The news of our death was much exaggerated…

•20 June, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but View from Valhalla recently went 404. That was entirely due to my inattention and I have paid the price by losing much of my content. As I like to say, oh well, it could have been worse!

I would like to thank Mick and Katharina Bordet for all of the help in retrieving the files that were retrievable, and even more, for hosting View from Valhalla for the last 9 years.

I don’t know what View from Valhalla will hold or even what format it will continue in, but if you’re reading this, thanks for being along for the ride.

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We’ve moved!

•11 July, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hi All! Just wanted to let everyone know that we’ve moved away from wordpress.com and onto wordpress.org! What does this mean for you, our readers? Well, eventually I hope it means that you will hear some audio, and maybe even a podcast dropping from the halls of Valhalla. It also means I’ll have tighter control over my own site. And truthfully it means that I get to be a little more geeky.

The URL will remain the same and for most readers, it will be transparent and probably unnoticed. However, if you’re reading this, it is quite possibly because you’ve subscribed and I wanted to give you the opportunity to resubscribe. I really hope you do. Your continued support means the world to me. If you’d like me to, and you were previously subscribed via email, and would like to continue to be, I can transfer that for you. Just let me know via twitter or in a comment.

Thanks!

Podcast Review #36: The Immortals

•5 July, 2010 • 2 Comments

Title: The Immortals
Author: Tracy Hickman
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 22 May 2006 – 18 April 2007
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks
Formats Available: Podcast, Dead Tree, ebook
Rating: PG13 for adult language and situations including holocaust type treatment

So, I’m sure many of you have heard of Tracy Hickman. When I started listening to podfiction, so had I. However, I, like maybe some of you, started perusing the Podiobooks and iTunes libraries for an author that I recognized. I did find some from the public domain, but the only current work or author that I ran into was The Immortals by Tracy Hickman.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: The future story of United States Internment Camps … of the dreams of the pre-deceased … and of triumph beyond oblivion.

It’s 2020, and an attempted cure for AIDS has mutated into a deadlier disease, V-CIDS. The U.S., under martial law, has set up “quarantine centers” in the Southwest. Searching for his gay son, Jon, media mogul Michael Barris smuggles himself into one of centers only to discover that it and the other centers are actually extermination camps. With a strange assortment of allies, including the leader of the camp’s gay barracks, an army officer and a local cowboy, Barris precipitates an inmates’ rebellion that promises the unraveling of the death-camp system and the overthrow of the government that established it.

Production: Mr. Hickman did a pretty good job of a straight read. The one sound effect that sticks with me several years after my initial listening to this podcast is the sound of the wind. Having grown up in an area that is quite wind swept, the sound of this same wind evokes a sense of desolation and loneliness that is perfect for this story. There isn’t a lot of production, but it is done very well and is completely adequate.

Cast: The cast for The Immortals is a cast of two. All parts are read by either Mr. Hickman or his wife, Laura. There are actually quite a few parts, so they have their plates full, but overall do a nice job. I really had no problem with the voice work for this podcast.

Story: The Immortals is not truly a science fiction story. In fact, in my opinion it isn’t even really a story. It is a social and political statement about the way AIDS victims are treated. Or were treated as the story is over 10 years old. Which being the case leads me to the verdict….

Verdict: If The Immortals had simply been a story, I probably would have enjoyed it. Most people that commented at Podiobooks seemed to like it. Those that didn’t seemed to have disliked it mostly because of the terribly in depth characterizations. Well, you all know me, I love characterizations, so that never really bothered me. In fact I really enjoyed it. Almost all of the major characters were fully fleshed out and given a great deal of empathy and feeling. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now though that I didn’t like it. Not at all.

You see, I simply got tired of being beat over the head with the idea that we need to change as a society. Guess what? I agree. I really do. I just don’t need to have it thrown at me for hours on end.

Now hold on, you might disagree with me. Some of our greatest authors have written pieces that were social commentary. What would a survey of English Literature be without the likes of A Modest Proposal? There are way too many examples of this done right to point them all out now.

However, this is the problem. This wasn’t subtle or abstract. I literally felt like I was being beaten with the author’s belief system, which seems to be becoming more acceptable. If you can’t hide your commentary behind a good story, write a non fiction treatise for heaven’s sake. (Terry Goodkind, are you listening?)

