What does it take to podcast The Crazy Canucks?

A first, sneak peak at how The Crazy Canucks is made

I’ve been thinking of doing a more, detailed post about how a typical episode of The Crazy Canucks comes together, but I’m going to make a simple list of all the gear we use to make it work.

  • Skype – Without this, we have no podcast. With Alanah doing her thing on the island, Dave on the north shore, and the rest of us in Vancouver, this is the crucial piece of software that ties us together. This also allows us to bring on any other guests that also use Skype on their PC.
  • Ubercaster – This is the recording software that I prefer to use. I’ve watched Ubercaster go through the ropes of development and been impressed with every step of the way. It also has a built-in function to record Skype conversations, making it even easier to record our conference call. It is worth the time to setup templates for your podcast because it makes it very easy to fire up the program, open a template, conference call on Skype, and you’re rolling.
  • Levelator – Due to the various setups that everyone has and the fact that Skype is really difficult to control audio input levels on, I always export the vocals first to run them through Levelator. You might not get the best audio quality from our “Voice Over IP Hot Stove”, but at least you’ll be able to hear all of us.
  • Apple iMac – This is the work horse that ties together our recording hardware and software. Speaking of…
  • Behringer Eurorack UB1204FX-PRO 8-channel Mixer – With anything you do in the world of recording and/or broadcasting, you can never have enough inputs. Most podcasters don’t need this much, but I’m a geek. You never know what you’ll wanna try to do, and this mixer has a slew of other nice features as well.
  • Shure SM7 and Behringer XM2000S microphones – I have one of each of these, and perhaps a bit more of overkill for the average podcaster. However, I’ve been doing the radio thing for ten years now. I have accumulated a collection of toys.
  • iPod nano (2nd gen) + Belkin TuneTalk Stereo – This is what I’m using to do mobile recordings these days. The quality is really surprising, and for podcasting, you can’t ask for more than something that sounds good as well as being small and very portable. Records stereo WAV’s at 44.1Khz as well as mono. I also put a standard microphone wind screen over the Belkin add. Additionally, I taped down the small switch on it because it had enough movement on it that it caused a slight rattle in the recordings.
  • FeedBurner – We push our RSS feed through their service simply because they are really good at what they do.
  • WordPress + PodPress – This is the CMS/blogging platform that we use to publish TCC episodes. PodPress is a plugin for WP that we use on the site that allows people to listen to our podcasts from the website as well as download them or make them available in our RSS feed.

Making it all come together has taken me about a year and a half to get efficient at. Every episode has something different to it, and I’m very much a fly by the seat of your pants editor. As the recording is happening, I can envision how I’ll go back and edit something, make a mental note as to where it was in terms of time of the epsiode, and get the podcast encoded and uploaded in about 20-30 minutes after we are finished recording. After that, it’s just a matter of making the blog post and publishing it to the world.

NV07: Getting good levels in your podcast

Hanging out in Room #1 for this session, Getting Good Levels in Your Podcast with Bruce Sharpe. He has connections to one of the first podcasts out there, IT Conversations, and he wrote Levelator. I’m curious to hear about the theories behind this concept. Mainly, it’s a topic in support of Levelator, which I am a big fan and user of already.

Quick side note, just got out of my second session of the day: New Rules for New Communities. Lots of good discussion, but so much in so little time to really digest here right now. Number one thing taken away: don’t put the geeks in charge of the community, put those with people skills.

20070223(016) Back to podcasting, four keys:
1 – Record it well: If you put crap in, you’ll get crap out. My biggest thing with this is to work with what your budget can handle, then learn as much as you can about what you have. Cheap can still create great quality.

2 – Clean Up the Audio: Spend some time after recording to edit your content. Filters, noise reduction and lots of other digital editing lingo. I say, watch out for a learning curve here. If you don’t know much about editing audio, then be prepared to spend time with what you can do. As you progress, you’ll learn new things. It might be painful, but give yourself time.

Tip from the crowd: Sound cards are important, especially on PC’s. Investigate and invest in quality equipment to get quality stuff. Dell’s seem to be the worst, ThinkPad’s are mid-range.

3 – Edit out the not good stuff: “I’ll be right back”, “Ummm…”, essentially the nonsense stuff. I’ll be quick to say that this depends on the scope of your podcast. If you want to keep it personal, then do what you want. Professional realm of things? Consider this for sure. At the same time, this takes time to do. If you’ve got a few hours to chop up 40 minutes of audio, go for it. If time is of the essence, then you’ll have to make do.

