College of Production round up: podcasts, dual screens and sound quality

Content Producer

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The BBC College of Production (CoP) website is a free online learning resource for the radio, television and online production communities offering videos, podcasts and articles from broadcasting innovators and experts.

The podcast is a staple of many websites, in fact, it’s one of the most popular weekly features for the College of Production. Bringing niche audio content to niche audiences on multiple platforms and devices, podcasts can bring an audience closer to your content in very immediate ways.

But what exactly is it that makes a podcast a podcast? Much like the hugely successful Gogglebox, where TV viewers watch TV viewers watching TV, we recorded a podcast to investigate the secret art of podcasting.

The market is huge and tricky to crack – as one guest pointed out, "They've got the whole of the internet to play with so if they're listening to you then you're really very lucky." So what do podcasts really offer content producers, and does a format that allows fans to subscribe and download audio onto their portable device somehow change or influence the way a podcast episode is put together? We offer some suggestions.


Stargazing Live

As programmes like Stargazing Live, Doctor Who and Sherlock have shown, it’s no longer enough to just have an idea for a single screen. Making your show shine on screen today means you have to make it bigger than its original concept.

Now apps, social media and games can help producers connect with audiences in different and deeper ways and ultimately make their programme stand out. A programme’s success owes much to the producers who think beyond the small screen, using multiplatform elements to initiate, build or improve their content and make their shows bigger.

In this article, we discussed how the success of your content owes much to being able to connect linear, digital and real world experiences - more ‘built in’ not ‘bolt on’ – and in a truly multiplatform and multi device world, being able to move an audience from one screen to another.

You might watch Strictly on your tablet or Sherlock on your PC, but viewing online rather than on TV doesn't mean the sound quality should be any less than you'd expect from a show with high production values. Sound is a massive issue for audiences. It’s a huge bug bear for sound engineers, and the single biggest topic of viewer complaints. With more broadcasters, channels and production houses offering a vast array of programmes across different platforms, it can all add up to a very disconcerting audience experience.

But this is all due to change, as new guidelines are being introduced which mean that all programme sound should be mixed to the same standard. And the BBC Academy will be presenting a series of events around the UK to raise awareness of these issues in a series of events for BBC staff, indies, freelancers and external suppliers. We’ll be covering events on our site, including a podcast with sound mixers and audio specialists, so watch this space for further updates.

Finally, we closed a very busy year with a very hot topic, using our regular Twitter Q&A to discuss working for free.

Community media volunteering, internships, work experience – whether paid or unpaid, they can all help you get your foot in the door. But if you’re just starting out, how do you make sure you’re being useful and being fairly treated?

Lively and contentious questions were fielded on Twitter, with answers supplied live by Bectu, BBC HR as well as recruitment and talent managers from the BBC Academy. As always, we used Storify to record the conversation, tips and helpful links – a really great example of how the power of social media can be harnessed to share experience across the industry.

Denise Roach is Content Producer, BBC College of Production

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