Pro Talk: Podcasting with Kevin Le
One of the biggest changes in digital media this past decade has been the rise in podcasting. In 2019, over 90 million people actively listened to podcasts. As more and more podcasts are created, however, one might ask: how can I make my podcast productions stand out amongst the crowd?
In this article we speak with Kevin Le about his video productions and how SlingStudio was able to bring his podcasts to the next level. Le is a content creator in Southern California but his work takes him all over the world. Prior to being a full-time content creator, Kevin spent almost 20 years in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, coach, fitness director, and general manager, helping clients and other professionals reach their goals. Read our interview with Kevin Le below:
SlingStudio: What does your average workload look like? Does anyone help with your productions?
I’m a full-time, one-person production team. I produce between 1-7 productions per week. It’s insane.
SlingStudio: How do you get your gigs? What type of jobs do you take? What pays best versus what do you like to shoot the most?
It’s been predominantly word of mouth, connecting with guests who’ve been on one of my productions or through peers who’ve seen my work.
The podcasts have been great because they’ve brought in steady income and they’re something I have a proven, speedy process for. I get commercial projects, too, and those are great, but being that I’m a solo operator, I limit the amount of projects I take on to ensure my clients get the best of me.
SlingStudio: Do you have a passion project when it comes to videography? What do you like shooting/photographing personally versus what you do for work?
I really like creating podcasts because it’s all about storytelling and doing it effectively. Personally, I really like making short 60-second social videos with music. I feel like a video DJ mixing dope tracks with badass footage I shot.
SlingStudio: Who are some of the notable personalities you’ve worked with?
I have worked with Frank Zane (Former Mr. Olympia), Tony Horton (P90x creator), Tito Ortiz and Cub Swanson (former UFC champions), Kali Muscle and Mike Rashid (social media influencers), and many other well-known icons in the fitness industry.
SlingStudio: You recently worked with Niels Juul, one of the executive producers of The Irishman. How was that experience?
He’s a riot! The guy has such a great sense of humor and the kind of guy you’d love to have a beer with (if you drink). I remember having a hard time holding in the giggles while trying to stay on top of production because the guy had such hilarious stories to share of his life.
SlingStudio: What trends do you see in your line of work? Is there something lots of clients want to do?
Podcasts have been around for a long time, but it seems in recent years, they’ve gotten more and more popular. Brands are realizing they have to start telling stories to keep their customers engaged and this is a great way to do it.
Podcasts give brands a face, a personality, a purpose. Whether you’re a large brand or a personal brand on social media, telling stories is a great way to connect with your audience.
Now… make it into a video where you can recycle it into micro-content, and you have yourself a winner!
SlingStudio: You have done many martial arts and fitness-related productions in gyms and other venues. Any challenges or special preparation for those environments?
The biggest challenge with my mobile production is that you never know what you’re going to run into, so I literally just bring everything (and I mean everything) to deal with the changes in light (even if I set up lighting beforehand), changes in noise if you’re shooting in public spaces, and signal interference (for wireless lavalier microphones).
My biggest suggestion is always show up 90 minutes in advance so that you can scout out your location, set up, check, and then double-check before you go live… and then stay on your toes at all times!
Also, redundancy is king here. Make sure you are recording to the SlingStudio, but also in-camera, and run an external audio recorder like the Zoom H6. This has saved my butt numerous times.
SlingStudio: What was your video production experience before SlingStudio?
Prior to working with SlingStudio, I thought I knew what I was doing, but I had no clue, to be honest. I didn’t know anything about camera settings, lighting, sound, best practices, etc. I literally only knew how to turn on the camera. So when I got SlingStudio, it fast-tracked me to learning about production and what it took to get the professional look and sound that I wanted to deliver.
SlingStudio: How do you prepare for a production?
For the podcasts, I just need to know who, what, where and when. I always make it a point to arrive extra early (90 minutes or so) to scout out my location and meet with the guest to ensure them that I’m going to do my best to make sure they look great and feel comfortable.
SlingStudio: Can you describe any pain points of video production BEFORE you discovered SlingStudio?
