Tools for Podcasting

I’ve done voice-over work for theatre and elearning since I was a kid, and this coupled with my natural good face for radio means I’ve always fancied podcasting.  Today I had a great session with my second year class “Social Business and the Sharing Economy”, and we were negotiating their assessed portfolio work for the end of next semester.

One of the ideas that didn’t immediately get shelved (although it might) was to produce a podcast serial on the Sharing Economy.  A run of maybe 6 episodes, each lasting 12-20 minutes.  The podcast will be one of a few projects, including a blog and a printed guide to Sharing Leeds. We might expand to video and transmedia, but before then a podcast is the easier to produce we think.

We want to have a fixed number of episodes and a defined format, but it must be of the highest production standards.  Happily, we have a radio studio (two in fact) at the uni, and editing suites, so no excuse other than lack of skills to make this happen.

I’ve been googling some good “learn to podcast” resources, and after teaching various classes how to plan their blog content, am also looking to see if planning a podcast’s content is any different.  I’m parking some of the most useful looking pieces here:

How to Podcast “The definitive step-by-step guide on how to podcast without breaking the bank. This is the home of the free podcast tutorial that will take your podcast from concept to launch fast and for minimal cost.”

Learn How To Podcast 101 is a video tutorial with more than 120 minutes of instruction that will help you lay a solid foundation for setting up a podcast for future success. This podcasting tutorial will give you all the building blocks to help you understand what is needed to launch your podcast properly.

As for research into formats and content, I also intend to check out Radio 4’s Podcast series “In Pod We Trust” – useful to while away the hours of Christmas driving.

If you have an established podcast and would be interested in talking to my students about it, it’d be great to hear from you.  We can invite you into our classroom in person or via SKYPE.

Please put any recommended tips or resources in the comments.

If this is reality, try life

Guest blogger Michaela, a sixth-former from Newcastle, checks out Summerbreak and TryLife – two online only transmedia shows.

@SummerBreak advertises reality when in fact it is a load of staged nonsense!

It is meant to be about following the lives of a group of teenagers in LA spending their last summer together; it seemed quite a good idea showing their life, and how they arespending the last couple of weeks together as a group of close friends.

After watching the first episode on their YouTube channel, I found that in fact it was not what I originally thought it to be.  The teenagers who are part of the cast seem to be really awkward in front of the camera and their personalities seem bland and boring; considering it’s meant to be a reality series it doesn’t say much about them as people.

The cast members also have accounts on various other social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr so you can follow their lives there, but after seeing some of their tweets I don’t understand what’s so special about them.  They are just a bunch of normal teenagers who have been put in these situations where it makes them seem that they do all sorts of activities every day when in fact they’d probably just sit at home and watch TV if it wasn’t for this ‘show’.   It reminds me of something like The Only Way Essex and Made in Chelsea where there are scenes and scenarios that have been made up, and they are acting simply to create drama and tension between the cast.  That does not make it a reality show!

Another show that is only viewable online is TryLife .  TryLife is an interactive show where you decide what happens to the main character, with over 20 different endings depending on which options you choose.  Personally I think this is a better way to use transmedia – where the viewer decides what happens to the characters rather than watching teenagers live their day to day life.

Although you can interact with the cast of SummerBreak and ask them questions about what really happens, there is no control over what happens to them, and you can’t go back and change the story to see what could have happened, which you can with TryLife.  With TryLife even if you have come to an ending, you can still go back to the beginning and choose different options so you can get a different ending every time.  This keeps the viewer more entertained and you can keep coming back to it, whereas with SummerBreak you get what you are given.  TryLife is a lot more original than SummerBreak because stuff like SummerBreak has already been done before and it is just recycled content.

Emma gets the Lizzie Bennet treatment

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modernized adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice, by the aptly named Pemberley Digital, including Hank Green and streamy winner Bernie Su.  The story is told primarily through Lizzie Bennet‘s Video Diaries on Youtube, while being supported by her and other characters social media streams.  It was the surprise transmedia hit of 2012, our best loved love story resonating with many “viewers”, and perhaps that acquaintance helped them find their way around a familiar story presented across unfamiliar platforms.

Although you can follow the whole series through from the start, here:, wouldn’t it be nice to tweet along?

Clueless[1]Well, you won’t have long to wait. (*UPDATED – Released Sept 2015*) It’s  “Emma Approved” a YouTube adaptation of Emma – another Austen novel – is coming out of production and hitting YouTube shortly.  Given the filmic treatment several times, including the nineties update “Clueless”, the story can be played for laughs as well as pathos. Will meddling Emma become the first transmedia matchmaker?  Probably so.

If you’d like more Austen but in a more familiar format, the BBC’s adaptation of the PD James sequel “Death Comes to Pemberley” is filming now at Harewood House.  It will air in three one-hour episodes on BBC One later this year, while PBS have already announced that they will show the series in the US.

Transmedia: What is it? and is it worth it?

Transmedia is about what happens when digital, social and mobile technologies are used to extend the experience of a storyworld beyond the boundaries of its primary media, whether that’s a book, a television series or a video game.

Transmedia for me is simply telling a story across more than one platform.  However, I do think there are grades of transmedia, such as whether you can join the narrative at any point, or from any view point, rather than all viewers entering from the same point every time, and I hope to elaborate on this in a further post.

Interestingly, wikipedia’s “transmedia” page redirects to “transmedia storytelling” as if the word doesn’t make sense without the context of a controlled narrative.

My primary concern is figuring out whether our experience of a particular story gains anything from having content across different platforms, and if so, if there is something about the execution of the technology or story-telling that can be captured and re-used by other narratives and writers?

As this new media develops, and is augmented by perceptive and adaptive functionality, mixed with gamification and choice-driven narrative, will we discover traits that can predict success, or tropes that can quickly establish familiarity?

I believe that transmedia can deepen engagement and immersion in a storyworld, and also in learning and on my transmedia page I hope to document how that can happen, and what happens when it does.