STEAM Powered Kit
Despite having all these lovely links to other sites where you can find/buy the tools I've mentioned, rest assured most of these I name-drop for free. I am an affiliate with a few of them though, and these will be clearly indicated.
One of those second-brain apps that allow you to take notes. Quite like this one as it easily allows you to link pages together in a hierarchical structure and pages can be simple rich text or more complex databases. Lots of templates available to suit your workflow, or you can create your own system.
Currently experimenting with a modified version of this Simple CRM to manage my guest workflows.
To make and record conversations. This is a great service, and I'll be putting together some guides/views soon. I have a Riverside FAQ here.
You can get separate recordings for up to 8 participants (host and guests) and have people join your video
conversation as an audience member. A breeze for editing and perfect for panels or conferences. Sign up for
Riverside.fm with my affiliate link and use promo code
to get 25% off the first three months of your subscription.
An upgrade from the NT-USB because I am also tinkering with other things. If you speak to pros though, they'll recommend a dynamic microphone, and not a condenser like this one is.
This is overkill as I don't need the 4K for remote interviewing, but it's future-proofing. The webcam takes up less space, and I also had video and audio sync issues between the audio from Quicktime or Riverside and the video from the Sony A7. Over time, it would fall out of sync, and it added processing time that I just can't be bothered with despite how much I prefer the video quality (I have a thing about my camera glass).
When I relocated my setup from the dining room to the study, I no longer had space for the big-ass softboxes. I use a lighting C-clamp stand to attach it to my desk.
I hesitated to use Descript because I feel it lacks the refined control I have in an application like DaVinci Resolve. But I found a compromise by processing my audio and video files in Izotope and DaVinci Resolve first, and then editing the finals in Descript.
This also allows me to edit the transcripts and generate subtitles which I can begin to integrate into the show notes and on YouTube and Captivate.
Bit of a learning curve, but the documentation, forums, and Google are excellent. I used to this to create the YouTube video, podcast, as well as the clips that get posted throughout the week. It struggles a bit on old hardware, but saw better performance once I upgraded to the paid version so that it would actually make use of my GPU. It was better still once I also upgraded my primary laptop which was very old struggling to even handle my primary dev work.
I am now using Descript for editing episodes and clips, but still use Resolve to create additional video media and also to merge the processed audio from Izotope with the original video so that I can properly create synced compositions with scene handling in Descript.
I record from my study, and my guests are wherever they are on a wide range of microphones. Some of them use the onboard speakers ☹️️ so audio cleanup is A Bit of a Thing(TM). A very time-consuming thing.
RX8 is meant to be the Bee's Knees and from what I've tinkered with it, it Isn't Bad At All(TM). With the inconsistency of recording environments, it's much more efficient than faffing about with knobs in Fairlight. It also helped that it was heavily discounted when I picked it up.
I originally used my bluetooth earpods for audio editing. Due to sync issues, I switched to my standard iPhone headphones, but I wasn't able to get the sound clear enough, and I also kept hearing crackles and things. Apparently, I'm the only one who can hear them. No, not like that. I tend to pick up higher frequencies (not tinnitus, mainly connected with electricals). I thought I grew out of it, as you're meant to lose that hearing range as you get older, but apparently not. Decided to just get some decent entry-level circumaural headphones to eliminate other external factors. They're great, and as a bonus, my music sounds so much better. I still hear the higher frequency sound no one else can, but at least I can sort out the other issues. If you too can hear the higher frequency thing in the released audio and video let me know, I'll find out if there's something I can do about it.
For creating the title cards and all the other static image assets I've needed to create for the primary content. I already have a license for my dev work, and it's what I'm familiar with.
For creating any other static image assets. It lacks the precision that I like for certain tasks, which I'll use Photoshop for, but for quick things like media squares, it works a treat.
I get some additional features as part of the license I have for my dev work, but the base product which is still feature-rich is free.
Great little social media scheduler, and you can connect three services for free on the free plan. I've hooked this up to Make for social media posting automation.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube
This deserves a dedicated post. I have many gripes. The primary one is that APIs and automation integrations for the various services do not support all the features of the web or mobile app interfaces. The base integrations are fine for text and link posts, but for video posts, if you want to also upload transcripts, not all the APIs or integrations support that functionality. For instagram, you also cannot set collaboration tags programmatically even though the user still has to approve the connection.
Most of them have scheduling available now though, so I've been using the web interfaces, and in Instagram's case, mobile app (*sigh*) to ensure the transcripts can be uploaded (if supported), and I can tag collaborators (if the guest has Instagram or TikTok).
The only one that I have been able to programmatically upload is YouTube.
I've set up my videos to bake in captions anyway, so I may just give up on the transcript as several services offer just-in-time captions now, and only worry about collaborators, which most guests don't accept anyway, so I'm creating additional work for myself with a low chance of any benefit.
For hosting the video version of the podcast.
