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Adventures

057: Audio & editing tips for your actual play podcast with David of Reckless Attack

 

Our guest today is David, the player behind Kascorin and one of the podcast editors of Reckless Attack. If you are not familiar with Reckless Attack, it is one of my absolute favorite D&D Actual Play podcasts, and you should definitely go check it out. They are a really good and funny group, and their episodes are typically about an hour long. David is the one who dedicated a lot of time to figuring out the audio setup, and he also dedicated an entire room of his and Sophie’s house to being their recording studio. We get real nerdy in this episode talking about audio setup and editing techniques, so this one is definitely for my fellow podcasters out there and for fans of Reckless Attack, because we get a pretty cool behind-the-scenes look at their production process.

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Time Stamps

  • 00:00:00 Introduction & Updates
  • 00:03:10 David Intro
  • 00:10:34 Starting the podcast
  • 00:12:51 Learning the technical side of the podcast
  • 00:18:25 How the audio equipment & processes evolved
  • 00:29:12 Set-up for recording days
  • 00:35:54 Splitting editing duties between multiple cast members
  • 00:41:04 Sourcing music
  • 00:43:04 Least favorite part of editing an actual play podcast
  • 00:45:30 What has been the most challenging part?
  • 00:48:03 What has been the most rewarding part?
  • 00:49:33 Patron Questions
  • 00:51:25 Upcoming projects and goals
  • 00:53:06 Where can people find you?
  • 00:53:42 Wrap-up

Find David & Reckless Attack:

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Transcript

Courtney:

Hello & Welcome to Episode 57 of Roll Play Grow, the podcast for tabletop entrepreneurs, creators, and fans. I am Courtney Stover of Lightheart Adventures, and in this podcast, we talk to the creators behind the brands in the tabletop roleplay gaming space about who they are and how they are turning their passion for gaming into a career. 

Our guest today is David, the player behind Kascorin and one of the podcast editors of Reckless Attack. If you are not familiar with Reckless Attack, it is one of my absolute favorite D&D Actual Play podcasts, and you should definitely go check it out. They are a really good and funny group, and their episodes are typically about an hour long. David is the one who dedicated a lot of time to figuring out the audio setup, and he also dedicated an entire room of his and Sophie’s house to being their recording studio. We get real nerdy in this episode talking about audio setup and editing techniques, so this one is definitely for my fellow podcasters out there and for fans of Reckless Attack, because we get a pretty cool behind-the-scenes look at their production process. 

If this is your first time tuning in to Roll Play Grow, hello! This podcast is a part of Lightheart Adventures, which is a small company I co-founded with my husband. We also do blogs, one-shots, and maps that you’ll find over on our website, lightheartadventures.com.

Lastly, If you’d like to support the show, you can find me on Patreon at Roll Play Grow and Twitter at either KetraRPG or LightheartAdv. Another way you can support the show is by checking out our affiliate links, like the creator behind the most delicious and nerdy tea, Friday Afternoon Tea. Friday makes some truly amazing blends inspired by so many different books, movies, shows, and more. To learn more about Friday Afternoon Tea and our other affiliates, go to lightheartadventures.com/ourfavoritetrinkets, where you’ll find discount codes for 10% off. 

That’s enough of a preamble for now, so enjoy this talk with David.

Courtney: 

I am super excited, you guys, because now I get to introduce you to David, a player and editor for the D&D 5E podcast Reckless Attack. David, how are you today?

David: 

Great. I’m doing wonderful. It’s great to be talking with you.

Courtney: 

I know it’s weird. I have been like listening to your voice for a very long time now. And we talk on Twitter over text, but like, this is the first time I’ve actually like talking, talking to you.

David: 

I know it’s a, it’s a wild experience. I love it. It’s it’s so cool meeting people that you’ve like heard, like, I am like virtually best friends with you because I listened to your podcast and your interviews, but I’ve never actually spoken with you. So this is a, it’s a good time.

Courtney: 

Cool. Well, David. I would love to know a bit about you, where you’re from and how you got into gaming.

David: 

Yeah. So I live in Chicago, and I have been playing tabletop role-playing games for almost 15 years now? Maybe not quite that long. Definitely 10. But I started out actually at a local game store around here called the Dice Dojo. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. And they were running Pathfinder society games. And so, you know, I heard about them, I think either on, on the internet when I was in college or there was like a flyer somewhere, and I had always wanted to get into Dungeons and Dragons, but like, it wasn’t really a thing in high school for me as much. And so when I saw the poster, I was like, sure, whatever, like, yeah, I’m going to go, it’s going to be a good time. I’m going to learn a little bit and. I show up for my first game. And I think we do like some dungeon crawl or something. And ever since then, I was just like hooked, you know, I was just like, Ooh, the numbers in Pathfinder. Yes. Give me, give me the crunch. Give me the, the splat books and the feats. Yeah, I, I got started playing society and then from there ran games for a couple of years as well, like running Pathfinder Society games at the Dice Dojo. And then, kind of moved to, to home games and have tried out a couple of different systems since then you know, 5e, 4e. My, my favorite one I think is Numenera, which is the built around the Cypher System. So I ran a game of that for a couple of years and then. Played a lot of like Call of Cthulhu. So it’s just been, been all over the place. Yeah. Over the past decade or so.

