Richard Taylor is a man of many talents, a life-long musician, video producer, editor, post-production supervisor, audio engineer, Apple-certified FCPX Trainer, 15-year podcaster, host of the Final Cut Pro Radio podcast and host of FCPX TV.
Host Cirina Catania interviews him about creating great audio for podcasting and much more on this episode of OWC RADiO.
What is a podcast? Hint: It’s not an audio file. In fact, in 2004, the first podcasts were special because they were downloaded automatically via RSS feeds. In today’s streaming world, it’s hard to imagine how revolutionary this innovation was.
Richard Taylor is a legendary podcaster who was there to witness the birth of a new medium that since has grown into a global phenomenon.
For more about our host, filmmaker, tech maven and co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival, Cirina Catania, visit cirinacatania.com.
If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and tell all your friends about us! We love our listeners. And, if you have ideas for segments, write to OWCRadio@catania.us. Cirina is always up for new ideas!
In This Episode
- 00:12 – Cirina introduces Richard Taylor, producer, editor, and host of Final Cut Pro Radio and FCPX.TV.
- 06:21 – Richard tells the story of when he captured a video when he moved out of his house that he built on his own.
- 11:43 – Richard shares how Adam Curry and Dave Winer were the first people to create a podcast way back August 2004.
- 19:16 – Cirina recalls how she enjoyed working in a radio station back in the day when she was working for AFN Radio.
- 26:45 – Richard explains how he records interviews over Skype with the use of various equipment and software.
- 31:30 – Richard shares how he edits his outstanding quality audios.
- 39:24 – Richard explains why you need to pay attention to the audio quality and how it overall affects the video quality.
- 47:04 – Richard shares how radio recording is like a trial and error, you have to test multiple times for you to get it right and make it seamless.
- 55:09 – Cirina shares how she conveniently did mobile filmmaking in Sicily just by bringing her iPhone 11 Pro Max capturing the great scenery of the town.
- 1:01:57 – Visit Richard Taylor’s website fcpradio.com, and follow him in his social media accounts to stay updated with his weekly shows.
This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. I have Richard Taylor with me. He is a producer, editor, post-production supervisor for eight years at the National Archives. But we know him in our community as a Final Cut expert. He’s also the host of Final Cut Pro Radio and FCPX.TV. And both shows which I have been on and I love, so you need to watch those. Richard, how are you?
Hi, I’m doing well on the East Coast of the USA. I gotta always plug the East Coast because everybody is from the West Coast these days.
You guys aren’t gonna believe what happened. I got up at five o’clock this morning because I moved to a new place. I’m trying to get the studio set up, and I worked for several hours unpacking and wiring, and then I went into the other room, sat down for a minute, and fell sound asleep. And Richard’s message to me, it said, “I’m here,” and the phone dinged and I went, “Oh.” But when you’re sleeping so soundly, and you don’t even know where you are for a second, that’s what happened.
So I’m groggy, I’m sitting here in front of my MacBook Pro where I am recording this with a cup of coffee, I got an espresso machine for Christmas. Isn’t that great?
Oh, you did? What kind?
It’s Nespresso, and it’s really cute. It’s bright red, it sits on my counter next to the other coffee machine, and I actually go to Costco now and get Peet’s Coffee. Have you ever tried the Peet’s Coffee?
I order Peet’s from Washington State.
Well, here’s the deal, they ship it the same day they burst it. In other words, it doesn’t sit around on the shelf for a week or two weeks. You place your order, and they ship it the same day. I get Peet’s coffee from Washington State in two days.
Okay, so what is this peetscoffee.com?
Yes. peets.com. I got the Columbia because it’s the only place that I found that has dark roast Colombia. Most Colombians are medium roast or light roast, and this is a dark roast. I really, really like it.
I like the dark roast. Can you order the Nespresso cups?
Yeah, they have some of those. They have different varieties. One of the other things about Peet’s is, they ship it for pounds, not 12-ounce. A lot of these coffee places are shipping 12-ounce bags, not a full pound. This piece ships 16-ounce bags. Here’s the other thing about Peet’s, they have been coffee roasters in the family since the 1960s.
I didn’t know that. Richard, you always have all this knowledge about all these amazing things. How do you do this?
Yeah, we love coffee.
Oh yeah, we absolutely love coffee. There was a post by Alister Robbie from Australia this morning. He says, “Repeat after me coffee is not food,” and I responded, “Coffee is way above food.” “Coffee first, everything else, second,” that’s a Peet’s advertising campaign.
I know I tell my girls, I wish I had somebody that would just come in the room in the morning and bring me coffee before I even get out of bed. That would be wonderful.
Well, I actually do that to my girlfriend, Jane. I say girlfriend, and we’ve been life partners for over 20 some years. I get up in the morning, four-thirty, I make coffee for myself, I feed the cats, and she wants tea in the morning first thing, so I make her a cup of tea and bring it back to her every morning.
Oh, that’s so sweet. That’s really sweet.
Well, it’s just that I’m out there anyway, she hadn’t got up as early as I did.
That’s funny. I get up around four thirty-five o’clock, the latest every day, and I like to watch the sun come up. It’s just a ritual. Now you told me you run a couple of miles every morning.
Between six and seven, yes. So I get up at four-thirty, make coffee, wake up, maybe check Twitter to see what things are going on, feed the cats. And I don’t like waking up quickly, I wake up slowly. So by the time six o’clock hits, I’m out the door running. If it’s in the upper 20s or 30s and not windy, I’ll go out running, take my Airpod Pro.
Oh yeah, I love those Airpod Pros. I bought a pair when we were at the Creative Summit. And I have to tell you. I’m listening to more music now because you can hear things with the Airpod Pro that you couldn’t get with the other Airpods, and it’s actually better even than listening to it on speakers.
