In mid 2018, the founder of LambdaGeneration (A long running Half-Life community website run by community members) came in contact with me after noticing my work on one of my other projects called Glorious Rigby.
Being impressed with my editing techniques and with my writing/voice-over production he wanted me to produce a pilot episode for what would essentially become a new video series to revitalize the stagnant YouTube channel they were managing alongside the main website.
Me and LambdaGeneration's founder quickly went to work to develop this new shot concept that ultimately became All Things Lambda as it stands today. The formula hasn't changed much over the years, as it just works.
Pilot - Version 1
This is the first ever episode that was produced for the show. And what you're looking at here is the very first version of this pilot episode. Some changes were made between this version and the version that eventually made it online.
Since this pilot episode, 105* other episodes were produced weekly in the span of two years! Each and every single one improving and fine tuning the formula.
*At the time of writing.
All Things Lambda is produced using almost exclusively Adobe Creative Cloud software. After Effects is used for graphics and animations, Audition is used to edit voice-over work and Premiere Pro is utilized to bring it all together. Subsequently, Photoshop is brought into the mix to create the final thumbnail for online publication.
While the research outline is done by another member of the LambdaGeneration team, deeper research and writing is done by me. Once all the topics for that weeks episode have been gathered, I get to work doing further research on those topics. Once I finish doing that, I get started on the video script.
Voice Recording Process
To record my voice for the voice-over part of the production process I use a Shure SM7B hooked up to a Devine MX-6 mixing board, which is then plugged into a Focusrite Scarlett Solo. It's not the most optimal of setups, but it's what work for me right now. I record my lines in segmented files per line so they're easy to manipulate if I have to.
Once every line is recorded, I put them all together in a multitrack with gaps between when a topic ends and a new one begins. This is so I can later segment the topics easily in Premiere. Once the multitrack is finished and exported, I run it through an app called Levelator as a final pass to make sure all of the voice-over work is leveled correctly.
Video Recording Process
Each episode of All Things Lambda has a live-action intro and outro sequence filmed in my bedroom. I record using a Canon EOS 205D with a Rode Videomic Pro attached on top for audio syncing purposes later. The main audio for the live-action segments is still recorded with the SM7B for clearer, less echoed audio. During the editing process I grab the audio I recorded from my SM7B and the video clip I just shot with it's audiotrack to sync them both up. Then, I remove the audio from the video clip so that only the audio of my SM7B remains.
Video Editing Process
The video editing process is what takes the longest, as I spend as much time as I need to perfect everything. I can keep writing the entire process down here but I think it's a bit more interesting to watch me edit a full episode of All Things Lambda. A while ago I did a livestream where I showed the audience how an episode is edited from start to finish. Check it out down here.
Off course, the video editing process evolves over time. So there might be certain practices in this livestream that aren't used or up to date anymore. Please bare that in mind.
Publishing & Social Media
After the video is finished and encoded by Media Encoder I go right at work on the thumbnail. In the meantime, I let the video get uploaded using YouTube's uploading tools. There's a thumbnail template that I use to make creating these a lot quicker.
The template includes the billboard text, the date text and the LambdaGeneration logo together with a faint, black gradient in the very bottom to make the date stand out a bit better in contrast to the background.
Here's the thumbnail template, stripped of all the custom material.
After the thumbnail is created and the description is written for the episode, it gets published. Afterwards, I promote the publication of the episode on LambdaGeneration's Twitter and Facebook channels. There are strict rules as to how and in what style this can be promoted on those channels. The wording has to be clear and understanding by everyone, and simple enough to be read even by non-English speakers.
One Last Thing...
All Things Lambda has been a very educational journey for me and it taught me how to be very resourceful with the time that I have to produce these episodes. With all the templates that I got and the formula that I got down I'm now able to produce a complete episode within one day.
Not only do I think it helped me with time management, I also think it helped me discover a lot more within Premiere and the other software that I'm using to produce the show as I try out new tricks to make production more efficient or quicker.
Would I do another show like this on the side? Not really. I do feel like I'm creatively a little bit strangled because of the limited amount of time that I got to produce these episodes. Since All Things Lambda is a community news show I can't just start production of an episode too far in advance. I'd have the chance of missing out on a lot of news that might get out in the meantime.
This is why I got Glorious Rigby. A YouTube channel where I can really take some time to produce things that are more creative and challenging to make. You should totally check it out sometime! Unfortunately though, I don't have a lot of time to work on that channel at the moment. But ones I do have time to work on that channel, it feels a lot more freeing and satisfying than working on All Things Lambda.
That being said, All Things Lambda is one of my proudest creations and definitely shows how I can create consistent content with a consistent level of quality. But I think it might be time for something new soon. What that'll be, who knows? But it has to outdo All Things Lambda, that's for sure.
Head Writer, Host & Video Editor
Researcher & Quality Control
Head of LambdaGeneration
2018-2020 LambdaGeneration.com / Mitchel's Workshop. LambdaGeneration and/or Mitchel's Workshop have no affiliation with Valve Corporation. "Half-Life" is owned by Valve Corporation.