Friday, 18 January 2013

Creative Content Vinyl..?

Our busiest blogger - sound editor Al Muirden - goes retro...

What’s in a name? Well if CC had been founded in the 1950s, the “Digital” in our company name may well have reflected the audio medium of the time, as the world was still a long way from mass digitisation!

This picture of the Edgar Allan Poe vinyl recording is from an exhibit in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, taken on a recent visit to the Scottish capital - I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I saw it and had to take a quick photograph.

The recording was released I believe around 1956 and was narrated by Nelson Olmsted - credited as “dramatic narrator” - and contains several of Poe’s best stories and I think that this particular version has the original cover.

It made me realise that far from being a relatively recent phenomenon, the audio book does have some major history and provenance - it’s just that I didn’t even consider it until I (by chance) saw this exhibit!

I had a listen to an excerpt of this recording on YouTube when I got home, and this again made me think - were these read in single takes or were they in any way edited? (as an audio editor, I find this a fascinating question). Nelson Olmsted sounds in absolute control of his performance - it wouldn’t surprise me if these were one take wonders!

So audio books on vinyl? Who would have thought it? Moreover, who would have expected to see an exhibit in a museum! Oh, and remember…things often come full circle and vinyl is creeping back for music - maybe one day we’ll see audio books “back in black”! – Al Muirden

Friday, 11 January 2013

iPad or A4 pad..?

Sound editor Al talks audio book narration technology....

We had an interesting technological “happening” this week, which occurred in a recording session that Ali was producing.

Instead of the narrator reading from a traditional paper script, she read the entire book…from her iPad, after having been sent the script electronically!

I have to admit that this concept took me completely by surprise!

The ever-changing and multi-faceted technological options that currently exist are obviously here to stay and it is inevitable that people look for new and exciting ways to put those options to the test - and replacing a bulky paper script with an easy to carry and several pounds lighter iPad is one awesome way of using technology to make life easier (plus postage or courier costs are eliminated, as the script file can be transferred via the internet).

As well as making life more of a breeze for the reader/narrator, using an iPad rather than several hundred sheets of A4 means that the process is smoother for the engineer, the producer and the audio editor, as one key element is removed…the dreaded page-turn!

The “normal” method of reading from a paper script involves the reader sitting with his/her script placed in an easy to read position (usually on a table mounted lectern).  Straight away, this has limitations, as there can really only be one or two sheets of A4 in front of the reader so that they are easy to view - when the next sheet is due, one of the old pages is either turned over or replaced by the next page in sequence - hence you end up with a page-turn…

There are some narrators who are actually very good at page-turns and can often covertly slide in the new sheet whilst covering up the old, but inevitably a buildup of A4 is created and at some point the noise will be recorded, such is the sensitivity of recording studio microphones.

The offending page-turns are most commonly removed as part of the recording process but in most cases will result in the interruption of flow from the reader and a subsequent interruption and pick-up in the recording process - this takes precious time to resolve in situ and can also affect the time taken for editing…

Then along comes the iPad and “hey presto” page-turns are eliminated.

Of course, for audio book producers and audio editors, the traditional and long established paper script will remain – well, if you saw scripts after a recording session, you would totally understand, as they are covered in notes, comments, timings, lines, squiggles and other “pen-based” markings - for the moment, that’s a little tricky to replicate on an iPad* - however, technologies do exist already to write electronically - this will only improve… - Al Muirden

*iAnnotate is a fantastic app that allows you to mark up an electronic script as you would a paper script. I love it! - LK