All this technology. I keep my iPad next to my bed at night too. Even though I keep saying I shouldn’t bring technology into the bedroom, I kind of like watching my iPad at night. It’s terrible.
That depends on whether you have trouble sleeping. If you have no trouble sleeping, it doesn’t make any difference. People that have trouble sleeping sometimes are told not to bring technology into the room with them. I can fall asleep in five minutes, almost all the time.
Yeah, I can sleep anywhere when I’m tired as you know from this morning I told you that I sat down in the recliner with a cup of coffee next to me, fell sound asleep, I mean literally I don’t know how I got into that deep sleep so quickly. I must have needed it.
Well, it sounds like you’re busy. Moving is, I think, it’s a bit of an adventure, but it’s also a lot of work emotionally and physically. I was looking at videos that I had from when I built a house next door to me in the mid-80s. I built the whole thing, I mean I had a crew, but I built that. I was a contractor, and I did the excavation, I did the footings. I got different contractors for different things. I had a carpentry crew come in. But I was watching a video that I did when I moved out of that house. I went through the entire house with the camera pointed towards me. This is way before selfies because this was in 2000. So, picture I have a camera facing me, and I’m talking going through the house and showing the house the way it was when I left it, and everything just for the heck of it. It’s an emotional thing. For me, it was.
Yeah, I mean happiness is an emotion. I’m happy here, and I love it. I wake up every morning, and I tell the house how much I love it. It’s really nice. I have hummingbirds, and lizards, and little bunnies, and birds in the little fountain. I found this little solar float, and you put it in the water fountain outside in the back, and it becomes a fountain that runs on solar. The birds love it. So it’s kind of like a little haven. I think when you work as hard as we do, it’s really important to create a beautiful life wherever you are. Even when I first moved to San Diego, I moved to a small apartment because I didn’t know where I wanted to kind of settle. But I built this garden on the balcony and kind of built a little haven in there. And now that I have the house, it’s just really nice. We work really hard; all of us do in this business. I mean, what’s the piece of art or the photograph with the filmmaker in the middle of the night and it’s the only light on in the building? That’s kind of the way we all are.
Right, especially if you get involved with a project. I don’t want to go to sleep, and I want to keep on working. I really enjoy this. Absolutely, it happens a lot.
Yeah, well, I’m building a studio in the garage here, and that’s gonna be really fun. I get up, and my brain clicks on, and it’s on overdrive. So I get out of bed, I make the coffee, and I already want to sit down at the computer. I have to tell myself to slow down because I think for me first thing in the morning is when all the ideas come, and that’s when I do my best if I’m writing or creating a story on Final Cut or whatever I’m editing on. But let’s talk about podcasting. Okay, everybody’s asking me about podcasting, and you have a wonderful setup. Can you kind of look around and tell us I don’t know which studio you’re in because you have two of them. You have one for editing and one for your radio show. The picture that you’re in the room where you do your radio show, what do you have around you?
Well, I’m talking through a Neumann TLM 103 microphone, which is a studio microphone going into an Apollo Twin X audio interface. And that is going into a Scarlett to channel USB audio interface. And the reason I go through that is that I have control over blending your voice with my voice. I have a balanced control over Skype and my live voice. If I just use the Apollo, I don’t have control over Skype, I don’t have a blend control. Because sometimes Skype is too loud or I can’t hear or whatever. So I got this specific because it has a blend control. But there’s a lot to talk about with podcasting. This is not really bragging, but I know nobody else who’s been podcasting as long as I have, except Adam Curry, who invented podcasts. I’ve been doing it for 15 years without a break, I’ve never stopped.
I’m wondering if you were at that very first podcasting convention. Where was it in Ontario years and years ago? And Adam Curry was there.
No, I didn’t. Were you there with Adam Curry?
He had me on his show.
Yeah, they recorded it in Ontario, or maybe it was somebody else’s show, and Adam and I were on there together. But I remember it vividly because for two reasons number one, Adam curry, I think it’s awesome and I’ve learned a lot from him. And secondly, because Twitter was just starting, and hardly anybody was using Twitter, but we were using it to figure out where we all were. And I don’t know what year that was. I have to look that up.
Well, I know the year of podcasting, that was 2004. Adam Curry had the first podcast that I listened to, which was the Daily Source Code. And I started listening to him in August of 2004. And the interesting thing was, it was him and Dave Winer that started what became podcasting. So podcasting is not the audio recording, okay? It is not the audio recording. Podcasting is the automatic downloading of audio files in the background, so they’re available for you in the morning or whatever. That’s how it started, with RSS feeds, and that was Adam Curry and Dave Winer, starting that first enclosure in the RSS feed. So I started listening to him because he was the first podcast, but this is before iTunes had podcasting. iTunes didn’t have podcasting until June of 2005. It is when Steve Jobs introduced the category of podcast to iTunes, and he asked Adam Curry if it was okay.
Oh, I didn’t know that either.
Yes, Adam talks about it all the time Steve Jobs called and said, “Is it okay?” Not that he couldn’t say no, it’s not okay, because he would have done it anyway.
Of course, Yeah.
But it’s interesting. So it was August 2004. In the fall of that year, there were a bunch of podcast applications Podcatcher and pod this and that before iTunes brought it up. So I bought a couple of those stuff. And the biggest podcast at the time was-well, Adam’s was very big-was Dawn and Drew. I don’t know if you remember them or not.
I don’t remember them.
Yeah, Adam has something to do with getting them started. So they were the first ones that I really listened to, on a regular basis beside Adam back in those days, there weren’t that many podcasts out.
No, and Philip Hodgetts had one of the very early ones.
