Context: I got to write and host on a class podcast titled The Web We Weave in an episode centering around Tony Zhou’s Every Frame a Painting. This is a reflection on what I learned from this experience.
Preparing for this podcast was definitely one of the more nerve-wracking parts of my life. I felt as if I needed to prove to myself that I was capable of being in charge of such an episode, of being able to take the stage with my voice after hiding behind the written word for so long.
When looking for material to address Every Frame a Painting, I went through first some of the series entries before poking around Vimeo to find every episode of the series uploaded there, before turning to Tony Zhou’s Patreon for EFAP, which offers alternate versions of the episodes for educational use (at a price), and then to Twitter and Reddit, both forums that I used quite often. Showing these different resources to my partner, we both made our own observations. As I watched Zhou interact with his followers and advise them on how to critique the works that had impacted them, I saw how viewer-audience participation worked its way into Zhou’s new media and how it allowed him to continue participating himself despite how long it had been since the series had updated.
I was not initially exceedingly familiar with Every Frame a Painting, nor was my partner Kevin. However, I was familiar with the YouTube scene and personalities like the Nerdwriter, so when we sat down to plan out the episode, we each brought our own impressions on the series and our own contexts (Kevin had previous experience with the Soul Pancake episode of The Web We Weave). Kevin pitched questions to me while I did my best to answer them, and I would then in turn bring up different topics of conversation (such as the Reddit AMA mentioned in the episode and the idea of Tony Zhou perpetuating the participatory culture with his work). Collaboration was more than integral in making this episode what it was. It was also more than reassuring to have someone who was so confident on board and had faith in my work. We worked on applying Every Frame a Painting to the terminology we had covered in class and we put it all into one Google Doc entry.
The document was interesting because it was far more fragmentary and incomplete- when writing for another mode, because it relied much more on my voice and the natural chemistry I had with the co-producer, I found that it was both challenging to not fall back and write out whole monologues or answers to questions without stifling the conversation, and recording became difficult because I found myself worrying that my co-host would feel cramped or cut off. It was difficult to not be overwhelmingly self-aware of everything. This did help my rhetorical composition in the end and I think it’s made me more adaptable than I was before.
The process also felt much faster and immediate than writing, say, this reflection or another blog post or article, which takes me a lot more time. It also felt natural to go faster than with my previous work. While structuring the argument and conversation was both very much the same, it also felt different because I had someone else to bounce off and interact with. In a way, it was like having another person alternating the argument paragraphs- similar arguments that still differed in subtle ways.
I’ve learned that I need to work on my timing- we went over by a lot and editing involved cutting out a lot of material and it was a struggle to finish the episode in time while balancing other obligations. I need to work on my self-confidence as I was exceedingly nervous during the episode, and I think that it is evident that while I eased up as time went along, I still have a long way to go.
But given the chance to work on a similar project? I’d jump at the opportunity.