For the past several months, I have been working on a tremendously huge project that was finally released earlier this week. Our podcasting brethren in Canada, and namesake of the podcasting network we are a part of, The Atomic Geeks (TAG), dropped their 250th episode onto the public Tuesday. It more or less marked their five year anniversary. And I had the good fortune to be the one who produced this two hour and twelve minute epic. It was a clips show that recapped their five-year history and it was an all-consuming project for several months.
Listen to the show here:
I figured some might have a few questions about the "making of" the project. I present to you the A.N.R.A.T.F.A.Q. (Actually Not Really All That Frequently Asked Questions).
Okay, so right off the bat, this was a ton of work...why did you even do this?
There are two main reasons. First, I really enjoy The Atomic Geeks podcast and feel they are of a caliber show that if anyone should have a clips show, it should be them. Second, I have enjoyed audio/video production for years. I've never put together a "clips" show and thought that would be a good project to tackle to add to the list of things I've done. While it might have made more sense to do it for Nerd Lunch, my own "baby" as it were, I think a clips show is better put together by an outside and objective person and I don't think Nerd Lunch is the type of show that will merit a clips show.
Did they ask you to do it?
No...I volunteered. Sometime before their 200th episode, I was on as a guest and suggested to them the idea of me taking on the task of a clips show. But things being the way they were at the time in real life, it was not something I could commit to at the time. I later said I'd consider it for 250 if things calmed down in real life. Fortunately, life did calm down and I was able to take on the project. Although, that meant 50 more episodes to go through.
Did you listen to all 249 of the previous episodes?
I have listened to every show before, but since the Fall, I have been re-listening to old shows and paying extra attention to the shows that were newer. They actually have a total of 270 episodes if you count their "TAG Extras" and videos. In the end, I managed to listen to 135 episodes for this. Some in their entirety and some I just listened to portions as I spot checked for bits I wanted to include.
I have a somewhat annoying ability to be able to retain memory of mostly useless things. So I knew of several bits going into the project that I knew had to be a part of the show. It was just a matter of finding them. For the most part, I knew which episodes contained those bits. For some things I couldn't remember the specific episode, I could remember a range. I had a huge list of things I wanted to find and I found most of them. Other things surprised me as I listened again and rediscovered things I had forgotten.
How did you find the time to do this?
I honestly have no idea. About 90% of the listening, I did in my car while driving to work and back. I used the Apple Podcast app and was able to listen at the 2X speed. Plus I generally skipped Atomic Picks. So I could get through an episode or two a day. Of course, I can't take notes in the car, so I would take screenshots as I listened and those screenshots showed the time code for where I was in the episode when something happened I wanted to pull.
My photos app on my phone would have dozens and dozens of screenshots and I'd periodically upload those to my Dropbox account to a special "TAG250" folder I set up. After I had a good number of screenshots and had been re-listening for a few weeks, I then started sorting the screenshots into folders for each episode. Then I spent hours going back and pulling the shows into Audacity where I would then use the screenshots to located the earmarked clips. I would select the clip I wanted to use, export the selection and save that clip in the episode folder. Once I did that, then I would delete the screenshot.
After pulling all the clips and organizing them by episode, I then reorganized them by themes that I had identified. So Christian's crazy phrases got its own folder, the singing got a folder, and so on. Once that was done, I was able to build the outline of the show based on what I had. Each set of clips had to be edited together, then new framing content had to be recorded and edited and then the entire thing had to be edited together.
I have no idea how much time it took. But, for the most part, it was all really fun to do. Admittedly, it was getting wearisome by the end, but it was all worth it.
How many clips are used?
I pulled over 600 clips from 125 shows. Not all of them made the cut. The clips I didn't use were cut for relevance, length or they just didn't wind up being as funny. And some I just didn't have room for and that's why there were four bonus sets of clips for episodes 246-249 plus a set for Nerd Lunch 125. As for how many clips made it in the show and how many episodes were represented? I have no idea. You're welcome to count them and try to figure it out. If you do, let me know.
Where did the music come from you used during the guest segment and at the end?
Andrew Bloom supplied me with some music that I used in two parts of the show. I wanted to focus the show on the four guys so I decided to parlay the guests to one segment. While some guest moments made it into the show, I felt like giving all guests shout outs in that one area was the way to go. I don't think I forgot anybody (though Jeeg and Pax are not represented in this set except just being mentioned)! The final piece with music was hopefully emotionally charged and gave a nice recap of the entire run of the show, showcasing historic moments with stereotypical ones.
How did you convince Mark Dury to join you?
Mark really just jumped at the chance to spend two and half hours with me on Skype. It's been his lifelong dream.
What's your favorite clip?
It's hard to say, but if I had to pick one that cracked me up every time I listened to it, it was when Downs started talking about the "longification" process for beers. There was actually more to that clip that I wound up cutting for time. It was a classic moment and really captured the essence of the show. Their relationship and how they were able to so quickly come up with jokes was really displayed in that segment.