By Director/Presenter Adam South – 14472597
Entry 1 –
Initially starting the project for semester 2 got off to a slow start, it wasn’t until the 24th of January that we landed on a solid idea – all we knew at the first meeting was that we wanted to perhaps go for something more light-hearted than last semester’s serious drama piece.
The seed of an idea that we came up with on the 24th was during our group chat, which we had pre-established on social media privately between all members of the group; the premise was roughly a showcasing of local talents, from the creatively gifted, to the seemingly mundane, with a remit to demonstrate all types of learning away from university that go on in the city.
Jess and James seemed to get on board and liked the notion of serving the wider community – and so we got to work on fleshing it out almost straight away. We presented the concept to Dylan Roys in our tutor meeting the following morning – he seemed positive about the community element and aspect of giving something back. Also, as it will be contained in a podcast, we can hopefully perfect the audio, add in additional actuality and music to get the sound of the piece as close to perfect as possible.
Our next stage is to think about starting up a blog, considering the press pack requirements, and to form a proposal as soon as possible.
Entry 2 –
By the end of January, we had the bare bones of our proposal pieced together, which I put together on the groups behalf, simply because I had a clear set idea of what we wanted to achieve.
An initial problem which arose was deciding who would take on which role for this project – and indeed what roles we would require for a podcast; as this was the first time any of us in the group had participated in attempting to create one. Originally I put James forward to try and do the technical side of things, however after some deliberation, he convinced us that he would be best suited remaining as Producer – he was comfortable with those responsibilities entailed, had a good experience in the role already, and said that he would not be comfortable necessarily with handling technical capabilities. As I wished to head up the director duties, Jess agreed to lead technical.
Eventually I believe we found these basic role titles to be mere formality, as our main duties were shared equally – to journalistically seek, perform and record interviews, to present during our debate intermissions in the eventual podcast episodes, and finally to edit together as a group.
Entry 3 –
One of the first subjects we lined up to consider for contribution to the podcast was one of my connections; a friend I knew through an older University graduate, that practised poetry regularly and performed with groups of other poets at live events – Gemma Baker.
Early on, in terms of format, there was some discussion as to how we wanted to present the content – how we would lay out the podcast, what we wanted the length to be, who would speak/present, when, about what, in what capacity etc.; however, one of the larger issues at play was that we envisioned, if it was possible, trying to set up something in the way of a live element.
Our concept and proposal originally included space at the end of the project to arrange for an exhibition style event, which would feature some audio clips presented in a live format, as well as some of the guests from the interviews demonstrating their knowledge/skill live.
Due to time constraints, as well as financial aspects to consider, and difficulties associated with garnering permissions for accessible venues and premises for the event – not to mention drumming up business and an audience for the event – we decided to scrap this element. Whilst we found this to be regrettable in as much as it would have been a nice idea to see through in theory, ultimately we had to be as thorough as possible, and true to our own abilities, and our honest conclusion was that this would have added far too much to our workload to keep up with in a capacity that would have produced anything professionally successful.
Entry 4 –
On the 1st of February I attended a poetry event at the Drill Hall, during which I gathered audio of our first contributor – the interview with Gemma. This was arduous, as I had issues which I didn’t foresee with equipment; the memory card provided by media loans at university failed and so, without a spare (which was henceforth a contingency that we insisted on for every interview), I was compelled to resort to using the sound recording function on my mobile phone device. My plan was to simply apologize to Gemma and ask that we re-record should the quality deem it necessary, however, thankfully, the audio from the phone was fine sonically speaking.
In our group meeting, we decided collectively on some subject we could possibly pursue for further contributors, which was as follows; literature, sport, art, music, history and languages.
From this shortlist, the next area which showed promise was the latter, as James organised an interview with one of his University contacts; a female student, Alina Burney, who learnt English after immigrating to this country as a child.
Entry 5 –
At our next tutor meeting at the start of February, we got some useful notes on progress thus far and how to proceed moving forward;
- Keep up with paper trails, always get consent signature, music forms etc.
- Don’t let personal research and blogs fall behind
- For James to follow up his leads on contacting Lincoln FC for a potential contribution from a player, and to speak with Alina Burney
- The exploration of cooking could be an interesting avenue to pursue
- A minimum of 30 minutes is a good length to work up from
- 10-minute-long interviews would be far too long, might exhaust the listener’s attention span – keep content fluid, entertaining and concise in it’s nature
- Consider audience in all aspects
- Contingency contacts if Alina Burney falls through for language aspect; JiaMin Ong & Dan Davison (Adam’s contacts).