But Philips wasn’t a podcast. Here’s what I was gonna say. Podcasting is an enclosure in the RSS feed that you go to, and it’ll download the audio file in the background. Philip had DV guys, he was out before Adam Curry, but he wasn’t a podcast because podcasting didn’t exist. Adam Curry invented podcasting. Philip had a file on his website, the DV guys, that you could go and download and listen to. Right? But podcasting made that automatic, that’s the difference. Also, at the time, Philip was out because I listened to them. Also, there was a show called Macworld live, which was another one to listen to. You had to go and get the file, download the file yourself. And then you can listen to it on an mp3 player. But it wasn’t automatic. Part of the podcasting started the automatic.
I’m trying to remember what year we started the Digital Production BuZZ.
Well, Philip was on that.
Well, Philip started the buZZ, and then Larry Jordan bought it from Philip. Then I began producing the buZZ for Larry and with Larry when he bought it from Philip.
And I was on that show for nine years.
Okay, I listen to that show as well.
Yeah, that was fun. Well, because I was doing audio interviews, they were, as you said, they were the same as the DV guys. I was recording people and recording the files, and then people would go to the website and download them. And I think that maybe what caught Adam Curry’s eye, I don’t remember. It’s been so many years. I remember because I’m so visual, where we were sitting in the convention center when they recorded us talking.
Okay. Between 2000 and 2004. There were a couple of things going on with RSS feed and stuff. I think there was technically a podcast before the Daily Source Code, but Daily Source Code was the first one that I listened to on August 20, 2004. And It was a mixed show he had music he had just talking, but he would do it just about daily, which is one of the other things that people if you want to do a podcast, you should do it on a regular basis, whether it’s once a week, once every two weeks. And that’s one of the things about podcasting. The other thing about podcasting is it’s easy to start a podcast. What’s hard is to keep a podcast going month after month, year after year.
I’ve been doing it for 15 years. I have never stopped. I’ve never said I’m going to take a break and take off a year and come back a year from now. I have never stopped since I first started podcasting.
Well, you’re really good at it, you have a perfect voice for it, and you have the knowledge, you can talk to so many different kinds of people just about anything. I love it because I like talking to people. To me, it’s a dream job, and you can go anywhere in the world and do what you love, meet new people and share that with others. I can’t imagine anything more fun.
So when podcasting first started, there’s a couple of things that were going on at that point. So Apple came out in June of 2005 with a podcast section for iTunes that blew things through the roof. My numbers at that point were 10,000 downloads a month of my podcast. Once iTunes came out, there were a couple of things related to that. A year later, in 2006, one year later, Apple celebrated the first anniversary of podcasting. At that point, there were about 10,000 podcasts plus or minus in 2006. And they had an anniversary celebration, the first birthday of podcasting. And they picked 52 podcasts, one for each week of the year. And mine was one of them.
That’s so awesome. I didn’t know that.
It was absolutely amazing.
Did you frame it?
Oh, I have. Also, the same year, I got a call from Rolling Stone Magazine, which I thought was a scam. I thought somebody was trying to scam me. They wanted to talk about my podcast, and I got a review in Rolling Stone Magazine that same year. So that was really cool.
Do you still have that?
Oh, yeah. I have the actual copies.
That’s awesome. Well, we had a great run on the Digital Production BuZZ that was fun.
But he just stopped it last couple years or last year he stopped it or something?
Yeah, I left the show, probably about three years ago. And I think it’s been almost a year since they went, I’d say off the air because I come from traditional radio. Boy, I remember the days of radio at AFN in Germany when we didn’t have engineers back then. We had to do all of our own work in the studio. I had two Ampex reels. This is when I was playing music and doing local news. So I’d be queuing up one reel while I was playing the other one, and then talking in the middle of it, trying to keep the content moving on schedule. Did you ever do traditional radio?
No, I never did traditional radio. It sounds like there’s a lot of work.
Well, being a DJ, whether it’s just talking or music, it’s just like a lot of work. The jobs are very fireable. People get fired left and right. I mean look at what Howard Stern had to go through to get to where he got as famous as he was, how many times was he fired? Over and over and over again, it just seems so precarious for your career. I’ve always liked a brick and mortar career. I go to work 40 hours a week. I get paid a 40 hour a week check, something tangible.
Well, you’re your own boss on FCPX.TV and Final Cut radio, but you know what I love about you, Richard, you maintain the schedule. I’ve noticed that about you. You get up at a certain time. You bring your longtime girlfriend a cup of tea, I don’t know if you guys have breakfast together, but then I noticed you eat dinner at pretty much the same time every night. And you run at pretty much the same time every day. Do you think that kind of schedule helps you be more efficient?
Yes, it does. It helps cement your day. I mean, physical activity is great, and for some reason, I love running. I just like it. So one of the things you want to do with exercise is do something that you enjoy rather than making yourself do something that you feel like it’s a chore because that won’t last. So I like running, so I do running, in the fall and in the spring are my favorite times to run.
Well, here we can run year-round here in San Diego.
Well, you have different seasons. You have the fire season, and you have the mudslide season.
Yeah, I had a flood in my garage a few months ago. I think I was actually supposed to be on your show.
Was I supposed to be on your show? And then I had a flood in my garage because it rained so hard and the water went into the garage. I have all my equipment in there. That’s in the other place.
Could have been, Final Cut Pro Radio TV Live. I do those all the time.
Yeah, I think it was one of those. But let’s get back to podcasting for a minute because I know people are gonna want to ask questions. So we’ve talked about your equipment, the Neumann TLM 103. I just actually bought the 102 because they told me that it was really good for female voices. So I’m gonna try that one out.
Well, don’t tell Chris Fenwick that.
Because he has a 102.
I thought they told me the 101 but then when I left NAB, I couldn’t find a 101 anywhere. So I got the 102.
Yeah, I’ve never heard of a 101.
