Friday, June 13, 2014

How It's Made: Hydrostatic Podcast

Written by Phyridean

Here at the Hydrostatic Podcast, we like to go in depth on mechanics and processes that the Eve community is interested in, and we thought you might like a bit of a tour through how our podcast is actually made, from conception through to your ears. Hit the jump to find out.

Before Recording

Hydrostatic typically records on Tuesday nights in the US timezone that all of us occupy, but a lot goes on before that time. After we release a podcast, we start thinking about what topics to cover in the next episode. This usually means that we have about two weeks of brainstorming before each episode to come up with topics, structure, and any guest experts we want to bring on.

In order to coordinate this brainstorming, Hydrostatic has a group Google Hangout that Ashterothi, Lockefox, and I idle in. Every time one of us has an idea, it goes in the Hangout, and can be easily picked up by the others at their leisure. If something important happens, we can discuss it immediately in the hangout. If we want to coordinate when to post a blog post or a podcast, we can do it in real time in this channel. Realtime communication also means that we can easily modify our recording time if scheduling conflicts come up.
Typical conversation in the Google Hangout

Once something has passed muster in the hangout, it moves into a Google document for preliminary shownotes. Hydrostatic has a shared folder where each document created inside is automatically shared with all three of us. If we have a guest host, we also share the preliminary shownotes with that person. In general, a preliminary shownotes document starts life with headings for each of the sections we intend to do in the upcoming episode, and gets filled out from there. A section in the shownotes can range all the way from just a descriptive title to a full narrative. 

For a better idea of what goes into the preliminary shownotes, take a look at the shownotes for Episode 3: Bittervets? You'll notice that for the panel question, we have shorthand notes of our potential answers, but for the lore section, I've written a full narrative based on my research into the topic. These rarely make it into the podcast intact.

During Recording

As soon as we have our plan together for the episode, Ash, Locke, and I log onto the Aideron Robotics mumble, where Jason Parks, creator of Aura, generously allows us to record our podcast. We're not brave enough to record an entire podcast using voice activation, so this means that we all three use push-to-talk to key into the podcast. This is especially odd when I laugh at something my co-hosts have said. If I want the laughing to get into the podcast (not because you all need a laugh track--because you deserve to know how unrefined my sense of humor is), I have to consciously key in. Fortunately, Mumble also allows us to record each participant in his or her own track, so if I accidentally laugh over Locke's insight about datacores, I can easily edit my laughing out without destroying Locke's credibility.
Because of course we couldn't just set up the permissions properly (Jason came in and fixed them shortly after I posted this).

For recording, I'm currently using a trusty old Logitech USB headset, and Locke uses a Turtle Beach, both of which are our headsets for normal Eve comms. Mine cost less than $50. Before we recorded our first episode, I went out and got a standalone condenser microphone, but it did no better or worse for what we intended than my current headset did, so I returned it. 

Because of the roughly one-hour intended length of our podcast, we don't take breaks mid-show, and we typically finish recording within an hour and twenty minutes. Any re-takes we do immediately after they happen. This keeps the recording files consistent, and minimizes the kind of editing I have to do.

During the recording, we try to paste any links, supplemental information, or places where we say "and this will be included in the shownotes" into our preliminary shownotes document, which makes it easier to make sure these get into the final shownotes that you see.

After Recording

After we stop recording, mumble takes a minute to output a .wav file of each individual speaker in our podcast channel, and we have a quick debrief where we go over anything that we expect to need editing, pats on the back for anything that went particularly well, and ideally some conversation with any invited guests. 


I usually leave editing for the next day, and it always happens in the wonderful open-source application called Audacity. I import all three tracks into Audacity and start the process of removing long pauses, the more egregious instances of "ummmmm," "ahhhhh," and heavy breathing, and occasionally move content around within the podcast. The latter happens when, after a segment has ended, someone says "oh! I forgot to say in X segment that...". Sometimes, this means that a few sentences of the podcast don't make sense, but I try to account for this as much as possible. If I can't find a place for a piece of audio, and it's not absolutely key to the content of the podcast, I'll ask my co-hosts if they're okay with removing it. So far they have not told me "no."
What it looks like every time Ash says "Ummmm."

Since I have to listen to the entire podcast as I edit it, I also have a post open in Blogspot to fill out the shownotes. Ideally, this means I catch anything that we missed while recording, and all of the relevant text content gets included in the final shownotes.

Once I'm satisfied with the "people talking" part of the podcast, I export a new .wav file that merges all of the talking together, and go back through and put ten-second gaps between sections. I import our introduction music (currently, the beginning of the Rubicon expansion theme), some music to go between sections, and our exit track. I use a combination of linear and exponential fades to get this music to fit cozily around our speaking, and then export one more time, this time into variable bit rate MP3, which keeps the final size under 40MB.

Uploading and infrastructure

Once I have a final file, I upload it to a Namecheap hosting account on Namecheap gives me a pretty good deal for a reasonable amount of space and unlimited bandwidth, and it also allows me access to .htaccess files to redirect over here to Blogspot, while keeping unredirected so that I can keep the actual podcast MP3s there. I make a backup copy of each episode MP3 to Google Drive as well, just in case.

With the uploaded file link in hand, I come back over here to Blogspot and insert that link into the shownotes in three places: the embedded player, a direct download link, and an enclosure link. The last of these is what actually gets sent to your podcatching app, while the other two are for the benefit of people visiting the site through a normal browser. We're aided in our podcast feed by Google's Feedburner, which processes it and adds some metadata, allowing iTunes and most other podcatchers to get things like a description and cover art.

At this point, I can either schedule or immediately release the episode, and put it out on Reddit's /r/eve subreddit and our twitter account, so that people know when to look for it.


This post, like our podcast, is driven by feedback from all of you. If you'd like to know anything about the process that I haven't posted in this article, or you have your own podcast and have suggestions for us, please don't hesitate to contact us at We're happy to share with you how we make our particular brand of podcast sausage.

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