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RADIOPLAY magazine radioplaycontests.com

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Cover Art by Lee Labit.

Page 2 Imagination Lane Advertisement.

October 2008

Vo l u m e I I s s u e 3

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This is the current page. It lists the Staff who worked on this issue, and the Issue Summary.

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From The Admin’s Desk, which is a letter from the administrator of Radioplay Contests to the readers of the magazine.

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The Comic Summary, which features the most recent comic strips that were posted at the forum.

Pages 6-7 Halloween Games for your pleasure.

Pages 8-9 Interview with Thomas Himinez.

Page 10-11 Stevie K. Farnaby’s sound design article Part 2.

Pages 12-13

A tutorial which could help you gain new techniques to apply to your productions.

Magazine Staff

Production Manager - Lee Labit Page Designer and Page Formatter - Alexa Chipman Editor - Fiona Thraille Contributor - Stevie K. Farnaby

What Is A Radioplay? A radioplay is a form of play in audio format. The first radio plays were broadcast in the 1920s. These days, amateur producers produce radioplays (or audio dramas) but they are rarely broadcast on radio stations. All articles are copyrighted by their respective authors. RADIOPLAY magazine is (c) 2008 Radioplay Contests. All Rights Reserved.

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Welcome to the October, Halloween issue of RADIOPLAY. This issue includes an interview with Thomas Himinez, a.k.a. Lighthope, a crossword puzzle, a maze, two tips for Garageband, and part two of Stevie’s Sound Design article. During the month of September at Radioplay Contests, there was a discussion about including music in projects that was started by a member with the username the_observer. TheHitchhikerKnows provided lengthly explanations about various music creation software for both Mac and Windows operating systems in the thread. He also explained why someone should still use an old piece of software as part of a producer’s assets. “An artist uses all kinds of brushes, a writer has to read a thousand books to write one, so I keep everything that might be handy, especially when it comes to music,” he says. Geek By Night is back and The_Doctor (the creator of the series) was at the forum to answer members’ questions. I picked up a line in the dialogue in which I thought that a character was referring to his new voice, but The_Doctor explained that it was not the case. He also mentioned that he gave a new microphone to his new voice actor to make him sound better. I wonder if that fact was a Radioplay Contests exclusive. Hmmm... DarkPsyFanatic wrote a review on Star Trek Dimensions - Episode 1 and the Star Trek Dimensions blog found it and posted it on their site. Enjoy the Halloween issue everyone, mwa ha ha ha ha...

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Pronunciation Mistakes

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Fuzzyface: I had a VA have problems with pronouncing a plain English word because she thought it was a technical term and kept trying to pronounce it as such, rather than the simple English word it actually was...

Alexachipman: I think this is true for myself more than a lot of producers, since I make my vas speak not only English but Old English, Italian, Latin, Ancient Egyptian, Cymraeg as well as languages I personally made up. Not only speak, but I also make them sing in said languages. lol.

Not A Movie Sequel

UltraRob: If you were listening to most of the Star Wars or Star Trek audio dramas on speakers someone in the next room could easily think you were watching one of the movies or TV shows. For other projects, it depends on how famous the music is. SingleAgain: There are certain things that are iconic-that are so perfectly associated with a genre that you can’t avoid the association. I think that in those cases it’s better to avoid the sounds than accepting the association, unless you are wanting the association.

You Know That Voice Actor?

UltraRob: Ahh, the dream of many a voice actor come to life. Alexachipman: Why did you put “first and last name here” when you know it is David Ault ;) Teacup: ROFL - exactly the same thought crossed my mind, too!

How Do You Wake Up? FuzzyFace: Ha! My computer is not in my bedroom, so that’s out. I rarely have trouble waking up - it’s not waking up that is my problem. That is, I regularly wake up in the middle of the night and again around 6:00, without any alarm or assistance.