Courtney: 

Well, honestly, this lets me jump immediately into a patron question, which is.

David: 

Yeah!

Courtney: 

Yes. Is there a TTRPG that you have yet to try, but really want to?

David: 

Ooh. I have actually recently wanted to try Lancer and I don’t know much about it other than there’s mechs in it. And I’m like, hell yeah, mechs ,like I I’m into that. And I, I know there’s like some, some crunch, but honestly, giant robots just sells me pretty hard. So that is, that is the one I think that I would love to try next.

Courtney: 

I have to be honest. I have not heard of that one. What do you know about it?

David: 

Ooh. The only thing that I really know is I think it’s, it’s similar to Shadow Run where the mechs are owned by different corporations. And so when you are building your character, you choose kind of like your main person, and then your class abilities are shaped around the like the license or the corporation that you align yourself with or or that you purchase. And so you can end up, you know, with those different combinations, building some pretty niche, mechs. But honestly, yeah, that’s all I know about it? I’ve just heard it floating around in the, the TTRPG Twitter space for a little bit. And I was just like, man, that’s cool.

Courtney: 

Yeah, that does sound interesting.

David: 

Yeah.

Courtney: 

How often do you get to play that’s not Reckless Attack?

David: 

Ooh, actually. these days like 100% of my time is my gaming is all Reckless Attack, but I will say before the pandemic really got into full swing, I did play a very long Call of Cthulhu campaign with a couple of friends. I, if I, if I’m saying this right, it was the Mask of Nyarlathotep game. And it was, we went for about two years playing Call of Cthulhu with the same character. There would be weeks where I would play Call of Cthulhu on Mondays and then D&D on Thursdays. But yeah, that was kind of my experience. Before that I didn’t really play too many other things outside of like Pathfinder or D&D 5E. Along with the, the Call of Cthulhu game, I was also playing in a very long long running game with Nathan. It wasn’t recorded obviously, but that was sort of the precursor to Reckless Attack. So I’ve been, you know, playing with, with Nathan and the group for quite, quite a long time.

Courtney: 

Yeah, I know I’m tempted to ask, like, how’d you get connected with them and we can do like, maybe a little bit of that, but I also know that you have that available on your podcast. And Nathan kind of talked about it in his interview too, but for the sake of any listeners that are like, what are you talking about, Courtney? How old did you get hooked up with this group?

David: 

Yeah. So I actually met Nathan through my now wife. Nathan had put out a Facebook post saying like, Hey, I’m looking for D&D players. Sophie had seen it and said like, Hey David, like this, this would be kind of fun to do. So Nathan and I got connected and we were chatting for a little bit. And then I kind of like reverse Uno’s Sophie into also playing with us. Cause like, you know, the more people playing Dungeons and Dragons the better. So that was kind of like the start of the group. And from there, I also wrote my brother who I’d been playing with for, for years and years ever since we got started. And then our, our sort of mutual acquaintance, Steve and that sort of like, from that single Facebook post, probably like six years ago now you know, we’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons. I want to say like basically every Monday since then. It’s just been kind of like Monday night is like D&D night and it really hasn’t ever changed.

Courtney: 

That’s awesome. I didn’t realize you guys had been playing that long together.

David: 

Yeah. We, we started out in like Nathan, just cramped, little side room and we would, we would come in and like, there would always be like snacks and drinks and we’d just hang out and have a good time. And since then it has sort of blossomed and evolved into kind of like the game that we have now. We’ve tried a couple of other systems, but for the most part, it’s been fifth edition just because that was the one that was like the most accessible for us. And the most like fill the niche that we really wanted to try.

Courtney: 

yeah. Fair enough.

David: 

Yeah.

Courtney: 

So when the idea of a podcast was first broached, what was your reaction?

David: 

I want to say it was like a very enthusiastic yes. At the, at the beginning, it’s just like, Nathan brought up the, I want to do a podcast. I’m like, hell yeah, let’s do it. And then the gears started turning of like, okay, what do we, what do we actually need to do now that we, we have said yes. I’d always wanted to do kind of, you know, a podcast, maybe something with audio, something creative but had never really been able to do it myself. So it’s funny when Nate, when Nathan wanted to do it, it kind of gave me permission to now like start looking into like, alright, how do we, what are, what are the, like the gear that we need? What is the software that we need? Like, how do we, how do we actually turn this from an idea into something we can put out into the world? So that was really exciting for me. 

I had started out I think it’s mentioned it before, but when we started recording, I just, you know, we just used like an iPhone just to see what it would sound like. And then we went to these kind of like lapel mics, just to see if we could like hook up players to those and see if it would sound any good. It did not. And so from there you know, it was like weeks and weeks of research into like, what microphones do we need? Like given the space that we’re in? what software do we record into? And, you know, that set up has obviously evolved over time into what we have now, but it started out, it just like Nathan’s room. Like his, his side room didn’t have a lot of space. We couldn’t find a good way to connect all of like the mics and their arms and everything onto the table. 

