Podcast and New Media Expo – Day Two

I’m here on day two of the Podcast and New Media expo. You can find my notes detailing day one of the conference here.

WiFi here at the conference has been a real problem. It’s not that they’re not trying – every room has its own separate network, but with this many geeks (and podcasters, to boot!), there’s just no way the bandwidth can keep up. I have no idea what kind of backhaul the Ontario Convention Center has, but that pipe ain’t fat enough. πŸ™‚ To be fair, I’ve never been to a conference (of geeks) where the wifi DIDN’T suck. That said, I swear I’m not going to another conference without a 3G modem card. This is for the birds. MarsEdit is saving my blogging bacon – if I didn’t have it for offline writing, I wouldn’t be getting any blogging done.

FIrst up, a session called “Master Radio Techniques – Avoid Radio Traps” by Holland Cooke. He’s a radio/corporate guy. Pretty engaging so far – talking about how from a distance, radio and podcasting can look the same, but up close, they’re quite different. He was just at a (shrinking) radio convention, talking about podcasting. And now he’s here at a (growing) podcasting convention, talking about radio. All of his stuff is up on his website. I’ll link it up as soon as he gives us the link (he’s teasing us, won’t share it until the end). Here’s the link to his handouts (I haven’t even looked at them yet).

Next session I’m in is called “How to make your content easy for Grandma to consume: Simplifying RSS feeds, video formats, and Flash Players for your audience” by Andrew Darlow. I think it wins for the longest session title so far. πŸ™‚ His presentation style is kind of clumsy, but for some reason, I like him so far. He’s talking about some really basic stuff, though. Like using versus getting your own hosting and using WordPress. How a WordPress theme can show you “recent entries”, etc. And he keeps asking “Does anyone use…” and then waits for a show of hands. Does anyone use FeedBurner? (pause) We’re 17 minutes into the session, and he finally said the word “enclosure”. I would have expected that to come up a little sooner in a session about how to make your RSS feed work for podcasting. Does anyone use iTunes? (pause) Does anyone use PodPress? (pause) Does anyone have an audio flash player? (pause) Has anyone ever gone to the Podsafe Music Network? (pause) Who likes downloading plugins? (pause) In talking about Flash audio and video players, he didn’t even mention the awesome show player from Too bad – that one’s my favorite, for sure. Who here has an email account? (pause) Does anyone use an email subscription list? (pause) Does anyone use categories on your blog? (pause). I’m sorry, but he’s putting me to sleep. I’ve gotta get out of here…

Grabbed some lunch, had the pizza today. Learned my lesson last time with the tri-tip sandwich. πŸ˜‰

Next session is “Video Podcast Content Creation: The Real Story Behind Producing for Tiny Screens” by Richard Burns and Dusty Wright of Culture Catch. No, this session has nothing to do with the name of this blog (TinyScreenfuls). Yes, I intend to heckle them gently, or at least make some kind of comment about the similarity. πŸ™‚ I don’t know who or what Culture Catch is, but they’ve been in everyone’s face handing out flyers and cards and schwag. They sponsored one of the big parties last night. Gotta hand it to them for enthusiasm (though the two guys talking now sound kind of hung over πŸ˜‰ ). Showed a clip of their show with Devo. Talked about mistakes they made when shooting (it was their first show), and how they covered it up with filters, etc. in post production to make it look like it was intentionally crappy, and how that kind of became their trademark style. They’re kind of like Rolling Stone – music and culture stuff that’s not really my thing, but their show is pretty well done. I’m just not cool enough to be part of that crowd. πŸ™‚ They ended with a clip of their interview with Les Paul.

Next session is the one I’ve most been looking forward to, and I predict it will be the best session of the show for me. It’s Doug Kaye’s “Remote Audio and Video Interview Techniques“. Doug Kaye, of IT Conversations and Podcast Academy fame, asked me to be an instructor at the very first Podcast Academy, which took place at the first Portable Media Expo two years ago. And IT Conversations was doing podcasting since before it was called podcasting, and remains the best place to get podcasts that make you smarter, on a whole variety of topics. Doug has an audio production background, and I’ve learned most of what I know about audio and recording from my association with him. Doug has forgotten more about audio than I’ll ever know. His sessions at Podcast Academy and PME are always excellent, and I’m really looking forward to this one. πŸ™‚

Reminder – go join – a network of stringers, and where the content for all the Conversations Network shows come from. Doug is promising to show off some new technology that he promises will blow us away, and make people who like the Levelator very happy. Ooh, suspense! Talking now about phone couplers and “Uncle Doug’s Cheap Trick”. Basically, where you use two lines to record a call – one line is conferenced in, and only used for recording the call (you talk on another line). Better than a coupler on the line you’re using. Doug’s recommending checking out for recording phone calls for podcasts. Doug uses a telephone hybrid – a hardware device for recording phone calls professionally. Doug recommends the Telos One. Great solution, but expensive (about $600). What about Skype calls? You can use software solutions, like Audio Hijack Pro, or hardware solutions. There’s a diagram I’ll post here later – I’ve used this setup many times. It’s hard to describe without the diagram, but it’s basically a way to fake “mix-minus”, that expensive dedicated telephone hybrids use, using a simple mixer with the ability to pan each channel all the way left and right. Here’s that diagram I promised – it should be self explanatory:

Recording Skype Calls - the Hardware Solution

Now, onto the new stuff! They’re not officially announcing or releasing anything here, but they hope to make it available for free, like The Levelator. Talking about the challenges of getting studio quality audio AND video from BOTH ends of a remote interview. Up until now, you had to find a stringer to go to the remote end of the interview, and have them record and send you the result.

OK, now THIS is freaking amazing. I’m BLOWN away by the demo I’m seeing right now. Bruce Sharpe, creator of the Levelator is showing a piece of software that he’s working on to sync up multiple audio and video sources, regardless of types, regardless of format. You just throw in your audio and video sources, and after clicking the magic button, you get a perfectly mixed multicut result. Unbelieveable! πŸ™‚ I’ve taken a bunch of photos of the demo. I’m going to do a whole separate post about this, because it deserves it. For now, check out these photos and descriptions, to get an idea of what the software does. We’re all sitting here with our jaws dropped. The demo was shown plugged into the Sony Vegas video editor on Windows, but Bruce says that Vegas is only used for convenience. The plan is to make it available to be used with any video editor (with certain caveats). They’re literally working on this yesterday and today, so they don’t know what the release is going to look like. But they want to put it out for free and cross platform, just like The Levelator. Yes, please! This software is going to change the podcasting world. I think it’s that profound. Wow.

I don’t know what Doug and Bruce intend to name this piece of software, but I’ve taken to calling it “The Synchronator”, because it’s a sibling to The Levelator, and, well, that’s what it does. Doug and Bruce, feel free to use that name if you like it. No charge. πŸ˜‰

That’s it for me today. I’ve got to go do some laundry tonight, and crank out some blog posts.