I’m here in Ontario, California (not to be confused with Ontario, Canada – I hate having to disambiguate the two, and I can’t even write “Ontario, CA” to do it!) for the Podcast and New Media Expo. This is my second time attending – I was at the first one three years ago, as an instructor at the very first Podcast Academy. I went that year on my own dime, but now that my job officially involves audio and video podcasting (in the form of my show for Intel Software Network, Bit Stories), I decided to come back this year.
I’ll be updating this post over the course of the next couple of days with my thoughts, interesting links, stories, and the rest of the scoop on PNME. I’m also doing a ton of microposts via Twitter, which you can see in the sidebar if you’re looking at this on TinyScreenfuls.com, by following me on Twitter, or in my lifestream at www.joshbancroft.com.
The keynote this morning was the guy from Wallstrip.com. He created a funny video podcast about stocks and the stock market world, and recently sold it to CBS for a few million. He gave a pretty funny, entertaining interview with PNME founder Tim Borquin, but to be honest, I didn’t pay too much attention, since it was all about the business side of what he did – you can tell that a LOT of people here at PNME are looking to make money from their podcasts, and flipping your podcast to a big rich media company is something most of them dream about. I’m not in this to make money – not from the podcasts I (occasionally) do on my blog, or with Bit Stories. There’s a distinctive commercial vibe here at the expo, which kind of bums me out, but I’m looking forward to finding bits of learning and useful information here and there.
After the keynote, I met Scott Sherman of thedigitalphotographyshow.com. He has a nice Lenovo X61 Tablet PC, which of course, I commented on. I subscribed to his show, since I consider myself an amateur photographer, and love to learn how to shoot better photos.
I also met Bruce Sharpe, the guy who created The Levelator – a free, cross-platform piece of software that no podcaster should be without. You can drop an audio recording onto the Levelator, and it will automatically normalize and compress the sound to a uniform level, and perform some other bits of audio magic. Doing manually what the Levelator does automatically is tedious, difficult, and takes a LONG time. It’s like magic, and I use it for all of my podcasts. In fact, whenever I’m working with any piece of audio, I drop it on the Levelator, and it almost always comes out sounding much better. I’m a huge fan, so of course I went over, and drooled all over Bruce while I shook his hand.
In an audio production session now, led by John McJunkin of Avalon Podcasting. He’s going over the basics of how to get a good sounding recording, starting with your mouth/voice, the mic, the preamp, the compressor/other audio processing, and post-recording editing. He’s also showing off some cool stuff in Pro Tools audio editing software. Most podcasters know and use Audacity, but I’m learning more and more what the limits of Audacity are. And wanting more and more to really learn how to use a more powerful/flexible audio program. I’ve got GarageBand 3, as part of iLife. Now I just need to find a good book, and sit down and learn to use it really well (it’s kind of hard to figure out how to get started). This was a great session – John really knows his audio stuff.
Next up: a session on getting good interviews, by Heidi Miller. Apparently, she’s a professional expo show floor person – a booth babe? In her own words, she’s the annoying person who says “Hi! Thanks for coming by the Motorola booth! Let me tell you about our new products! Come right over here!” She does her own podcast, Diary of a Shameless Self Promoter. Something about her demeanor is really irritating me. She’s being really condescending, and talking about some fairly obvious stuff about doing interviews (so far). Hope this gets better. So far, it’s stuff like “say ‘tell me about…'”, and “do everything that people like Ira Glass and Terry Gross on NPR do it”. She wants to ask Grant Imahara of Mythbusters “do you consider yourself a geek or a dork?” Am I the only one that thinks he’s be offended by that question? I would.
Lunch – now I remember the thing I liked least about the Ontario Convention Center. First, there’s no food for attendees. Since only some people here are “paid” attendees, and some are “expo hall” attendees. So the only option for food is the little cafe-in-a-box at the back of the expo hall, or to go “off site”, to a “nearby” place like In-n-Out. I say “nearby”, because, this being southern California, everything is spread out. As in miles. So it takes forever and is way too much hassle to go somewhere for lunch. So that leaves the little cafe. I ran into Chris Brogan at the cafe (he actually waved me over, which is always gratifying 😉 ), who said “go with the sandwich”. I should have listened. I chose the “tri tip sandwich”, and I have to saw it was quite possibly the worst sandwich I’ve ever had. The bread fell apart. The meat was nasty. Oh well. I now know to plan better for food tomorrow.
Now I’m in a session with Bruce Sharpe, creator of The Levelator, which I fawned about before. He’s giving a great presentation about bringing your production values to the next level. He describes himself as a software guy, not an audio guy (like Doug Kaye of IT Conversations). He worked with IT Conversations as an editor a while back, and was talking one time with Doug Kaye, who said “wouldn’t it be great if we had a piece of software that did all of this automatically?” Nine months later, Levelator was born (launched last year at PNME, actually). He’s also giving some great audio production tips, like “apply an 80-10000Hz bandpass filter”, do peak level normailzation, perform noise reduction, etc. Good review of the basics. I was pleased to see that I already do most of these in my audio workflow, but slightly saddened not to find a big magical improvement that would make all of my stuff sound better.
I don’t think I’m going to stick around for the parties, etc. tonight. I want to go back to my room, where there’s decent bandwidth, and try to get that “iBrick” blog post written. I’m at the podcast awards right now, and it’s dark, and annoying. So, off to get some food, then prolly back to the room. I’ll do another post tomorrow, and of course, I’m microposting all the time at twitter.com/jabancroft.