Select Page

As previously discussed in an early blog post, in late October I began a 6 month contract at The Guardian’s Voice Lab, fulfilling the role of editorial lead/audio producer within a 4-person software-focused team (alongside a product lead, a programmer and an UX designer).

Being the final member of the team to arrive, from the day I began we had 8 weeks to devise, create, test and deliver our first product! I’m delighted that right on cue, on December 22nd, ‘Year In Review’, a gamified podcast discovery action for Google Home and Google Assistant launched! 

Play Year In Review by saying to Google Home or Assistant, “Hey Google, talk to Year In Review”.

Check out Jeremy Pennycook’s blog post which goes into more detail around the hypothesis behind the project and what we intend to learn from it.

For me personally, being new to voice, it was a rewarding project to work on as I learned a huge amount in a short time, and it didn’t all end in tears! The scale of the project was ambitious and challenging, involving a considerable level of organisational complexity due to the fact we recorded 8 hours of scripts and created over 90 minutes of final audio across 140+ audio files. Considering the production phase began in earnest during the final 3 weeks, I’m delighted we managed to hit the deadline.

Here’s a gif of the final deliverables in my Ableton sequence. The locator/marker function has never been more important! Although not designed for this kind of work, Ableton was a delight to use throughout.

I’ve learned a great deal about how writing and producing content for voice differs from radio and podcast production, and  I look forward to applying the lessons learned from the discoveries we made on Year In Review, to our next Voice Lab projects. 

Beyond the audio production work, it’s also been fascinating working within a software-focused team where each member brings their own unique set of skills and perspectives. I’ve also really enjoyed the rigor and transparency that comes with the agile design sprints and methodology. Plus, being in the building at The Guardian and getting to understand a little about how the organisation works has been fascinating. As a long time reader of the paper, it’s been a thrill to witness some of the action from the inside! 

If you want to learn more about producing content for voice, check out the weekly Voice Lab blog. 

We Are Europe 2020

I'm very excited to have been asked to be part of the We Are Europe activities for 2020 alongside a number of people whose work I really admire. We Are Europe, the European cooperation project that was launched in 2015  is embarking a new 3-year cycle (2019-2021)...

Best of 2019 List

Having really enjoyed other people's end of year lists, I thought I'd put a list together that runs through some of the discoveries I've made, or moments I've enjoyed in 2019. It's a list of everything from podcasts, to music, to videos. If you find something...

BBC Voice & AI

In October I began working with the team at BBC Voice & AI, helping them with their forthcoming beeb voice assistant. It's been fascinating contributing to this process of shaping the assistant's persona, as the team develop their remarkably ambitious project. The...

The Guardian – Politics Weekly

Off the back of the Guardian Voice Lab project, as well as doing some development work on a forthcoming series due in the autumn, I had the opportunity to produce Politics Weekly for the month of May. Here are a couple of highlight episodes for me, from the four-week...

The Voice Lab – Guardian Briefing

We launched our second project at The Guardian Voice Lab this week! It's a flash briefing that combined human and synthetic voice, which was a lot of fun work on. Working with SSML was a new experience for me, and although working in code was daunting initially, it's...

The Guardian Voice Lab – Articles

One of our responsibilities on The Voice Lab has been to write weekly blog posts about our progress. As Editorial Lead within the team, my posts have approached the meeting point that exists in voice between software developers and editorial/content creators, from the...

The Guardian Voice Lab

At the end of October I was offered a role working on a new initiative from The Guardian developing audio content for Google's Home smart speaker and Google Assistant. Guardian News & Media is pleased to announce the launch of Guardian Voice Lab - an in-house team...

EY’s The Better Question Podcast

Back in August I started working with the gang over at Atomized Studios (part of Freuds PR). They'd begun producing a podcast series for EY entitled The Better Question, which looks to 'answer the better questions that will help CEOs and other senior executives lead...