“Hey Chris, where’s the next Metamor City ep?”
or, Why You Should Never Start A Podcast Without A Backlog
THINGS UNSEEN debuted on the Metamor City Podcast at the beginning of March, with a stated release schedule of one episode every two weeks. At the time, I thought this wouldn’t be a problem: my narration for half of the book was already recorded, I only had one other voice actor to coordinate with (the extremely talented Dawn D. Wood, also known as @phynixism on Twitter), and I already had a well-established library of music and sound effects that had helped to define the Metamor City style. While I had some trepidation about not having a backlog of completed episodes, I thought that we could keep up with a biweekly release schedule.
I was so very, very wrong.
Almost immediately we started having problems. A hard drive failure killed much of the audio that Dawn had already recorded for the podcast. When she re-recorded in February and March — a truly titanic effort for which she deserves huge props — her computer did not inform her that, due to a defective USB port, she was not actually recording through the high-quality microphone in her recording closet, but through her laptop’s internal microphone. Then she switched to another USB port, started over AGAIN, and THIS time the audio cut in and out between the studio mic and the internal mic (again without the OS telling her this was happening). Finally she borrowed someone else’s computer, and she is now re-recording lines for a fourth time.
Meanwhile, I was having problems of my own. Listening to my audio for the podcast, I realized that it was pretty much impossible for me to maintain a consistent voice for David Silverleaf while switching back and forth between David and my narrator lines. Since David’s a major character in the novel and having a distinctive voice for him was important, I had to go back and re-record my lines for David, then splice them into the recording along with Dawn’s lines.
Now, as all of this was going on, we were able to keep on top of things just enough to get the first three episodes out more or less on time … but we were losing ground, and we knew it. Then, when we absolutely could not afford any more delays, we got hit with a triple whammy:
1.) The end-the-marking-period grading rush. Piles upon piles of student work for me to grade.
2.) A long-planned job hunting trip for me and my partner Melanie. We were on the road through all of Spring Break (April 13-19), and while I was hoping to get editing done on the podcast during this trip, that turned out to be a lot harder than I’d anticipated.
3.) On top of everything else, Dawn got hit with a case of food poisoning that knocked her out of commission for about a week. We’re talking serious hospital time here. It was bad.
Week after week slipped by, and while we’ve made headway, it has been slow going. We should be able to get Chapter Three out this month, but it’s clear that we can’t keep going like this. Something needs to change.
After discussing the matter with Dawn, here’s what I’ve decided to do: after Chapter Three is released, we’re putting the podcast on hold while we build up a backlog — not just finished narration, but actual finished episodes. There are a lot of things coming up in the next few months that are going to demand my attention — Balticon, finals, packing, cleaning house, moving to Montana, hunting for a new job — and I’m not convinced that I can keep a consistent schedule with all of that going on. (Especially since we haven’t been able to keep a consistent schedule even WITHOUT those things going on…)
We’ll come back when we have six complete episodes in the can; that will give us a three-month head start on further production. I don’t know exactly how long it will take for us to put those episodes together, but I’m optimistic that we can be back on the air by September. In any case, we won’t start releasing again until those six episodes, Chapters Four through Nine, are done.
I’ll keep you posted here on the status of production, and send you updates at least once a month on how the work is progressing. It kills me to put the show on hold again when we just came back from such a long hiatus, but it’s time I admitted to myself that I jumped the gun and came back before I was ready. If I’m going to release content on a regular schedule, I need to take a page from Abigail Hilton’s playbook and just get the content ready in advance. I think it will be worth it in the long run.