If you’re just trying to get a video podcast off the ground, your first principle should be keeping it as simple as you possibly can.
That starts with the equipment. You can probably use your phone as a camera. If at all possible, set up a single-camera shoot, where everybody who’s speaking fits into the frame. That way, you don’t need to worry about cutting between cameras in post-production.
The important part is to set it and forget it. Get your gear and background set up the way you want it, then never move it, so that when it comes time to record, you just have to sit down and start rolling.
Editing: build in shortcuts
Filming your episodes is just the first step — editing them is a whole other challenge. SP Rupert, host of the audio and video podcast Better Podcasting and 10-year podcast veteran, says editing a video podcast episode takes him 4-5 hours. But it took him around 20 hours when he was first getting started.
Before you start sobbing uncontrollably at that thought, here are a few workarounds.
For one thing, you don’t need to create full video episodes to get the benefit of a video audience. Teenager Therapy doesn’t. Instead, they share the most engaging clips from every episode and tailor them for each social platform.
To save time during editing, Gael keeps his ears open for these moments during the recording process. When he hears a moment that would make a good social clip, he writes down the timestamp to avoid wading through an hour of footage later on.
You also don’t need to polish your video footage as painstakingly as you do your audio. While audio quality is important regardless of whether you’re watching or listening, video can afford to be more raw. For example, SP says that people are generally more forgiving of filler words and stumbled sentences on video because they’re watching it happen. So try to stifle your perfectionism and just publish a few rough clips, then see how your audience reacts.
Edit in one place (guess how)
If you’ve never tried making a video podcast — or you have, and you decided it was just too damn hard — this may be the best moment in history to get started. Recording platforms like Riverside and SquadCast and streaming platforms like Restream have made it easier than ever to capture audio and video all at once, even if you and your co-hosts are a world apart. The proliferation of post-pandemic remote work has led to a bounty of affordable cameras and lighting rigs.
And frankly, you’ve got Descript, which lets you edit both audio and video in the same app. Of course, I work here, so I’m paid to say this, but I’m a creator too, and I can tell you: the ability to edit everything at once, in the transcript, saves massive amounts of time.
If you’re still daunted by video editing, you can even close the video viewer and edit your recording like an audio-only podcast. Of course, this will probably result in a weird-looking video. In audio, your listeners won’t be able to tell where you’ve edited out imperfections. On video, those edits will show up as jarring, erratic-looking jump cuts.
If that happens, you’ve got a few options. You can publish your audio episode, then smooth over the video cuts so they feel more natural (a lot of work). You can add in B-roll so instead of watching the hosts jump around, or just sit there, viewers see footage of whatever the hosts are talking about (a fair amount of work). Or you can let your video editing challenge inform the way you edit audio — maybe it can be a little less polished, a little more natural, with a few more filler words (less work all around).
Cheat to win
If you’ve read this far and are still thinking “no way,” here’s a final thought. Rather than actually making a video version of your podcast, make an audio version you can post on YouTube (h/t to the great Arielle Nissenblatt for that link).
Maybe you’ve thought of this already and rejected the idea, on the theory that nobody wants to stare at a static image of your face or your cover art for 30 minutes while the audio plays. And you’re probably not wrong.
But with some animated captions, maybe a waveform and a progress bar, you’ve got yourself a video. Sort of. It’s definitely enough to get you out there on YouTube and TikTok where all those listeners are. And it will buy you some time to figure out a video workflow that works for you.