Friday, October 31, 2014

Sound check, check, check. Audiobook time.

I’ve been quiet for a couple good reasons lately. In addition to shooting out a raft of short stories out into the unforgiving world of the slush pile and creeping along with my YA novel, I've been experimenting with audiobook short stories (audioshorts?) by laying down tracks for Small Town Nights.
Here's a sample:

Luckily my buddy Ebony Jones, who has like one of the coolest real life names that I know of, did all the heavy lifting when it came to the directing and sound. I, on the other hand, was just happy to put my old broadcasting skills to use.
But every format has its own quirks, as I found out:
Pick a story that plays to your strengths -- and your limits. If you’re not the sort of person who can make up voices, find a story with only one narrator or a third person omniscient. If you're doing a story with local flavor and your natural accent add ambiance, go for it.  Small Town Nights is an example of that. It was a narrated piece where my Midwestern/Southern accent fits perfectly, once I ham it up.
It’s ten times easier to do straight narration than voices. The real challenge is when you have to come back to the studio the next day and match those same voices again. It’s harder than you think, especially when you the voices in your head are different than the ones come out of your mouth. … Even worse when the voices in your head are telling you to smother peanut butter on your chest. … I’ve had my meds, I promise.
We wasted a good half hour because I was thinking of Sean Connery, when I was really speaking like Deckard Cain. Which is fair, DC is a SC rip-off.
Even if you wrote it, rehearsal is good. Even if the writing is spot on, there’s going to be some hidden tongue twisters in there.
But being your own script-writer is great. Sometimes things that read great on the page suck when read out loud. I’m not saying that the original was bad, but in performing a piece that’s already driven by narrator I found some spots that needed more flavor -- as compared to polish. Soon, future versions of the epub Small Town Nights will have these changes.
Reformat your work. Avoid splitting a paragraph between pages. It will minimize breathing sounds and kept you from absently mindedly turning the page -- and thus reduce the amount of splicing for your sound guys. An aside here, sound guys are going through what’s already happened to Graphic and Web Designers. Since the ease of open source software and the Internet has demystified the technology somewhat, clients new the field have unrealistic expectations and expect rates lower than the industry standard. e.g. They expect a pro to “cut and paste” tracks together for $9 an hour and do it all in under an hour. 
That’s like asking me to draw an owl. You’ll get a stickman owl. Ask an artist to draw an owl:
But we both know how to put pencil to paper. The first clue maybe that the artist is going to use a charcoal pencil while I use an H2.
Home offices/studios have their challenges. Airplanes, motorcycles and thunderstorms can give you retakes or postpone a session, plan according.
The most important part though, is have Fun, as you experiment and create your own audiobook.

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