So I just like went to a friend’s house and just took some spare wood. And I was just like, I’m going to screw together this like little, little rig, and we’re going to, we’re going to connect all of the the microphones to that, and just kind of plop it in the middle of the table and see if that works. It ended up working just fine for awhile, but know, we also just didn’t have the middle of the table for anything. Since we’ve started the podcast, the you know, as one of the editors of Reckless Attack, the, the technical side of it has always been really interesting to me. It’s been a really fun learning experience figuring out like, what do we want our podcast to sound like? How do we continually improve? How do I push the boundaries of what we can do production wise? And yeah, that’s kinda my main focus and the thing that I, I really enjoy doing with the podcast.

Courtney: 

So, did you have any experience with this kind of technical side of things beforehand?

David: 

Absolutely not. I had, I had no idea, like, what is the difference between a dynamic and a condenser mic? Like what, what the hell is a decibel? Like, I don’t really know, you know, I had no idea what any of this was. But it just like. When I started looking at it, like it just started drawing me in you know, what like what software do people use? I know a lot of people use Audacity. We use Reaper there’s obviously software out there for the recording that we’re doing. Like Zencaster you know, what are the different options available? And I had researched, like I said before, like, you know, what kind of, what kind of mics work? I know a lot of people use condenser mics, like when, when you are in a kind of treated room and you’re by yourself you can use some really, you know, high tech, really good sounding mics. But we record in a, a live environment, we record all around the table. And So you know, I knew that the really, really good mics: one are very expensive and I needed to buy five of these but would not work for our purposes. And so, yeah, these are like cheap $30 mics, handheld mics that I, I have like positioned optimally around the room so that we can kind of cut down on the crosstalk as we’re all sitting in the same space. Part of the fund was really, you know, we obviously have limited budget, and not everyone’s made of money. So trying to figure out like, what can we do to still sound good without obviously breaking the bank? Yeah, that’s been like, that’s been the, I think the most fun part for me.

Courtney: 

When you normally are recording, you have mics set around the room, but not in front of people or…?

David: 

So they are in front of people. The way that it works is we have you know, we have a, a big table that I found on Facebook marketplace, and then we have these just regular mic arms that are kind of screwed into it. And then from there, the microphones are pointed directly into our mouths. But we’re just kind of spaced around the room in such a way that they don’t overlap with each other.

Courtney: 

Okay. Yeah, that was actually another thing I was wondering about too, is like, okay, when you have a bunch of people in the same room, how do you make sure that there’s no overlap?

David: 

Yeah. The, the biggest thing I want to say is… One, like as much as you can, you know, place the microphones far enough away from each other. So with our mics specifically with dynamic mics, there are angles off to the side where they are the least receptive. And so if you can angle everyone in such a way to, you know, to hit that angle it minimizes the crosstalk. In addition I actually I built a bunch of sound panels in the room, and so we have yeah, the whole wall is basically just covered with foam and the corners have these like acoustic panels that are, are held up in the corners. As part of the research, you know, and even just standing in this room without them in here, it gets pretty echoey just cause it’s a small room and that was something we had to fix. And so I had actually like, you know, I, I ran around to all these different, like thrift stores picking up just like towels and bedsheets and things that I could stuff in them to, to kind of make these sound panels and, and treat the room so that the echo didn’t bounce off the walls and get into the mics.

Courtney: 

That’s honestly something that I need to do for myself

David: 

I’ve got some some good recommendations if you need them. So,

Courtney: 

I’m just like, okay. Sitting here taking notes, thrift stores, towels, blankets. Okay. But what about the foam? So what foam you get?

David: 

So I would say that the best acoustic foam that you can get is not actually like quote unquote studio acoustic foam. It’s actually from this company called Rockwool which is used for soundproofing in walls. And so if you can get it, you know, the right thickness then you can just cover it, hang it up on your walls and you’re good to go. So for those of you who need to soundproof large rooms or large areas of space. I would definitely look into the Rockwool foam.

Courtney: 

I am definitely gonna look into that. If the intent is also a soundproofing, well, I might want to put it on my ceiling because as we record, I am listening to my new neighbor, just stomping around upstairs.

David: 

yeah, I think when my house was built, there was absolutely no insulation put in between the floors. And so if I ever redo the floors I’m going to buy so much of it and just throw it in there. Yeah.

Courtney: 

Just all of the layers of insulation.

David: 

Yes.

Courtney: 

Amazing. Okay. So talk to me about the timeline. If you can remember on I know you started with the iPhone and then you got the lapel mic and then you got the mics and you’re trying to figure all of that out. And you had a little tree in the center of things. So just when in the process of like the series thus far, would you say that changes happened?

