How to make Hi-Phi Nation

Cross-posted at Leiter Reports.
The Humanities-writ large initiative at Duke University is responsible for allowing me to work full time this entire academic year to produce the first season of Hi-Phi Nation. I have done nothing but this project, and since it is most likely very different from the daily work flow of professional philosophy, I thought I would share the production process for those interested.

From start to finish, each episode oh Hi-Phi Nation takes about 3 months to complete. I record about 20 hours of raw tape for each 40 minute episode.

Step 1: Read philosophical and other academic work, contact philosophers. Wait for responses for availability.
Step 2: Seek out the subjects of the story; using methods learned in investigative reporting bootcamp; and then contact them.
Step 3: Write out a long list of questions for all subjects, philosophers, and academics.
Step 4: Travel to different location to interview subjects/philosophers, or hire a professional producer to do a tape-sync, or last resort, do a Skype call (quality of audio is everything).
Step 5: Transcribe all interviews with time-stamps every 2min.
Step 6: Take 200 pages of transcriptions/episode, highlight quotable lines. Cut and paste quotables into one document. Code each quotation by theme, topic, and arrange “Tom Cruise-Minority Report” style.
Step 7. Delete all “ums” “uhs” false starts, and gaps in audio clips.
Step 8. Write a script around the story, around the philosophy, and organize the audio around the script.
Step 9: Record. Listen. Rewrite. Rerecord. Listen. Rewrite. Rerecord.
Step 10: Get wife to listen to draft, redo with her notes.
Step 11:. Sit and listen to 20-30 music tracks. Select tracks, mix, cut, and loop for scoring, soundtracking, and soundscaping. Insert into episode at strategic moments of wonder, reflection, curiosity, outrage, etc.
Step 12: Adjust EQs for each voice, adjust loudness meters and compression for whole episode.
Step 13. Go home, bathe toddler, sing her to sleep.
Step 14. Write the show notes for upload by midnight.
Step 15: Repeat x10 for Season 1.
What a mix looks like. This is the opening to Episode 4: Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 8.37.05 AM

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