Process process process

If you’ve ever wondered about what the process to create the Movers Mindset podcast looks like behind the scenes, well, here have this. But, “Craig, how do you…” also comes up enough in the spaces where I volunteer helping people to learn to podcast, and that what’s prompting my hitting the 'ol keyboard today.

Lay of the land

Project management:
We use basecamp.com to manage Movers Mindset.

External email:
We use Frontapp.com to send/receive our @moversmindset.com email. This allows multiple people to work together while communicating with our guests.

Outside entities:
We use Rev.com for transcription and barevalue.com (formerly Podcast Press) to do our audio editing. So there are steps below where we have stuff going “out” and then coming “back” from outside vendors. Weeeeeee, complexity! :)

Files:
Basecamp includes cloud-based storage. We upload/download a TON of files – often several gigabytes for a single episode. We have a long-term storage process in place with our own physically local file server. (Yes, it is backed up too.)

Team communication:
We only communicate within Basecamp. It has message-board-like tools, and instant-messaging-like tools. This allows us to keep our lives sane. We generally turn OFF the notifications and emails from Basecamp (desktop and mobile apps), and we’re mature enough to manage each other’s expectations.

Documentation/Business knowledge:
We have documentation for everything that matters. That’s all stored in Basecamp in a Team that we’re all members of.

Project life-cycle

Pre-dawn:
We have an enormous list of people where we “incubate” ideas for episodes of the podcast. There are notes there, some bio material, etc… We have endless hours of conversations about who, what, when, where, how, etc…

Sunrise:
We’re serious about this opportunity. We think we can get a conversation with Person X. We create a new project in Basecamp. We assign a serial number at this point. This is not an episode number. It’s just a number, like “R104” — “R” for “recording project”. (Sometimes, a single R-project generates multiple podcast episodes.) The new project is created from a template (Basecamp feature.) In each R-project we then have a place to discuss transportation and logistics store our files, etc. We record in-person, for more on that see, Evolution of my field recording kit – Craig Constantine

Pre-production:
Anything which we do before the magical moment in time that we press RECORD. There is a lot. (more below)

Production:
Conspicuously missing is everything between RECORD and STOP. :)

Post-production:
Everything we do after the sad moment when we have to press STOP. There’s a lot (more below)

Sunset:
We’ve completed everything. We copy everything we want/need out of the Basecamp project, storing it on our file server (sometimes we call this “stick it in cold storage”.) And then we DELETE THE PROJECT. (There’s 30-day WAITNOINEEDTHAT window that we can still get to it in the Trash.)

Workflow

We’re currently a lean, mean, two-person team. Over the years, as we’ve been larger, (or originally smaller/just-me!) we’ve changed this list. The things don’t change, so much as we reorganize it to reflect our workflow.

There are 3 sections: “Melissa”, “Post-production”, and “Craig”. This reflects the reality that most of the before-RECORD work is done by Melissa. Most of the after the podcast-is-published work is done by me (Craig). And the middle list is a mish-mash where we have to work in concert as there’s a lot of juggling. Roughly though, Melissa cranks through most of her steps before RECORD, but some happen after STOP as well. Conversely, most of my work is after STOP, but some is before RECORD.

There’s an enormous amount of documentation that nowhere to be seen on this list. (For example, a many-pages document reminding me how to pull all the levers correctly in Wordpress, which is a deceptively simple looking “publish” todo below.)

The template

Here’s a tiny-type screenshot so you can see the layout of the entire thing.

I’ll do a screenshot of each section, and a brain dump for every todo. Good luck.


Pre-interview prep

  • Guest’s To-do item… — Recall the incubation list I mentioned about? We bring the guest’s information into the project. Right into this very list you’re looking at. As the project goes on, we’ll expand/etc/etc that guest info. I’ll use that when preparing for the recording session.
  • Write one… — Guest introductions. I record an intro for each episode where I introduce the guest, and summarize the episode. This is the intro being drafted. We involve the guest, and I read it to them at the session—but we don’t read it “into” the actual recording. This step involves lots of work; writing, emailing, conversations… lots of work.
  • Print-to-PDF… — This gets marked-done soon after we press STOP.

This is a great spot to explain the “1 assets” folder. In our Basecamp template, we have 5 folders. You’ll see them throughout this list. The leading number ensures they sort in a way that is closer to the order we’re working in them during a project’s life-cycle. So that third step above reminds us to capture all that work about the guest into a PDF. When this project is trashed, we only save to cold-storage the contents from Files.