I know it was lined up, I have to find the picture I took during NAB because I was gonna buy the 84. The classic, really, really expensive mic. And I was demoing it, and I talked to the person in charge of the booth. I was in the booth, and I said, “I’ve had it. I’m tired of trying microphones,” I mean, if you go into my equipment room, I cannot tell you how many microphones are in there. I’m always looking for one that I absolutely love. And I said, “I’m just going to get the 84, I’ve had it,” and he said, “You know what, you don’t really need to do that,” I said, “It’s made for a male voice, that’s my problem. I have a soprano voice. So, what microphone is going to really help me?” And he brought me over to the line of mics. And I put the headphones on, and I tried them, and I got to that one. And I went, “Oh my goodness.” That’s my voice, but that’s the best of my voice. So this is my personal opinion, you don’t want to do a lot of enhancing. I know people that do radio or podcasting, they add a lot, they just tweak their voice so much that it just doesn’t sound right anymore. You have a naturally deep voice. So I’m assuming you don’t do too much enhancing.
I have a little bit of a tie-up tube compressor in the Tube EQ. I love Tube, the sound Tube stuff.
So why do you like the Apollo Twin?
Here’s the difference between the Apollo line. It’s Universal Audio and everybody else. The Apollo has a processing unit that processes its software emulation plugins in real-time. It has chips that are dedicated to processing the software. As I said, I use a tube compressor in the Tube EQ, they’re being processed in real-time and coming out to Skype. That’s the difference between Universal Audio and everybody else. Now, I think Motu has something like that, it’s called digital signal processing, but it’s coming out live, you don’t have a delay, 50 milliseconds, 100 milliseconds delay. This is actually live because they process it in the unit itself—the next best thing to have in the actual hardware units here.
Wow, I’m gonna have to try that. So you’ve got a two-channel Scarlett?
It’s a two-channel. It says four on it but only has two channels. And like I said, I have that because I have a blend. In other words, I’m going into that in one of the channels, Skype, your voice is also going into that. But a lot of units I have no control over which one I hear, I have no blend, this hacks the blend controls, and I can blend my volume with your volume. And I can hear both balanced. That’s why I like the Scarlett for that.
I have a Scarlett on my desk here. It’s the Focusrite, the single channel. So I’m actually monitoring my voice, which I just kind of put half of it on one ear and full on the other ear sometimes, but I’m monitoring my voice through the Scarlett, and I’m talking at the moment in my Rode mic. I’m gonna put the Neumann on here later today and try that one out. What do you record with? You’re recording on Skype, right?
Well, it depends, like right now, If I’m doing an audio podcast, I record with Audio Hijack Pro. I’ve been using it for years, and it’s fantastic for audio. What I would do is I’d set up one channel for me, direct my microphone, I put a meter on it, and go into a recorder. The other channel would be Skype with the volume control of the meter, and then going into the recorder. I record both channels independent of each other for audio. For video, the live stuff I use Ecamm Live, which is a great application.
Yeah, I have Ecamm Live. I think we were discussing this earlier, offline. I’m recording on Ecamm right now on Skype. So your voice is being recorded on Skype. And my voice is being recorded as well through Ecamm. And then I can take the file, and I can split it. So then I have a normal mix down that I’ve played with the volumes, but I can also download that as a reference track. And then I split the tracks. And I can adjust and correct anything that you want to take out, individually. So do you do a lot of post-processing?
Yeah, for the podcasts,
I only edit. I edit them. I mean, just if they get off track, I’ll take sections out. Like sometimes I’ll interview somebody before NAB, and we’ll do a lot of talking about NAB, but after NAB’s over, that’s not interesting anymore. And if I still want to use part of their stuff for the podcast, I’ll take that NAB stuff out and just put it together. So I edit the podcast, I edit the audio podcast, same as you do a video. You don’t do a video and just record it and then throw it out. I mean, we’re video editors, I’m an audio editor as well—the same process. I can enhance it, I can make it better by usually condensing, if there are pauses or if there’s a lot of “hums” and “ahhs” and stuff, I’m not worried about taking them all out, but take some of them out for the audience. I just go through, I do two passes, I go one, rough cut, pass, and I’ll go through and take “hums” and “ahhs” that not everyone, but a lot of them. If there’s clicky noises or some kind of distraction, or somebody drops a pencil or has to go get a cup of coffee, I’ll take that section out. And if there’s like a set of subject, maybe we talked about something we can’t talk about on the air it happens a lot.
Yeah, when people say this is off the record.
Exactly. But they still tell you.
And they talk for five minutes.
I got into this the other week or two ago about people always using the cliche. Those that know can’t say, and those that say don’t know. And I say Yeah, and there’s another one. There are people that know things that are not under NDA, and they can say anything they want. And I’ve talked to plenty of them over the years. So it’s not just those two categories, there are other categories, but they do the same thing to me. They say this is off the record. Okay, but this is a podcast, so I had to take that section out. Always respect their wishes.
I have a hard time because I am under more than one NDA. And so you wrestle with feeling like you sound stupid because you really can’t comment either way. You can’t say anything, so you fall silent.
Well, yeah, we just edit it out as long as it’s not live. I’m not gonna say anything about anything current, but in the past, I’ve been under NDA from Adobe believe it or not.
Well, that reminds me. How do you feel about Audition, and what do you use to edit audio with?
I use Logic Pro 10. I love it. But it’s a musical, and it’s not really meant for post-production. It’s for making music, but I love the feature set of it and so many things about it. I’m so used to it now that has become second nature, and I’m very fast with it. So I love it. All my podcasts are in Logic Pro.
A lot of people that work with audio use Logic Pro.
