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Does your podcast have a certain style? Not a type, like narrative non-fiction, chat-cast, or monologue. And not a genre or topic, like true crime, cryptocurrency, or politics. I mean a style, design, artistic identity, or some other affectation you're striving for with each of your podcast’s episodes.
I recently watched the animated short series Love, Death & Robots—highly recommended—and was struck by the very different styles of animation used in each of those short episodes. Some were hyper-realistic, with 3D characters and landscapes that made me forget that none of it was shot in the real world. Others were more anime, a few went full-on cartoon, and some even chose to re-create a Harryhausen style of stop motion animation.
Which one of those animation styles was better? And by better, I mean which had the more fluid style. If you’ve watched, you know that some of them are nearly lifelike. Others, to my not-an-artist-eye, were far less perfect. Some had very low framerate animation, blocky coloring without any shading, and a lot of backgrounds looked... well, fake.
Yet it’s a pretty safe bet that all of the episodes on L, D & R were rendered on a computer. And if you compared the computers to create those shorts, regardless of “realism”, you’d find quite similar capabilities among the hardware and software.
So if the same or similar systems are used to create the final product, why don’t all animation created on those systems look to be of the same style? And what does this have to do with podcasting?
Yeah, What Does This Have To Do With Podcasting, Evo?
The answer is simple: style.
Podcasting has analogs to lower framerates, limited color palettes, and static backgrounds. But in many cases, podcasts that sound “less better” than others don’t do so on purpose. Chances are if you’re noticing a show that doesn’t sound as good as another, it’s likely a function of scarcity of time or money.
That’s not the case with different animation styles which seem to be of lower quality on L, D & R. I highly doubt the producer of an episode made the choice to not spend the time to make their episode more realistic. They weren’t stuck with a herky-jerky style of motion because they didn’t have the budget to smooth it out.
Nope. It’s 2021, and if you watch a recent animation that replicates the Ray Harryhausen-style claymation, it’s done on purpose. Over half a century ago, Ray had no choice. Today’s animators have choices. And animation artists are making choices based on a style they are trying to adopt.
So I'll ask the question of you again: Does your podcast have a style?
Do you intentionally make design-element choices that make your show unlike most other podcasts, but very much like a few select podcasts that adopt a similar style?
If so, can you name those other shows? Are you communicating with the people behind the podcasts with a similar style as yours? Are you sharing tips and techniques while raising the overall profile of the style of podcasting you and others have affected?
And if you're not, now seems a good time to start. People have “a type”. Many podcast listeners have a preference for style, and we don’t talk about it much in podcasting. At least not nearly as much as we talk about the listening audiences’ content preferences. But I assure you there are people out there whose brains are wired to give them a nice shot of endorphins when they consume a particular style of content. Podcasting included.
And they want more of it. So start collaborating and feed ‘em more!
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I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Podcast Pontifictions is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Links to everything mentioned in today’s episode are in the notes section of your podcast listening app. A written-to-be-read article based on today’s episode is available at PodcastPontifications.com, where you’ll also find a video version and a corrected transcript, both created by Allie Press. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media. Find out more at Simpler.Media.