The City park radio programming guidelines are strictly G so we had to invent an expletive Terry could say on air – he is after all a male 20 something bogan and aliens are shooting at him, so our actor Michael came up with flip! for our f word. The sound editor shall fire a handy blaster shot any time he tries that s word.
Testing the Translation Circuit
It’s science fiction so there are long technical explains and worse – alien words. The Questr is equipped with a handy translation device that magically works at a distance. So we can stick with english as the truly universal language, and use fake alien accents – the radio equivalent of a Dalek costume 🙂
However it’s always a surprise to a script writer as to which innocuous little words trip the tongues of the voice actors. Star shines will become shar stines, capacitors morph into capacitators, and time saving efforts turn into marathon recording sessions. After handling the periodic table with ease Rowena created the Thornhill capacitator, our take on a flux capacitor. So now its super special. “fruity tropical lime with a hint of hazlenut character” that was a little line i got off a bottle of Josef Chromy chardonnay and seriously regretted. Took a dozen takes and script writer was about to be strangled since the bottle was empty and we couldn’t just drown our woes.
Our script writers actually dodge creating alien names. just alien 1 alien 2 etc… They have no problems creating characters and convoluted plots but were so pleased I found this handy thing online fantasynamegenerators.com I haven’t yet tried hustling them into making up a language as involved as say Dothraki. Maybe season 3.
A quick behind the scenes look at how we take our voice actors onto alien worlds. Did we mention we are all amatuers and volunteers?
Firstly the lines are recorded by Adam Brooks the director with the actors in studios at City Park Radio Launceston using Audacity. Audacity is an audio editing program that’s completely free which I found useful for recording streaming audio lectures broadcast at inconvenient o’clock so I could play them back later. Download it here for mac pc linux audacityteam.org It’s quicker and easiest to do each actor separately, in case they fluff their lines and its very flexible – there are no rehearsals needed, it fits in with everyone’s busy schedules, minor changes to the script are often made on the fly with several versions recorded. And it allows collaboration at a distance. With a very quiet room and a good microphone Terry’s lines are recorded at his home on video and then the audio is stripped off and shipped thru cyberspace to be pasted together with the rest by Adam. Use the free VLC media player to do this by simply converting video to a pure audio format audacity understands like OGG Vorbis or mp3 ( the conversion tool is in the media tab).
“sleep is for the weak”
Next we optimize the voices following the basic algorithm of this youtube tute https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYF5ytMDFpA – maybe a bit of treble boost for the females, both bass and treble for the blokes and a pitch shift for Izzy. For the aliens a few more effects are applied over whatever accent our vocal talent Brooke Maloy has come up with.
To get them aboard the Questr the sound effect “reverb” using the preset “voice II” is applied to the appropriate sections of the vocal track. The pre-recorded background hum is then imported onto a separate track to the vocals. Next any other sound effects or music are added – either cut into the vocal track, or layered as more separate tracks with their volume lowered by the envelope tool when someone is speaking so as not to overwhelm the storyline – see this tute https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXfVKSx7WtY by Alan Levine who teaches aspects of it as part of an open online course in Digital Storytelling called DS106 http://ds106.us/open-course/ based on previous syllabi taught at the University of Mary Washington. These guys are funny, the community is great btw. If we get time we then compress and normalise the volume.
If we didn’t foley them ourselves, the sound effects come from a variety of creative commons licensed sources – mostly freesound.org . The full attribution is listed on each episode page. The cinematic soundscapes are from the generous folk at machinimasound.com and Kevin MacLeod who is responsible for a mass of free youtube scores incompetech.com
Lastly the lot is exported as a .wav file for broadcast later at City Park in the good old fashioned way over the airwaves.
So the fun of the radio play is letting your imagination fill in the visuals but inevitably SOMEONE WILL WANT A PICTURE – Indeed Michael aka Terry asked me all about the inside of the Questr today, despite having been inside it read the script. By happy coincidence the multi-talented rabiddog008.deviantart.com ( who also clipped together our first trailer and voices several parts ) drew these …..
and here is the outside – the grey metallic cylinder from the academy in episode 1 (although it looks like it could have come from Ikea 🙂 disguised as a gaslight lampost from Narnia France in episode 3 and as a retro wooden photobooth complete with creaky door in episode 4 when we pick up Terry.
first female doctor outside her photobooth disguised time machine