Local People make Radio Plays?

Hi folks. Since the last time I posted to this blog, I met a group of Science Fiction enthusiasts in Seattle who are making an anthology series called Reality’s Edge. This is awesome, because it means I can learn more about all of the parts of audio drama production that I don’t already understand! So far, there are 10 scripts nearly all finalized for production. I’m going through some of them today in order to outline what sort of sound effects will be required. Some scenes will have one character “in the room” with the audience while another character is talking to the first over a phone, so there’s filters to consider. Some characters will be robots or other artificial people, so that will require some more filters and sound design. And, of course, there will be lots of other sounds required to help listeners better understand the scenes.

It’s fun to come up with creative solutions for these situations. How do you use sound design to imply different people’s actions and points of view? What sort of foley tricks can you use to allow the listener to imagine the movie going on in their mind?

Meanwhile, in a few weeks there will be auditions, and I want to be there so I can observe the process and make more contacts among the acting community. Yes, I want to steal actors. Hehe. Once I have written the first season of my “Project A” radio play series, I will need *at least* one actor to bring it to life. While I’d be happy to provide some incidental voice acting or narration, the main character will need to be pretty versatile.

So, how is Project A coming along?

While I was down in Portland yesterday, I picked up a copy of 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt (because of a recommendation from Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast). My co-writer is a dab hand at coming up with character designs, but now that she is super busy, I may have to make more characters without her help. The book is intriguing! I have only skimmed it so far, but it goes through a bunch of characters from film, tv, and literature, and organizes them into a number of archetypes. Each of these are named after a character from ancient mythology, such as Aphrodite: The Seductive Muse and the Femme Fatale, or Apollo: The Businessman and The Traitor. Then it goes through the cares, fears, motivations, relationships, and good pairings with other archetypes. I’m looking forward to digging in deeper.

I also have Crafty TV Writing by Alex Epstein. I mentioned having TV writing books in my previous post, but didn’t name any of them. This is one of them, and it seems to me that I can draw a lot of parallels from TV writing and apply them to audio dramas. I suppose Playwriting would be another good resource for taking plot structure conventions and modifying them for a radio play.

Aside from getting resources to study, I have not made concrete progress on Project A, but I have a better idea what I’ll need to do first.

And what about Project B?

I have not made any progress toward the Dredmor Arrangement album since my last post. My goal is to plan exactly what I want to make, and what I need in order for that to happen. Whee, ambiguity. OK, let’s be more specific.

What I’m currently envisioning is a two-disc set. Or maybe two separate albums that can be bundled.

One of them would be a string quartet plus piano or some other group of live orchestral instruments. I previously wrote a suite of miniatures for an “Eighth Blackbird” ensemble (Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet, Piano, Percussion), so that could be another option. The Dredmor tracks that would work well for live players would go onto this disc.

The other album/disc would be electronic, or mostly electronic but perhaps including a featured live instrument. For this album, I’d update and re-imagine some of the tracks that are probably not well-suited to live instruments.  I’d also love to have other artists do remixes too! I know a couple of people with some awesome synth collections, so they could go nuts and it’d be great.

I was a backer for Big Giant Circles’ Impostor Nostalgia album in 2011, and I think I remember that some stretch goals included remixes by other artists. Perhaps I am mistaken. But that may be a good thing to consider. If I crowd-fund, then I can commission others to provide tracks. Good plan? I don’t want to ask other artists to work for free. And I certainly don’t have the funds to bring in live players. This is why I need to make plans and figure out how much these things would cost.

In the Not Mine category, I made a few sound effects. There are MANY more to make.

So that’s what has mostly been circling around in my head lately. While I do have a day job and a number of Eww, Real Life things to work on, I want to make progress on all of these. Until next time! –m@

Nearly two years!

Hi folks,

So much for trying to blog frequently, eh? Oh well. I got a day job and it sucked up my time and energy. But I’m finding myself brimming with ideas and I want to use my blog to track them (and be more public. Hi everybody!)

Project A

Right now, there are two projects that I consider Mine that are in various states of brainstorming. Project A is a serialized audio drama. I am a huge fan of audio dramas (particularly those by Big Finish in the Doctor Who universe), and while I would love to provide music and sound design for one of the bigger producers out there, I need to level up a bit. So why not make my own?!

