Simon Woolcott

Blog post 1:

We are now two weeks into Creating Audio Drama and already in our groups.

The module is a little more full on than I anticipated, but I’m sure it will be fun as well as hard work.

Our lecturer Jeremy really knows his stuff and is a fountain of knowledge on the subject as well as being a very respected proponent of the genre.

Because of studio availability my group, and one other, find ourselves only three weeks away from our studio recording day. We have chosen a script and have also chosen/been assigned our roles.

I was lucky enough to find myself in the roll I wanted – Studio Manager. It is going to be my job to both record the actors and other audio and mix the final piece. Although I’ll have some creative input I’ll mostly be at the back and call of the Producer and Director. That suits me fine, I like doing my best to produce what is required of me.

We have been asked to listen to various examples of audio drama including some podcasts as well as some from more established creators such as the BBC. I’m not really a spoken word listener but I’m enjoying listening to a variety of productions, some more successful in achieving their aspirations than others.

Despite having been in the business of creating Audio Drama for a couple of decades Jeremy is very forward-looking and is encouraging innovation. I’m going to have to push myself to move beyond the straightforward.

Producing Audio Drama is open to students from other disciplines within the faculty. This may prove problematic as we have already had a few late arrives from those outside Radio & Digital Production. There have also been a few moments where concentration is lacking and respect for Jeremy isn’t quite what it should be. Hopefully, this will improve over the weeks.

I’m very happy with my group. They are a great bunch with a variety of appropriate skills and all dedicated to the task in hand.

As our studio recording session is the first on the calendar we have decided to meet on campus on Tuesdays as well as on Fridays, the designated slot for the modules.

Blog post 1: part 2

(Thursday 8th Feb)

The Tuesday meeting was attended by myself, Natalie and Adam.

Natalie is extremely organised thankfully so everyone is always going to know what’s expected of them.

Adam and I put together an email to send out to the prospective actors in order to touch base with them. Jeremy had already contacted them but we thought it would be a good idea to reach out and start to build a relationship.

I went through the script and made a list of all the music and SFX that the script required, while also trying to preempt any further sounds and pieces of music we may additionally need.

(Friday 9th Feb)

A very productive day with some real insights from Jeremy about the ‘back end’ of successfully producing a piece of audio drama.
He emphasised the importance of good paperwork keeping. When studios, actors, script editors, directors, producers and studio managers have to be all in on the loop, it is important that everything is extremely well organised.

Jeremy suggested that although it would be great to produce a superb piece of audio drama at the end of this module, the lectures were aimed squarely at giving us the knowledge to understand every aspect of producing audio drama and that that knowledge was as important to the module as the finished product.

As a team, we have agreed to meet much more other then we are timetabled to make sure everything runs smoothly. The cast are all but booked as far as I’m aware.

My main considerations between now and the studio recording day is to gather as much of the SFX, music and atmosphere as I can so that there is no time wasted after the recording of the actors is made trying to source other audio for the mix-down.

(Tuesday 13th Feb)

I made some recordings of SFX and wild track for the opening scene on my Marantz this morning as I woke up at 6.30 (eugh). I’ve yet to listen to them but I reckon they’ll be pretty good.

We had a fantastic meeting to work on the script today. After the first read through we realised that, as it stood, the script ran to very nearly 14 minutes, which is at least 2 minutes too long. We used one of the big screen on the first floor of the library so we could all see the script. Ellen plugged in her laptop and we all made suggestions as to where cuts could be made.

We worked on the script for a good three hours and now have a very good final(ish) draft. A few new SFX have been addd so I shall update the SFX/Wild track doc this evening.

I could not be happier with the team. Everyone is really pulling their weight and is very well suited to their roles.

 

(Friday 16th February)

We were in the studio for the first time this morning. The radio intern, Naiara, had already perfectly set up the drama studio (RP1, or is it RP2 I’ve never known) for our try out session.

It turns out that communicating through the glass isn’t as easy as one would first imagine. Although we acted as each other’s actors (and hopefully our actors will be considerably more professional then we were) the session showed the importance of having just one person giving very clear instructions to the actor, one point at a time.

It was a very useful exercise to get used to how the room sounded with the microphone set up as it was (Two cardioid mics set to pick up only one side each and set at 90 degrees to each other and panned slightly left and right). And to hear how the sound altered when the actors moved around the mics as well as moving closer and further away.

I refreshed myself on how to set up Audition for recording and saving on to a stick. I also made sure I could record the whole session into a cart on Myriad on the other computer, so if anything fails to save we have a backup.

We had a big session on how the script should look for the actors and for the crew. Jeremy’s input was very helpful. We have two scenes which contain flashbacks and other scenes which feature inner monologues. We decided that we would record the whole scene without the flashbacks and then record the flashbacks separately, but we had no idea how to mark this out on the script.

I was all for printing off three different versions of the scripts with the appropriate parts greyed out but Jeremy assured us that the actors are quite used to dealing with scripts where parts of scenes are omitted and then recorded later and could skip over the omitted parts without too much trouble. He wisely pointed out that having multiple copies of scrips which very from one another was not the greatest idea I’d ever had!

I was keen to make sure the scripts we gave to the cast were as much like scripts they are used to in order to make the recording process runs as snotty as possible.

I managed to source a small chest of drawers for the actors to use in a couple of scenes from the TV department. Matthew McGuinness (from said department) was very helpful and friendly.

I WILL find time this coming week to record as much of the SFX and wild track as possible before next Friday’s session. I’d rather all other recordings were made up front in order to speed up the post-production process.

I believe we are ready for next Friday morning’s recording session. However, I have sadly not even looked at the essay question yet, very unlike me, but we have so much else on this semester.

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