David: 

I would say probably, you know, we, we start deciding that we want to do a podcast and then the first couple of iterations happened probably within a month. And then from there, along with the dynamic mics that we have, we also needed to get a… an audio interface that would support XLR input because to my knowledge, at least you can’t really record multiple mics at the same time using USB. And so unfortunately with five people you have the only one that I could find was a eight XLR audio interface. Like it goes from like 1, 2, 4 and then 8. 6. And so from like month, one to three was me just like getting this audio interface and being like, what the hell are all these buttons? what does any of this do? So I like, I would be sitting in, in Nathan side room, just like poking buttons and seeing what happened in, in Reaper when we were recording. And for the longest time, like we would just not get any audio and I wouldn’t understand why. And so like that experimentation took a very long time. And then from there, like once we’ve got our mics and everything is sounding pretty good, we spent probably like a year and a half afterwards and not all of it was just like testing time. A lot of it was also, you know, the pandemic had happened, and we didn’t really want to remote record remotely, so we, we did a lot of waiting. In that time, we also did a lot of like test recordings. Cause it’s not, it’s not really just the, the microphones that you have to worry about. It’s also, you know, in Reaper, in your, your audio editor of choice, if it’s Audacity, if it’s pro tools. What do you do with compression? What do you do with EQ? What do you do with all these plugins and sound effects and things that when you’re starting out, you don’t know anything about like how to make yourself sound good. And so that took probably like within that year and a half, like six to eight months to figure out of me just like playing around and we would do when it was safe you know, test recordings of, of one shots. And I would use that audio to figure out how, you know, how do I clean it up? How do I make us sound good? And then, you know, from there, we, we released our first episode in October of 2021. yeah. I want to say October of 2021, if my, if my timeline is correct.

Courtney: 

Oh, my God.

David: 

I know, right? Yeah. It’s so it’s so weird. And you know, we’ve, we’ve gone through a couple of iterations since then, mostly just with the with the software. I I’m always like trying to you know, rebuild our template, rebuild the, the plugin suite that we’re using to make the, the whole process just faster, easier. I started fiddling with the software probably like a year ago. And I’ve just been, you know, going through that whole, like, what is it? Dunning Kruger cycle where it’s just like, I know everything. I know nothing. I know everything cycle, just like over and over again since then, and I have like, in that process, it’s really cool. Cause I’ve learned so much from people online. Just like people that know so much more than me. I’m like, ah, yes. Give me, give me the knowledge. Give me the morsels of technical prowess that I need.

Courtney: 

Have you been using Reaper the whole time?

David: 

Yeah, we, we made the decision pretty early on to use Reaper. Just because it offered us a lot of customization. I’ve actually I’ve used Audacity once I think. But the big thing with Reaper is just that when you, it has a nondestructive delete. And so when you delete something, it’s, you can undo it very easily. And so, you know, when I’m editing, I’m obviously cutting and adding things back in all the time. And so that functionality was very important to me. But also there’s just a lot, a lot of like hotkeys and automations and, and things that you can do with Reaper that were really helpful for speeding it up. Like, I think episode one of Reckless Attack took me probably like 30 to 35 hours to edit for one hour of audio between just like wanting, you know, A, wanting to get it perfect. But also just like struggling with the software and trying to figure out okay. This is the actual episode. So it’s like, I got to put a lot of effort in to make it sound good. But since then, you know, being able to add more macros and more plugins to streamline the process in Reaper has really made it our tool of choice.

Courtney: 

Okay. Well, I want to dig in to that a little bit more. So like what kind of macros do you have set up? What are the plugins you’ve got?

David: 

Yeah. So starting with the the macros. The big ones I want to say are just something that will just delete the piece of audio that I’m selecting over. And then one that will also do ripple editing. So something that will take, you know, I can select the time selection and then ripple edit, and then merge the two pieces together. So this is mostly useful for when I’m cutting out. “ums” and things like that. You know, there’s like every good editor recognizes a “um,” by the wave form and it haunts us in our sleep. So that’s something that is very helpful with that. The other ones are I have a one that, you know, reduces the the sound of something by like five decibels. And it just makes the like loud breaths, a little bit less harsh. But to be honest, just like the, the two that I use, like always delete and ripple edit are like my go-to. But I will say the thing that I think is really a game changer, especially in Reaper is getting a gaming mouse, which I know it makes no sense, but Having a mouse that has a scroll wheel that also moves side to side for me has been really good. Cause then it’s just like, my hands are never leaving the keyboard or the mouse and I can just move around the, the audio very quickly and I can scroll really easily and nudge left and right. So that really speeds up that process. So get the right hardware to, to, to make your life easier. Other editors, if you haven’t already considered that.

Courtney: 

I have a basic gaming mouse, but like, shoot, maybe I should go fancier.

David: 

Yeah, I honestly it’s like, it’s not even too much. And the time saving that you will get from just like not having to scroll up and down is enormous. Like that. That was, you know, I tell everyone to do that cause like, it’s just, for me, that is a huge game changer. Plugin wise, I have gone from just over-processing our audio where I would run every track through like 15 different plugins to, to clean it up, to compress it, to make it sound a certain way. And now I have realized that like, I didn’t need to do that. And we, we probably only use three to four plugins. For us, the important ones are recomp, which is just like a basic compression plugin. There’s a compression plugin in every tool. I use TDR Nova, which is a dynamic EQ, and then we have a de-plosive cause that’s also still an issue for us. And then we also use Vola 2, which is another compression software. But those two, are the main thing, because for me, at least like the most important thing for your audio is just getting it level, which can be hard, especially if you’re doing remote recording. And it’s hard to adjust that on the fly. You know, we’re all sitting in the same room, so I can just twist the knobs. If someone’s being a little quiet, but having, you know, using compression and then also just in your software, tweaking the knobs so that everyone sounds about the same level is like so vitally important that I, I place a big emphasis on that. 

