By Scott Murray
I remember how nervous I was when Season One of The Crimson Files launched last year. Sure, I've been producing podcasts since 2011, and some of those included shows with story elements. However, I had never taken on anything of this magnitude. It took almost all summer to do the casting, scriptwriting, recording and editing. This includes the countless days and hours piecing together dialogue with music and sound effects. With all of that work, the scariest feeling is wondering if people will find the show, listen to it and like it.
Fast forward a year later, and Season One has another month of new downloads as Season Two gets ready to launch. I'm still immersed in a lengthy post-production process (as I write this, I'm editing Episode 3 of 6), but the countdown to the new season is still exciting.
There were some advantages and challenges to writing and producing a new season. One major advantage was familiarity. One of my strengths is writing for voice. When I wrote the first season, I had a general "idea" of how the characters would sound. Now, I know how they sound. Also, I didn't have to spend as much of the story introducing the characters to the audience.
The biggest challenge was making sure I gave people a good reason to come back and stay. I wanted to create a new villain and a new challenge that felt very different or very "next level" from the first season. I knew I needed to make sure the story gave all of the characters a chance to have meaningful moments like they did in the first season. After all, I have to assume people have some favorites outside of the main characters - people like Grandma Jeanie, Doc, Jenna, Donovan, Slick Saucy and Mr. Bill. I feel strongly that this season has achieved all of these important elements.
I envision Season Two taking place a few months after the end of Season One. In that time, The Crimson Crane is an established hero, and The Crimson Files is more popular than ever. As a result, people's lives have changed.
This includes Mr. Bill. Just to intrigue you, I can tell you he has a scene this season involving the Hillbilly Hellcats song, "Hillbillies on Speed."
As with last season, there was a really good ebb-and-flow with how this story came together. Once again, after the writing, casting, recording and editing, it's time for people to return to Fort Henson with us.
After the trip, I would love to hear what you think. But first, I want to thank you for being part of the journey.
By Scott Murray
Wow. It's hard to believe the first episode of The Crimson Files launches tomorrow. It's exciting, scary and surreal rolled all into one. About three months ago, all I had was an idea. There was no concept, no story, no characters, no recordings and no artwork. I just decided to create a fiction podcast.
I had my concerns:
Could I do everything well enough (write, direct, produce, edit)?
Could I write an engaging 6-part continuous story?
Would I find people to play all of the parts?
Could I get it all done in a reasonable timeframe?
My wife had concerns. She knew I hadn't written anything like this in over ten years (and back then, it was all visual). She wondered if the concept would translate well enough to audio. She worried if all of the potential obstacles would turn this into a long-running and time-consuming effort.
However, three months later, we're both excited.
I found an affordable place to record the scenes.
I hired some talented music producers to create a theme.
Post-production has been lengthy and extensive. However, it's also been very fun to hear it all mesh together.
I've had colleges listen, give me feedback, and it's been very positive.
By Scott Murray
Whew! Last night I finished an action sequence that I worked on for days. Yes, ONE action sequence. Now, when I say DAYS, I don't mean to say I've worked on it for 10 hours a day. It's more like several days at 2-5 hour intervals.
The sequence involved a city, a building, police, choppers, bad guys and good guys (5 characters + extras). Not to mention, there was explosions, guns and fight sequences.
If I told you this was a film (and you like action stuff), you'd probably be very interested. However, I bet you're wondering how is this going to translate to audio and how to follow it all. The good news is that I am way ahead of you. Here's a breakdown of my answer:
Part of this is somewhat experimental
Have you ever read a book with action sequences and you have trouble following what the author is trying to describe in the scene? I have. It sucks. Listening to the same sequence on audio probably doesn't make it any clearer, but it might help if there were some sound effects involved. However, it's still not a visual representation.
In a fiction podcast, I don't think it would necessarily sound great to have a narrator telling you EVERYTHING that is going on while you hear dialogue, sound effects and music in the same scene. Maybe with the right team, voices and coordination it could work...but I'm doing something unique.
In a lot of ways, the audience lives through Wyatt and Reggie. So, instead of overlaying a different voice to explain what is happening - the characters in the story can do it.
Not everything requires perfect visuals
A fiction podcast is a "theater of the mind" form of media. So, many listeners will automatically be trying to visualize what is happening. I spend hours in post-production adding as many sound elements as possible in order to make that easy. However, there will be times where your imagination jumps to its own conclusion, and that's okay.
If you hear a fight with punches and things breaking, you could imagine any number of things:
Someone fell into a table, furniture, another person
Someone was punched in the face or chest or kicked in the face or leg
Someone had a bottle, plate, glass broken over their head
Any version you choose can be right, and it doesn't hurt the story.
Sounds are helpful
Please know I spend a lot of time infusing as much sound as possible into the show to make it easy to understand what happens. If the Crane is blocking bullets with her wings, you'll hear:
I've been producing audio content ever since I was hired to create radio fundraising content for the Dallas/Fort Worth NPR affiliate in 2007. I've produced mini-stories for radio and podcasts ever since then. This is the first time I've attempted to do this in an episodic audio series featuring episodes that average 25 minutes. However, all of that experience has helped me.
As I wrote every script, I was totally aware of my limitations when it came to producing action sequences for audio. If I didn't think I could present a scene in an effective way, I wouldn't write it out. I only did it if I felt comfortable in how I could present it to the audience.
I'm very anxious for you to hear it all starting August 24th.
By Scott Murray
I'm sure by now many people are wondering what they're going to hear when they tune into The Crimson Files starting August 24th. So, I thought I would answer some questions in the blog today.
What kind of show am I going to hear?
In a lot of ways, a fiction podcast is like listening to an audiobook with more voices, music and sound effects. Another key difference is that this story was written FOR audio as opposed to something written for print and adapted to audio.
Superhero stories and be anything from light-hearted to dark. What is the tone of The Crimson Files?
I would say The Crimson Files has a tone that could be closely associated films like Ant-Man with hints of the 1966 Batman TV series.
So there's humor?
Yes. There is humor in every episode, and sometimes you don't see it coming. There are characters in the story (Mr. Bill, Slick Saucy, Doc, Grandma Jeanie) who will say and do things at any time that might make you laugh. There are also several pop culture references, as well as nods to other superhero stories and other movies within the series.
What kind of quality should I expect?
Expect a high level of quality, especially in the voice actors and the production of the show. A high volume of days and hours are going into making the best possible show for the audience.
What's the best way to indulge in the story? Is it hard to follow?
Fiction podcasts are a "theater of the mind" form of entertainment. Many people will listen, and the show will generate visuals in their head. Others will listen and just follow along. A lot of work goes into making the story easy for the listener to follow (on the script and post-production side). There is also room for people to come to their own conclusions as to what is happening in certain scenes (like fight scenes).
How many episodes are in Season One?
There are six episodes in Season One, and each episode is about 25 minutes. A new episode will post every Friday starting August 24th.
Will there be a Season Two?
Most likely. The response and reaction to the first season will play a major role in making it happen. I can tell you that I have TONS of ideas for multiple seasons.
Insights and news about The Crimson Files Podcast.