Want to Look & Sound Like You’re the Host of Your Own Late Night TV Show?

Audio Engineer Paul Klimson will get you looking & sounding like you just stepped off the red carpet. When he wasn’t running sound for Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake, The Roots, or Drake, Paul mixed audio for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. These are his tips for nailing any presentation or content creation project. 

If you want to produce and create content like a pro, it comes down to understanding and mastering these 3 elements: Signal Flow, Reference, and Self Assessment.

Signal flow starts off with your voice and it’s the process of getting it converted from analog speech into digital signal. It’s about capturing what you are saying and getting it to sound its absolute best on the receiving end. It’s all about understanding how your listeners will hear you. I like to think of signal flow as water valves. You’ve got to look for the leaks and where it is all going. Signal flow is all about the gear — your microphone, your interface, your EQ and compression, and whether you’re broadcasting live or the way that you edit in post. Signal flow is the technical aspect that allows you to achieve your creative choices.

Reference has to do with your overall volume and how you sound, how you translate. Is what you are producing at consistent levels with other content in the space? And will it play as you expect out in the world on the platforms that your audience will consume it on? This concept matters. It can’t just sound good on your laptop. It has to sound great on your car, your phone, your headphones. It has to work in the ecosystem. You’ve got to listen to the source and the medium. Reference is about benchmarking yourself and your content against everything else in the space. Reference is about listening to what you produce and then asking yourself — is this something that YOU would listen to? Which leads to Self-Assessment. 

And lastly, Self-Assessment simply means constant learning. It’s the act of constantly sneaking up on perfection. You’ve got to run the game highlights. You’ve got to listen and to see what’s working and what needs refinement. You’ve got to go back and watch and listen to the final product and you must incorporate all forms of feedback. Self-assessment is the process of refinement.

Every Element Needs to Backup The Product

Once you understand signal flow, reference, and self-assessment, the next step is to combine each element and to create a production schedule. A production schedule is imperative for every single project that you undertake going forward — even if you are self producing and you are the only one on your team. The main point of creating a production schedule is to get all of your ideas and goals down ahead of time. This let’s you plan and work backwards.

Start off by asking yourself: WHAT’S MY OUTCOME? If you want to have a great gaming show on Twitch that is super popular with loads of subs, then deconstruct that and ask yourself: WHAT ELEMENTS DO I WANT TO INCLUDE? Well, you need to have the right look. The room needs a vibe. You’ll need the gaming chair. You’ll need the neons. You want to take a page out of the Ready Player One book. Why? Because you need to project that you are a professional gamer and that your audience should listen to you. Your set needs to support the idea that you are an expert — that you have something to say and offer that is unique and novel and that the listeners should pay attention. The setting matters. The details matter. The entire package matters! 

Then finally, you get to here. Once you have all the creative elements in play, you ask yourself how you can take each creative element and break it down into the technical realm. You start with the “Here’s what I want to do” and you convert that into the “And here’s how I achieve it.”

Once you know what you want to achieve, you go dark and practice. You playback and you watch. You refine. Then you decide:

Are you getting closer to the desired end result?

What’s tripping you up?

What element is throwing you off?

Anything that you are striving for but that is tripping you up will do significantly MORE DAMAGE than not having it included. Human beings can detect flaws quickly. On a white wall, we see the hairline crack. If an element in your production is not working — if a turn of phrase makes you stumble — get rid of it. 

You’ve got to build your cockpit of safety. Everything that surrounds you needs to serve you and the production. You organize for control and comfort. You build your bubble. And this is how you create a product that is so seamless — so immersive — that you create the fabric of illusion. People want to watch to be entertained. To learn. To escape. They need the fabric to exist or it breaks the illusion and it’s over.

Paul Klimson brings over twenty highly-credited years of technical experience to the world of pro-audio in the areas of television broadcasts, arena performances, international music festivals, and top-tier special events production.

These tips were extracted from an interview with Paul Klimson during the Earthworks “From The Stage to the Screen” series. This show takes best practices from industry professionals — from your favorite concerts, albums, movies, and productions — and helps streamers, gamers, creators, and business presenters to tell more impactful and meaningful stories. Let us know if you want to see the full collection of tips.

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