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Across 6. The devil’s name in Afterlives. 7. A series in Darker Projects which consists of 11 episodes. It debut on July 29, 2006 and each episode is approximately 5 minutes long. 11. Blood-sucking humans. 12. The first voice actor who voiced Darker Projects’ Byron. Clue: He’s not the same voice actor as in The Byron Chronicles. 13. Beings who cook with cauldrons and fly on brooms. 14. The phrase that people say when they visit houses during October 31. 15. The monsters in Lady From Day.

Down 1. The number of pairs of floating eyes on the cover of this issue. 2. The feeling that you get when you are scared. 3. The writer of Tales of the Museum. 4. A number co! nsidered to be bad luck. 5. The fruit that represents Halloween. 8. Floating balls which some believed to be spirits of the dead. 9. The villain’s name in the Agent 003 series. 10. The lead voice actor of the Byron Chronicles.


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This month’s interview is with Thomas Himinez, who is the producer of Tigers’ Quest. The series is about the survival of two Royal Bengal tigers. The official website, tigersquest.com, has information about the story, characters, and voice actors. He is also the script editor of the Doctor Who audio dramas at dwad.net.

1. What was the first project that you were involved in (either as a producer or voice actor)? Ooh, that was a long time ago. I believe it was a radio adaption of The Hand. I remember having to be choked to death...more than once. I think that was way, way back in 1974. Boy, I’ve been in this business a long time! 2. Are there more voice actors who are willing to join your projects now, compared to your first few projects? Oh yes. Our list of actors has grown immensely. We generally send out casting notices to three places: one to our own Call Board and two to the other well known VA boards. For the big professional productions, we also cast from Voice123. 3. Do you have any voice actors who, although you are paying them to voice your characters, would not accept their payment? If so, then where does that money go? Every once in a while, for Doctor Who anyway, we do get an actor who doesn’t cash the cheque. They frame it, as it generally represents their first professional job. That money simply stays in the kitty and is used for future productions. I’ll bet you were expecting something like “We donate it to charity”. Nope. We’re so broke, we’re a charity case unto ourselves. :) On the other hand, for productions by Everlasting Films, Tigers’ Quest, Kingdom of Syree, the law requires that the actors be paid, so we’ll chase them down and make sure it gets cashed. I’m sure the question nagging at the back of your mind is, what law am I referring to? When you have a contract between any two people, each side must receive something or the contract is void. In the case of an actor and a production company, the production company receives acting services and the actor receives compensation. You can not have a contract where an actor works for free. That isn’t legal. They have to receive something in return or there is no contract. And that ends our legal lesson for today.

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4. Was there an increase of payment from your early projects to your current ones? Yes, we did bump up the pay a bit. It still ends up being a token payment, but we did see a bit of an increase. And again, it depends on what the production is. SegalChord Productions, which does Doctor Who, pays very little because it’s more of a “for fun” project, while Everlasting Films pays more because those are professionally released productions. 5. What is the reason behind releasing your projects in real media format, not mp3 format? We add video title sequences which can not be done in mp3. Also, we actually do have mp3 versions now which you can find on Apple’s iTunes. Those are released one month after they appear in Real Media format on the Doctor Who Audio Dramas website. 6. How did you develop your skills as a producer? Did you have a mentor or did you just learn them by yourself? Oh how I wished I had a mentor. This was all self-taught. But it was taught over a number of years. I’d shudder to think of anyone trying to do this with no experience. It’s overwhelming. It’s almost a full time job. Fortunately I have that luxury, most people do not. 7. How much of your free time (in terms of percentage) do you spend on making your productions? Has that percentage increased or decreased, comparing your early projects to the ones that you are making right now? Oh, overwhelmingly it has increased over the years. Like I said, it’s pretty much a full-time job now. Between writing, producing one show, post-producing another, pre-production on a third, there is no free time in the day. Fortunately, I have a business which runs by itself and makes my income, so I get to stay at home and do what I enjoy. Nice work if you can find it. God has blessed me and that is what I get to do. 8. How strict are you when casting your voice actors? Depends on the production. For Doctor Who we try to be a bit liberal. The acting or accent can slip, the audio quality doesn’t have to quite be on par. We understand there are a lot of people new to the world of acting and recording, so we use this to help them get experience. For Everlasting Films, though, we are a lot stricter. Except for very, very minor audio problems, we’ll bounce an audition. Which is why I constantly tell actors to “audition their own auditions”. You’d be surprised how many times an actor will send an audition that has horrible hiss or other noise, or an echo that sounds like they recorded in a tunnel, or some other huge problem. And it isn’t only the “amateurs” who do this. At Voice123, people pay $300 to sign up for these service, so these people are trying to break into the business. And even they turn in duff auditions. So I can not emphasise this enough: Listen to your own audition before sending them in. If you can hear it, we most

