Videocy: Backstage at Radio Free Dogpatch

• Editor’s note: What we have here is your basic compound fracture of the funnybone: a video about a podcast with a blog post attached. It’s like watching some homeless dude trying to wash the windshields of a three-car crash with a squeegee swiped from the gas station across the street and a Big Gulp cup full of his own pee.

Don’t ask me why I thought this was a good idea, because I don’t have a reasonable explanation, beyond noting that it’s been a while since I shot a short for Adventure Cyclist and I thought it might be prudent to blow some of the dust off my less-than-mad videography skillz.

Also, I’m striving for a weekly episode of Radio Free Dogpatch, and while this isn’t exactly that, it’s close enough for government work. Especially if you consider the way our government works lately.

So, hi, and welcome to … to … to whatever the hell this is.

The words behind the pictures

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Radio Free Dogpatch. I’m your host, Patrick O’Grady.

Ever wonder how my voice gets into your head? C’mon, lemme show you around backstage.

The other day, Herself and I were discussing an upcoming working trip to New Orleans, and I suggested that we do a show about her adventures in the Big Easy, via FaceTime or Skype.

Well, sir, you’d have thought I’d asked her to do a three-way with Cindy Hyde-Smith on a swastika-shaped bed draped with baby-seal sheets.

Now, I won’t lie to you — I was disappointed. While she’s been off “making all the money,” as she says, I’ve been right here, investing in Radio Free Dogpatch — experimenting with different microphones and recording devices, puzzling out the mysteries of a Behringer mixer, and periodically slipping the Visa card into the refrigerator so it doesn’t catch fire. The Visa card, not the refrigerator.

“Radio face” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Anyway, I thought this little junket of hers would give me a chance to work on my remote-audio-capturing skills. And Bill Burr brings his wife onto the podcast all the time.

But you know, she was probably right. Podcasting is something of a pain in the ass, even for those of us who are into it, which she mostly is not. And I’ve noticed Bill’s wife tends to wander off in mid-show from time to time, and I don’t think it’s just because she has to work with ol’ Freckles there. I think she has better things to do. Come to think of it, so does Bill. And for sure Herself does.

But I don’t. Not right now, anyway. Though I’m sure Herself will come up with a few items for my agenda once she comes home.

In the meantime, welcome to Radio Free Dogpatch.

The first step on the ol’ podcast trail is to have some sort of concept in hand. Get those ideas flowing. Evergreen topics are all right, but fresh is better — the audience may think you’ve a trifle slow if you’re still scraping yesterday’s shit off your shoe while they’ve marched boldly ahead into a whole new pile.

Next, it’s time to pound out a script. I’ve been writing a long time, 40-some-odd years, but that was for print, which is even more 15 minutes ago than saying “that’s so 15 minutes ago.” Writing for audio is a whole other breed of dog. I do a lot of rewriting so I can sound at least as dumb as I look.

This being audio, we want a little music, a few sound effects and some other bells and whistles layered in underneath to draw your attention away from the feeble writing, and these have to be built, begged, borrowed or burgled, because the buying is right out. There’s quite enough buying and not nearly enough selling going on around here, as Management is fond of reminding me.

Then there’s the recording. Recording when writing is called “typing,” which is a fairly simple process. Recording while speaking feels like talking to the voices in your head, but in public, where everyone can get an earful, including the people you stole the music and the sound effects from.

And leave us not forget the editing in GarageBand, which is a wee bit more complicated than simply introducing Mr. Typo to Mr. Delete Key in TextEdit or Pages.

And finally, there’s my personal favorite — the fucking it all up, and the starting over.

“The other day as Herself and I were discussing her upcoming working trip to New Orleans I suggested that we do a show … from the  … Jesus fucking Christ. Hi, and welcome to another edition of Radio Free Dogpatch, I’m your host, Patrick O’Grady.”

All this hassle to make five minutes of bad noise that I could’ve pounded out in five minutes as a straight blog post.

And to think they said I had a radio face. It’s not the grill that’s the problem, it’s what’s behind it, running on three cylinders and belching black smoke. Hey, but that’s show business. So don’t touch that dial — we’ll be right back next week with another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch, with your host, Patrick O’Grady.

• Technical notes: I shot the video with a Panasonic HC-V770 camcorder and an Audio-Technica ATR3350 lavalier microphone. For the voiceover I used an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic and my trusty Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. The screen grabs got grabbed by (what else?) Grab, and also by QuickTime Player. Tom Waits joined us courtesy of YouTube — “I Wish I Was In New Orleans (In the Ninth Ward),” from “Small Change” — though I could’ve lifted that tune from my own extensive collection, which includes both CD and vinyl versions (you should pay a courtesy call to anyway). To edit the mess I used iMovie 10.1.8.