Surely some of you must disagree with me. Maybe I can be persuaded. Did I miss something? Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Hickman was able to pull some strings even when I knew he was trying to do this, but rather than making his point, he just aggravated me. SO, if you like thinly veiled commentary instead of story, by all means, listen. However, if you feel like you should be able to enjoy the story, whether you agree with the author OR NOT, ant tha

Disclosure: I have no idea if Mr. Hickman is on Twitter. I have never talked to him through any media.

Podcast Review #35: Dead Mech

•28 June, 2010 • 6 Comments

Title: Dead Mech
Author: Jake Bible
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Released: 26 September 2009 – 27 June 2010
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks, Author’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast, Dead Tree version coming soon
Rating: R for intense violence and gore, strong sexual content and pervasive profanity

A while back you might remember I made a concerted effort to fill the void created in these reviews by the lack of horror. I believe I mentioned at the time that it is probably my least favorite of the speculative fiction categories, and it remains so. As I was looking for a good story or two to review I was amazed to find how popular zombie fiction had become. (I know, sometimes I’m a bit slow on the uptake.) I don’t remember who recommended Jake Bible’s Dead Mech to me, or even if it was one I stumbled upon on my own, but I just finished listening to the last ep and had been holding this review until that episode dropped. Thank goodness for author’s that release on schedule (even a Sunday release schedule… Sunday? Really?).

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: After the zombie apocalypse decimates the world, human civilization tries to put itself back together again. Their secret weapon: the Mechs. But what happens when a mech pilot dies in his mech and becomes a zombie? Hell on earth is unleashed… (Minor quibble.. authors, you put A LOT of work into your stories and then the podcasting of them. Consider providing a synopsis that, even if it is brief, give me a very good idea about what your story is about. I’m more likely to listen.) (Stolen from podiobooks.com)

Production: Mr. Bible bills his story as the world’s first “drabble” novel. Don’t know what that is? Don’t feel bad, neither did I. In a nutshell, a drabble is a 100 word story. Exactly 100 words. So, Mr. Bible has written a novel that is broken into 100 word bites. Not chapters necessarily, but scenes, characters point of view, etc. What does this have to do with production? Simply that at the end of each drabble, the story pauses. No music, no sound effect, just nothing. for an obscene amount of time. Like at least a minute. Well, not really probably more like five seconds. Still, it seemed much longer.

Mr. Bible did one other thing in his production that I really have to admit I would not recommend. Author “metadata” (all those things that author’s share with us that might or might not have anything to do with the story) is really fun and I usually subscribe to the iTunes or author’s site versions so as to be able to listen in on it. However, if you are going to place it at the beginning of the ep, I believe it should be kept relatively concise and keep on tract. Several of Mr. Bible’s intro’s approach the 10 minute mark. Yes, I know that I could have subscribed to the Podiobooks version and then I would not have this complaint. And of course, that is a very valid argument. And truthfully, now that this story is complete, I would suggest you do. (Well, it should be complete at Podiobooks before you get that far anyway.)

Cast: Mr. Bible does a straight read on his Dead Mech but does provide a good amount of inflection. He really doesn’t do much in the way of voice characterization, but it really doesn’t need it and the story stands up quite well.

Story: Dead Mech is a horror story. It really is. But it is a horror story in the vein of Aliens where it is very dependent on the science fiction element. Mr. Bible does a very good job on blending the two. Mr. Bible also provides a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode letting the listener know this story is really intended for adult audiences. Believe him. I have never heard this much profanity in a podcast before. (It came to me as I was mowing the yard while listening to an ep that I can imagine Mr. Bible counting the words of the latest paragraph and finding himself at 98, so why not throw two 2 more f-bombs in to [that is meant as a light hearted musing only folks] wrap it up nice and tidy. If that in itself is a stopping point for you, don’t bother. There are also detailed scenes of gore and sexual violence, violence and cannibalism. Seriously. And we’re not talking zombies munching of humans either. However, this is a story that I’ve never heard before in any variation. I love the idea of his Mechs and the specialized duty they are capable of.

Verdict: I didn’t love Dead Mech, but I sure didn’t hate it either. I liked it. And it is telling that it is one of the podcasts that I wait for every week to listen to. For horror (and me) that is really saying a lot. I would recommend it if you are a horror fan and you don’t mind frequent and considerable profanities. It isn’t Shakespeare or Dostoyevsky, but what is? It is a good story, read moderately well that will keep you entertained. If this was a movie, I’d call it a summer popcorn flick, and there is definitely a need for that.

Disclosure: I don’t follow Mr. Bible on Twitter but will probably be correcting that sooner or later. To my knowledge, he doesn’t follow me either and I don’t remember every exchanging Tweets with him.

Podcast Review #34: Assam and Darjeeling by T.M. Camp

•21 June, 2010 • 20 Comments

Title: Assam and Darjeeling
Author: T.M. Camp
Genre: Genre bending dark fairy tale
Released: 23 September 2007 – 7 August 2008
Located: iTunes,
Formats Available: Podcast, Dead Tree, Ebook
Rating: PG13 for disturbing images dealing with children

Have you ever had a podcast that you’ve been meaning to listen to for ages, but somehow it just keeps skipping from your mind? Maybe supernatural forces are tampering with your memories. Or maybe the author just doesn’t pimp his/her stuff hard enough (at least in your hearing). Or maybe, the title has unusual words that, though you know them, seem out of place as a book title. Or maybe it is your Twitter groups fault for not bringing this story up, like ever. Or perhaps, just maybe, it is all of the above. Nah… it is just my own fault. I kept meaning to, I just kept forgetting somehow.

Well, somehow I slipped the evil forces that were trying to get my to forget about Assam and Darjeeling, and wow, am I glad I did.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: When their mother is lost in a terrible car crash, two children set out to bring her back from the Underworld — a nightmare place populated by remnants from old mythologies, defunct pantheons, and forgotten folklore. Along the way, the children discover that they cannot rescue their mother without rescuing themselves first.

Sometimes frightening, sometimes funny, and often heartbreaking, Assam & Darjeeling is the story of a brother and sister who have to go through hell together in order to learn the true meaning of family.

Production: T. M. Camp does a great job at keeping it simple. Assam and Darjeeling production is akin to something the Master Nathan Lowell might inspire. It is beautiful in its simplicity. Mr. Camp has a repetitive chime intro and outro (and yes, it is a bit too repetitive) and then without any meta discussion or trailers jumps right into the story. At the end, he humorously threatens us with copyright violation punishments too dire to retell, and he’s gone. I like that. I really really do. However, all is not joy in Mudville. Mr. Camp writes some very short chapters. That in itself is no big deal. I like short chapters. However, when each chapter is an episode, your content should not be shorter than your combined intro and outro. The intro is about 50 seconds, the outro about 2 minutes 20 seconds. When the entire ep is at or under 6 minutes, the repetitiveness of the cycle can be a bit, well, redundant. I would suggest to content providers, if your content isn’t at least 4 times as long as the intro/outro, maybe you should combine it with the next bit of content. Yes, I do mean that if you are going to intro me at 1o minutes, I want 40 minutes of content. Maybe I’m being a bit too greedy here, but if so, tell me what you think is fair.

Cast: Mr. Camp does a straight read, and he does a stellar job at it. I have a feeling he has spent many an hour sitting beside a child’s bed and has probably heard, “No daddy, say it like you did LAST time.” He doesn’t go crazy with voices, but he does do a good job and I once again find myself luxuriating in a straight read well done.

Story: Assam and Darjeeling is a unique story in that it is hard to qualify as to audience. I think back now to the original Jurassic Park movie (can it really have been 17 years ago??). People saw the amazing dinosaur effects (still hold up well) and for some reason chose to think, “Hey honey, I wonder if they’ll only be showing us vegisaurs munching leaves for two hours. Yeah, I’m sure that will make a great summer blockbuster! Load up the kids and let’s go!” Yeah, not all movies/books starring kids are written FOR kids.

