How do you record podcasts in the era of social distancing? Read Chris Nichols’ guide to the hardware, software and teddy bears that helped CG Garage go remote.
When I started the CG Garage podcast over 5 years ago, I had three goals: Make sure the audio quality is good, be consistent in terms of weekly release and do them in-person so I can make eye contact with the guests. Before we were all forced to work from home, I had only done two episodes where I recorded the audio remotely — but it was stressful and the audio quality was hard to manage.
So I had to make a choice: Either I stopped recording podcasts while we all work from home or I had to find a different approach. Luckily, I’ve come up with a great solution that allows me to video call with guests and still record multitrack audio.
As some of my listeners might know, about a year ago we redid the podcast room with some nice furniture and a great setup for recording. On my last day at the office, before the shelter-in-place order came in Los Angeles, I grabbed as much of the podcast gear as I could get home.
I had no idea where I was going to find a nice quiet place to record podcasts with minimal echo, but luckily my son’s room has a large bunk bed with lots of stuffed animals that ended up being perfect.
The second challenge was the Polaroid. Based on a suggestion from our Creative Director Melissa, about four years ago we started to take Polaroids of all our guests. It was a great way of marking the moment after recording a podcast. I feared that we would have to give up the Polaroids. But, thankfully, another solution came up: Polaroid Lab, a device that takes a Polaroid of a picture on your phone. So all I needed to do was to do a screen capture of the guest then do a Polaroid of that. It turned out really well.
Going the distance: Chris’s home podcast setup
Key to my whole setup is the SquadCast remote podcast platform. It puts me and my guests into something that looks like a Zoom or Skype call, but there are a couple of key differences:
- My guests don’t need to install any software — all they need is a browser. They get a link from me just before we record, they connect to me and we can see and hear one another.
- Squadcast records each channel separately and locally, which means it’s not a problem if the internet glitches out and I lose what the guest says for a second or two, as they’re recording their audio on their side. Then when the podcast is over, the audio files are uploaded to the cloud and I receive separate uncompressed audio from each of the guests that I can mix like any other podcast.
Inspiration from the podcast archives
Finding motivation under lockdown can be tough. Fortunately, the CG Garage has featured almost 300 guests who can inspire you with tales of boundary-pushing creativity and help you understand the latest CG tech. Don’t have time to listen to every single episode? Chris has chosen 6 that are sure to power up your creativity while you work from home.