I'll be launching a new podcast soon and Captivate is a more cost-effective option that allows you to host more than one podcast on the same subscription. Their interface is also excellent and I do not have the same usability issues as I did on Podbean.
Backup everything. It's easy to take for granted how much storage content creation actually creates. Raws, project files and finals, extra assets, etc. It all adds up. I don't want to lose any of it.
I'm still new to the podcast analytics game, but I gained access to Chartable through the OSSA Collective, which offers a Pro account to its members. Setup is pretty straight forward, but there are a lot of features and functionality that I haven't learned to drive yet, and I also don't have enough data yet to get a better picture of what to do with it.
Well-priced and reliable domain registration and hosting, with free WhoisGuard to conceal domain contact information. Been using them for years for all my domains.
For DNS (domain) management.
For hosting the website. Ironing out some workflow issues like scheduling show pages to go out when an episode does, but it does exactly what I want it to. At least until I get some time to execute the next phase, then we'll see.
As a headless CMS. I used to use flatfile MDX, but this makes automating the publishing of show pages a little challenging short of mucking around with programmatically creating and committing new files to the site repository. Using a headless CMS with an API is the first step in preparing to automate the scheduling.
Kit I used to use, but don't anymore.
Integrated CRM for Gmail. I've set up a pipeline to track communications with guests with reminders and tasks for arranging scheduling (and re-scheduling). It makes the scheduling process more manageable.
I switched away from using Gmail for mail hosting and Streak don't have a platform independent version.
20"x28"/50x70cm Softbox Lighting Kit
Nothing exxy, just something serviceable off Amazon. The included bulbs were a little too harsh for the small space, so I picked up a couple of
It's not the brightest at a max of 806lm, but it's controllable via my phone and adequate for the space I'm in. It also gives me a bit of flexibility with tinkering with the setup and learning about lighting. These are irritatingly hard to come by now. Don't know why, they seem far more useful than the multi-coloured ones, but what do I know about trends in smart-lighting.
Full-frame is overkill for this, but I have the original series A7 which was released in 2013. I use it with a Minolta 28mm f2.8 for no other reason than physical distance available for my setup. My favourite lenses can't focus at the short distance I have available.
The Sony A7 supports recording at 1080 but has a video length limit of just under a half-hour and has a tendency to overheat. Due to its age, it also doesn't have live view/tethering, which is why I also have an
It's an HDMI monitor and recorder (circa 2014) that also records at 1080 which I picked up second-hand. Solves the aforementioned shortfalls of recording video with the camera directly. This older model that I picked up off eBay also supports standard SSDs which are more affordable with barely any budget.
While I'd love to have the kind of memory where I can quote whole acts of Shakespeare at the drop of a hat, as a brain-fried parent this is not an option for me. This fits my phone and attaches to my Sony A7. Still need a few takes but allows me to turn around this part of the process much more quickly than having to learn a script by rote.
The companion app is slow to load and the UI needs a little improvement, but it's serviceable.
I've had to stop using this because I'm no longer using the Sony A7 and I don't have an adapter to use it with the BRIO (yet), but I plan to put this back into the rotation when I get the chance. My memory is improving without this as a crutch, but it still requires far more time to do my intros and outros without it.
I used to use QuickTime to record a separate backup. This became a little too resource-intensive for my hardware, so I had to stop.
I was using my Bluetooth earbuds for recording, but I was not terribly pleased with the sound quality. The Rode is (mostly) forgiving of the fact that I'm recording in my fairly open dining area, though I do need to do a bit in post to clean it up. Still figuring that bit out.
For Instagram and Twitter scheduling.
Vurbl is a relatively new audio platform with a pretty great feature that allows you to create snippets of longer audio for sharing. As a producer of long-form content with episodes averaging just under an hour, it's exactly what I need to highlight bits of our conversations.
Also, I happen to be the Vurbl Ambassador for their Science content category. :)
Starting out, Anchor is great because it's free and just does the job. I had no complaints about the UI, functionality, or service for my purposes. The analytics is okay but by most accounts, not very detailed.
One thing I did like is the support for video podcasts which I do anyway for YouTube, but they don't support URL prefixes on enclosure tags which are used for tracking services like Chartable that I started using once I joined the OSSA Collective, which offers a Pro account to its members.
Another minor issue is that they offered monetisation options, but for US only. International has been on the cards since I first joined them but haven't seen any updates about it.
Why Podbean? It was the most cost-effective service that supported URL prefixes for enclosure tags that Podsights requires for data collection with a plan that also supports video podcasts. Note that Anchor.fm includes video podcast support, but not URL prefixes.
Parted from Podbean because we have creative differences and there were implementation choices I could not overlook as a dev.
 Don't look at me like that. I know that's a terrible idea.
 We've established how problematic I am with audio engineering matters. I'm getting better.
 Working on it.
 The memory, not necessarily the Shakespeare.
More in STEAM Powered Kit
- March 3, 2021