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've always been a very conceptual and visual person. Anytime I wrote something, it would always be based on the images in my head. Anytime I read something, my brain would attempt to produce a visual representation of it. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, but one major benefit was that I was never limited in the way I could tell stories.
I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, and long before I was attempting to make movies with my parents' video camera, I was producing content on audio cassette. I recorded over 50 tapes full of stuff, ranging from 1-2 hour stories to comedy skits. I did this using:
Then I would listen to them for entertainment. I would laugh a lot. While it may sound conceited for me to say I loved my own stuff, it wasn't like that. When the audio played, it triggered images in my head. Those images included different people playing the parts, as well as scenery, action scenes and more. So, my mindset was never that I was listening to my own content. However, I loved making them as much as I did listening to them.
Later on, I got to play these for other people. This included teachers letting me play them in my classes in high school. That was the biggest distribution I ever got. Many (including my parents) probably wondered, "What is the purpose for doing this?"
Well, maybe now we have an aswer.
However, it seems like it all started in my room so many years ago. This is definitely a more sophisticated project, but the story still originated the same way.
It also plays the same way, and I really hope audiences will enjoy this new audio story experience.
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