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certainly can. I’ve been doing audio work for three decades. I’ve got a good ear. 9. What’s your favorite part of making a radioplay? Writing the script, receiving auditions, mixing the production, or some another process? I’m a writer at heart. All these productions really are just my way to write. If I could just write and hand off producing to someone else, I would. On the other hand, I also enjoy the audition process. I like to make a person’s dream come true. We get a lot of people for who this is their first job. They love it and I love that they love it. It’s a good feeling, and that’s another reason why I do it. 10. Were any of your projects delayed? If so, what were the reasons? Were they personal issues or production issues (such as a computer crash, a voice actor got sick, etc.)? Generally speaking, any delays were minor. Mostly it’s because of illness. And when it’s illness, it’s a big illness. Actors, real ones anyway, will kill themselves to deliver. I was in a stage play recently as an actor and I was dead sick. I could barely stand. But I was there because The Show Must Go On. That’s no actor’s cliché. We really believe that. So actors will deliver their lines on time regardless. Only if illness affects the voice will they delay. That can’t be helped. On the other hand, we do experience delays from missing lines. An actor simply didn’t record one of their lines. They weren’t watching the script closely enough. That is irritating, I’ll admit that. 11. Could you name your top 3 or top 5 voice actors that you’ve worked with and tell us what are the qualities that they have that you wish other voice actors would have? Well, I could name more than three or five names, I’m really reluctant to choose because I’d have to omit others who deserve to be mentioned. But I’ll take the mickey because they (even the ones I don’t mention) deserve a pat on the back. Jeffrey Coburn, Laura Post, David McAlister, and James K. Flynn are the ones that pop off the top of my head. They all played reoccurring characters, so I’ve worked with them a lot which is why they are at the forefront. They are all consummate professionals. While it is true that they actually all are professionals (except for Post who I think is getting into the profession), their attitude is professional. They listen, work with you, and deliver a strong performance. Each was dedicated to giving you their best. They knew the scripts, and thus their knew their characters. They didn’t just spout out lines. They would become the characters. They did their lines again and again until they got it right, and then they would record and send them in. Great people to work with.

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12. Do any of your family, friends, or relatives listen to your projects? If so, then what are their opinions? Of course they love it, what did you expect? Hahahahaha! 13. Did you make any offline promotion for your website or projects? We do get a mention in the local newspaper every once in a while. But nothing big. My problem is that I’m not a publicist. So advertising isn’t my thing. I don’t know how, so I don’t pursue it as I should. I wish I knew someone who could handle that aspect of it. 14. How many pieces of software do you use when mixing your audio files? Generally speaking, Adobe Audition does everything we need. There are other packages out there which will do a little more or may do something that we might need for a moment, but the price is outrageous, so we make do. So far it hasn’t failed us. 15. How do you pick the names of your characters? Names and story titles are one of the toughest. For modern day Earth stories, the script writing software I use (Movie Magic Screenwriter) has a very large name bank. So I just use that to pull out a name. For more exotic names, it can sometimes take hours or even days to think of the right one. I hate coming up with names. 16. What is your advice to other producers who want to be involved in this hobby for a long time? Love what you do. If you don’t love it, it will be gruelling. And when you stop loving it, stop. Life’s too short to do something you don’t want to do. 17. Are you planning on starting a new series soon? If so, then what will it be about? Doctor Who takes up most of the time. Add to that the productions of Everlasting Films and we’re tapped out on manpower. If we had a larger crew, we do have a couple of series we’d like to do, but it’s a simple case of logistics that is preventing it right now. 18. Do you think there would be an increase in semi-professional productions in the future? Absolutely. As the costs associated with productions comes down and the availability of the equipment necessary becomes more widespread, you’ll see an explosions of people making their own stuff. Just look at YouTube to see an example.