Recently, like we used to do a lot of EQ. I don’t do a lot of it anymore. Just because I used to think that EQ would make you sound good and it really just makes you sound either less, bad or different. You know, you, you can use EQ, you can get that kind of like podcaster, like that kind of like NPR radio voice, if you, you tweak a certain thing, but really the whole point of EQ is to like filter out room noise or electrical hum. You know, like there’s a lot of tutorials online that will just say like when you’re using EQ like put a, a high pass filter on at a hundred Hertz. And like, that’s just the thing that you do. But for a lot of people, like, you know, you don’t, you don’t really ever consider like, why would I need to do that? And so initially we just put that on and it was fine. But like to my knowledge, at least, the main reason that you’d want to do that is because there’s electrical home around like 50 to 60 Hertz, which. Is a huge problem if you’re using a USB microphone, but we don’t use any of those. And so we don’t have that problem. And so now I don’t, I don’t use a high pass filter. I’ve used less and less EQ as we’ve gone on because I’ve put such a emphasis on making sure that the initial audio sounds good that I really don’t have to do a lot of fixing in post production outside of just like again, the compression. Yeah, we use like just the teensiest bit of EQ and that’s that’s basically it.

Courtney: 

So walk me through the setup for each recording day. What do you do to make sure that everybody’s audio sounds good before you start?

David: 

Luckily because I have sacrificed one of my rooms to the recording gods, and we just have a studio basically. I don’t have to change a lot day to day. We all sit in the same spot. And so that makes it very easy, but I do always you know, check to make sure one, we’re recording, and two that the levels are still good. Like there that they’re all around the same place. Typically, you want to record around like negative 24 to like negative 18 decibels to make sure that there’s enough headroom. Cause we’re, we’re also a pretty dynamic group, you know, we, we laugh a lot and so we want to make sure that that doesn’t end up clipping. So I always, you know, really try to laser focus in on the the levels. Also just making sure that like our air conditioner isn’t running we have a washer and dryer right outside the room. So I like to make sure that those are turned off. Cause like, you know, like I said, or like you can’t really fix that kind of stuff in post very easily. And so, you know, I think the most important thing is just making sure that your recording room is quiet and, and you know, as much as you can get it. Yeah. Other than that, I don’t really do too much. Although, I admit I get on people’s cases when they are not talking into the microphone and they’re like, angled away as we’re playing just cause mic discipline is something that we’re all working on. And so that’s something that I pay attention to, but like, that’s basically it. I want to say, just making sure that our recording environment is as quiet as we can and that all the levels are consistent.

Courtney: 

Yeah, I know I’ve heard, y’all mention mic etiquette in various episodes of Reckless Attack. So I am curious on, you know, is there like a list of things that y’all had to specifically go over at the beginning or that you kind of figured out along the way?

David: 

So for me, at least I’d actually didn’t know what the proximity effect was when you’re recording for a really long time. And so I would always like, basically eat the microphone. Like I would be, you know, less than an inch away from the microphone. Cause I thought that that was the distance that these mics you know, picked up voices that not the case obviously. And so I I’ve had to learn and, and kind of show others like, you know, good distance is probably like three to four inches away from the microphone and you want to stay around there and not move your head too much. Which can be hard for us too, especially as we’re looking at different people around the room and looking at our character sheets and stuff. But that is probably the, biggest thing with mic discipline, at least for us. But we don’t have a lot of like technology and keyboards and like computer fans and things to really worry about. I would say like, if you’re recording remotely, Make sure that you know, goes back to having a quiet room or a quiet setting, but like make sure with your mic etiquette and your discipline that you’re also not like clicking around on keyboards and like introducing more noise than you really need to, into your microphone.

Courtney: 

Yeah, which is sometimes difficult to control when you have guests that are not experienced podcasters. And you’re just like, Ooh, I heard all of that. It’s fine. Atmosphere.

David: 

Yup. Yup. Yup. It’s good. I mean, sometimes it’s like, well, the dog’s going to bark and that’s just great, but honestly, that’s, that’s, that’s ambience.

Courtney: 

And you know, sometimes I can tell like, oh, yep, they’re having tea. There’s a little like spoon stirring.

David: 

Yeah, I, I know people that like, they have to record with a window open cause it’s so hot. And then there’s just like sirens blaring out, you know, outside all the time. It was like what are you going to do about it? You know?

Courtney: 

Yeah, you do what you can

David: 

Yeah, Fix what you can.

Courtney: 

Exactly. As long as I can make my audio sound as best as I possibly can. I think most listeners are understanding and get it, but it’s really interesting to hear, especially with the fact that y’all do have the advantage of being able to sit in the same room and have a dedicated space to it. When did you sacrifice your room to it? Was that like from the very beginning or…?

