Stepping into the Adventurous World of Podcasting with “Dungeons & Daddies”
How Freddie Wong gets his podcast on.
by Nakiesha Koss
posted on 06-01-2020
Henry Oak stands atop a tall tower, prepared to defend his son against the evil sheriff and his cadre of menacing soldiers. As the enemies close in, Henry decides his only option is to strike back. He stands tall, takes a deep breath… and rolls the dice. 21—a solid hit. Just another day in the adventures of the Dungeons & Daddies podcast.
Dungeons & Daddies is a comedic podcast featuring Freddie Wong and four talented collaborators—Matt Arnold, Will Campos, Beth May, and Anthony Burch—as they play the classic storytelling and adventure game, Dungeons & Dragons. In Dungeons & Dragons, players create original characters and act out adventures under the guidance of a DM, or dungeon master, who introduces new story beats and challenges for the players to overcome. While the story itself is largely improvised, dice add the element of chance to any interaction. A lucky roll of the dice can mean the difference between escaping from guards or getting trapped in a damp dungeon.
Freddie is no stranger to digital entertainment. He co-founded RocketJump in 2010 as an independent production studio that blends action, comedy, and special effects into short films and episodic series for web and television.
Dungeons & Daddies was born from a conversation between Freddie and Anthony one fateful Father’s Day. “We were joking about how stereotypical father archetypes aligned with classical Dungeons & Dragons character archetypes,” explains Freddie. “Like druids in Dungeons & Dragons get their spiritual power from nature, so they’re the Birkenstock-wearing hippie dads. We thought it would be funny to turn this idea into a podcast, and Dungeons & Daddies was born.”
Image source: Freddie Wong.
Fantasy, adventure, and dad jokes
While Freddie worked on podcasts before, Dungeons & Daddies was his first experience with a narrative-driven podcast format.
“Doing a podcast like Dungeons & Daddies reminds me of classic audio dramas,” he says. “You can tell amazing stories by relying on your audience’s imagination to fill in the holes. Like we can mention hugging a distraught dragon or defeating an enemy with a wave of apple juice, and whatever our audience imagines is going to be way funnier than anything we could pull off on film.”
Freddie was also excited to take advantage of the immediacy of the podcast format to deliver regular stories to audiences for little time and effort. On a typical RocketJump video, the team may spend days creating eye-catching special effects in Adobe After Effects and editing together footage from multiple cameras to create the perfect take in Adobe Premiere Pro. When editing Dungeons & Daddies, Freddie turns to another Adobe Creative Cloud solution: Adobe Audition. In just four to eight hours, he can deliver a fully polished podcast episode ready for audiences.
“In many ways, podcasts demand a lot less from you—less money, time, equipment, and production,” says Freddie. “But it also means that I can spend more time really paying attention to creating a story through sound. I have a lot of fun using Adobe Audition to expand the audio palette and design a sound that makes the show a joy to listen to.”
On a quest for fantastic podcast sound
Each of the five Dungeons & Daddies cohosts records their audio on a separate condenser mic. Having separate feeds makes it easier to adjust the sound for each character. Since Dungeons & Dragons is inherently a collaborative, conversational game, one of the biggest editing headaches is working around crosstalk that occurs when speech or other sounds are amplified across multiple mics.
“The key to making a podcast sound good is to lose crosstalk,” says Freddie. “We use a noise gate to stamp down reverb. We also add a basic EQ curve to each feed to keep it flat and lose some of that excess noise.”
After the COVID-19 pandemic prompted stay-at-home orders, the Dungeons & Daddies podcast switched to video chat, with each cohost recording their own audio feed. While recording separately eliminates crosstalk, it creates new problems as Freddie needs to spend more time adjusting the timing of each feed.
“I might shift the timing of when people speak so that people aren’t overlapping, or I’ll make sure that everyone’s laughter lines up,” he says. “The idea is to make the listening experience as smooth as possible.”
Freddie does all editing, including adjusting the dialogue feeds and adding music or sound effects, through Adobe Audition.
“Adobe Audition is just so much faster and easier than anything I’ve used previously,” says Freddie. “I can pop into the spectral frequency display to correct vocal tics such as plosives and clicks incredibly quickly. The built-in Declipper works better than many other tools I’ve tried to fix clipped audio.”
Getting started with podcasting
For Freddie, the biggest mistake that many podcasters make is trying to shoehorn their concepts into the podcast format. “Anything creative needs to start with the idea,” he explains. “Then you need to figure out the best way to get the idea out there. Maybe it’ll work better as a film or a short series. For Dungeons & Daddies, it just made sense as a podcast. But we’d also love to see how it would work as a live show reacting to an audience. There’s a lot we can do with Dungeons & Daddies, and we can’t wait to see where this story takes us.”
Watch the replay of the Tips + Tricks Tuesday interview with Freddie and get access to Valentina’s tutorial guide and more.
Topics: Video & Audio, Media & Entertainment
Products: Audition, Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud