Why Don't You Listen To Audio Trek?

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Wowbagger, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. Kirok_of_LStok

    Kirok_of_LStok Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    I don't want to get bogged down in definitions here, but I don't see how you can call them audio books. An audio book is a book or written fiction which is read, like this or this or these. Full cast versions of these are here, here and here where the parts for the narrator and the different characters are read by different Voice Actors (VAs).

    The defining factor here are not the production values, the content or even the use of a narrator, I believe it is a production decision - how are you communicating your story?

    If you are giving the listener a dramatisation, a "movie without the video track" as I've heard it called one time, the script needs to be tailored to that. You need to give audio clues to the location, the people present, the facial expressions, the moods and all the other hundred-and-one things that your audience would normally see. This is why they call it the cinema of the mind - the audioscape (did I make that word up?) that you give the listener with which they construct the scene in their mind's eye.

    If on the other hand you are storytelling then you are in effect taking the place of the internal voice which we all hear when we read a book. Depending on which book I read my internal voice can be James Earl Jones or Maggie Smith, I spare no expense! Its not just a matter of storyline exposition or painting verbal pictures of the scene, the job of a narrator in an audiobook involves subtle communication of the emotions of the actors, God-mode insights that none of the characters know, ultimately it involves creating a feeling in the listener that matches the tale you are trying to tell. The narration I used in Tales of Death And Honour would be totally unsuitable for a Laurel K. Hamilton supernatural sex thriller LOL!

    Here you have a very valid point with regards to something that turns off mainstream listeners - large casts are hard to follow. Large casts are only viable when each member has a unique verbal signature that is instantly reconisable and their part, their back-story, is either simple or well established. I think you have some excellent advise with regards to building up the complexity of the drama.

    Had a quick listen to Shadow Falls and it is an audio book, well delivered to be sure but obviously others have mentioned the difficulty in following all the convolutions since he has periodic "companion" pieces - not a bad idea.

    Good luck! Push the envelope!!!

    K
     
  2. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Admiral Admiral

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    baxart, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I think your point about the cast size of Excelsior is well taken. If you look at where we started in season 1 and compare it to our latest efforts I think you'll notice that we have adopted some of those ideas. Mainly, the cast size has shrunk a bit and we eliminated the Narrator.

    Writing effectively for a true ensemble is very difficult. If you remember, TNG was billed as an ensemble drama that was deliberately supposed designed to "spread the wealth" and create more story telling opportunities. (Possibly to keep any one cast member from getting too popular and thus too expensive, but that's the cynic in me talking). However, just as cream rises, in TNG and many other so-called "ensemble" dramas certain characters and/or actors just naturally begin to stand out and become focal points for the writers. I think that's happening with our show, although with only about a dozen episodes to our credit it may not be that obvious.

    The issue of special effects is quite interesting. Just as the development of advanced optical effects and CGI made it possible to do more spectacular special effects more easily and cheaply than ever before at the risk of overdoing it and leaving things like plot and character development in the dust *cough Star Wars cough*, digital multi track editing capability carries the same risk for audio producers. OTR radio sfx sound the way they do, because they had to. Without recorded sfx effects available at the push of a button it was up to the sound effects guy to figure out how to use coconut shells to simulate a horse or to have cast and crew simulate a noisy bar or restaurant.
    No way would I knock those guys or the job they did. What they achieved was amazing. But we also do some amazing things with reverb, distortion, panning and stereo field rotation than they could. But again, the trick is to use those effects to make a compelling story come alive. I think we all agree that no amount of sound effects will save a bad story (although George Lucas might disagree).

    I do wish you the very best in getting your production company off the ground. Feel free to PM me if you think I can ever be of any assistance.

    Thank you again for your input.
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I personally don't find the number of already produced episodes a barrier to entry. Heck, the old Gunsmoke radio series has one the order of 400 episodes and I dived right in, and I'm through about 100.

    But the difference between that and fan radio shows is Gunsmoke's really well written, wonderfully acted, and the sound design is minimalistic but creates a real sense of place...and it doesn't need a narrator other the Dillon doing his equivalent of a Captain's log.
     