David: 

Oh yeah, yeah. Basically immediately. Cause I had bought this house, you know, in the middle of the pandemic. Surprisingly, even after a, a year and a half still want to do the podcast, you know, it was like still the thing that we were like, so we’re, or we’re doing it soon. Right. So, it’s funny, even as I was like walking through houses, I was like, that’s the podcast room. That’s going to be it. And luckily Sophie, bless her heart, agreed. And this is, this is, this is not the, the podcast room. It is the hobby room for us,

Courtney: 

Oh, okay.

David: 

though 95% of it is taken up with audio equipment.

Courtney: 

Well, yeah, I was going to ask like, what else happens in this room?

David: 

Oh, yeah. So we have, we have a 3d printer sitting in the corner and then all of our Various power tools, mostly just a drill. And that’s, that’s basically it. That’s all that goes on in this room. Everything else is just like chairs and microphones and sound panels.

Courtney: 

What do you 3d print?

David: 

Recently it has been tiny little feet. I’m just going to let that hang there. But it is feet for my my small, my computer. Cause I need Like little spacers to get it off the ground. Just, just, just make that pause as long as you can in post just, just an hour long, then leave it there.

Courtney: 

Like I almost don’t even want to include the explanation. Amazing. Okay.

David: 

We all, like, I will also just make like dumb Thanos heads. Like, I, I mostly have the 3d printer for the meme. Like, let’s be real. Like, give me those like plastic trinkets all day, every day. That’s that’s what I’m here for.

Courtney: 

Love it. 

Courtney: 

I know that the team does split up editing duties. And so I guess I just want to know a little bit more about that break down. Is it a rotating, a different person per week? Is there stages of it where someone does a first pass and then someone does a final pass? Like how does that work?

David: 

Yeah. So we, we actually spent a long time considering all of those possibilities to make the editing easier. And I’ll start with the end where Nathan edits the interview series that we do Reckless A-Talk. My brother and I edit the main podcast and then Sophie will edit the Patreon content that we, the, the audio that we have for that. But it has taken us a long time to kind of settle into just that arrangement where everyone’s pretty happy with, with what’s going on. Originally I wanted to have like one person would do a first pass and then it would go to someone else to review and then it would go back to the second pass for music and scoring. And then, you know, it would go to two other people for review and it would be this whole, this whole thing to ensure that like, you know, nothing’s missed as we are editing, but. That’s hard. Like, get it like, well, you, you spend a lot of time when you introduce, when you add more people to the editing process of just like, please review my editing and then I’ll have to wait a little bit. So we’ve just settled on one person just owns an episode from like the first pass to you know, the first pass to scoring to, to finally getting it out the door and scheduling. I will say in all of that Steve, our other player titles all of them. So we send them all to Steve to, to get them named. And he does the, the most phenomenal job doing that. So that, that is a part of the editing process that cannot be skipped. Nathan, luckily, you know, he, he is very good about making sure that like the Reckless A-Talk series felt contained and pretty easy to do so it gives my brother and I a lot more time and freedom to focus on just making sure that the podcast is as much of a polished product as we can get it.

Courtney: 

first off shout out to Steve then, because y’all have the best names of your episodes.

David: 

It’s so good. He’s just like what, what a wonderful human being. Yeah.

Courtney: 

I have to say my least favorite part of all of this is naming my episodes. I’m like, I don’t know. They do cool stuff. Can’t I just say that every week?

David: 

I think like our first episode is called Caravans and Crustaceans and if I had to name, it, it would’ve just been like The Kobold Attack or like something just super dumb and uninspiring. So yeah, that, that has, yeah. Right. High five high five, Steve.

Courtney: 

Do you and Jonathan just rotate each week?

David: 

Sophie also bless her heart does project management for us. And so she, she really keeps us on task. But typically we’ll either swap out you know, we’ll do every other episode or you know, if my, if my brother’s busy, then I will take on two episodes. But having both of us editing really gives us a lot of flexibility, one to hit like our weekly podcast deadlines, but also, you know, life happens like sometimes you’re just too busy to edit. And so having a backup person, wherever, you know, gives you, gives you a lot of breathing room for that.

Courtney: 

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

David: 

I know not everyone can have a more than one editor. I know it’s hard. Honestly, like, I will say like for, for people who can not have, who don’t have multiple people editing, like if you were recording remotely, I will say the best thing that you can do for the person who is editing is making sure that your sound is as clean as possible. You know, I think that’s the thing that not, not to like get too preachy or whatever, but that’s the thing I think that would really help. A lot of like other indie podcasters like us is especially with multiple people is making sure that like every track of audio that goes into the podcast is as like independently good as you can make it. So yeah. Help your editors out. Make sure your sound is good.

Courtney: 

please

David: 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Courtney: 

What is your favorite part of editing?

David: 

Ooh.

Courtney: 

If you have a favorite part.

David: 

Yeah, I, so my brother and I are like those weird freaks who actually really enjoy editing. My favorite part is probably scoring it at the end. Even though it was the most time consuming part of the process, it is also for me, like the part Where you can really add the dramatic tension or like the, the feelings behind the people that are podcasting. And I feel like that, you know, with, with sound effects, lets you shape the episode more than anything else. I’ll do like the first pass. I’ll clean out all the ums and make sure that the episode is the length that we want it to be. But then I will probably spend, you know, four times as much time making sure that the music that goes in fits the vibe that I want the episode to have.