Verdict: Let me restate that, just to make sure. Assam and Darjeeling is a book about kids that really is written for adults in many ways. Think about Scout and Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird. Perhaps another consideration would be Pan’s Labyrinth. These comparison’s easily come to mind when I listen to Assam and Darjeeling. However, another reason for the comparison comes to mind as well. Both are great stories, but I really wouldn’t allow my children to see either of them for years yet. Assam and Darjeeling touched me in a way NO OTHER work of podfiction to date has. I admit, I’m a softy when it comes to family. This story reached inside me and played my “daddy” strings the way a master luthier might be able too play a mandolin. I am so glad I finally remembered to listen to this story, and I highly recommend you take the time to give it a try too.

Disclosure: I’ve followed Mr. Camp on Twitter for quite a while now. He is very unassuming and I really did mean it when I said I don’t feel he pimps his work enough. We both have baby daughters and I’ve enjoyed watching him Tweet about his Sophie while I make comparisons to my little princess (who is three months today [proud daddy moment]). In one of those surprisingly coincidental twists of fate, I had started listening to this story a couple of weeks ago. I started on a Monday. On Wednesday of that week, Mr. Camp got old. Well, older. He ran a contest on Twitter and I won a copy of one of his books. He didn’t state what it would be and it wasn’t open to request. Imagine my surprise this week when a signed copy of Assam and Darjeeling arrived in the mail. I couldn’t have been more excited and I will definitely be suggesting my wife read it. However, that being said, I have never discussed this work with Mr. Camp, and he had no knowledge of this review and has never requested it. Seriously gang, this was a good one.

Indiana Jim: How I do it!

•16 June, 2010 • Leave a Comment

General Writing Questions

1. Before you begin writing, do you script out the general outline of plot and characters, or do you let these situations evolve as you write?
It really depends on how the inspiration strikes me.  I don’t have any hard and fast rule as to how I plot out the story.  For instance, Codename: Starkeeper was one of those where I wrote it in script format from start to finish.  It was a true explorative writing experience.  With The Last Guardians, it developed over a decade of trying different things and developing my craft, and the final version is nothing like that first version, but ultimately, it follows a similar plot outline as the beginning, as far as the big picture.  I have another novel series that I plotted out as I wrote the character sketches.

2. I’ve heard repetitively that writers should deal with writing as any other job. Do you have a scheduled or structured writing routine? Please detail.
I wish I did.  It really varies depending on the day, and of course I am easily distracted.  It’s certainly sound advice, though.  I will get more done if I set aside a specific time to do it.  I’ve also discovered that now, as I’ve been writing for a while, I’m so full of different ideas that if I sit down, something will get on paper (or screen).  I have also learned that it’s not so frightening to sit down and force yourself to work on a project.  There really is no such thing as writer’s block if you’re serious about the writing.  For me, it’s simply letting stuff get in my way: my brain, my emotions, my preconceptions, my self-doubts–all of that crap–once you’re serious about the writing, all that stuff will fade away because you know you have to get it done.  It’s become a priority in your life.

3. What is your writing environment like? (cats, music, computer etc.) How has this evolved/changed?
Depends on my mood.  I used to, occasionally, get off the computer and write on a yellow legal pad, especially on lunches and breaks in a work environment.  As far as music is concerened, sometimes I want it, sometimes I want silence.  My cat’s always around, but she just lays on the bed.  I don’t take any great measures to “get in the mood” to write or anything like that.  Focus too much on music or lighting, or “finding the right environment,” and you’ll become dependent.  The less you do, the more capable you will be of writing in any environment, and I think once you’ve made writing a priority, you need to be prepared to write no matter where you are, or what’s going on around you.

4. Do you write anything, or have you, that is solely for yourself? (no intention of sharing with a large audience)
Not any more.  When I first really got the writing bug in college, a lot of it was just putting ideas on paper because they were there.  I got started online in the role play chatrooms, and it was usually all fantasy-oriented, so I put myself into the whole Aragorn persona, and plot ideas just developed out of that.  Eventually I started working on stories, and different things would inspire novel ideas, for example, the track listing of Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, believe it or not, inspired the plot of The Last Guardians way back when.  Now, when I conceive an idea, I immediately begin thinking about how it will be received, and how to make it worthy of public consumption.

5. How has social media played a role in your writing?
Not so much the writing, but certainly the promotion of it.  I’ve just simply tried to make a network of friends, rather than “contacts.”  Because a friend will invest themselves in what you do, if you invest yourself in the things they do.  Someone who only wants you as a “contact” that they can take advantage of, really has little concern with your own projects, but simply how they can leverage their support in your return of that support.  It sounds like the same thing, but if you support people without expecting something in return, people can see whether you’re sincere, or just out to get reciprocation.

