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Sunday, May 11, 2008

A good idea, a bad explanation

Had part of an idea the other day. A friend came up with the other part.

I usually end up recording my podcast in my bedroom. That's fine, I suppose, it's the space I have available. But when one does audio recording, it's best to have an accoustically "dead" space -- no hard flat walls to bounce sounds around and create a hollow, echo-ey quality. I just don't have such a space to use.

I mentioned to an old friend that it'd be nice if I could use some space down at the Duluth Art Institute. Didn't expect much, just a quieter room than my own. He pointed out that, after all, a decent audio recording space would be good for the DAI, too; they could record their own, arts-related podcasts, as well as hosting the handful of local non-commercial podcasters.

So I brought our idea -- mostly my friend's idea -- to someone I know from way back, who knows more about the DAI than I do, he seemed to have the impression I was talking about something like one of those fancy studios they use for recording albums and what-not, the ones you see on TV with all the big mixing hardware and a 24-track recording system and boom mikes and whatnot, and thought I needed to put together a powerpoint presentation to sell the idea to the DAI.

Well, that ain't happening. Me making a presentation like that is as likely as me skipping naked across the Lift Bridge. I just don't have the visual background to create such a presentation. I don't know diddly about the large-scale recording hardware he was thinking about. And I wasn't even thinking in those terms. I guess I just don't do well explaining things off-the-cuff.

Most podcasts are recorded in whatever room the producer has available. If they have the freedom and the space, they may staple some foam rubber on the walls, to cut down on echo. I heard the other day that Seth Harwood, creator of the Jack Palms audio novels (and now a published author), recorded the first in the series in a room with sleeping bags nailed to the walls to create that dead space.

And most podcasts are recorded with a microphone plugged into a computer, and, well, that's it. Free editing software. No elaborate mixing hardware. I'm pretty much on the bleeding edge of run-of-the-mill podcasters at least, with my Samson Zoom H2 Handy Recorder. For what it is, it's a pretty impressive piece of hardware. And it fits in my pocket and runs off of two AA batteries.

So I apparently explained the idea badly. But I still think the idea is good. For people like me, the space would be valuable. And I think the DAI could use it in the way my friend thought of, producing their own podcasts on arts-related stuff. Even without the expensive hardware. Even if they track down a bunch of used sleeping bags to nail to the walls. They could spend more, sure. But more expensive doesn't always mean better, and isn't always necessary.

If anybody from the Institute ever reads this, maybe they'll consider the idea. If not, I suppose it'll never happen.

Too bad, too.

If only I could explain things better.

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