I also have a digital performer, which is the Motu, equivalent of Logic that I started within the 90s. Because I started having a recording studio in the 80s and 90s, and I recorded bands. But it was all reel to reel on tape. And it was live compressors, and everything was when you did a mixdown, sometimes you’d have two or three people moving faders, and you rehearse until you got it right one time. I mean, I was a guitar player, once we’ll rehearse it and reached over my shoulder and get this fader to push it up to here. We’ve worked with tape and stuff. And then one of the CDs I was doing in later 90s and said, “I’m gonna get to this digital stuff and see how it works.” And of course, there’s no turning back when you do that. It’s incredible, especially when you do mastering and stuff. That was Digital Performer that I started with before Apple bought Logic.
I have to ask you this. You said something on the air the other day, and we were talking about music rights. And that’s a subject for another day, but you did say that you get around that by creating your own music. And my ears went, “What?” So you have to tell me for a minute about that.
Anything that I do on YouTube, that’s important and needs a music track, I’ll use one of the tracks that I wrote and recorded.
Okay, I’m blown away.
And if I don’t have one, I’ll write one. So that way you can’t come to me and tell me it’s a music copyright strike, I wrote the thing, and I recorded it myself. So original music recorded by me, I own the rights. I didn’t get my rights away to publishing. So there’s never been an issue with my stuff.YouTube is a great place to start sharing content, but be aware of copyrighted material. For anything published in that platform, it’s safe to stay original. Click To Tweet
So now you write this music. I’m assuming you’re using notepaper, do you use your musical paper or do you just compose it on a piano? How are you doing this?
On a guitar.
On a guitar, okay. You know, one of the regrets in my life is that I studied music for a long time. I don’t know if you knew this about me. I studied music at the Conservatory in France. And when I was very young, and I was pursuing a career in music, I wanted to be an opera singer. And so I learned Solfège. I don’t know the American word for it, you could read music, and I had perfect pitch. I was the person that would put the choir on pitch, and I loved it. And then I had to make a decision about, Okay, I got a scholarship to the Conservatory in Paris, do I go there? Or do I go to an American college? And I made a decision to do that. And then I went back to Europe and still was singing, but I was so scared of the instrument when I was in school learning piano. I was so nervous that I don’t remember anything from the time I sat down at the piano, played and then left, heard the applause, and went off stage. I never played the piano again. Isn’t that terrible?
No, it’s interesting because a lot of people will be afraid of singing but not afraid of playing the piano.
I guess my instrument was my vocal cords back then.
Well, that’s good to know. So next time we get together, we can do a vocal rendition of something. I didn’t know you would sing.
That would be fun. Wouldn’t that be fun? I think when you have music in you, it never leaves, and it’s always there.
I’ve been a musician since when I was in grade school, and I went to St. John’s Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland, right outside of Washington. I was in the boys’ choir, and I didn’t know why I liked it so much, but I really liked it. When the other boys went to become altar boys, I said, “Nah, I’m gonna stay in the choir.” I was the oldest in the choir. Sister Daniel Mary was my choir instructor, I still remember, and I didn’t know why I liked it so much. But ever since then, it’s been all about music my entire life.
Yeah, I started out in the second grade. I remember being in the choir in second grade, and I was wearing a white choir robe with a red crepe paper bow at one of the concerts. I think it’s wonderful that you learned an instrument. I regret that I can’t accompany myself although I do have a new keyboard and I’m going to start playing with it. See if I can get there, I might even take some piano lessons.
Yeah, it’s worthwhile. My brother is five years older than me, and when I was in grade school, he was a teenager, and he brought home an electric guitar and a little Fender amplifier. From the first time I saw that electric guitar amplifier, I was completely enthralled with it. I love the electric guitar, I absolutely love it.
That’s wonderful. Get pictures of yourself back then.
Not playing the guitar so much because it was his, but he eventually lost interest in it. But it’s the start of my career. Now I have quite a few, and I have about four or five guitars and maybe three or four or five amplifiers that I use.
You know, I’ve been trying to talk people into bringing their instruments to NAB. Because I would love to just jam, I think it would just be so much fun to sit in one of the booths and get all our friends. There’s a lot of very musical people in our little group of techies.
I talked with Packard Southern about doing a Final Cut Pro band at the summit one year, but of course, it’s not gonna happen. I can’t take my guitar with me, and it’s too valuable. And I’m already at the maximum level for stuff.
I still think we should do it. Talk to the people who might be listening about what you think they could do to make their audio better in film, and then also obviously in podcasting, but if they’re doing a film and video project, do you have some tips you can give them?
Oh, I got plenty. Let me tell you the first one, stop the mentality of “I’ll fix it in post.” stop thinking that “I’m going to apply a noise plugin to the audio.” People do it all the time, although it’s going to slap a noise plug, and I’m going to slap a noise plugin on that, they just do it automatically. Listen, get your audio right when you record it. If you have a situation, you can’t control the audio, you can use a noise plugin. But don’t throw it on every single thing that you do. You’re not doing audio right if you do that. You shouldn’t be using a noise plugin if you do the audio correctly, you don’t need it. Under normal circumstances-I’m talking about studio and stuff-if you’re out in the field, obviously, you can’t control the street noise, and you can’t control things. But if you can control things, pay attention to audio, it happens all the time. I was an Apple-certified trainer for Final Cut Pro. I’ve been a trainer since version five, not even 10. But version five I started and I taught for Boston University who had an extension in Georgetown outside of Washington, and they had a building down there that they taught film production in lighting and audio and everything. And I don’t care how many times you tell people audio is at least 50% of good video. They hear the words, but time after time, they would come back and say, “My audio is no good. I did this recording over the weekend, and how can I fix it?” I said, “You can’t.” If you messed up the audio, you can’t. I said, “Did you listen to the audio?” “No, I watched the meters.”
