(115b & 116) Production Notes

Last week the podcast website went down for a few days. For the few people who noticed, it was a blip. For me, it was a personal crisis. I spent the entire first evening flailing at it ineffectively. The next day at work I was horribly depressed. I assume it’s like what having a sick kid feels like. I thought “Shit, I recognize this emotion. This is what my life was back in the bad old days. This is what it feels like for life to have no purpose, for existence to be meaningless. No wonder I drank so much. This is awful.”

Yes, I know it’s a silly over-reaction. My emotions are stupid! I spent the following evening and the morning of the next day continuing to make repairs. Ultimately I had to deleted WordPress entirely and reinstall it clean (something got corrupted, I still don’t know what) and revert to backups, then recreate the last few weeks (which hadn’t been backed up yet). I was hesitant to do all this, because I didn’t know how badly it would screw things up, but it turns out there was very little screwing at all, as far as I can tell. Everything is OK again. Plus my life has meaning. Yaaaaay! Crisis averted. :)

Life Lesson y’all – back yo shit up.

(One might think the life lesson is not to let your sense of personal worth be entirely dependent upon a flimsy piece of tech which can be destroyed with an errant power surge, or which you can be cut off from permanently by someone snipping a few wires. Maybe to find purpose in something more stable and physically present, such as the love of the people around you. Those people have a very different way of thinking than I do. Plus I would remind them that accidents and disease are a thing. I’ll stick with my mp3 files, thank you very much. At least they can’t move away to pursue careers elsewhere.)

As for this week’s episode – I tried to lighten the mood when I switched to Anna’s POV, I hope it came through in my voice and my choice of music. I had to go with a song from the Jet Grind Radio soundtrack, as JGR (or JSR for your purists) is the closest I came to athletics in my youth. :) And boy did I spend a lot of hours on it! So when I think sports, these are the songs that come to mind.

You may notice I snuck in another new voice, as Flitwick. That was a last-minute change. When I was listening to the final episode I was hit by just how out of place my Flitwick sounded. I’ve gotten really used to hearing other people doing the other voices, and me doing Flitwick was jarring. Thanks to Francis for volunteering at the eleventh hour! I’ll back-edit all the previous Flitwick lines the same weekend I find the time to fix the Patils lines. So, you know… Thanksgiving?

And damn – we’ve made it to the denouement arc.

(114 & 115a) Production Notes

Well, here it is. Sticking the landing is always the hardest part, and after a certain point you lose all objectivity. I hope this works.

EDIT 9/17/15 – As some of you noticed, the website had a major crash a couple days ago. OMG that was stressful. I had to completely wipe and reinstall WordPress, and revert to backups from a month ago. Basic functionality looks to be back, and I’ve rebuilt the last few posts. Still some more work to do, but now it’s mainly cosmetic. Whew! Unfortunately that means the comments from the last few posts are lost. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented to let me know that the episode turned out OK. :) I’m glad it worked!

(113) Production Notes

The thing about greatly reducing the pitch of a voice to anonymize the speaker is that if you do it to a whole bunch of people, they all sound very similar and it’s hard to tell them apart. For purposes of anonymity, I suppose this is a feature. But for the purpose of a podcast, it’s a bug. You want the voices to be distorted, but still discernible as different people. So I used a number of different distortion methods to alter the Death Eater voices, but still leave them distinct. I’m going to claim that Voldemort’s observation of Mr. Honor’s quickly transfigured armor and jury-rigged Voice Distortion Charm applied to the majority of the Death Eaters, so they all had their own unique distortion charm rather than a uniform one.

I’m going back to every-other-week for the remainder of the podcast. If my calculations are correct, and there are no major complications, the final episode will air the last week of December. Which is a hell of way to set myself up for a Planning Fallacy fail. But you gotta have goals!

WorldCon was AWESOME, I’m gonna go again next year.

(111b) Production Notes

A quick personal note – you can now read the text of Red Legacy free from my fiction page, or buy it almost anywhere that sells eBooks.

You’ll notice that Voldemort has a new voice, one that more closely matches the voice described in the text (primarily high/shrieking/cold). It was a hell of a challenge finding a voice that was both high and evil-sounding. For a moment I considered doing something akin to Judge Doom, but I was worried that would grate on the ears after a very short time. In the end I went with a submission sent in by Alexander Jackson, and I think he’s pulled it off quite well!

If you re-download the Humanism chapter with the Voldemort flashback, you’ll notice I replaced Voldemort there with Alexander’s voice as well. And I’ve added an underlying “hiss” sound effect to everywhere in the HPMoR podcast that anyone spoke in Parseltounge. There were also a few touch-ups here and there thanks to proof-listening by Leonard Cohen, and some more will be coming in the next few months.


A number of people were quite affected by Hermione’s death when that first happened. I didn’t take it too badly, I dunno why. But I was really negatively affected by Quirrell actually being really evil and turning on Harry. I was much more emotionally attached to that character. So, regarding Voldemort in his True Form… (this is very similar to something I posted this in the /r/HPMOR subreddit back when the final arc was being published)

I very glad Quirrell has finally been replaced. There were a number of chapters where Quirrell was evil. Chapters I don’t care to reflect on. And then, Voldemort returned in truth. His voice changed, from a sardonic, controlled mentor, to a high, thin sound like nails on a chalkboard. His body became taller, bone-pale, his face disfigured. His eyes glowed red. This is not Quirrell. This is someone else.

And while I know, intellectually, that they are the same person… I do not see Quirrell. I see Voldemort. And my emotional core, seeing a different body there, doesn’t associate the two very strongly. This is a different person. This is evil. Quirrell had been murdered by this monster.

I am grateful, as this makes it easier for me to go forward. The effect is even a bit stronger in the podcast (at least for me), as there’s now a different voice actor and the change is audible with every word. I will miss Quirrell.

Regardless of your verbal deliberations on morality, your nonverbal emotional core sees no dead body and no blood; as far as it is concerned, I am just a talking hat.

(111a) Production Notes

Remember a few months ago when I replaced a ton of minor character’s lines with other people’s voices? And I thought I’d never have to go back and do that amount of revision again? Turns out I was wrong. I was recently contacted by a listener of Indian descent who received an unpleasant shock when she came across the Patil twins, due to the accent used.

It’s a strange walk that got me to this point. A lot of HPMoR is comedy, especially the first half. When I was doing all the voices myself I did a lot of goofy accents. In addition to highlighting the comedy, it also was fun for me, and it helped to differentiate all the characters when I was the only one doing the voices (both in my head and, I presume, to my listeners). Millicent Bulstrode had a ridiculous French accent, Dean Thomas had a spaghetti-western Cowboy drawl, Seamus was a cross between the Lucky Charms leprechaun and Groundskeeper Willy, and Zabini still has a crazy Eastern European/Russian accent (because I refused to let anyone else take him on. I just loved doing him too much, and as an Eastern European immigrant myself I feel I have some license to those jokes). It was all part of the silly fun.

But as more and more voices were replaced by people using their own, distinct voices, the silly fake accents disappeared. With very few exceptions the accents that are now in the podcast are natural accents from people who aren’t native English speakers.

The actress who voices the Patil twins was a friend of mine, who has since moved away, and who was merely following my precedent of voicing the twins with an Indian accent. She did some research beforehand and did her best to be authentic, but she didn’t employ a voice-coach. As a result she is a white woman putting on an Indian accent, and doing so in a less-than-perfect manner. It was far enough off to cause pain to a listener. The listener mentioned that such accents were affected at her school to belittle her. Given the Patil’s prominence in the anti-bullying SPHEW arc, I found that particularly upsetting.

Fortunately, Amanda is more than happy to rerecord the Patil lines without the accent, so this will be fixed in the near future! To anyone who came to the show recently and was jarred by the one goofy accent in a sea of normal voices – I apologize. That was entirely my fault, please don’t hold it against anyone else.