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PART 2 Sound Design for Modern Radioplays Some Advice for Beginners… By Stevie K. Farnaby

Some Advice on Background Ambience Design An important note here, is to know your location. Study this to the Nth degree, and ask some simple questions before starting. Where is the location, and when is the scene set? What type of activities are going on in that scene? What sort of weather conditions are going on in the scene? As an aside here, Maudelayne is set in 1930s Oxford, and so every sound I use has to be suitable for that period, and that area of the world. I’ve had endless hours of fun sourcing out recordings of 1930s cars, cash registers and suchlike over the last 8 months ! – LOL 1. Background Ambience, for me, is always a multi-layered affair. Each new layer, adds something different, and a new level of density. I’ll start by finding a recording of say trees rustling if the location is outside. I’ll then maybe add wind / breeze / rain / bird effects. I always expand the stereo image on these to give a sense of space within the particular scene. 2. And finally there’ll come some extra effects, to build up the believability of the location. I might for example, add say, some running water, if the scene is set near a canal, or the odd boat going past, or the sound of a fisherman casting out a line. These types of extra effects are always panned left or right, or I might even have them sweeping across the speakers from left to right. Sometimes, listeners will only hear these subconsciously incidentally, but it’s very definitely a situation where imagination is key. Open you mind, and really allow the ideas to flow. I was asked recently to review another Producer’s work and give some feedback. There was a scene in the piece that had absolutely no background ambience whatsoever. So I asked about it. The scene was set in a flat / apartment in the early 1900s, and the producer was having a hard time figuring out what sort of noises would be in the background. So I suggested, maybe a ticking clock in the background (Flats and houses of that era always had a clock in the room), rain beating against the window, a fire burning, and maybe some servants pottering around outside the room etc. So, no matter what the scene / location, there’s always scope for background ambience.

Some Advice on Action-based Sound Design Again start with some simple questions. Who is involved in the action ? Where is the action taking place ? What sort of action is it ? Is there any physical movement involved ? Where is each character physically located ? My first port of call on producing a scene, is to search my library of sound effects, to make sure I have everything required for that scene. You never can have enough sound effects, and my own library extends to several Gigabytes worth, and growing by the day – LOL. I’ll then pick out an appropriate selection. For instance, if I was going to do a sword fighting scene, I’d compile

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a collection of sword hit and scrape sounds, screaming, stabbing sounds, punches and kicks, body falls, and very probably some breaking furniture and clothes tearing sounds too. 1. Where movement is involved, like say if a character is walking around a room, I will often have the footsteps SFX pan across from the left to the right speaker. Or I might have the footsteps fade out, to give the appearance of a character walking away. A good example of this is to be found in Episode 8 of Maudelayne. There’s a scene in the Eagle and Child Pub, where the Barmaid, Sophie, walks around a table placing plates down in front of each character. You can hear Sophie’s footsteps walking to where each character is sat, going from left to middle, middle to right, and back again. I even had her talking as she walked around the table, so her dialogue in that scene also moves around the stereo field. This really does give a sense of space to a scene. 2. In an action sequence, such as the sword fighting example I used earlier, I’d personally use as much of the stereo field as possible to build up the sequence. Sword hits and thumps could be panned in degrees (Say 25%, 50%, 75% left or right). This way you’ll really build up a surprising density. The listener will almost feel a part of the action too, as they’re literally surrounded by the action. 3. So what do I do, when I don’t have an appropriate sound in my library ? Well, there’s two options. One is to look for one online. There’s literally tons of web-sites out there that provide Royalty Free sound effects. Or secondly, you could custom create your own. 4. Sometimes though, it’s just plain fun to custom create your own effects, as your imagination can run riot - LOL. It also gives a series its own unique vibe, as the effects therein have never been used on any other show. In Maudelayne for example, I custom create a large volume of the effects used for this very reason. The Maud Whoosh Sound is used on every single episode, and has become partly responsible for the feel of the show. An early script described it as “A mythical sound based in nature”. So I started with a stream-based running water sound, and over layered a lightning bolt, some wind, and some bells. I added a whole host of effects to the finished sound, and then made it pan across the speakers from left to right. A lot of hard work and messing around, but great fun to do ! So in short, the key to good Sound Design is all about preparation, working relationships, and most of all imagination. Have fun experimenting folks. Looking forward to hearing the results.