Over and over again. They know the words that “audio is 50% of good videos.” But they don’t pay attention to it. To me, it’s more than 50%. I spend time practicing with audio, with microphones and preamps, and make sure my cables when I go out to do a live event. For example, like at NAB, I’ll do the setup here at the house, make sure it works. And then I’ll break it down, leave the components as large as I can with things connected as much as possible. But I always test it before I go out. So stop the thing, “I’m going to throw a noise reduction plugin on it, just automatically.” Don’t do it automatically, pay attention to your audio from the very beginning, test it the way you do anything else. The way you test a camera, the way you test lighting, test your audio, get good microphones, get close proximity to people. Just like you do lighting, get in a room that has a good sound to it when you can. You can’t do it all the time, I understand that, but I hear people all the time, they just throw it on everything. If you do that, you’re not doing your audio right. You’re not paying enough attention to it.
Do you have favorite laws that you’d like to use when you’re interviewing people? Or how do you set up your interviews? When you’re in a situation? Like for example, if you were in NAB, you’re doing interviews, how do you record the audio for the people that you’re interviewing?
I have two ways when I’m in NAB that I do audio, I do either live streaming or recording. The one scenario I’m behind the camera, and the person is in front of the camera, that’s what a mobile on is walking around. The other scenario is I set up my camera on a tripod, and I go in front of the camera with a handheld microphone, and both of us talk through the one microphone. So those are two separate ways that I do my live setup. And they require two different sets of microphones. And two different ways of working with the audio. When I’m at the back of the camera and the person’s in front, I have this medium shotgun pointing toward the person in front, and then I have a wireless Rode Go microphone lapel on me. So I have me in the one channel from behind the camera, a medium shotgun microphone poured into the person in front of the camera. And they are on two separate channels so I can adjust them independently. I test them ahead of time, I don’t just go into a live situation and expect them to work and be perfect. No, I test them ahead of time, I test the volume I test the clarity. I know both of these microphones, so I’m pretty confident, and I check the batteries. I do all kinds of things. The handheld one, I use a Sennheiser MKE 600 medium Shotgun with a wireless transmitter, a bodypack that transmits back to the camera that I have plugged in. So that’s how I do the two audios. If I’m going to be on camera, they’re going to be invisible behind the camera one or the other.
Yeah, the shotgun makes it easier to use, because I use the SM58 because I like the isolation that I get from that microphone in a noisy environment. But your arm gets tired after a while and then I’ve tried the situation where I’ve given the other person a microphone, and I have a microphone. So I have two SM58 running, but they never know how to hold it. You can tell them before you start the interview, “Okay, this is where you hold the mic, and this is how far away from your mouth,” and they go, “Okay.” And then you start talking to them, and the minute they start into the conversation, they forget about the microphone. Next thing you know, it’s down by their chest, and it doesn’t work.
Speaking of that exact same thing, when I was a post-production supervisor at the National Archives, one of the other jobs that I did, I was the A1. I was the main audio mixer for live events, which means I would be the person that mic people up in the green room, etc. So, one time we had Sandra Day O’Connor down there, the first female Supreme Court Justice appointed by Ronald Reagan. And she was just the tiniest little thing, and she had two handlers. And when I went into mic her up, a lapel mic, a bodypack, she said, “I’m not wearing that microphone” she was shaking her finger at me, “I’m not gonna wear it.” I looked at her handler and said, “We gotta get her mic’d up. What do you want me to do?” So we ended up giving her a handheld microphone on stage. She was like a rapper on the stage. Everybody else had lapel, and she had her handheld.Stop the mentality of fixing things in post-production. Always aim to get your audio right when you record it. Click To Tweet
Did she know how to use it?
We had it on a stand. It was close enough too. But she refused to let me put a lapel mic on her. So what are you gonna do?
Sometimes I’ve found that some superstars like that don’t like the lapel mics because, especially if they’re wireless, they know that you might leave that mic running the whole time. And if they walk away, and they go somewhere else, and they’re talking, you’re listening in. I’ve heard some wonderful stories from audio guys on sets about things they’ve heard.
Oh yeah, that can definitely happen. So you have to make sure that you have the channels muted. I have a double muted until they go on stage typically.
Now the microphone you’re talking to me on, does that have a mute button on it?
No, but my audio interface does. I have a physical mute button. I love a physical mute button, cough button, whatever you want to call it.
Yeah, because I’m guilty. I’m sitting here, and I’m taking some notes while I’m talking to you, and I’m sure that I’m gonna be able to hear my pen scratching on the paper even though I put it as far away from me as I can. And that stuff has to be taken out. I need a mute button.
The Apollo Twin X, which is a two-channel version I just got the newer version, has more processors in it, has a physical mute button, and I love it. But before I had the other version, which was called an Arrow. It didn’t have a physical mute button. It had to do with the mouse.
I want to ask you about this. Harman makes a preamp processor, the dbx 286s, do you ever use that? I’m wondering if that’s gonna be something that I’m going to enjoy having. My problem is I get into a conversation, and I forget. And I think sometimes my mic habits like many of us all laugh really loud or I’ll start talking really loud when I get excited. So I want something that’s going to help me modulate the sound, and I got this. I’m hoping that I bought the right piece of equipment.
You know, there’s tons of equipment out there, different things. And I’ve taken years and years, I mean I have a recording studio […] I have probably 40 microphones. So I have this TLM 1-3. I have Rode 20s, I have other Sennheiser microphones and all kinds of stuff, and I’m not an expert in microphones. I just like vintage stuff more than anything. I have eight or ten SM58s. And the same about SM57s, and I’ll use different microphones for different things. But for radio recording, it’s a more limited set.
Well, you’re doing a lot of live stuff on location. So you need more microphones too.
But it’s a matter of trial and error. I test things out I test the audio, I test, test, test, test.
I’ve seen you do that when we were at NAB, I’ve watched you, or at the Creative Summit, you come early, you’re setting up your equipment, you’re testing things, and you leave. And after we’re done, a lot of times you don’t socialize with all of us because you go back to your room and you’re working on your production, and I really admire that about you.
