Friday, 22 February 2013

Did someone speak..?

Sound editor Al continues his occasional series on the art of the audio book...

This week I thought I would talk a little about listening to audio books, as recently, I have been performing a different role to my normal “sound editor” in that I have been doing a lot of listening without actually having to make any changes…Allow me to explain!

Audiobook production is much more involved than people may think and many stages have to be completed before you (the listener) have the opportunity to purchase your chosen audio download.

The producer has to do a lot of work before any recording is made: reading and prepping the script, including correctly identifying any pronunciations etc, sourcing and liaising with the narrator (who themselves will also be reading, prepping and preparing their script and any accompanying notes).

Then the recording is done.

After that, the sound editor of choice will do an initial edit on the recording, using either the sound engineer’s marked up script, or sometimes the producer’s version of the same script (which is also copiously marked up!) to remove any problem areas that are marked. (NB - there can sometimes be big differences between what is marked and what is actually recorded as - we are all human after all and with the best will in the world, things can get missed.)

That initial edit is then sent back to the producer for checking - this is the part that I have been doing a lot of lately…and this is the part where listening and hearing come together.

The checking part also involves use of the script, but this time the checker is listening (in my case via headphones) and following the script at the same time to ensure that what is on the script is actually what was recorded - that is the hearing part, because listening is easy, but hearing is what is crucial in this process.

There can be occasions where words get swapped around, or sometimes tenses get omitted - e.g. the script said “I’d” and the narrator read it as “I” - easy things to miss when narrating or listening.

The importance of checking the recording cannot be emphasised enough, as this is what the public gets to her

Here at CC, I work a little differently from the norm however, in that when I am editing a recording, I check it as I go so that the listening and hearing stages are all part of the editing process - because I get a chance to re-listen as many times as I want to, I can make sure it is correct!

So you see - when checking audio recordings, listening and hearing are two distinct disciplines - we all listen, but it is what we hear that makes the difference - happy listening!  - Al Muirden

Photo by iamtheo

Friday, 1 February 2013

Crime writer Maureen Carter is all ears...

Crime writer Maureen Carter, author of the gritty Bev Morriss police procedural series, tells us what it was like listening to the audio book version of her title “Working Girls”...

1. What is it like hearing someone else interpret your words?

In a word: awesome. In rather more: even though I always read work aloud (many writers do), hearing my words interpreted by an actor whose career I’ve admired for years is absolute magic. Listening to my characters ‘speak’ – especially Bev who’s very close to my heart – was an amazing experience. I found it really moving, in fact.

2. The fabulous Frances Barber narrates. What does she bring to the book?

How long have you got? Seriously, I could listen to Frances Barber’s voice all day! Make that, voices: she gives every character a distinctive speech pattern and accent, making even minor players instantly identifiable the minute they ‘open their mouth’. More than that though – I don’t know about you, but when I hear a voice I create a picture in my head of how that person looks. Now clearly, I had a pretty good idea how I saw my own characters, but Frances’ narration made me think again. And again. And again! Her vocal versatility is remarkable. I remember when I first worked in broadcasting, a news editor told me ‘the voice is a tool’. He was right and I reckon Frances Barber has several toolboxes at her disposal.

3. Was there anything about the narration that surprised you?

I think how emotional I became listening to it; how I found the action really engrossing. And even though I wrote every word of the book – how some lines made me laugh, some passages brought a tear to my eye, others sent shivers down my spine. Frances’ interpretation of the pimp Charlie Hawes, for instance, made the hairs rise on the back of my neck. She also gave particular warmth and colour to the older prostitute, Val. Again, I rethought my entire image of the character. I particularly loved the scenes between Bev and the girls. I found them really moving – and that’s down to the feelings Frances’s narration evokes.

4. How do you think the experience of reading a print (or digital) book differs from listening to an audio book?

I adore reading; I devour around eight titles a month but as a writer – as well as, hopefully, loving the story I’m reading – I tend to concentrate on the words: writing style, word choice even how they look on the page. Listening to an audio book releases me from all that. I can sit back and get lost in the narration, visualise the scenes, picture the characters, let the imagination flow. With the right voice, an audio book has an immediacy that captivates the listener and draws them into a different world from the word, go. And of course, it’s hand-free so I can go pour a glass of wine at the same time! – Maureen Carter

“Working Girls” by Maureen Carter, narrated by Frances Barber, is available on Audible and Audible UK.