- Consider music; stings, jingles, interludes
- Explore existing, similar work in podcasts
The first comment we organically addressed was that we got in touch with Su Roys about potentially contributing an interview as we knew she was an avid cook; thus covering the food element of our podcast. She seemed to get on board straight away, which was a big positive, as she seems keen on imparting her wisdom and speaking about farm to table, which is an appealing subject for discussion.
Not long after this, the next progression in production was James contacted Lincoln FC, who informed us that their ‘liaison officer’ would be in touch with us at some point soon about potentially setting up an interview with a player.
Entry 6 –
For the next tutor meeting, unfortunately, I was under the weather – thankfully, Jess and James were able to pass the feedback onto me that I had missed.
- Consider the buskers in town for music interview / contributions
- Alternatively, two students as contingency; Elliot Wright & Tom Cairns
- Aim to have the majority of interviews completed by week 6
- A good figure to aim for would possibly be 5 interviews per episode
- Make sure we capture the correct ambience associated with each interview
- Follow up contact – Cassandra Balosso-Bardin; a bag-pipe player based at the university
- Arrange all the interviews and sort an order for each episode of the podcast
Shortly after this we held a group meeting during which we considered another contact, James knows of a creative writer, Will Helps, he plans to contact, who has been writing from a very young age.
Entry 7 –
Over the next few weeks we garnered some interest in potential interviews in diverse areas – I had a contact, Liam Senior, studying computer sciences who was on board to discuss programming; as well as a singer/songwriter contact, Graham Wilsoncroft, and a local German wine specialist/business owner I was to contact, James Tob. Meanwhile we were still awaiting some of the pre-confirmed interviewees to confirm/become available – as well as looking out for additional opportunities.
After focusing on paperwork for a while, keeping up with research etc., we decided to check in on the group chat – at this stage, we had approximately 9 remaining planned interviews to conduct, and so decided to divide them as such:
Adam to conduct interviews with, Graham, Liam, James
James to conduct interviews with, Alina, Will, Lincoln F.C player
Jess to conduct interviews with, Cassandra, Su, a local business owner
Eventually however, for numerous reasons, a few of these opportunities fell through. Liam declined to interview for personal reasons, James Tob had to close his business for a month due to health reasons and so was rendered unavailable, and we were still awaiting contact from Lincoln FC who seem to be giving James the run around.
Entry 8 –
By the next tutorial meeting, we had organised three interviews to be conducted directly after – we would meet with Dylan at 11, hold the meeting as normal, then Jess and I gain the interview with Su, whilst James speaks with Alina Burney and Will Helps.
The meeting and interviews all went according to plan and in fact exceeded expectations; especially Su Roys, who discussed her subject, of passing on healthy, useful, farm-to-table cooking skills and ethics, at great length. We feel confident that there is already a large amount of high quality content that we can go through in the edit – the plan being currently that we will aim to edit each interview down to a similar length of approximately the 5-minute mark. Su in this regard will also be the most difficult interview thus far to edit, as the interview in full, uncut, is around half an hour long.
It was shortly after this that Cassandra Balosso-Bardin got in touch and we set up and conducted the interview with her, which also went particularly well – we were able to gather a funny, natural, entertaining sounding and in-depth discussion with her about her passion for music, as well as an actual live excerpt of her playing her instrument.
Entry 9 –
After our next tutor meeting with Dylan, our plan of action from this stage going forward is to pursue a new idea – to gather content for one additional podcast featuring interviews with some of our family members, adding a personal touch, talking about skills that they have passed on to us and so on; this felt like a nice way to complete the series, adding an inclusive element, and giving the listener potentially a better insight into the team. This however is an idea for now, which we will pursue purely as an add on to the existing planned content – if nothing comes of it, there is no contingency, as it would be additional anyway.
Towards the end of February, James has set up an additional interview with a contact he knows on the subject of fishing which should make for an interesting discussion. Meanwhile I have gained a positive sounding interview with my songwriter contact, Graham Wilsoncroft – this made for good audio because he is a mature student and also a father, bringing what I feel is a unique perspective to the subject matter.
The next time the group spoke on the chat, as it stands, no one has yet been able to gather any interviews with family; however more positively, Jess gained an interview with a contact who has been horse riding for 20 years and now teaches horse care – Samantha Waterer. The next stage is for James and I to gather interviews with James’ fishing contact, and local DJ and audio technician Craig Bratley, respectively.