Well, yeah, I go out sometimes, but usually, I go to bed early, I get up at four-thirty, I go to bed at eight o’clock.
Yeah, that’s my problem at these conventions, because I get up very early and everybody wants to party till the wee hours. I can’t do that.
Plus, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. So we have conversations with our friends, and I do that year-round, and we do it at the summits and stuff. A lot of times, I’m going back to broadcast live too. I go back to my broadcast live for whatever the events were of the day, and I enjoy that, so that’s what I like to do. Sometimes I go out, I mean, I’ve been out with you, Philip and Greg.
Oh, yeah. I’m not saying you never go out. I’m just saying you’re very disciplined, and I really admire that. And I did see a lot of your live streams from Creative Summit.
NAB last year, I had 15,000 views of the different streams that I did. And I don’t make money off of that specifically, but I enjoy it.
Yeah. Speaking of making money, a lot of us are podcasting. And some of us have sponsors, and some don’t. I always wonder-I will never give up my podcasting-but there’s a part of me that thinks I would love to have a radio show like a terrestrial radio show. I don’t know if I could call it terrestrial. OWC Radio is really a podcast, but it sounds like radio. It walks and talks like a radio, but it’s not serious, and it’s not your local radio station.
Right, exactly. That’s true. I really like audio even if it’s not music or just talking or whatever. And the fact that we can broadcast live to the world is amazing, the quality that we get and stuff, it’s amazing. I was a ham radio operator when I was a kid, and it was the same thing then, to me, I could listen to the entire world. This is way before the internet, BBC and foreign language people speaking on the radio, and I can listen to that from around the world. I’ve always liked that, and now we can broadcast on YouTube or Facebook Live or Periscope Live. It’s amazing what we can do. I don’t understand Instagram though I don’t understand exactly what that is. I have an account, but I don’t really use it.
Well, you know all the social media is getting complicated. Not even complicated in terms of one at a time, it’s complicated because there’s so much of it. You have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and now kids are using TikTok, and you’ve got all these outlets that you have to think about if you’re going to market yourself. But let’s take a minute before we have to go and talk about mobile filmmaking.
One of my favorite subjects, I absolutely love it. First off, the quality that the iPhone has brought to mobile filmmaking is astounding. With the iPhone 11 Pro, the quality of video production is just absolutely fantastic in a small device. I like the mobility of it, and I like the portability of it. I like the idea that if I see something, I want to film like a sunrise. I do it all the time. I don’t have to get my GH5 at night, I don’t have to get the batteries for down, to get the media card for down to get the microphone for. I just go out with my phone, and I take the picture, I snap it, or I do a panorama, or I do filming. I did two live events this weekend; one was for the Humane Society of Carroll County up in Westminster. They had a free event, and then I did one down in Sykesville on Main Street. We had the Cocoa Crawl, which Sykesville Main Street is like a main street from the 1800s. It’s just incredibly old fashioned and everything. And I did a live event streaming live from down there. I didn’t take my GH5, which is a big hassle. I took my iPhone 11 Pro, and I put it on an Osmo 3 gimbal, and I have the microphones that I’ve tested multiple times set up in advance, and there I am live. I have good audio, and I have a good video, and it’s not a shaky cam because I’m on a gimbal.
Now, what are you using for audio on the iPhone?
So I have a Rode, there’s one active device, it’s about 70 or 80 dollars that you can record two analog channels into the lightning port. That’s how I get it in, but it’s the active one they have a pass of one-two that I use sometimes, but you don’t have nearly the flexibility with the active. So I use the active preamps, and you can adjust them independently with the app, the Rode Reporter App, and you can record two mono tracks, or you can record in stereo. So I record two mono tracks because I want my voice separate, and I want the front-facing microphone separate from the person I’m talking to.
Yeah, it amazes me, and now with Filmic Pro, I think that’s fascinating. I have an iPhone A cam, and I have an iPhone B cam. So I have two 11 pros that I use when I’m traveling so that I could set up even if I’m interviewing or I’m doing whatever I’m shooting, I can get two completely different angles on it. And actually, I haven’t done it yet, but I’m gonna go out. I’m gonna try Filmic Pro and see if I get four different shots at the same time. I’m gonna love that.
Well, you can’t record, you’re only going to record two of the four.
No, with the two cameras.
Oh, with the two cameras.
So then I’d have four angles on the same shot. That is going to be kind of fun. I’m going to try that. I want to do something fun with that.
Now the one thing about the Filmic Pro app and they say it’s an Apple limitation. Even though the iPhone 11 Pro has 4k cameras, you can only do 1080p when you’re doing multi-cam.
Right. But it’s still really good quality.
Oh, it’s excellent quality. That’s what I stream in. I stream in 1080p I don’t stream in 4K.
I think you were at the Creative Summit you came in when I was talking about the trip to Sicily and using mobile filmmaking in Sicily.
Yeah, I took all my big cameras with my beautiful lenses, and I did shoot stills, a lot of stills with those cameras. But I found-in that hot Sicilian summer weather-that to get really good landscape or city shots during the day. You do it in the middle of the day if you can because there’s nobody around. Everybody goes to lunch, and the lighting may not be ideal, but if you’re doing just general shots of a town, it was hot though. And it was really hard to carry heavy equipment around. I find that I’d just pick the iPhone.