I’ve made a lot of friends using Twitter, simply finding like-minded people in the podcasting community, and then having gone to Balticon just once, made so many more friends.  Once you’ve met people face to face, the friendship becomes that much stronger.  I’ve developed relationships with Tee Morris, Chris Lester, P.G. Holyfield and Christiana Ellis, just as an example, and at times we can bounce ideas off of each other, and just learn from what each other is doing.

Podcasting Questions

1. What type of OS do you prefer? Linux? Mac? Win? What are your machine’s specs?
I would *prefer* a Mac and ProTools, but that’s only in my dreams.  Finances necessitate a PC with as much free software as possible.  It’s just a Dell 3Ghz processor with 1GB of Ram and a 250GB Free Agent HDD for all my project files.

2. Would you please describe your current studio? How has this changed? (What did you start with?)
I have a cheap desk in my bedroom.  I have a down blanket hung on the wall behind the monitor, with a little bit of eggshell foam on a dresser beside the desk.  A TAPCO (by Mackie) Mix.60 mixer, an MXL 990 microphone and a pop filter.

3. If you were able to build your dream studio, what would it include? Be as specific as you wish.
Again, a Mac with ProTools first, a compressor/limiter/gate, an EQ, a Heil PR/40 with the desk boom, a suitably insulated and soundproofed room, and most especially, a soundproofed computer.  Also an off-board recorder.

The Heil PR40 is something I’ve discovered of late, and it’s a dynamic mic as opposed to a condenser.  Basically that means it doesn’t require Phantom Power, but the other part of that is that condenser mics take in a lot more background noise.  The Heil PR40 has a tight sound field so that it almost can’t pick you up if you move your mouth six inches in one direction.  It’s an expensive mic at $325 retail, but it’s probably the absolute best microphone for recording voice.

4. Other than a computer, what piece of HARDWARE would you recommend to a new podcaster?
If you use Skype at all, I’d recommend a second sound card.  But for everyone, I’d suggest a Zoom H2 or later, or some sort of portable recorder that gives you .wav or .mp3 capability.  It’s the aforementioned off-board recorder.  What I mean by that is something that is not plugged into everything else.  This is something I’ve learned sort of by experience.  When I first started podcasting, I discovered that if my laptop were plugged in, there was a lot of noise on the recording, but on the battery, it was quiet.  So when the laptop HDD went bad and we lucked into a couple desktops, I found that there is always a latent hum.  If you can get a power conditioner, that might eliminate most of it, but a battery-powered recorder gives you a lot of versatility.  Also, if you don’t have your signal bouncing back in through your mixer into the PC, it’s a lot easier to get clean recordings.  When doing panel discussions or Skype interviews, anything requiring multiple voices, it becomes easier to manage the unity gain of your output signal.  If you’re just recording your voice, then you’ll have a clean .wav or .mp3 of your voice you can dump down into Audacity or whatever and edit away.

5. What have you had to learn for yourself that you wish someone could have warned you about?
To go with “The Adventures of Indiana Jim” as my show title when I first thought of it.  I initially thought it was pretentious so I didn’t use it at first.  Really, it’s the branding.  You have to have a plan, and you have to know who you are.  When I started out I wasn’t sure what I was doing, and over time, I have developed a groove for it I suppose.

6. What would you consider a “beginner’s mistake” you’ve either experienced or hear others making?
Oh gosh, a lot of things.

#1, a failure to have an appealing website.  It’s so cheap and so easy, especially for my generation being so tech savvy, to look at other podcast websites and find a clean, inviting format for your website.  A .net domain you can buy for like $10 a year, and hosting for about $3 a month, and WordPress is free.  I am fortunate to be hosted by Farpoint Media, but you can buy a 100MB per month Libsyn account for file storage for $5 a month.  So for $8 a month and $10 a year, you can put up a website as nice as any other you can think of.  Take the time to learn a little CSS, and you can make that puppy sing.