Entry 10 –
On the 2nd of March I gathered my interview with Craig Bratley – I felt that this went well in spite of some difficult obstacles technically which I was able to overcome. Initially, I was due to record at an earlier date, but Craig became unavailable, and so this opportunity arose quite suddenly – as such, getting a hold of James to book out a zoom was too short notice, and when I attempted to book one, all of the usual Zoom models were fully booked out for the scheduled interview time. Knowing that Craig was a busy man, and re-scheduling may be problematic, I opted to loan out an older model which was tricky to get to grips with initially but I dealt with fine – for my contingency I set up my phone and garage band on my laptop to record simultaneously along with the older recorder, just to be certain some audio was gathered. Another unforeseen disturbance came mid way through the interview, when we were actually interrupted by another student entering the room which I believed I had booked, forcing us to start the interview again. This was disappointing and made me feel unprofessional – luckily Craig and I happened to be on a relatively informal basis already otherwise I felt this would have severely affected the audio. As I discovered afterwards, the error was with media bookings – the individual had actually booked the room we were using, my booking had not worked for some reason, however the staff at the loans desk clearly gave me and the other student keys to the room within minutes of one another – a clerical error which I thought was frustrating and easily preventable had they used common sense, or simply had one set of keys to the room that they permitted out at any one time.
Entry 11 –
Shortly after this, James gained an interview with his fishing contact, Matt Mosey. He said that the interview was good, the atmosphere clearly indicated that he was fishing at the time, and there was a good amount of detailed discussion related to the technical elements associated with fishing.
Additionally, Jess gained a new interview with an artist who paints and sketches people, pets, and fantasy art work, Tiana Mae. The interview was unfortunately only able to be contacted at her convenience, at her home – as to best capture her during the process of creating her art; and the interview was naturally punctuated at one stage by the distant sounds of traffic, however, this is not overly problematic. Our contingency is to keep what is on the whole a solid interview, and weigh up our best option in the edit come the post-production stage.
Entry 12 –
At this stage in production, we feel that we have a good amount of material to move forward in the process – James has booked us some session time in the edit suites to start cutting down interviews and organising content. Provisionally, our intention is to focus more on the creative contributors in one podcast, and more practical based skills in another.
We also have booked some preliminary studio time, to gather recordings of our discussions on the interviews to insert between contributors in each podcast. This will initially be a test run to practise what banter naturally occurs, as well as any related anecdotes we wish to record and get a sense of timings and how the format is going to apply properly later on.
Entry 13 –
Our next tutorial took place around the middle of March, in which some of the key feedback from Dylan was about proper recording technique in the studio for our discussion segments of the podcasts. We were given advice on using the AKG 414 microphones, how technically they should be operating, as well as proper set up, and a friendly reminder to keep a watch over levels and listen out for background noise.
We spent the next few weeks editing all of the interviews down to a reasonable length, aiming for an average of 5 minutes which fortunately we were able to stick to. Technically speaking there were no major issues with the edit, everything went smoothly and is relatively according to plan. The requirements as we are aware of them are all being conformed to; the audio is engaging, we have some interesting sounding material that I feel positive we can discuss in a significant, relevant, entertaining way. The plan moving forward is to finish the interviews for two podcasts worth – after which we will gather our discussion, and edit together two full, complete pieces of audio for our podcast series.
Entry 14 –
At the moment everything seems to be on track – the editing of the interviews has finished, and we have recorded our discussion for the first podcast – the only concern as it stands is that the length looks as though it will be towards the hour mark, which shouldn’t technically pose much of an issue, so long as we justify that are output falls in line with suiting our intended audience’s needs, which I personally believe does.
As of Easter break, we have recorded our discussions for both podcasts 1 and 2, now simply remains the task of editing everything down together into a uniform, engaging, informative piece of audio that suits our listeners’ needs and is fit for purpose. We also have prepared our press pack and have handed this in ahead of schedule.
Entry 15 –
Over Easter I managed to complete the podcasts to a standard that we thought was at a satisfactory level, and James made sure that it fit the criteria outlined in the brief – MP3 format, 16 bit, 44100khz, in stereo, and both playable and downloadable from our end platform.
I also took it upon myself to put together a very basic WordPress site, which includes sections on the following; a welcome/home page with a brief synopsis of the project – and a social media section below, an about page with a more thorough summary, a meet AJJ Productions page, Podcast 1, Podcast 2, contact us form, and a blog section.
The last task of the project has been a ‘tidy-up’ session over the course of the past week, in which our technical operator Jess made sure that the format was correct and everything met the outlined specifications in that regard, and our producer James oversaw the completion and finalisation of all necessary paperwork for the production – and finally, I and the team as a whole made sure that we were completely satisfied we had a project for submission which was achieved to the best of our capabilities and conveyed a professional final product.
Overall, I have been extremely pleased with our progress – I felt over the course of this semester we grew and developed as a cohesive team, and formulated and conceived an original project which satisfies our needs, but also went above and beyond any of our expectations in creating a professional, entertaining, engaging podcast series which we can be proud of.