  4. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Admiral Admiral

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    I think that's a fair comparison to just about any fan production. Or for that matter, community theater to professional theater. As amateurs were going to make our share of mistakes and the talent level is going to be somewhat uneven. Our learning curve at Excelsior reflects that. We may never get to the same level as a professional production, but I think if you look at where we are compared to where we started, I think you'll see there is improvement in all areas.
     
  5. Kelso

    Kelso Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If you haven't heard The Six Shooter, you should check it out sometime. I adore that series.
     
  6. Solarbaby

    Solarbaby Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Where do you audio producers get your TNG era sound effects? I don't believe a TNG official sound effect cd was released like they did with the original series
     
  7. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Admiral Admiral

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    Hmmm... I asked Wowbagger asked the same question he told if I found out, he'd have to kill me. Maybe that information has been declassified since then. James?
     
  8. baxart

    baxart Commander Red Shirt

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    Kelso, thanks for the point to Six Shooter, I just grabbed it from Internet Archive and will take a listen asap. (Edit: Just listened to the first 2 episodes and sweet barking cheese were they good! Thanks for turning me on to this! This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about!!)

    Kirok, I think you make my points for me. A full cast audiobook is still just an audiobook that the production values have been raised. I can call it that because it was never written with the intent of being an audio production. And unfortunately a lot of modern "radio theater" comes across like that.
    I think that quality audio production needs that immersive "storytelling" quality you mention, and you need to write that in from the get-go.
    I would recommend Shaun MacLoughlin's book Writing for Radio (on Amazon UK you can buy it directly from the author, like I did :-) it goes into what makes good and bad radio and has really improved my writing and my listening.

    Trying to iron out a hiss in my sound card and I'll be recording again.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  9. AJBryant

    AJBryant Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You have single-handedly convinced me to give this one a try. :)
     
  10. Professor Moriarty

    Professor Moriarty Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I realize I'm almost two months late to replying to this, but this is exactly what I was going to say. I have two additional problems:

    1. The delivery channel.
    2. The limited time I have.

    Delivery channel: Twice a week I have to drive about an hour in each direction to/from my home in suburban Virginia to downtown Washington DC, and that's when I listen to the audio dramas on Sirius/XM satellite radio. I'd love to listen to a ripping Star Trek yarn that was well-written, acted and sound-mixed.

    I've sampled some of what's out there, and it's just not up to the standards I've outlined above. And even if I were to find such a drama, I'll admit it--I'm lazy and am not going to go out of my way to burn a CD that I can listen to in my car. Sirius/XM is just there... I can turn it on and enjoy it.

    Limited free time: When I'm in front of my computer, an audio drama just isn't enough. I have limited free time as it is, and when I'm sitting in front of the box I want to have an audio and video form of entertainment.
     
  11. AJBryant

    AJBryant Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Dammit.

    Okay, I'm now hooked on Star Trek: Outpost. The writing is very good and clever, and the acting is quite acceptable.

    I listened to about 20 minutes of "Disunity," however, and had to stop. It might be good, but too many of the actors sound like they are READING their lines rather than SAYING them. The intonation is literary, not natural spoken tones. That is death to any audio drama.
     
  12. Kirok_of_LStok

    Kirok_of_LStok Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    The nearest fan-produced alternative to this is internet radio. These are internet websites that stream programmes on a set schedule so that you can log onto them and listen to what comes up. This would be much more spontaneous than choosing something and downloading it yourself, widening your listening experience.

    Of course in your case, listening in a car, I wonder how affordable it would be to listen to streamed audio dramas on an internet enabled mobile phone such as the iPhone using Tuner?

    If you can find the time to put together a playlist on your personal media player there's a great article on the options for listening to digital media in your car HERE. Since I've only got an old cassette player in my car, I use a cassette/mp3 adapter to listen to the music on my mp3 player. Unfortunately the road noise and rotten speakers make listening to an audio drama out of the question.

    I can see your point about the immediacy of radio, and it is true that few productions can honestly say that their work is on a par with professional work - they do exist but they are not in the majority.

    I can empathise with your second point as well. When I'm at home on the 'puta I don't have the time to listen to an audio drama. I find it hard to do two things at once - I'm your classic, "can't fart and chew gum" guy - so listening and writing is out of the question. But I have a four hour train trip every day so I've got plenty of down-time when I can listen on the way to and from work.