Courtney: 

Where do you get music and sound effects from?

David: 

I have briefly tried music libraries like sound Stripe, like epidemic sound. I personally have not had a lot of success with those. And so I will find a lot of just like other music online and then figuring out how to license those. And so, you know, Michael Ghelfi: very good, does a lot of good work if you like, kind of like upbeat high flute kind of sounds. Alex Nakarata is a big one that I use, especially for a lot of like combat and kind of like driving soundscapes you know, go check out his Patreon: he does a lot of really fantastic work there. And then for the rest of it, it’s just like, I literally just Google, like no copyright, whatever music online, and then I’ll, I’ll find something that I think fits. But you know, obviously in that same vein, we’re, we’re always looking for more, for more music. Sound effects– I don’t typically use except for, you know, maybe once or twice throughout the episode. And that’s more of just like a personal taste. I know a lot of other actual plays use sound effects very, very well. For me, I’m just not like a huge fan, so I don’t add a ton of them, but, you know, you can obviously get a lot of those even from just like the humble bundle is a really good resource when they have sales. I get a lot of like my suspense music and like spooky soundtracks from them and, and sound effect bundles. So I would say those, those three places are what we use most often, but again, always looking for more.

Courtney: 

Hadn’t really ever thought of the humble bundle, having that kind of thing,

David: 

Yeah. I use like half. Yeah. I just bought like this spooky sound pack, you know, six months ago and I’ve been using it a ton. It’s it’s really good. They have a lot of like epic orchestral music and, and, you know, stuff that you can find. It’s always on sale. So it’s really nice.

Courtney: 

I asked you what your favorite part of editing is. I would like to know your least favorite part of editing.

David: 

Ooh. Okay. I think my least favorite part of editing would have to be when I have to splice together words or sentences to make them make sense. Because sometimes when we’re recording, it’s all over the place, like we’ll, you know, have someone talk and then something will happen, then we’ll revisit them talking. But in the flow of the episode, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. And so I will have to figure it out, like what, what, what do I move? Or even just like adding transitions in between places like I’ve literally taken the, the, when Nathan says like, so, and I will copy that and put it somewhere else so that it smoothes the transitions a little bit more. Yeah. So, so I think having, because it’s always a little awkward to do to make it sound right. That’s probably my least favorite part, but luckily we don’t have to do it too often.

Courtney: 

I mean, I know that your y’all have been able to manage like cut down the actual time of the session the recording, but it’s still, I imagine, has to be difficult to make it fit under an hour every time.

David: 

Yeah. We do go through a lot of effort to make sure that our episodes are, you know, around an hour, hour and 15 at most just when we’re sitting down and recording. So luckily it’s not too much work, but always good to be considerate to your listener and not give them, you know, a huge, huge chunk of audio.

Courtney: 

I mean, there are many reasons that I love your show. That is one of the reasons I love your show.

David: 

Yup. 45 minutes to an hour. That’s the sweet spot for me at least.

Courtney: 

I mean, it’s been really great. Like I got super behind. And so I’ve been, I take like a 30 minute walk every day at lunchtime to go take Bowser out. And then I have another 45 minutes of like lunchtime. So if I listened to it at 1.25 speed, I can listen to an entire episode on my lunch break and it’s perfect.

David: 

Yeah. I know a lot of people listen to it while they’re doing dishes and I’m like, that’s perfect. I do the same thing. You know, like I will actually even just review, like I’ll, I’ll, you know, export the audio and like, while I’m rolling, like stretching or doing dishes, I’ll be able to listen to it. So it’s really nice.

Courtney: 

Yeah, for sure. Okay. So when you look back over the last, I mean, you guys have been actually going since October, but I know it was a long time before that of getting ready to release your first episode, what would you say has been the most challenging part?

David: 

Oh, that’s a good question. The answer for me specifically is, is, is going to be different from everyone else’s because I had really terrible headphones when I was first editing our first batch of audio. And so I would listen to it on my computer and then it would sound totally different when I listened to it in the car. Cause I wanted to make sure it sounded good. I wanted to make sure it sounded good everywhere and I couldn’t figure out at the time what was happening. And so I was just mixing and mastering our audio in the car using the car stereo. So like, but that is not a challenge that everyone faces. And luckily it’s not something that I deal with today. I would say in, in a more general sense, the most challenging thing would be like figuring out what EQ to use. And I say that because when you are just editing audio in a vacuum, it can be really hard to know, like, does this sound good? Is this easy to listen to over a long period of time? And the thing that really helped me was finding a reference mix and, you know, I would just download another episode of a podcast that I really liked the sound of, and I would play it alongside mine and then tweak the EQ until like, it sounded pretty close. And having that, just other point of comparison, you know, really helped trying to figure out like, what do we, what do we want to sound like? What sounds good to us?

Courtney: 

Going back to the headphones, how long did it take you to replace your headphones so you didn’t have to do it in the car?