I’ve had this idea for a video game in my head for years, and I figured “why not turn this into an audio adventure instead?” That way I don’t have to learn how to balance a system or make the codes or draw the arts. I’d be happy to work with others who can do such things, but I’d rather bring in those experts when I can pay them.

This also means that I can make a lot of music and sound effects, which is good practice for my intended career (i.e. composer and sound designer, etc etc). And if people like the audio drama a lot, then I can see it growing into something kinda big. But I also want to make sure it has a defined beginning, middle and end. I’m also a big fan of Babylon 5 (which is where “zath” comes from), and appreciated the plan that the show runner went in with: a 5 year story arc. I’m not sure if my audio drama is 5 years long, but when I sketch out the potential directions it could go, I certainly see more than a single series.

So, in order to make this happen, I need to learn how to make good stories. I have done a LOT of world building, but I need to write for characters that people will want to follow. (Just tonight I was having a conversation with J who said the people in his office have different tolerances for heat vs. cold. They are always fiddling with the thermostat and opening/closing windows. So I thought “oh, hey. That’s a character quirk.”)

I’ve picked up a couple of books about TV writing, which I think is closest to what I want to make. Serialized audio drama with a story arc over many episodes. Just no pictures, is all, except for the ones you imagine in your mind. But the process of turning all of this world building and large plot strokes into small pieces that can be tackled one at a time requires a bit of writing knowledge.

Project B

The other one is music-related. Dungeons of Dredmor will be 5 years old this year, and I want to make a musical thing that will commemorate  this anniversary. I want to put production value into it, and I think the things I have in mind will require funding. So I have to decide if I want to go after 1) arts grants or 2) Kickstarters/GoFundMes.

Before I know which, I need to figure out how much the things I want to do will cost, and that means deciding what I want to do. So I’m spinning some ideas around in my head and hope to have an idea before… the end of the month? I’ll want to bounce ideas off someone who knows how much things like this cost.

Meanwhile, there are projects floating around that are Not Mine that I still have involvement with. Just to make sure I don’t feel guilty about working on stuff that is Mine, I should really wrap the Not Mine stuff up first. Not to say that I can’t do a little of both at the same time, but it’ll be easier that way.

So, here I am. It’s February 25, 2016. I’ll come back later and have more to say.

Recent inspirational quote: “We are not here to do it perfectly, we are here to do it thoroughly.” — Mark Nepo

Old Dredmor track

Here is a track that I worked on in 2005 for the Dungeons of Dredmor soundtrack. It got to a certain point and then it was abandoned. I think part of the issue was that it was not quite appropriate for the game. But it does have a similar sound to a lot of the elements of the rest of the soundtrack.

Thanks for listening!

Well, not blogging enough!

Okay! It was a friend’s birthday recently. The diggles were squawking at him. I recorded their squawks and ran it through a universal translator, which seems to have been co-developed by Creative Labs in 1992.

      1. happy_birthday

Hopefully this doesn’t dampen his spirits, and perhaps he doesn’t mind too much that this translation is a little belated.

Website update

I’ve had this site running for several years, but I’ve never really used it for its intended purpose: a landing page for those interested in my music. I’ll occasionally post something to Soundcloud, but generally it will hang out and get a few plays. And sometimes I’ll post something to this blog which has been running since 2008, but very rarely.

Why so quiet? Continue reading

Better Mousing

In an effort to reduce the degree of motion required to move the pointer on the screen, I looked into what could be done about increasing pointer sensitivity in OS X. Even with the option set to maximum sensitivity in the preferences panel, it seemed a little sluggish.

It turns out that OS X has a known issue with pointer lag! Basically: you move the mouse and then 32ms later the pointer starts moving. It’s a tiny amount, but it could add up to a fair bit of wasted motion. Additionally, the highest sensitivity in the OS X preferences pane is a value of 1.8. While it is possible to edit “.GlobalPreferences.plist” or some-such and change that variable, I’d rather have a GUI solution.

Enter Smooth Mouse.

I installed it, turned off mouse acceleration and set the sensitivity to about halfway on the bar, and so far I am very pleased. It did take a little getting used to, but the net result is that I don’t move my hand as much. Hopefully this prevents motion strain too.

On that note, now for an ergonomic evaluation. Standing desk? Treadmill desk? Oh boy!