Encounter 60 Production Notes

For a while now, I’d been wanting a to do a little write-up of how I make the show. I like reading this sort of stuff and thought other people might as well. Plus, at some point in the future, I’m going to probably have trouble remembering any of this! Encounter 60, which covered Orfeo Angelucci was a massive bear of an episode so I thought it would make a good example.

It all begins with reading. Lots of reading. This phase began on July 15, 2019. Even though I have the original books, I tend to do my reading for the show on an iPad, screenshotting and cropping out portions that serve as the “documents” within the episode.

As I do this, I’m making an outline along the way, and when I’ve got all the document sections I think I’ll need (usually far more than I will actually use), I start writing the narration (which, for this episode, began on July 22) and send lines out that other people need to record remotely. I use Scrivener to write the scripts, as it allows me to dump all of my document sections into one folder, my narrative in another, and then I can just output the specific portions I need as a PDF.

For a while now, the pattern has been to output the scripts for narration and documents separately, with the narration script having spaces for where documents belong.

Once all of this is set, I record the documents using Logic Pro X and whatever sound effects I think are useful but not too intrusive. Each document is saved as a wav file named to match the insert notes as seen in the script sample above. I used to record straight through, moving from narration to documents and back, but I’ve found that doing all the documents at once was easier than switching my tone of voice constantly.

In the case of Encounter 60, document recording began on July 25 and was completed on July 27. During this time it became apparent that if I didn’t do some cutting I’d never get everything recorded in time, so I got out the red pen.

Once the documents are recorded, I begin working on the narration. I’ve recently begun using Hindenburg Journalist for this. I dump all the document wav files into the clipboard area, record the narration, and insert the documents at the appropriate points. There are also clipboard areas for “utility sounds” (opening, closing, “woosh” and the new footnote sound) and external audio clips–in this case Angelucci’s odd musical choices and Long John Nebel.

Narration recording for Encounter 60 took place on July 28 and 29, with additional panic over the program being unable to find all the recording I did on the early morning of July 30.

(Speaking of the footnote noise, for the curious, that involved an electric mandola from Eastwood Guitars, a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface, and GarageBand.)

Once everything is how I like it, it some processing magic applied and is run through Hindenburg’s mastering process.

Show notes are generally done as I go, so I’m less likely to forget stuff. The whole thing is run on WordPress and feedburner Pinecast.