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14 Responses to “Videocy: Backstage at Radio Free Dogpatch”

  1. tj mora Says:

    Thanks for the smile.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I like it!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, Pat. Tell you what, working a Behringer mixer will blast the cobwebs right off the brain-pan. The operating instructions assume a degree of basic knowledge that I do not possess. This outfit could teach Tadaaki Kuwayama something about minimalism.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I hear you. Yesterday I did my first training session on a Mackie ProFX22 mixer at the Arizona Folklore Preserve. We were mixing 6 channels, 3 microphones for vocals and 3 guitar/mandolin outputs from the effects boxes the performers brought with them. Once we got everything set up, did the sound check, and satisfied the performers, I figured just don’t touch the thing. But, the guy training me was making these tiny adjustments all during the performance. He is a performer too, so I assume he knows what he is doing. But he wasn’t wearing the headphones and you can’t hear much in the booth. Like you say, maybe some simplicity is in order.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’ll look forward to picking your brain about the Mackie. I almost went that route, but the Behringer was less expensive and got good reviews.

        I’m still very much in the training-wheels phase. One mic goes into the mixer; mixer sends audio via USB to Mac for software recording and via RCA-3mm cables to an external digital audio recorder for backup in case the Mac/software combo shits the bed. I monitor via headphones plugged into the mixer.

        The fun part is going to be setting up what’s called a “mix-minus,” which lets you record a FaceTime/Skype call, mix your conversation to the Mac and external recorder, and send audio back to the caller without including the caller’s voice in the audio mix you return to him/her, thus avoiding the dread echo-chamber effect. Hence the term “mix-minus.”

        Looks like most people doing this use two computers, one for Skype and the other for recording. If I can figure this out without croaking a Mac or blowing the fuse box off the wall of the garage I’ll award myself a passing grade this semester.

        Now this beastie here looks like the business. But it costs a metric shit-ton, and it’s so much smarter than me I figure it would take over the whole op’ and have me escorted from the premises.

        • Pat O'Brien Says:

          There’s nothing in there to pick yet. I just downloaded the first Mackie 1 hour beginner’s course handout. I am starting to see why he was adjusting the mixer during the performance. I’ve got a lot to learn.

  3. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Great stuff! Almost like sitting across from you during Interbike at whatever eatery that was in Lost Wages a few years back. Some folks tell us we should have audio/video on the Piedmont Cycling Resort website to better illustrate what we offer there, but when I see the skills and equipment needed to come up with something halfway decent I quickly forget about it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, Larry. Baby steps, but I’m enjoying them.

      The audio-visual thing is a little more labor-intensive than cranking out the Fake News. For me, anyway. If I did a video and a podcast every week I might get better at ’em, but I’m working with a 1954 brain-box and some pretty simple tools, especially where the video is concerned (consumer camcorders and simple, free software).

      I think a short video would be a nice addition to your Piedmont site. It wouldn’t have to be real elaborate — folks cycling, dining, wining, with some scenics of the resort itself. I bet you could find someone to handle that for you at a reasonable rate. Maybe some bikey type who gets the concept. Drone footage of a group ride in the mountains would be cool.

      As for audio, have you ever done an interview with Diane Jenks, The Outspoken Cyclist? She’s a real pro, coming up on her 500th episode. That would get you some audio and plenty of ears to go with it. I bet she has plenty of listeners dreaming about Italy as they do the Ride to Nowhere in the living room come winter.

      If your paths have never crossed, I could introduce you. She’s good people.

  4. Steve O Says:

    Sad news:

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Damn, that is sad news. Never met the man, but I watched the hell out of him on TV, as I’m sure the rest of you did.

      He was a cyclocrosser, you know. In his book “Cyclo-cross,” Simon Burney said Sherwen “regularly used cross for preparation during his time on the Continent.”

  5. larry brown Says:

    the voice is gone,sad

  6. John O Says:

    You moved out of the hallway? When did she let you do that?

  7. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I watched and listened to Paul and Phil from 1999 to 2011. I bought the TdF on DVD or Blue-ray so we could watch them when we wanted. Never did have satellite TV. Finally gave them away to the UPS driver at the bike shop. He was the only one who wanted them, especially 1999 to 2005 editions.

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