Over 1 year into the Unslaved Podcast!! To be completely honest, it feels like a few weeks since we started and I know it may sound like a cliche, but it’s true. My name is Ryan and I am the guy behind the scenes with the Unslaved Podcast. I get to do the “fun” stuff, try to make things work and try to make it all look good. We’ve had our ups and downs and a bunch of challenges along the way, but it’s been a blast. I wanted a way to contribute to the Unslaved Project, but I could’t think of a way to provide anything other than the technical stuff. Then I thought “why not share how we got to where we are from a technical standpoint”. So over the next few weeks I will share how we got here and the challenges along the way. I know there are some techy listeners out there so I hope some of you can appreciate this.
A little backstory on how I even got to be part of the team… My son is a student of David Whitehead (Sensei). After one of his classes, David and I started talking and he mentioned he needed some technical help. Being from the small community we are from, there isn’t much of a scene for Web / Audio / Video / developers and me being the type of person who loves to help offered my technical “expertise”. My day job is a Systems Administrator so I have a very strong technical background, but the Audio / Video was relatively new to me. I wanted to help in any way I could so I was up for the challenge! That night after David and I chatted I went home and started this journey. Then I thought to myself “Oh Shit, David is a black belt in Japanese Jujitsu and if I screw this up he will…” and I stopped that thought as I didn’t want to find out! Nothing has happened to me yet so I think I have done OK. 🙂 David Whitehead, thanks for putting your trust in me and convincing Michael that I was an alright guy!
We got the website done in a couple of weeks and launched with our fingers crossed… It went as expected for the most part. We had some hiccups with the membership software, which we were able to fix quickly, and things were humming along nicely on the website side of things (see my next post for our journey with our website). For the podcast portion of the Unslaved project we were using Skype so we could get Michael’s video, we were using sketchy software to capture the audio and video, and we were using sub-par hardware to do the podcast post editing. In our minds we figured this was all we needed and we mistakenly thought Skype would be great as we always see Skype interviews on CNN, BBC and other “credible” media sites. It looks okay most of the time, but we didn’t experience anything good about it, other than it being free. The biggest issue we had was Skype itself! Sure Skype is great if you want to talk to people with some video, but if you want something that is reliable for the length of time we do a podcast, Skype is not the answer. It was just too flaky and there was way too much post editing we had to do to make it look decent. So we fought through that for the first few episodes, but then we thought there had to be a better way. I did my research and since both David and I were using MacBook Pros we had to find software that was compatible with Mac… and we had to find a way to NOT use Skype. With Michael being remote in Seattle we also had to find a good way for him to get online. This is where the fun really starts!
We started using Wirecast and it seemed really good, but the problem was we were still having to use Skype! Let’s try Google Hangouts… Well, it was a bit better than Skype, but not that reliable. Back to the drawing board. Next software we tried was MimoLive by Boinx and it was really good! The reason we chose that one was because it had a “Call in Feature” and Michael could use that to connect to the calls and not use Skype. Guess What? It worked! I thought we had this nailed and now I can sit back and relax and enjoy pressing buttons. WRONG. Remember how I said David and I were both using Macs? Well, we both have MacBook Pros but they are older and we were now having issues recording the podcast when it went longer than 2 hours! Remember that 4 hour podcast on the Eastern Illuminati? That’s when we found out we had hardware issues. The CPU would just be pinned at almost 100% the whole time and I think we were having some overheating issues. Our Macs didn’t have USB3 so I think there may have been a bottleneck with webcams, mic and storage. NOW WHAT?! I thought about David’s Black Belt again!!
Back to the drawing board… I knew it was hardware and I knew I had ways I could get around this, but I needed to think long term. So I went shopping! My first stop was the Apple Store to get a brand new MacBook Pro. When I looked at how much they cost I had to slam on the brakes. (This is the one I wanted MacBook Pro ) First, my wife would have killed me if I bought something for that price (so now I have to think about my safety here… with David’s black belt and my wife’s kickboxing I had to be careful). So I started doing research and started looking at PCs, but MimoLive doesn’t work with PCs! CRAP! Then I found the answer… I found a piece of software called vMix that worked on PCs, but not Macs. I new I could buy a killer laptop (PC) for half the price of a Macbook Pro so I started shopping for a PC Laptop. I found a great laptop (Gaming Laptop) that was great for the Video Editing, Recording and playing the odd game on my downtime. (This is the one I got The Workhorse) Things were falling into place now! I got the laptop and convinced Michael and David that we needed vMix (now i had to figure out how to use vMix).
The learning curve on the new vMix software wasn’t as steep as I thought and I had things setup in a week. Now we had an easy way for both Michael and the guests to call in to the show. In fact, all of our guests appreciated how easy it was to get on the show. No more SKYPE!! Once again I thought I had this nailed..
So next I thought why not try live streaming? In theory it seemed so simple, but unfortunately it wasn’t. I would be at our studio hours before we’d go live streaming and hoping things would go smoothly. We tried streaming to Facebook and Youtube and for the most part it worked, but there would be issues with Youtube and it would cause the whole stream to crash. I had to manage that and at the same time make sure the podcast was running smoothly. It got to be a bit much and it was effecting the show so we stopped that venture. However, I think we will revisit the live streaming soon as I now have a better understanding how it all works. STAY TUNED…
Along the way we also had MIC issues. Not so much the quality of the mic, but the noise they would pick up. We found out that Michael’s mic had the gain turned all the way up and it was picking up all the thumping from his desk so we fixed that by turning his gain all the way down and getting a mic stand for his mic. Same issue with David’s mic, but for some reason David’s mic was still picking up the the thumping from his desk. As you probably noticed, he now has a fancy retractable mic stand which solved the problem. I personally think it looks more professional as well.
See below for all the software / hardware we have used, or are using, to produce the podcast. If time permits, I might do reviews of the software as they all have their pros and cons and I hope that this will benefit someone like me down the road.
Also, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below on what you, the listener / viewer would like to see or hear.
- Blue Yeti USB Microphone
- Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam
- Blue Radius II Microphone Shock Mount for Yeti and Yeti Pro with Improved Hinge Design
- NEEWER Adjustable Microphone Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand
- MSI Gaming Laptop