#2, a failure to USE RSS.  I see so many beginners, believe it or not, or people who just haven’t taken the time to care, to have an RSS feed for their products, and still expect people to download things manually.  It’s so simple to set it up, so people can subscribe in iTunes or any feed reader.  You’re simply serving your audience by doing it.  In one place, with one application, I can download my favorite stuff.  I sounds so simple.

#3, a failure to use social media.  I have friends with Twitter accounts who simply forget to announce when a new project comes out.  When I mention this, I’m met with “well it was all over my website.”  Look, if you expect your friends and colleagues to casually browse by your website every so often and “discover” that you have a new product out, you’re doing them a disservice, and ultimately yourself.  The idea is to be heard, and you, as the creator, must do the work, not demand it of your audience.  If you aren’t using every tool at your disposal, you’re not doing enough.  Now that’s not to say you need to be on every social network under the sun, but if you are on Twitter and Facebook, and you’re not doing the simple thing of just posting a link saying, “here’s my new thing,” then what’s the point?

#4, a horrible sound.  Sometimes beginners use whatever it is they have at their disposal, and I guess that’s fine when starting out, but people really need to be more conscious of how they sound.  Soundproofing is the very first thing one can do, and Nathan Lowell is a good example.  When he started podcasting his novels, he recorded them in his car.  A car interior provides quite a bit of soundproofing and isolation, and that worked wonders, despite having a cheap microphone.  Another example of using the things at your disposal is Scott Sigler.  He recorded a lot of his stuff in his closet, because he cared about his sound.

If someone is serious about podcasting, then they need to be serious about what they’re putting into people’s ears.  It takes maybe $130 in mic and mixer to get a decent sound, maybe $35 for a cheap mic stand and a pop filter.  It’s not a ton of investment if you’re serious.  Also, paying attention to distance from the mic, clipping, and simple public speaking.  These little things make a huge difference when starting out.

7. How much time does it take, once you have all the elements, for YOU to put together a 30 minute podcast? (please describe your production technique)
I would love to record “live to tape” as it were, but I lack the equipment to do it right.  So what I do is insert my intro file, then do the requisite recording, whatever that entails.  Most of the time I’ll record 10 minutes of whatever I want to talk about at first, then I stop to add the bumper for my little news headline segment, then when that section is done, I’ll usually aim for that 13 minute mark to hit the break for the promo.  I’ll take my bump-out file and match it up with wherever I break the talking, then paste the promo, then paste the bump-in file, and record from there.  I will record to the end and stop.  Before I put in the outro, I do the editing.  I run noise reduction, then compression.  I usually record with my levels hovering around the -12 mark to leave headroom so I don’t clip.  That usually ensures I get a nice clean sound after compression.  I’ll edit certain flubs and long uhmms to make sure I don’t sound too much like an idiot.  Sometimes I leave a flub or uhmm in if it will make the audio sound chopped up and unnatural.   I’ll match the outro up with the finished voice and then export to MP3.  That whole process may take a couple hours if everything goes smoothly.  I think for the ratio of finished recording to  production time, 1:4 is probably a safe estimate.

Casting Questions (answer if you can)

1.  What is the hardest part of putting together a casted podcast?
I think the first thing is making sure the actors get their voices in on time.  It’s unavoidable, but you will always get delays from someone in your cast.  Real life always strikes in the middle of a production, and I guess the hardest part for me is having to tell a cast member you have to move on with another actor.

It’s the nature of what we do to use volunteer voice actors, and no one wants to be “that guy” who “fired” a volunteer from a project.  You have to believe strongly enough in your project and your own schedule to take that step if it’s not working out.    You have to be very nice and gracious about it, and usually the other person understands.  They are, after all, the one to whom life is happening.  It’s still difficult, especially if you know their voice would be great.

The second hardest part is the differences you have in actor audio.  They’re all using different mics in different rooms, and sometimes it’s difficult to make sure they all go together.  I usually have a particular sound I like, so I’ll EQ or do noise reduction to get each one as close to the same as possible.  Sometimes I’ll run a low pass or high pass filter to get certain frequency ranges out of a particularly bassy or hissy sound.