The first pain point I can think of BEFORE I discovered the SlingStudio was the fact that I didn’t know that I had to match my cameras during setup. Seriously, I had no clue. I didn’t even know anything about frame rates, aperture, ISO, white balance, or shutter speed. I was completely clueless. I remember the first few episodes I produced — none of the cameras seemed to match up in any way. They all looked different and I didn’t know why.
SlingStudio allowed me to see what each camera was recording in real time. I could immediately see if something didn’t quite look right in one of the cameras or if the audio was clipping or other horribly bad things were happening.
The other key thing was the fact that I had to wait till I got home to my desktop to cut and edit, changing camera angles and stuff. SlingStudio not only gave me the ability to edit live but it also added the auto-switching feature which, for what I do, saves me a ton of time and energy because the program output is recorded and ready to deliver upon completion. Crazy!
Throw in a little color correction, some light color grading, and a couple of minor edits and we’re done!
SlingStudio: What equipment do you use in your productions? What’s in your “kit”?
My kit consists of:
- SlingStudio, of course!
- 3x SlingStudio CameraLinks
- 3x Panasonic G85 cameras with 25mm and 12mm lenses
- iPad Pro
- Zoom H6
- 2x Sennheiser G4 microphones (when I need to go wireless)
- 2x XLR lavalier microphones connected to 25′ cords (preferred method)
- Panasonic Lumix S1H for behind-the-scenes stills and B-roll
- For lighting, I’ve learned to really only use one light: Aputure 120D with the Lightdome MK 2 on a C-stand and boom arm
All the cameras and CameraLinks are powered via a 20,000mAh power bank with 4 USB-A ports and they’re all set on Manfrotto tripods. This makes it easy for me to set up and place the cameras where they need to be without any cords to trip over.
I also use the Colorchecker Passport to match the camera color calibration during production so I don’t have to hassle with it in post.
SlingStudio: What has been feedback from clients and other production folks when you set up SlingStudio on site?
Clients and guests are always blown away when they see the production for the first time. They feel like they’re really important and that this isn’t just some random person with a couple of mics and a camera.
The beauty of SlingStudio is that the guest gets to see how everything looks on the console before we start rolling and they’re completely blown away by how everything is managed on an iPad.
When we wrap, I give the guest a preview of how the episode looked during the episode. The clients are used to it by now so I guess you can say they’re a bit spoiled.
SlingStudio: Do you have any tips or best practices for other entrepreneurs new to video production?
Look… you gotta get out there and just do it! Make the investment in yourself because you believe in yourself. You’re always going to get better if you keep trying.
When it comes to using SlingStudio, get involved in the Facebook group, ask questions, post your work, share your successes and failures. The community is there to lift each other up and provide support. Just keep creating.
SlingStudio: Why would you recommend SlingStudio to others?
SlingStudio is the heart of my production. When people ask me about my gear, the first thing I bring out is the SlingStudio Hub, the CameraLinks and the console app. I show them how amazing it is and they’re instantly ready to get it for themselves….
SlingStudio: What kind of non-SlingStudio upgrades to your entire kit are you looking forward to?
I find myself upgrading my kit on a regular basis. Not because I want the final product to look nicer, but because I believe speed is key.
I want to be light and nimble when it comes to getting in, setting up, doing the shoot, shutting down, and leaving the location nicer than when I arrived.
Limiting my kit to only what could fit into a couple of cases suitable to travel via car or plane is what allows me to be so efficient and speedy for my clients.
SlingStudio: Where do you see your video production business in a couple years?
I’d love to expand to a network. For real. I would love to produce several successful shows where they’re part of a network where we would have sponsors, paid ads, special events, and bigger audiences!
In the meantime, I’m quite happy with where I’m at. I quit my career in fitness because I wanted to have more time raising my little ones with my wife. I didn’t want a career that kept me away from home all the time.
We would like to thank Kevin Le for taking the time to speak with us on how SlingStudio can be the perfect tool for podcasting productions. If you are interested in learning more about Kevin’s productions, follow him on YouTube & Instagram and listen to his podcasts below: