(CS 8) Production Notes

Apologies for the reduced quality of the narration audio. I tried using a different microphone, and I don’t like the results, I’ll be going back to the previous one. I figure it’ll mostly be unnoticed, as this episode is all done with that mic. But once the whole audio book is put out in one continuous file, this section will really stick out. :/

(CS 6) Production Notes

This episode reminded me how much I enjoy putting in sound effects and backing ambience. When I was going through Crystal Society for the second time to assess it for audio production, I was kinda relieved to find there wasn’t much in the way of SFX cues. I figured it would save me a lot of time. It’s true that I do save a fair bit of time… but I didn’t realize how much I missed all those little additions until this week. They were fun to do. And with a project of passion, keeping it fun is really important. This is a thing I will have to consider more going forward. I think I’ve overloaded myself with projects lately, and I need to narrow my focus in the near-ish future.

New SFX: Jaguar, Bells, Fireworks

Ambiance: Catacombs, from Tabletop Audio

Music:
Intro/Outro – I Wanna Be Adored, by The Stone Roses

(CS 5) Production Notes

(very minor spoiler for episode 5 below)

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It was neat to switch to doing normal inflection and emphasis for Body’s voice this week. When I first started Crystal Society the robot voice was so unnatural and weird that I had to do multiple takes to get it properly flat and monotone. It didn’t take too long to learn though, but then just as I get it down, we switch to human-inflection, and I gotta uproot all those habits! It was interesting clearing my throat and practicing saying “Mister Potter” in a sardonic tone a few times again. :) Made me nostalgic, but not in a bad way (which I say because I generally despise that emotion).

I did have a lot of self-doubt this episode. On the /hpmor subreddit a few weeks back someone commented that in their opinion, my emphasis was wrong, and wrong in exactly the right way to maximally grate against their own internal voice when reading the story (every single time!) that they just couldn’t listen to the HPMoR podcast. I know there’s many ways to read a text, and a performance is inherently interpretive, and everyone’s vision is different, etc etc. I know lots of people like what I did, and I’m grateful for that. :) But the entire time I was recording this episode a mental thread kept surfacing saying “Hey, is your emphasis off here? Does it make you sound weird and like you don’t get it? Maybe you should try that line again…” It was hard smothering it down.

Which is not to complain about that comment on the subreddit or anything! It’s a valid opinion, and totally legit, and I don’t want the commentor to feel bad for speaking about their experience and finding other people to share in it. That builds community too! ^^ I just hope it evaporates from my brain quickly so I can get back to recording without that whispering doubt bugging me. And I suppose writing about it doesn’t help that process. Doh.

(CS 2) Production Notes

We’re only two episodes in, but it’s possible you’ve already noticed far fewer sound effects and music in Crystal Society, compared to my previous projects. I want to say there are artistic reasons for this, but alas, I cannot. It’s purely practical.

At my last job, I didn’t work the full day. I had to be in the office for roughly eight hours, but for a decent handful of hours every week I didn’t have work to do. So I’d spend some of that time on planning SFX and music, and/or searching out appropriate FX/music. And I’d also take long lunches, during which time I’d work on the podcast episodes. A typical 25 minute episode is 6-8 hours of work. For complex things, it could be longer.

Now I have a new job, which I haven’t work-optimized yet, and which requires more of my brain and time. On top of that, I have far more non-work projects nowadays, including The Bayesian Conspiracy podcast, and trying to make an honest attempt at professional-level writing. On top of a growing social life and home responsibilities, I just don’t have the time to produce episodes as richly as I used to. :(

This is mainly a vanity thing. I liked adding in the music and SFX, it was fun, and it made the project more personal to me. But while they do make the listening experience slightly better (I hope), they are frills and extras. The core story is the true value of the podcast, and that is not lost. I wish I had the time for the frills. But there’s only so many hours in life, and we all have to choose our priorities, and ultimately the frills just aren’t as important as writing a novel or renovating my home.

I do have a few, though. Anything that’s really simple to throw in, for one. And the functional ones that are needed in order to translate the work into audio. Like page-flips to denote section breaks. Or the background hum (reminiscent of a space station, I hope) whenever the AIs are speaking internally to each other. In the text this is conveyed by using [brackets] around their text, rather than “quotes”. I realized immediately that I needed something similar in the audio to give some clue that there is no speaking with the outside world happening, only internal dialogs. I hope it’s enough?

I’m really surprised that more audio fiction hasn’t switched to doing something like this yet. Visual cues in a manuscript, like indentation or changed font, really do need some sort of equivalent audio cue. Come on publishers, it’s not that hard.

SFX: Warp Core, Flashback

Music:
Intro/Outro – I Wanna Be Adored, by The Stone Roses

(MM17) Production Notes

And we’re done!

One day before this was set to go live I decided that I wasn’t happy with the backing music I’d used. So there’s a version of this chapter on my hard drive that uses Mars by Gustav Holst for the Superman scene, and Etude No. 2 + For The Damaged Coda for the Lois scene. Mars was too intense throughout, rather than building, and didn’t end quite right. And For The Damaged Coda, while beautiful and exactly the mournful I wanted, was still waaaaaaay too recently popularized by Rick & Morty, making the whole scene just feel derivative due to the music choice. So I spent most of Tuesday freaking out and trying to fix that. Thankfully I was recently given a spotify playlist that had Nunc Dimittis on it (thanks Brienne!) and an ex-Catholic friend that pointed me not just at Requiem, but which parts in particular would work well (thanks Vivian!). So – whew! What a day!

The Full Book (at 7.5 hours) is also available at the main Metropolitan Man Table of Contents page.

I feel so unutterably torn about how Metropolitan Man ended. I was originally going to talk about that here, but I recently recorded the interview with Alexander Wales that’ll be airing in two weeks, and we talked about in that, so I’ll just let that wait until that comes out. :) Thank you again to everyone who helped contribute to this. Super-Extra Thanks to Alexander Wales for writing such an amazing story, and letting me podcast it (psst, you can read his other stuff here!). And thank you all for listening!

SFX: 1940’s Office; Forest Night; drawer; skid; wrecking ball

Music:
Intro/Outro – Handlebars, by Flobots
Luthor Manor w Superman – in order: Rex tremendae; (tiny bit of Confutatis)Agnus Dei; Dies Irae, all from Mozart’s Requiem
Luthor Manor w Lois – Nunc Dimittis, by Arvo Pärt