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A new era of podcasting with This is Distorted 

Content agency This is Distorted "set a new standard of visual podcasting" with a brand new audio and visual studio based around the ATEM Mini Extreme ISO

This is Distorted is a multi-award winning podcast agency. Approaching its tenth anniversary, the agency has celebrated the upcoming milestone by building a one-of-a kind space that is truly unique in Leeds, where the visual component of podcasting has cemented its place alongside audio. 

Director Alex Jungius along with fellow directors Andi Durrant and Nick Riley left the world of mainstream radio to set up the company. “We liked the idea that you could cut out the main broadcaster and create an audience for yourself through audio,” Jungius reveals. “So, we took a leap of faith when we saw an opening in the market for on demand audio, albeit this was before podcasts were as prolific as they are now.”

Their journey began with electronic music, which paved the way for more genres and expanded into speech based content as podcasting further developed. The team now works with artists such as deadmau5 to brands like the NHS and British Airways among many others.

“The first studio space wasn’t designed for the visual aspect of podcasting; we installed video cameras, but it was very much an afterthought of the design. At that time, we didn’t know whether clients would want full length videos or even short clips,” explains Jungius.

The pandemic proved to be the tipping point for This is Distorted alongside the explosive growth of platforms like TikTok. Jungius continues, “More and more of our client base found video important, with TikTok, Instagram and YouTube all pushing short form content into the spotlight. This was the turning point for us and audiovisual podcasting. 

“We remain an audio first agency; I say audio first because audio is definitely where our roots are but it’s become very apparent, especially in the last two or three years, that elements like video, social media and AI are all an important part of the mix.”

The new studio space is built with audiovisual podcasting in mind, drawing on inspiration from set-ups such as Steven Bartlett’s The Diary of a CEO. “It has in a way become the benchmark for audiovisual podcasting, with an approach to video and audio that has captured imaginations across the podcasting world. Our space features a relaxed television-style backdrop based around comfy sofas and exposed brick, creating a truly unique space, with branding wall TVs and colour changeable lighting,” Jungius says. 

Production wise, the studio comprises three Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 cameras connected via HDMI to an ATEM Mini Extreme ISO live production switcher in the control room. “We can operate and control the cameras remotely via the ATEM, removing the need to have camera operators in the room. Audio is recorded separately which also feeds into the ATEM to sync video files,” Jungius explains. 

With space restricted, wall mounted arms lift the cameras off the floor, which can be swung into place, eliminating common trip hazards. This solution also aided the plan to make the set up as subtle as possible. 

Jungius: “What makes any good content is that you want a set or technology to be able to fade into the background. We are often dealing with people that aren’t used to being miked up or on camera. So, we designed the studio accordingly. Once set, the crew can leave and operate the tech remotely from a control room which helps to relax guests and presenters.” 

All camera ISOs and a copy of the live cut are all recorded to a USB-C SSD drive along with a DaVinci Resolve Project file. “Ninety per cent of the time, that live cut is good enough for what we want. If not, we dive into [DaVinci] Resolve and tweak those cuts if it needs more polish,” says Jungius. “We might resort to the ISO files and create a multitrack timeline from there for slightly more complicated shows where it’s a bit start-stop.”

“We wanted an all in one solution and with every need we could anticipate, we were able to find a solution in the Blackmagic workflow whether that was hardware or software. No one else offers that combination,” he concludes. “Now we’re confident with the space we can start to get a bit more creative with the look and feel of the content we’re producing.”