4 – Get the levels right: It’s important to have a standard. Clipping sucks, and you don’t want to have things be too quiet. This is a very close examination of audio on the level of 1’s and 0’s. A good system of normalization is what you want to shoot for. This, once again, takes practice and time to master. It’s a combination of every step that Bruce has laid out.

Question about Mac, mid-range audio/podcast software, and I just gave a shout out to Ubercaster. It is in beta, but it has progressively gotten better over the last few months. Still, not in major release yet. GarageBand is a very good application as well.

The money shot: Levelator.

I’ll speak first hand that this has been a lifesaving piece of software. Remember step four? I can let Levelator do all of that digital manipulation for me to boost the audio levels to an optimum range for podcast to podcast. The Crazy Canucks has been saved by it numerous times.

No batch processing with this software just yet, so you’ll have to do this one at a time in the meantime. Tod Maffin asks if that will be added in the paid version with a laugh, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Oh yeah, Levelator is free. Also, this only does WAV or AIFF files, no MP3 support.

I’m taking it that a lot of people here have not heard of this software that are in this room. Also seems to be a lot of newbies to the whole podcasting realm in the room. It’s pieces of software like this that will piss off old school audio folks who have spent the hours and hours of doing steps one through four to apply this to audio for radio broadcast. Such is the way that the world changes.

Time for lunch.

The Crazy Canucks #10 – Hanging out at the Shark Club in downtown Vancouver

Fighting the pod fade, episode #10 is up and ready.

Ten episodes into the podcast, all of the members join up after the game against Edmonton for drinks and yakking about the Canucks. This was our first opportunity to have everyone meet face to face, and we had a microphone to record a little discussion. Some of us had been there a little while longer than the rest, and our blood alcohol level might have shown it.

Record as of this episode: 13-14-1 (3rd in the Northwest Division)

The Shark Club made for a very interesting atmosphere for trying to watch a unimpressive game, especially on a Monday night where the NFL takes precedence at one of the closest drinking establishments to GM Place. J.J. was still a little wiped out after returning from a vacation to Las Vegas and shares some experiences with catching a couple games in sin city. Dave brings up an interesting point about “we are all Canucks,” and Alanah had a backstage pass to the game that offers up a lot of great insights to the game against the Oilers. Rebecca brings up some good points about our lack of puck luck, and John starts to wonder about a conspiracy to our lack of scoring, but that could be the beer talking.

The Crazy Canucks

RadioZoom Episode #118 – Interview with Jim Ward of Sparta at Richards on Richards

I realize that I never blogged about this night, but listen to episode #118 and you’ll get exactly what I thought about this show. This was also a great test of Levelator, and the entire episode was edited together using Ubercaster.

Another adventure with the podcasting project, RadioZoom gets the opportunity to hang out with Jim Ward, front man for the band Sparta, during their one night visit on their current tour. Richards on Richards was the venue for this evening, and both Rebecca and I had a really great time.

We discuss a variety of topics, ranging from what life on the road is like, the making of the latest album, Jim’s prior experiences with Vancouver, a little bit of politics, and we discover a little more of what life is like in Jim’s hometown of El Paso, Texas. (Note: explicit language)

It was an amazing opportunity for the interview, and the performance that night was nothing short of being absolutely stellar. We take a moment back in “the studio” to reflect on the overall experience and review what we saw on stage that night.

59:48 minutes

The Crazy Canucks #5 – What the world needs now is more Ovechkin

Episode #5 of The Crazy Canucks was recorded tonight. I’ll also add that this was the first time with Rebecca fully in control of things, allowing me to take a back seat on the technical side and really have fun with the discussion. This won’t be the last time she gets to run the whole show for sure.  In the final edit, I ran this through Levelator as an experiment.

We go ‘Dave-less’ this episode as Alanah, JJ, John and Rebecca bring you this week’s discussion. The Ovechkins Capitals were in town on Friday and JJ shares his experience being at the game. From the awe-inspiring young Russians of the league, goalie showdowns, to shootouts.

Murmurs about the crazy schedules, that only bring players by once every election year, who we’d like to see more of and who we could really do without.

Nashville handed us a ghoulish defeat last night while we’re still getting used to the lines, players and Coach Viggy’s words of wisdom.

Record as of this podcast 7-5-1 (2nd in Northwest Division)

23:50 minutes
The Crazy Canucks