Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day 1 Rewind

The show wasn't as packed as I was expecting on Day 1. I spent the day attending various sessions, some more helpful than others, and the floor exhibits were a bit hard to navigate because a lot of the booth operators weren't good at making it clear what exactly they do. Davina was frustrated with Podango, as they seemed to lack a sales rep, and just had geeks who could speak about plug-ins for free blogging software, but seemed to know nothing about the expensive platform we're running. Still, they could be a good option. I also introduced her to Adam Bloom, who flagged me down during a mixer later last night.

I missed my chance to meet with Adam Christianson, but he's doing some live shows from the floor today so perhaps I'll get another opportunity. It would be refreshing after yesterday, when all the folks we met at the show represented the business side of things. Even the Podcast Awards, given out in the late afternoon, were often accepted by proxy, as the podcasters themselves weren't attending. Brother Love accepted for Keith and the Girl, for example, in his usual flamboyantly obnoxious way, so at least Davina got a proper introduction to the podsafe music network's legend-in-his-own-mind.

Mostly, I enjoyed the more technical sessions, because the more theoretical ones really weren't stimulating. I scooted out of the Viral Video session early, because all the viral videos they were highlighting were old news to me, and I didn't feel they were adding much to the discussion. Maybe it got better after I left, but in 15 minutes about the only point that grabbed me was when one the panelists made the point that these YouTube sensations represent the model for new technologies/forms of expression, such as what we saw during the early days of film - "spectacle comes first, then storytelling." At least I'll have another quote to throw out at dinner parties (perhaps even this one).

My two favorite sessions were the Sound Production and Post-Production talks, because although they sometimes got a bit too technical and steps were rushed through to fit an hour, I learned a few tips that could come in handy when working with audio. Note of interest: I expected a lot of home hobbyists in the podcasting world, and there seemed to be at least a few there in the audience, but the podcasters on the panels were all pro-level editors, filmmakers, actors, etc., who were using the medium of podcasts to get their material out there. I guess when a conference costs $300, some of the non-pro enthusiasts stay home. I look forward to checking out the podcamp in New York in February, because it's free and I'd expect to meet a lot more amateurs.

As for the technical stuff, I learned things that Geoff will tease me about, because he spent four years at NYU film school and I'm trying to pick up this stuff in an hour, like the difference between dynamic, condenser and ribbon microphones, what polar patterns are, and other various tips about sound recording. I did get some recommendations for various gear, including some handheld devices that could be useful for audio podcasts.

The Post-Production speaker was really interesting. He's a sound editor for IT Conversations, and the developer of The Levelator, free software for podcasters that completely automates levels adjustment and is now on my must-download list. Also, he makes an Audacity plug-in for deleting with crossfade, which, to sum up because I need to get in the shower and head for breakfast, removes ums and ahhs from recordings smoothly. I am not comfortable in Audacity, having been a Garageband guy, but if I could master this plug-in, it would make life much easier.

By the way, note to the powers-that-be: the Sound Engineer in the first session recommends Garageband among his favorite tools for editing. Just sayin'.

I joined Davina for some monetization session, given by podcasting's version of a motivational speaker. It did little for me, but he did make the point that Diggnation is essentially an hour-long promo for their, which is pretty smart. Also, he got into targeted ads a bit, and I mentioned to Davina that targeted niche ads in podcasts, when done well, don't seem intrusive because they're for products I'm interested in -- making the ads feel informative, not intrusive. I forward past TV ads with my DVR, but I've been turned on to cool, geeky things, by ads in certain podcasts. Or by hosts just talking about the products, as editorial content.

There was a party later on, with, of all things, belly dancers and a ballet dancer who hung from the ceiling by a cloth and did things that would have broken every bone in my body. She was good, but we really only hung around to see if we'd won the raffle. We also saw the Ask a Ninja guy at dinner.

Okay, off to the shower.


Geoff G. said...

Hahahaha! Mere mortal! You lack even the most basis knowledge of microphone types! AHH-HAHAHAAHA!


No really. I forgot all that stuff about 8 years ago. Glad someone is passing the torch of audio production minutiae to a new generation -- 'cause I totally failed on that one.

Anonymous said...

I may be one of the Podango geeks you mentioned.. would be more than happy to answer any sales related questions. Im sorry we were not more helpful.

Matthew said...

Shae - Hope you didn't take too much offense. I actually consider geek to be a complement. (And sales isn't my field, to say the very least.) But I'll definitely pass on your message. Thanks.