    Of course if I could get get my Linux eeePc to download VLC player so that I could watch mp4s on it I'd watch more fan films myself but until I can work out the arcane language of Linux... make mine audio (^V^).

    Cheers

    K
     
  13. Hudson_uk

    Hudson_uk Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I've used an MP3/Cassette and Radio Tuner adapters but luckily my current car has an SD card slot on the radio and an Aux input. VERY useful indeed.
     
  14. Kirok_of_LStok

    Kirok_of_LStok Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    It was the heir to the family curse's 17th birthday this week so we bought him an 8GB 2G iPod Touch. Very impressive thingamijig. My daughter has a doohicky that connects her iPhone to her car stereo so that she carries her audio with her to play in the car, in her ear and on the lounge room stereo. The iFamily isn't the only way to do it, but I think this type of whatsit (I hope you can follow all the technical jargon?) is going to be the way of the future for storing and transporting audio.

    The specific problem for audio drama though is that, even with an FM receiver on your PMP (personal media player) mainstream radio stations don't carry audio drama, at least in the States (Auntie still delivers for Aussies). So satellite radio, which I believe is the radio equivalent of cable TV, is the Professor's only option for true, over the air, radio drama. I could be wrong.

    Cheers

    K
     
  15. Barbreader

    Barbreader Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So, today I am sitting by my computer working on my the annual photo CD I give to all parts of my family. It contains roughly 750 photos form family parties from the year, less if we didn't have many parties. This year, we had A LOT, and I have to eliminate roughly 200 photos to get them on one CD.

    So, I think... why DON'T I listen to Audio Trek? I first went to Tales of Death and Honour, but I was unsure where to find the opening episodes. I knew I'd have to listen to the audio of Star Trek: Unity (US) if and when they put out their animation, so I did that.

    First, the surprise. I have noticed that the women cast in a lot of Trek Fan Films are nice looking but can't act. I thought that would not be the case for audio. But of course, the casting is still being done by men, so... let's just say the male actors were notably better actors than the female actors, but without seeing them, I'm betting the women were nice looking.

    Boys will be boys.

    Beyond that, I enjoyed the story and the experience. But I'm not done with my CD, so I'm thinking... which next?
     
  16. Barbreader

    Barbreader Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    OK, I've glanced through this thread, and I'm going with Star Trek: Outpost. It's downloading even as I type!
     
  17. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Admiral Admiral

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    Outpost is very well regarded among the folks at Star Trek: Excelsior. If you have more time to spare, how about giving us at Excelsior a listen? The last episode of Season 1, Down the Rabbit Hole is full of strong female performances from the Matriarchal society with which Excelsior is trying to make first contact to Excelsior's captain herself.

    Enjoy!
     
  18. Kirok_of_LStok

    Kirok_of_LStok Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    I'm honoured that you thought of me first but surprised that you couldn't work out the link on the production page. Just click on the graphic for Motherhood under "Past Productions" on the right hand side of the screen to go to the episode page and choose your download option -I was going through a chicklet button stage - there's even an inbuilt player so you can stream it.

    Merodi did an awesome job of delivering the Klingon mother, it was below her natural register but she nailed it without sounding forced. It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck the first time I heard it!

    Other good female performances are Melodee M. Spevack as Cpt Dana Russell in Henglaar, MD, Toni Hopeful as Lt Mary Fitzgerald in Star Trek Eras and Eleiece Krawiec as Dr. Rachel Winston in ST: Outpost

    And I agree, the first series of Excelsior had an interesting take on a militaristic matriarchal society.

    Have fun

    K
     
  19. Hudson_uk

    Hudson_uk Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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  20. Kirok_of_LStok

    Kirok_of_LStok Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Actually, I didn't catch that point - its the theatre of the mind, isn't it? The performers might look less than beautiful in real life, but in your mind's eye you can have them look anyway you wish. The characters from Henglaar, MD might be the exception since they are a sequel to a fan film. Funny thing, John Whiting looks exactly how he sounds ... and I mean that in the nicest possible way! :lol:

    Star Trek fans are after all human with the average number of handsome and ugly (no matter what the media stereotype says)