I had a lot of trouble with Akon’s voice. I kept reverting to Harry’s voice (which is close to my natural tone anyway), but that didn’t feel right. Akon has a hundred years of command experience behind him! He shouldn’t sound quite so much like a charmingly precocious wunderkind. I always base my voices on some character in fiction I feel they resemble, so I went with someone from command in TNG. I didn’t feel I could possibly pull off the stately manner and understated gravitas of Picard, but I figured I could do a pretty decent Riker. Unfortunately the character just didn’t line up.
From my observations, much of leadership is assuming a confident and commanding demeanor. Acting assured (and being assuring) even when you aren’t, and doing so convincingly. Akon, through his described actions, his choice of words and phrasing, and his internal monologue, just doesn’t convey that. Every time I got on a good “Riker taking over while Picard is away and issuing orders” roll, I’d be hit with some action or line that made it obvious that I was clearly way out of character for Akon! And the whole thing would fall apart.
As a result, I’m afraid you’ll find that my Akon voice varies a bit more than it should from scene to scene.
I finally came to the conclusion that Akon is simply a bad captain. He’s too open and honest about his insecurities. His openness is probably a major asset for a research and exploration vessel, but it’s not inspirational or guiding in a high-stress crisis. I wish I had realized this several weeks earlier than I did. I’m also a bit crestfallen to have come to this conclusion – I identify very strongly with Akon, and I was delighted to see someone like myself in a leadership position. The realization that he isn’t a great leader, and that it’s therefore very likely that I am not a good leader for similar reasons, was disappointing.
It’s interesting the things you learn when stretching your boundaries.
Whew, I was editing this one right up to the last day. It varies from the HPMoR episodes in several regards. Most notably, I’ve adopted a less “announcer”-like voice for narration, which I feel is better. I’ll keep it, but it makes the reading more energy-intensive for me, as it doesn’t come naturally. I guess I naturally tend to have a declaiming tone. Good for teaching/instructing perhaps, but not so good for storytelling.
Also of note – the inclusion of general background music. Previously I’d only ever done music for very specific scenes were I already had a soundtrack in my head. But lately I’ve been listening to Welcome to Night Vale, and they use background music to great effect. It really heightens the mood of that podcast, and the mix of occasional background music and silence really makes both stand out in striking ways. I was amazed how much more time it takes to add those touches. Not only do I have to familiarize myself with a whole new collection of music*, I have to add another listen-through to listen for places to insert it, and then review to make sure it sounds alright. I’m sure that with familiarity the stress level and time investment of this extra step will ease, but I was not ready for how much it would take.
(*I decided to only use freely available public-use sources. I’m ok using bits and pieces of copyrighted songs here and there, such as for the intro/outro. But to use the entirety of a song without permission seemed both unethical and of dubious legality)
(BTW, if you’re not listening to Welcome to Night Vale, you may want to give it a shot. It’s a series of events that happen in a small creepy town in the desert, as relayed by their local community radio guy. There’s no narrative or story development so it won’t be to everyone’s taste. Mainly it’s cool quirkiness and mood pieces. From the pilot – “The City Council […] would like to remind everyone that dogs are not allowed in the dog park. People are not allowed in the dog park. It is possible that you will see hooded figures in the dog park. Do not approach them. Do not approach the dog park. […] The dog park will not harm you.” It’s like what A Prairie Home Companion would be like, if it was supernatural, and didn’t suck.)
Also I removed the use of the Page-Flip sound for breaks. I’d gotten so used to them after all this time that not hearing them was actually startling. I’ll keep it that way for Three Worlds Collide, but I really like them and they’ll be back for HPMoR.
I got my cameo!!! Huzzah!
So we have come to that time again – where the podcast has caught up with the published material. Fortunately I am not unprepared! In two week’s time this podcast will be broadcasting the first chapter of Eliezer’s “Three Worlds Collide” – a first-contact story that just keeps the punches coming. It’ll air in seven parts, so it seems likely that Methods of Rationality will have more new material by the time it is completed. I’m trying out some new things with it – hopefully improvements. We’ll see!