Saturday, March 4, 2017

Book II Queen Alice Audiobook

The wait is almost over!
Soon to be released on, Book II completes the fairy tale adventure epic "Shards of the Glass Slipper" series. Picking up where Book I ended, this audiobook, sees the return of narrator Christopher Crosby Morris and includes music and sound effects to continue the enhanced listening experience!

it's over 15 hours of  listener excitement!

"In preparation for this undertaking, I had to greatly expanse the resources adding several gigs- over 40 dvd's of brand new sound effect libraries" and even harder to come by were many new musical scores. Familiar sound effects and musical themes still came through, however, helping to maintain a full cohesive feel between the two audiobooks. 

There were many new characters and places to explore. "In Book II, we spend time in Wonderland.. so what does a place like Wonderland sound like? We meet the Caterpillar (who is voiced incredibly well by Narrator Christopher Morris)". There are some many interesting battles, like Goldenhair's charge of animals and the Wonderland siege.  It was a challenge to find just the right sounds to bring the listener in as a part of the story. There are dragons, Jabberwocks, and dodo birds that come to life with sound.
One of the many challenges faced in book II was that the story unfolds not just in the present, but throughout different locations and times. While visually in print it is easy enough to convey,  "it was something Christopher and I were keenly aware of ..." turns out musical cues were the way to go to help divide various sections. For certain scenes in the book that were flashbacks to events in the first book, we even pulled the same audio in from the first book (it works because it's the same narrator and style.)

There were some serious delays in production this time around. Initial narration recording delays happened, that  were due to other projects that Christopher Morris was involved in. But the most significant delay happened during post production when Roy Mauritsen's mother passed away in 2015. " It took over a year to emotionally and creatively get back to finishing the audiobook".

The process  is very time consuming. And rather lonely. "It's just me on the computer with head phones on." Each chapter is recorded and can be 10 minutes to almost an hour in length. The narration file is reviewed. cleaned up, edited, polished. Then it's a matter of  listening for what appropriate sound effect is need at a particular time.. and going through the various sound effect libraries to find the correct sound, then folding it in to the mix. Sometimes combing through all of the libraries can take an hour. Then on to the next sound effect. Sometimes ambient sounds are used. Wind through trees and chirping birds to help convey the sense of being in forest. Or waves crashing and lapping on a beach if need be. It's filling in those little details that help tell the story. Some scenes might require multiple sounds or might work with a L to R pan. Once sound effects are layered in, next comes musical scoring.  "I can spend hours and days listening  to potential music. I would take time to download a sample track and try it out only to have it not sound great, and I would try a different score. sometimes for one scene I'd try three or four different musical hits before deciding which works the best. Music is important so I spent a lot of time making sure I get the right feel to it". Some scenes call for certain music.  Snow White has a particular theme throughout both books  as does a few other characters so it's a little easier to place those piece of music.  Music really helps to underscore the emotional weight of a scene. "If I need a dramatic impact of a particular piece of music to land at an emotional point of the narration, that helps define where the music needs to go.  Once those keystones are in place, I can build up musical cues and underscores around it.  Some musical tracks I have are layered, so I can extend a piece of music by removing the drum track or dropping out the strings track. Sometimes, a musical track will sync up perfectly with the narration and that makes me feel like I'm really doing something special when that happens". Once that is in place.. the whole chapter is listened to several more times, getting tweaked and final production levels in place. One audiobook chapter can take a week of work. Sometimes a short chapter can get done over a weekend.  There are over 30 chapters in Book II alone. It is reviewed on professional grade Sennheiser headphones for any minute discrepancies in the sound mix, then again on studio monitors (THX certified btw) and finally it is listened to in the car. As well as it can be mixed, In the end the final listening experience is always going to depend on the listener.

It's really an amazing experience to hear the story come to life this way. Not just by having it read by someone professionally, but hearing the environment of the story, sometimes it the subtle sound effects of paper rustling, the creaking of saddle leather  that help bring the story to life. " I always felt that audibly there was so much potential than just listening to someone read a story.  And there are people that are excellent at that. But sounds and music is already an integral way that we as humans help interpret the world around us. Why limit the listener experience to just the one sound of the narrator? Why listen to a narrator read about being in forest when with sound you could easily be transported there?" There's the clang of swords, and arrows that whiz by you that will make you duck. reflexively. There's the musical score that will take a sad moment and make it that much more heartbreaking. The feel of danger or adventure, wonderment and the musical swell of victory. All of that, that is already apart of the story, now comes across more acutely with music and sound that will draw you in. 

Start listening the Shards of the Glass Slipper Book I Queen Cinder here!
Book II is expected to be available shortly.

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