct as possible. And let other people complete theirs.
That said, it's a great format for give-and-take, so enjoy the conversationality of it.
Have fun, and the listeners should too.
Here's my two cents:
Since you're doing a group setting, try not to talk over each other too much. It just gets confusing and frustrating. And yeah, like Rob S. said, identifying yourselves once in a while is helpful.
And on a technical aspect, check your levels. I listen to one podcast at work (of course), but have to crank the sound way up. When I get an e-mail alert it sounds as if the hosts of heaven are comin' to get me.
Can't wait to hear your podcast!
Don't have more fun than your audience. We are listening and want to be entertained, but if it turns into a, and I hope you'll pardon the expression, circle jerk, your audience will turn away in droves.
And I second the "call each other by name now and then" suggestion. Don't assume we know who's talking.
VU meters are your friends. Watch those sound levels and do whatever it takes to make sure that people aren't too quiet or too loud to understand.
Try listening to a couple of the later FanboyPlanet podcasts. I think those are really well done.
Remember back when podcasts weren't available online and you had to listen to them at specific times and they were called radio shows? That was weird, huh? Anyhoo, I'd advise that one of you Four Horseman of Comicbook Wisdom adopt a clear moderator role in order to keep the discussion focused and interesting. There's no reason said moderator can't take an active role in the coversation, but there definitely should be someone who can say "Okay, we've exhausted this topic, let's move on to another."
Also I suggest you fight the temptation to employ wacky pirate voices or to ingest helium during the recording, as this--as amusing as it can be--connotes a certain lack of professionalism.
And don't be afraid of drama. Be passionate! Remember that time Devon creamed you at Heroclix and wouldn't stop rubbing it in your face? For the sake of entertainment, don't be afraid to use that sense memory and reduce your friend and fellow blogger into a gibbering mass of tears. But no fistfights, since they don't translate well to a completely aural medium and could easily be faked.
Oh and (I actually mean this one) could you spend the majority of the podcast discussing the positive aspects of the medium at present, rather than have it simply be a bitch session about everything that's wrong? Sure rants are always fun to listen to, but there's a difference between four intelligent people discussing a medium they obviously enjoy and a group of fanboys decrying the fact that comics these days aren't written to their exact specifications.
"Remember that time Devon creamed you at Heroclix "
"I'd advise that one of you Four Horseman of Comicbook Wisdom adopt a clear moderator role"
That will be Ben's job, yes.
Keep the expletives to a minimum.
Keep the expletives to a minimum.
Or, since it will be a comic book podcast, use expletives heavily, but only "comic book expletives:"
"Great Rao, Jon! You can't be serious!"
"Blue blazes! I am serious!"
"Sufferin' shad! That's crazy!"
As far as actual advice, I'd recommend that everyone include a little bit of context in their discussions. For example, if I don't read Teen Titans (and I don't), and everyone on the show spends ten minutes talking about the latest TT hoo-hah without explaining just a wee tiny bit what's going on first, I'll tune right out. Assume that your listeners are superhero comic fans, but that they may not be conversant in every topic. One or two introductory sentences would cover it.
"Don't be afraid to use that sense memory and reduce your friend and fellow blogger into a gibbering mass of tears."
Believe me, this is something I was born to do.
"comic book expletives:"
Holy Hannah! (that's an old
Marvel fave, don'cha know.)
And of course,
Great Ceasar's Ghost!
Not much new to add, but plenty to amplify:
1. Energyenergyenergy! Upupup! Keep your voices engaged, alert, attentive, inflected. Monotone is no tone at all.
2. You're funny guys, and a little laughter is a very good thing (see 1., above). But the laughs should come easily and vanish quickly. And make sure the soundboard guy knows about the volume of Scip's laugh. It goes to 11.
3. Keep it to under an hour, by the hammer of Thor. (cf: the average Raging Bullets 2 1/2 hour "Part 2 of 3" nonsense, which, duuuude.)
4. All the housekeeping stuff -- thanks to listeners, scheduling info, repsonses to emails/voicemails, should go at the end. Some podcasts do that stuff up front, and it's pretty deadly.
5. If you do this for a while, in-jokes will arise, as will references to things that take place off-air. Do whatever you can to keep the show from getting insular. Um. More insular than your typical comic book podcast, anyway.
Some podcasts do that stuff up front, and it's pretty deadly.
Just wanted to add an exclamation point or two to this. I was listening to a podcast this morning that did this, and 30 minutes into the damn thing, they were still reading listener mail!
In addition, if you're even tempted to think "Maybe this stuff should be pushed to the end of the podcast," it's also worth considering whether it should be on the podcast at all. Maybe some of it should be "go to our website for this."
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