(4&5) Production Notes

This episode marked my first created sound effect. I wanted something to punctuate the gold pile spilling, but couldn’t find anything that sounded right. I took a “dropped doubloon” sound and repeated it several times with slight time offsets to get something semi-acceptable. It’s not terribly impressive, but it marked a psychological switch for me – from mouth-piece to becoming actively involved.

One of my favorite parts of this episode was adding the door bell whenever someone crossed Madam Malkin’s shop threshold. It was inspired by the “Life Serial” episode of Buffy, which started almost every loop in the magic shop with the door hitting it’s bells as it was opened. It wasn’t in the original text, I just thought it would be a lot of fun to do. As the podcast progresses I start adding a lot of things to audio episodes just for the simple pleasure of “this will be fun for me.” I dunno if it makes them more enjoyable for the listener, but it certainly makes it a lot easier to get through the hours of post-production work. :)

The door is described as propped open, but I didn’t see why that would stop a magic bell with the magic equivalent of a laser-trip. That’s also why the bell sounds the same every time, and interrupts itself when two people leave in quick succession (well, that and technical limitations).

In the original recording when I did Draco’s voice I put on a sneer to (hopefully) make him sound more like an arrogant prat. This creates a lot of problems whenever you say a word with a strong “fi” sound in it (like “fish”). It comes out kinda whistley and wet (try it). To combat this I eventually morphed into simply pulling my upper lip back tightly, baring my upper teeth in a sort of aggressive grin. I slow down my speech to indicate a calm mastery of the local peasants. All this together makes for a feeling of absolutely predatory ownership. I can’t get into this pose without a feeling of sweet evil joy underlying every sentence. As such, Draco has become one of my favorite characters to voice. :)

(2&3) Production Notes

Having used a sound effect in the initial chapter, I was much less hesitant to employ them now. I actually recorded the male laugh myself, and when I submitted it to FreeSound it was originally rejected as suspected of being pulled from a copyrighted work! I guess that’s flattering, but it’s not really that difficult to laugh into a microphone! Who did they think I sounded like?

This episode marked the first use of Harry’s internal voice. Again, in text it’s easily apparent when this happens via italics. In audio I was stumped as to what to do. The echo was disliked, and there isn’t really a good sound effect for “I’m thinking this to myself”. Eventually I came up with putting my mouth right up to the microphone and talking in a much softer tone. I dunno if it’s a “thinking” sound, but it’s certainly different, and that’s enough of a cue. With this rerecording project I can bring this technique to bear in the early episodes.

When I first read this I was defensive about my D&D habits (who hasn’t been mocked for that at some point?) so when Harry says he didn’t play the game I assumed he was being a pompous ass. It wasn’t until much later that I realize that he never played the game because he doesn’t have any friends. After all, the game would be right up his alley, and he does read & enjoy the rulebooks! So when I rerecorded this I tried to make that line sound kinda sad.

(1) Production Notes

Chapter One has been replaced with a re-recorded version. This re-recording was actually done half a year ago, and was recently re-edited. The original can be found here, and in the Table of Contents archives. If you listen to the original episode now, you can see why I’ve undertaken this re-recording project.

I had never originally intended to have any sound effects in the podcast. I ran into a problem immediately when Harry sits down to write his letter to McGonagall. In the text it is obvious what’s the letter and what’s narration, as the letter is italicized. But in audio format there’s no such cue. I didn’t want to change the voice, as it was Harry writing. At first I tried adding an echo effect, but several listeners told me that it sounded far too important and imposing, and I should save the echo effect for something more serious (I’d later use it for The Sorting). I decided to overlay a pencil-writing-on-paper sound as an audio cue, and soon discovered FreeSound.org

I love FreeSound. +10 Internets to them!

On a personal note, many people say they didn’t really get into HPMoR until chapter 5 or 7. I was hooked immediately by Petunia’s implication of suicidal tendencies. I had a similar phase in college, and while I recognize it as typical teenage angst, it was still tough to get through. Any character who speaks of suicidal thoughts in college but is now very happy with life automatically gets my sympathy, and I literally shivered with a wave of empathy as I read her lines.

Incidentally, for those who haven’t been reading HPMoR from the beginning, Eliezer has made some edits as he’s progressed as well. The original final paragraph can be found here. I can see how this is too much too soon. Still, I really enjoyed it upon first reading. :) It was another one of those things that grabbed me and hooked me. But I did come in already having read all the Sequences, so there weren’t all those inferential gaps an average reader wouldn’t be able to bridge.

Welcome to HPMoR: The Podcast

Silent Night

This is an alternate universe story, where Petunia married a scientist. Harry enters the wizarding world armed with Enlightenment ideals and the experimental spirit. Now complete.

Chapter 1 is below, everything else can be found at the Table of Contents. If you would like to get a taste of rationalist fiction in shorter forms, the Other Audio page has a number of smaller works available. I also co-host a conversational podcast on Bayesian rationality – The Bayesian Conspiracy.

The full original text can be found at HPMoR.com

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