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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Goes Into Each Episode?


Each week, +Nathan Smith+Bella Smith (Bri), and I put a lot of hard work into our episodes of +Notes and Nerds.  But what exactly is it that makes it so much work?  Well, let me tell you what consists of "constructing" each episode for you.

Each episode starts off with a brainstorming session via IM, Email, Text, and phone calls.  We not only plan for one episode each week, but for upcoming episodes, as well.  We decide on which aspect of our shows basis we want to focus on, and decide how we want to space them out each week.

After we decide on episodes, and when to schedule them, we research the content of those episodes.  This season has seen a couple "list" based episodes, and because of that there is a lot of research involved.  We search the internet finding content that we feel is pertinent to what we want to cover.  We establish talking points in our show notes so we don't ramble on, and lose focus.  Talking points also help us keep each episode between ten to twenty minutes long.

After that, when we get together to record our episode we do what we call a "Dry Run".  A dry run lets us rehearse what we want to say, especially if we are using any scripted material that we created for that episode.  Dry runs also help us work out the giggles and goofiness that can bubble up.  These dry runs also allow Bri, our "Camera Chick", to get a proper recording angle on us.  During dry runs, Nathan and I also work out any kinks in the show notes and scripts.

After all of that is done, we actually begin recording.  Each episode is broken down into segments.  Usually, we do an intro segment, the main segment, and a closing segment.  The intro is basically a quick introduction of what the episode will be about, followed with our "personal" intro that we have used since Season 1, Episode 2.  The main segment can be broken down into multiple parts, like our "list" episodes, and the previous season.  Generally, our main segment is one or two parts separated by a skit.  The closing segment is a quick recap of the episode, and reminders of all of our social media pages, shop, and patreon page followed with our established closing monologue.  This portion of the show production usually runs us anywhere from one and half to 3 hours long.

After that, I gather up all of the footage and load it onto my laptop.  I haven't actually started the editing process yet.  What comes next is gathering of additional material and content for the episode.  This mostly includes various images about what we talked about.  Occasionally we also include video clips gathered from Youtube.  With the video clips, we tend to remove the audio, and use only a portion of the video, as to accommodate the "Fair Use" laws.

Now with additional material pulled from the internet, I use a video editing program to piece it all together.  I am currently using CyberLink Director.  It was preinstalled on my laptop, and I must admit that I really like it.  It isn't high end like Adobe Premier, but it definitely does get the job done effectively.  When stitching the episode together, I have to go through all of our recordings and find the ones we wanted to use, and edit out the start and finish portions to eliminate the camera starting and stopping the recording.  I also add in our logo image, and theme song (created by Nathan under his "Dj DIESEL" moniker).  I also add in our credit roll.  After that, I add in the transition effects.  Lastly, additional content is added, such as images and videos pulled from the internet, and the lower thirds you see at the end.  Once everything is in place I watch the video prior to encoding, to make sure nothing is out of place, or if I missed anything.  This stage in production takes me about 1 to 3 hours.

The encoding process is the next step.  We use a 720p camcorder for recording, so we encode at 720p, and also upscale it to 1080p.  The upscaling isn't preferable, but it does the job fairly well until we can actually record in 1080p down the road with better equipment.  We encode into MP4 format, especially since that is the format best suited for Youtube.  The time for this process is always dependant on the amount of content being rendered into the final video.  Generally speaking, this is anywhere between 30 minutes to 1 and half hours.

After this is the second to last step.  Uploading to Youtube.  Seeing that I have a 2mb per second upload speed on my home internet connection, uploads vary in time.  A video about 1GB in size can take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour.  I also have to contend with other devices in the home that use the internet, as well.  We had a video a couple weeks ago, the "Ultimate Food Challenge" episode, that was 4.9GB's in size.  It took 5 hours to upload.  Then after the upload is the processing phase where Youtube converts the video into a compatible MP4 format.  It generally isn't a very long process as I try to encode/render the videos into a compatible format on the laptop.

The final step in production is adding in the links to the video during the outro.  When you see a lower third in the outro promoting our Patreon page, the Shop, or any of our social media pages, I have to add in links that are synced with how long the lower thirds are displayed.  This is a bit of a headache of a process, but the end result is usually pretty spot on.  That little step takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

After all of that is said and done, I schedule the episode for release the following Friday at 6AM CST.  It is also added to the website, and from there aggregated out towards all of our social media pages.

So, the overall production time frame brainstorming, research, writing up the script and show notes, followed with the actual recording, editing and uploading...we are looking at up to 36 hours per episode.  That 36 hours is broken down to 6 to 8 hours a day over the course of 4 to 5 days.

That my friends, is what goes into each episode of Notes and Nerds.  And we do it all because we love doing this.

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