David: 

Yeah. Luckily probably about a month, but I, I originally had these like cheap $9 headphones because I, I lose them so often. Like I literally have these headphones and I have a backup pair of the same headphones, so just cause I knew I’m going to lose them. After that experience I was like, boy, it’s going to be really nice not having to sit here in like the cold Chicago, winter and edit. And so, yeah. Yeah. So I got, I got some, some nice, newer headphones pretty quickly after that.

Courtney: 

yeah. Okay. Well, the reverse of that question: when you look back over everything, what would you say has been the most rewarding part?

David: 

I will say the most rewarding part outside of just the learning process has been the people that I have learned this with. There are so many cool people, like, especially in our neck of the TTRPG wood that have been doing this for a long time and are willing to share what they’ve learned. Like that’s the coolest thing about, I think editors is that we, I think as a group, love to geek out about this stuff. And so we’re all like, if anyone has a question, we’re always like, have you tried this? Have you tried that? And you know, here’s some recommendations and, you know, almost without asking, like people will, would love to, to, you know, help you out basically. So meeting, meeting more people like that like just not gonna, no, I am going to name names. Jay from the Planet Arcana podcast, has been incredible and an amazing resource as I’ve been learning this stuff. Ghost of Eli is like an actual professional sound designer. And so they’ve been hugely informative in how I am continuing to improve the Reckless Attack sound and, you know, a bunch of other people in this space have just been so, so helpful. It’s just like, we’re, we’re one Twitter question away and it’s, it’s a, yeah. A lot of knowledge.

Courtney: 

Well, as we start to wrap up, I have a couple more patron questions that there, there were no good segways for these. So this is a segway!

David: 

Hey.

Courtney: 

So we’re going to start with probably my favorite one. What is your favorite condiment that you always have stocked in your fridge?

David: 

my favorite condiment. Ooh. Okay. So I am not like a huge spice person, but I do like a good bit of heat on my food. And so I always have like Tabasco, hot sauce, and I always have that like chili, garlic sauce in my fridge. And it’s like, that is my go-to on my, basically every meal. Cause like I eat the same thing all the time. And like, it’s usually like chicken, vegetable, rice for lunch and dinner. And so I, I need that spice. I need that flavor. So yeah, those two got to have them.

Courtney: 

You put it on your breakfast too?

David: 

Yes, I do.

Courtney: 

You don’t have to be ashamed. There’s no shame.

David: 

I can stop whenever I want to. I just don’t want to.

Courtney: 

If you were to wake up one day and be in the world of Reckless Attack, who would you want to be? Would you want to be your character? Would you want to be someone else?

David: 

no, I would want to be Hottie 100% just because we have a sweet donkey baby child who gets constant love and affection. And I mean, how can you say no to that?

Courtney: 

that’s, that’s pretty good life.

David: 

Yeah. Right. Let me see. Yeah, no, I’m I’m I’m I’m sticking with that answer.

Courtney: 

Okay. Okay, cool. Well, on that note, are there any upcoming projects or goals that you’re working towards, whether they’re related to Reckless Attack or not that you’re excited about?

David: 

So much like the, how to promo document that we have. I am also working on putting together like a, how to audio design document. That just goes over like a lot of the stuff that I’ve talked about today, but is really geared towards other indie podcasters that are just starting out in the space. Because you know, we had Reckless Attack, have a lot of people that are really dedicated and put a lot of effort to this, but like, boy, it’s hard when it just, it’s just one person, you know, trying to do all the scheduling and I’ll be editing and having the worry about having good quality audio on top of that can be really hard. And so I want to put together something that is just like A to Z, if you’re recording in person or recording remotely, like what is good? What are some resources that I really like and you know, what you can do to kind of get to a baseline where you can just be up and running as fast as possible. So that’s something that I’m working on that I’m hopefully it’s going to come out in the next couple months when I get time to write it.

Courtney: 

Okay. Well, I definitely look forward to that. So we’ll keep an eye out and share that once it’s available.

David: 

Yeah, it’ll be, Yeah, I think at this point, you know, it’s going to be like on our Ko-fi, be pay what you want, like the other documents. So looking forward to getting it out there.

Courtney: 

Yeah, for sure. Well David. Thank you so much for coming on today. I have really enjoyed getting to chat with you and nerd out about podcast editing.

David: 

Yeah. It’s been a lot of fun. Thanks for having me on.

Courtney: 

Yeah. If people want to find you, where should they go?

David: 

So I am not actually very much on social media. So I would say check out Reckless Attack. It is reckless underscore attack on Twitter or RecklessAttackPod on Instagram. And if you want to reach me, just ask for me, otherwise it will be Nathan typically responding to that. But yeah, check out our official Twitter and then ask for me if you want to find me.

Courtney: 

Fair enough. I will have those linked in the show notes.

David: 

Perfect.

Courtney: 

David. Thank you for coming on.

David: 

Yeah. Thanks for having me. It’s been a lot of fun.

Thanks for dropping by! We would love to know who would like us to interview, so please drop a comment here on the blog, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Discord to let us know who your favorite creators are! If you’d like access to more maps and content, including downloadable PDFs of our adventures, check out our Maps Patreon or Podcast Patreon. We’re able to do what we do because of all our amazing Patrons!

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