Yes. The same with me, I’ll take my GH5 and GH4 if I’m doing a proper sit-down interview always. But a lot of times, I’m not taking it anymore, I’m taking my 11 Pro Max because the quality is incredible. It’s not as good as the GH5 but the GH5s, you know I got to take lenses, and I gotta take cards, and I got to take batteries or whatever. The phone I take with me plug a microphone, and I’m ready to go because I’ve tested the microphones in advance. I know what they’re capable of, I know how to hook them up and when I’m doing video, I always check the levels and stuff the mics with the audio application. I always check them. Make sure that the audio in both microphones is good. That’s one of the good things about the stock Apple filming app. The bad thing is the audio controls and has no audio meters, that’s a real oversight on Apple’s part.If you don’t want any issues with your audio-video, it’s best to have the rights to your stuff. Click To Tweet
Well, maybe they’ll get to it.
Yeah, but how long have they had the app? Years. No audio meters, no audio controls that’s their downside. The good side with the iPhone 11 Pro is I can switch the cameras while I’m recording. And it just blends from one lens to the other. It’s in software, it has to be. Going from the ultra-wide to the regular to the zoom. It’ll go between any three of those back and forth while you’re recording. And it just zooms in, it just zooms in it just blends it in. That’s a fantastic feature. I hope Filmic Pro has it.
And I like using the little wheel too because I can go even slower if I want to do a gradual pullback or zoom in, but just put my finger on the little wheel.\, and adjust it that way, and it works beautifully. It really does. Now, here’s one thing that’s difficult managing the files. When you get back from a trip like this if you can’t do it while you’re traveling. How do you get all of your media, your sound, your pictures, your video, how do you get it off the iPhone? Do you use airdrop, or are you using something else? How do you manage that?
I use PhotoSync, it’s an app, I think it’s like $6 for a year subscription for the pro version, there’s a free version too. And I use that to get stuff off of my phone because I can very easily go in there and click the clips that I want. And I can put them on my Mac via airdrop, I make the folder, and it just puts them in the folder. But to delete them, I can delete them on the phone itself. It’s a two-step process, but it’s quicker to delete things on the phone because I can slide across and down, and I select everything between I can make an L-shape go across and down, and everything gets selected if I want to delete all. And then, when I delete, I have to go in and delete it again because it just puts it in a trash can. And you have to go in and delete it the second time in order to get it off the phone to recover storage space on the phone. So that’s what I do. I never liked iTunes. I just find it clunky and cumbersome. To get media on and off my phones and stuff. I just never was a big fan of iTunes whatsoever. So I got this PhotoSync to get stuff off the phone, and then I still have to go back and delete it from the phone, which I use with their native photos app.
Now, will photo sync let you make a folder and direct the file transfer into a new folder?
Oh, I love that. So what I kind of do-it uses the native application-I put the pictures into albums, and then I will download everything from that album. And once it’s in the album, then I can pick another album, and I can do that, and then I go up, and I make a new folder. I highlight the files that came from that album, and I make a new folder and rename it on the hard drive. And that seems to save me some time. Is there a better way to do that?
With PhotoSync, you have two apps: you have the phone, the app on the phone, and you have the app on the Mac. The app on the Mac, one of their preferences, is Receive. You set up your folder there, name it what you want, place wherever you want. You can put it in photos if you want, which I don’t want to, I’ll keep it myself. So I set up a custom folder there, and then when you go on the phone and select your images, and you press Sync, and you select, in my case, I choose the Mac Pro, it automatically sends them to the folder that I set up. So that’s the way it works.
Awesome. Are you using an application like Hedge?
I love Hedge. I don’t use it for the cards as much, but I use it for like, I have my RAIDs, and I want to empty my two RAIDs, so I set up two separate 8TB hard drives in Hedge, and I take the files and grab a bunch of files, put them in the left-hand pane, get my two 8TB drives on the right-hand pane. And then I just take all those files and put them in both places at once, and I love that.
Yeah, absolutely. I use it all the time. It helps keep me organized. Well, Richard, I’m sure I’ll see you. We’ll probably both end up at either BEA or NAB or both, I hope. And then I’ll see you again at Cupertino, and we will be talking. I love coming on your show. You’re very gracious to invite me, and it’s always fun talking to everybody. So tell people before we go about your two shows and where they can go to listen in and see it.
Well, if you want to listen to the audio podcast, Final Cut Pro Radio, you can go to your favorite podcast aggregator, it’s in iTunes, just search for Final Cut Pro Radio. And on the web fcpradio.com and of course on YouTube, Twitter, Periscope TV, and Facebook, I’m RichardTaylorTV, all one word.
That’s wonderful. Richard, thank you for your time. And I want to thank Larry O’Connor and all the wonderful folks at OWC, which is Other World Computing for sponsoring OWC Radio and giving me the chance to talk to wonderful people like Richard. And remember everybody what I tell you every week, get up off your chair and go do something wonderful today. Okay, thank you, Richard. Have a wonderful day, and we’ll talk again very soon.
- Richard Taylor
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- Final Cut Pro Radio
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- Digital Production BuZZ
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- Explore the world of podcasting. Tune into various podcasts or create your own show to share your thoughts and ideas with potential clients.
- Learn more about mixing audio. It is an artform that, when used correctly, can transform the way you play music, convey your message, or tell your story.
- Monitor your voice modulation. Make sure you pronounce words clearly so people can clearly understand what you’re saying.
- If you’re with a guest, be conversational. You don’t necessarily need a full script, but having a topic outline is handy to avoid dead air and awkward transitions.
- Don’t forget about audio editing. Make sure to put your audio through post-production to ensure the best quality for publication.
- Respect NDAs when airing or promoting something to the public. If your client or guest requests you edit out something, make sure that is honored.
- Be careful with copyrighted content. Make sure to stay safe from legal issues by creating your own original content throughout.
- Be meticulous with production. Stop the mentality of fixing things in post to avoid wasting time and resources.
- Sound test before starting. Double-check equipment, batteries, and connections before pressing the record button.
- Check out the Neumann TLM 102 and 103 large-diaphragm condenser microphones for crisper, clearer audio quality.
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