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Increasing Volume and Changing a Tempo in Garageband By Lee Labit This month’s tutorial is about 2 tips and tricks that may be helpful for you Garageband producers out there. #1 The first is about increasing volume. Somebody who has never used Garageband may laugh at that sentence and think of it as a lame topic but it is a critical issue. You see, you can only increase a track’s volume up to 6 decibels, while you can lower a track’s volume up to 144 decibels. This is not a joke. Therefore, in order to increase the volume beyond 6 decibels, you have to use a plugin in Garageband (or ask your voice actor, musician, or sound effects creator to re-record the audio at a higher volume). Here is the method that I use: a) Select the plugin* “AUPeakLimiter”. b) A pop-up box will show up and you have to drag the slider of the last setting, ‘pre-gain’, to the right to increase the volume of the track. Other plugins in Garageband also have a similar function but they introduce some type of noise. I am using Garageband 3 and I do not know whether Apple “fixed” this volume control issue in the latest version, Garageband 08. #2 Change the tempo of an imported audio file. As far as I know, changing the tempo of an imported audio (mp3, wav, etc.) file that does not contain software instruments (like midi files) is not trivial in Garageband. I checked the Help section but this process is also not listed there. So, I googled the process and found that the only way to do this is: a) Press control + alt + g. b) Click anywhere on your workspace. The orange track(s) should turn to purple. c) Click the Control option in the menu and select ‘Show Editor’. You could also show the editor by clicking the scissors icon. There is also a third way in which you can double click the audio file in a track to make the Editor screen show up. d) In the Editor, uncheck the checkbox which says “Follow Tempo & Pitch.” e) Click the tempo indicator and move/drag it to the desired setting. You should see the audio file(s) increase or decrease in length depending on whether you set the tempo to be faster or slower. Since you would probably do this process on rare occasions, I highly recommend that you should do this process with just the audio file that needs its tempo to be changed, not on the whole scene of a project. Otherwise, you have to check each one of the

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imported files to make sure that the “Follow Tempo & Pitch” checkbox has a check. So, when making this for one audio file, you have to export it and then import it to a scene where you want it to be present. To export a file: a) First, you must click ‘Garageband’ on the menu and then click ‘Preferences’. b) Go to the Export subsection to check the Audio Podcast Settings. c) The Audio Podcast Settings has four options and I recommend choosing ‘Higher Quality’ since it is the best option and you probably do not want to reduce the quality of the exported file since you will insert it to a scene file. What are the reasons why someone should change the tempo of a file? Well, you may want to make to increase the tempo of background music if you have a scene where your characters seem like they are in trouble or running out of time. On the other hand, decreasing the tempo makes a relaxing mood. *Selecting a plugin was covered in Issue #2 so check the tutorial section of that issue for more details.

Sites of Radioplay Producers Who Are Active Members of Radioplay Contests

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RADIOPLAY Issue 3  

The October, special Halloween Edition of RADIOPLAY magazine.

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