What I Learned At Blizzcon 2015

MM Content Creation 2015v1

My trip to Blizzcon this year was a celebration of what Spazbot Studios has accomplished in 2015. Creatively it was symbolic journey where I succeeded and failed at a few things. I learned a lot this year.

Now before we begin, I just have to warn you, if you came to this blog hoping to understand the scaling technology changes in World of Warcraft or my opinions on the Cho’Gal virus, then I am sorry to say, you came to the wrong blog! I have entire shows where I talk about that stuff, feel free to check them out.

This Blog is about my experience as a CONTENT CREATOR at Blizzcon 2015! As you may or may not know, I produce two podcasts centered on Blizzard Properties. The Starting Zone, A World of Warcraft Podcast for New Players and Stormcast, A Heroes of the Storm Podcast! We produce four shows at Spazbot Studios, so half of our content is about Blizzard Entertainment Games. Probably 80% of total Audience tunes into both of those shows. They are the bread and butter of Spazbot Studios at the moment, so I wanted to try and produce some special content at Blizzcon this year.

I sought to build off of last year’s success of interviewing community members and players and cutting those experiences into a special presentation from Blizzcon. We also set out to interview members of the developer teams for each game to provide additional insight and information to our players. Last but not least, we experimented with Video and shot a lot of VLOG style content that we plan to release in a bit of a VIDEO review of our experience at Blizzcon. Needless to say, this took a lot of work!

Here was my work schedule for the week!

  • Thursday 11am – 8pm (8 Hours)
  • Friday 7am – 8pm (13 Hours)
  • Saturday 7am – 8:30pm (13.5 Hours)
  • 16 Interviews , 2 Podcast Records (while at Blizzcon) and 3 Booked Special Appearances

Did I have fun working this hard? Of course I had fun! I was covering Video Games for crying out loud! But when you attend an event like the Heroes of the Storm World Championships as a member of the Press, it is a work assignment not an exercise in leisure. Was it worth it? Yes, the content we released from Blizzcon was very well received and some of our highest downloaded content of the year. Sometimes joy can spring forth from hard work. However, Blizzcon was a huge PROJECT this year, and less of a fun fanboy ride through nerdvana. Quite Frankly, I struggle with that, more on that a later.

So, what worked? How was I able to pull this off as a SOLO Content Creator attending this Massive Convention with a Ton of Moving Parts? Well, here are a few things that really worked out from a stand point and some of the things that I found really important for the work we do!

First, Create Stream Lined Communication Tools! There were seven other people besides myself at Blizzcon associated with Spazbot Studios! So, prior to the event we made sure everyone had each other’s mobile phone numbers AND we set up a Specific Channel in SLACK where people could provide updates and engage with each other. What is SLACK? We will cover that in a future post! Now, I also WORK for another show called Convert to Raid, and we choose to set up a TWITTER DM conversation to keep tabs on each other during the event. This REALLY helps when you are working with a TEAM because it gives you a single place to check and reduces the amount of ‘things’ or ‘apps’ you have to monitor. Now eventually we had a little communication spread, but for the most part it worked out really well.

Second, I had a Pre-Scheduled almost everything! When interviewing people at a DISTRACTION FACTORY like Blizzcon you will not succeed if your plan is to work out a schedule AT the event. That has to be done prior to getting boots on the ground. Prior to Blizzcon I had lined up times with every guest and Spazbot Studios team member. Knowing these times also helped my team when we had events throw off the schedule. For example, the Heroes of the Storm Championships were delayed three hours, and so I was left to line up NEW times for interviews on Saturday, but it was easy to make that happen as the guests also knew their schedules were impacted as well.

Third, I invested in the Right Equipment, and more importantly I was familiar with the equipment! This year I made the wise investment in a Zoom H5, a Digital Recording Device that can function like a Microphone and capture high quality audio! This coupled with Auphonic Audio Software allows me to really streamline the process of setting up an interview. I simply meet the guest, break out the Recorder, hit record and interview them like any other press person. Then when we are done I scrub the audio to adjust levels and clean it up with Auphonic, super-duper easy. Casey Neistat has a great VLOG where he talks about GEAR and how you want to hit a sweet spot with gear. You want it to produce GOOD quality, but also be fairly easy to use. When you run and gun like I do, it is important to find that sweet spot.

Fourth, I put myself in situations where I could engage our community on a frequent basis! This was super important, because as busy as I was, I needed to strategically put myself into places where I would get an opportunity to meet and connect with players and folks who support our shows!

These four things helped me a lot at the event, and made it a success. However, I am incredibly self-critical so I did a fair amount of reflection what worked and what did not! So, let’s examine the mistakes I made!

MM - Quote #1 2015v1

First, I Over-Booked myself leaving little time for social interation! This was a bad thing. I had a several people tweet or message me who said they listened to the show, and saw me at Blizzcon, but did not want to bother me because I looked too busy. They were right, I was too busy. I should have had more time to just BE with people, not WORK with people. So, next event I have to really be conscious of how I utilize my time. Perhaps, if I can be self-effacing, my own deep ridden social anxiety made me sub-consciously create a scenario where I had to do LITTLE interaction. That is something for me and the therapist to work out. More than likely, I just over-scheduled.

Second, I did Not have any time to edit! I barely had time to ingest files, and get them scrubbed through Auphonic. This was a good step for me to do at the end of each day. However, if I had some time set aside to actually do some minor editing, I probably could have delivered the content quicker. This was disappointing, and I was left using my Post Con Recovery day to work on Edits.

Third, The Video Stuff was not well planned! I really wanted to do some more structured Video Content, but in the end the idea (while good) was thrown together with too little thought and not enough intention. But after talking with a few other content creators, I realized what it would really take on my part to pursue doing Video Content the right way. So, I did end up getting some valuable information once I realized I had dropped the ball a bit.

So, what would I change leading into next year’s Blizzcon should I be fortunate enough to attend? First, I would hire a staff. This feels like a big priority to me. As I walked away I realized that a Production Coordinator and an Audio / Visual Professional would have been a REALLY big help for me while I was there. There were a lot of tasks that I would want to hand off to someone else.

The one change I would probably make to our content would be to focus on doing a single recording of the shows at Blizzcon vs doing dozens of interviews with different people. If we do interviews again, I think I would prefer to do Video for those and then shift the PODCAST format to a live show, if I can negotiate the right time and space. I would really like to be able to sit down and record a show in front of a live audience next year. Hopefully that opportunity will come our way!

The Entire Experience was Terrific I cannot complain about the results too much, and I walked away with some valuable lessons in the end! I This is really important to point out. As a Content Creator we can often fool ourselves into thinking we will one day arrive at this place where we have all the answers and can avoid the pit falls in our quest to create great content. However, that in the end is a fool’s dream. There is no finish line, there is just a journey of discovery.

I would love to hear your thoughts! What event did you cover that you felt was a success or failure? Please, share in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter! Let’s talk about it.

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