Scheduling

  • …a specific — There is often much rejoicing when we can say “scheduled!” Logistics are crazy-hard for us since we record in-person. Planes, trains, autos… sometimes years of waiting and trying . . .
  • create event… — reminds us to put in on the calendar. This makes it pop up (including in our personal calendar tools that follow the Basecamp software calendar feed)
  • Harvest all… — Everything in the Basecamp project will be trashed, so go through and make sure we update our contact information.

Not mentioned in here is how we actually plan the logistics—we’ll do that in Basecamp’s Messages tool (think threaded discussion topics) within this project.


Interview follow-up

  • Photography — A stale-worded todo. We don’t take photos at the recording, but we use this todo to remind to get usable photography from the guest. This step is often exceedingly difficult.
  • 250x250… — Create a 250-pixel-square— but we also do higher res, and they get watermarked and much more… but just one tiny todo in this list.
  • Forum invite — sometime closer to their podcast coming out (can be months after we record) we directly invite them to this Forum—the forum’s free, but it’s more fun if they join and then see themselves appear with a podcast topic
  • guest in advance — …and we continue communicating after STOP too.

Post-production

  • assign episode number — We often juggle release ordering based on any number of reasons. We rename the Basecamp projects in a way that they sort by episode number, above the more not-yet-real R-projects. That way the “next-most” stuff is at the top of our Basecamp projects listings.
  • ep introduction — This gets written after STOP. HUGE amounts of work and skill go in here. But the results go into one file in the 4 folder
  • intro recorded — I make any adjustments to that intro, adding material of my own, etc. and I record that.
  • sent out — All the various files (intro, music bumpers, the tracks of voices, etc) and assembly/editing instructions get sent through the vendor’s submission system. Money changes hands here.
  • …received — woohoo! This might the finished actual podcast file.
  • reviewed and approved — this item…
  • show notes — and this one get done together, but it’s two different kinds of work. We verify that we like what they did and craft our penultimate finished show notes. We may sometimes (1 out of 10 maybe?) request a change from the audio vendor. We’re always storing the vendor’s mp3 files in the Files area in the project. “DRAFT” “DRAFT2” etc.
  • approved — not just “yes this is done” but all the meta-data gets added to the mp3 file, we add chapter marks, image, verify the loudness is right, and then upload a “FINAL” into the 3episode folder. THIS is the actual podcast.
  • transcript — which then gets sent to Rev.com for human transcription and time coding. More money changes hands.
  • processing — oh, this is wacky, sorry. We edit their transcript. Partly to make it better. Partly to fill in domain knowledge—sometimes the transcriptionists just can’t figure out what was said, but know. We also add some extra markings that come into play below.

Immediately post recording

  • source files — remember, two people working on some stuff before, some after, some together… so we’ve just rewound in time from what we were reading. ASAP after STOP… get them files uploaded! This is often gigabytes of data.
  • File share — it’s time to create this R-project’s home on the file share. The permanent home has the date we record in the folder name. So we don’t start the cold-storage folder until a) we have that date (ie we pressed STOP) and b) we have original recordings to preserve.) For more on this, see Some thoughts on file organization – Craig Constantine
  • ep/ — Tweaking Basecamp project for sorting. At this todo, we’d not yet have assigned it an actual episode number.

Followup

Lest I forget! :)


Publishing

  • video — If we have it—we don’t. (In season 4 we were experimenting with virtual calls. No.)
  • data visualization — This is something I’m still building. But you can see the first iteration here, "3 words…" visualized
  • Wordpress — Movers Mindset is self-hosted. Press the buttons to make a Wordpress post that will add to our podcast RSS feed. Podcasts and good old RSS – Craig Constantine
  • public and transcript — We create two topics here in the Forum. The full transcript goes into #Archives and one in #public for the podcast’s episode notes. Above I mentioned we edit the transcripts. By inserting some surgical commentary into the transcript, and some careful Markdown design of our episode notes… I have code that mostly writes the two enormous topics for me.
  • audio player — Once the Wordpress post goes live I can drop in an iFrame to embed the audio player in the public Forum topic.
  • review — I often check my work not-the-same-day. Thus a todo.
  • EP<nn> Pub — This acts as a milestone. As soon as we know what episode number this is going to be, we decide on its publication date— and we put a due-date on this ONE todo in the entire sea of todos. That makes it appear on our calendars as the drop-dead date for all things related to EP42 or EP100 or whatever.

Speaking of which, if you want to see what all of this topics and transcripts and players and stuff looks like, check out Craig Constantine: Experience, pruning, and benefit


Project clean-up

  • copy — Basecamp has an export for the entire Files section.
  • correct ep number — a silly detail that sometimes ends up wrong in cold-storage if we juggle episode release at the last moment.
  • delete — Literally. Cold storage. Ba-bye.
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