2. Do you provide the entire chapter to your talent, or just their lines?
I will usually leave in a paragraph or two around the part in order for the actor to get a feel for the scene, but I provide the scene only.  Enough to let them see the dialogue and work with it, but not so much they get distracted.  My belief is that even with my leads, it’s fun to keep things hidden from them.  I find that if after the recording they get to listen to it along with the general audience, it will make them that much more excited about the work.  They will get just as much into the story, and they’ll want to see how their character fits into the story.

3.  Is instruction given to your talent on how you prefer the line to be read?
In most cases, yes.  Each actor is different, though.  For instance, I did not do a very good job telling Mae Breakall how to play a certain character, and so she read it one way when I had intended it differently.  Once I was clear, she delivered some of the best audio I’ve ever received, and Chris Lester can attest to that with her work on Metamor City.  As a director, you have to make sure you are clear on exactly what you want, because you can’t expect people to read your mind.  Of course, in some cases you simply give the lines and the actor knows what you want.  I have that kind of synergy with a few people, such as Philippa Ballantine, P.G. Holyfield, Sarah Gilbertson and Joe Harrison.

4.  What do you do with all of that unused audio?
I still have all the original files from Codename: Starkeeper, and I don’t really want to delete them.  I plan on going back and pulling outtakes for a blooper reel, but that’s going to take a lot of time.  What I’ve taken to doing now is pulling the outtakes out as I go through each individual part to get the best takes.  I’ll go through each part and find the best takes, then do the noise reduction and compression then, so that all I have to do later is cut and paste into the final project file.

With Codename Starkeeper, I’m keeping the sound effects files that Joe Harrison made so I can pull from those whenever I do another Star Wars piece.  The music files I’m keeping later perhaps to show how I edited different musical pieces from different films together in certain scenes.

Podcast Review #33: Transistor Rodeo

•14 June, 2010 • 3 Comments

Title: Transistor Rodeo
Author: Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff
Genre: Science Fiction/Cowboy Punk
Released: 8 April 2008 – 17 April 2009
Located: Author’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast only
Rating: PG for robotic violence. This is a family friendly podcast.

In April of 2008 I had way more time on my hands than I would have hoped for and was rabidly searching for podfiction. Although at this point I was on Twitter, I was more of a by stander than a part of the community (slow learner I guess). Rather than ask for opinions I simply browsed Podiobooks.com and listened to anything that caught my attention. Some were great, some were much the other end of the spectrum. I had never heard of Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff but had found an assassin story (Number One with a Bullet) that I had enjoyed so was willing to take a chance on him again (a policy I will probably always adhere to).

Transistor Rodeo was billed as a family friendly podcast, which truly I don’t know if I’d run into before this point, but I have always been a fan of rodeo (hey, I did grow up in Wyoming after all) and enjoy animatronic AI’s as much as the next guy. I also have an 11 year old son that I was looking for something I could share with.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: When a bunch of robotic cowboys and robotic animals from a big-budget spectacular mechanical traveling show go haywire and escape into the city of Los Angeles, it’s up to one broken down ex-rodeo star and his son to round them all up before something terrible happens.(stolen from the author’s site) [I would like to humbly recommend to author’s that the provided synopsis is an example of “inadequate”. I really like to know as much as I can before subscribing. I’ll take a chance occasionally, but a good synopsis is the hook.]

Production: Mr. Nemcoff is a professional in this area I believe. The production on his podcasts are very good. At least those that I have listened to. I will say that Transistor Rodeo is almost too slick at times. I also have never enjoyed the use of the author asking the audience questions as a tool to try to get them to make guesses of future episodes. Foreshadowing should be provided to accomplish this, or simply surprise me.

Cast: Mr. Nemcoff does a straight read in that he voices all of the characters. He isn’t a Sigler or a Hutchins, but he does a more than adequate job of bringing the characters to life.

Story: This is an interesting mixture of the western genre mixed with Jurassic Park and Westworld (you know, the one with Yul). I have never heard anything like it. It definitely captured my attention and I did enjoy it. The episodes are relatively short and at 24 episodes, I’d consider this one almost a novella, although I have no idea of word count. Some of the characters became annoying after a while, but that is a good thing. At least for me.

Unfortunately, the release schedule was ridiculous. It began fairly regularly, but fell apart at the end. It was two months between the release of episodes 22 and 23, and a huge eight months between episodes 23 and the finale episode 24. I truthfully gave up before it was released, but later came back and picked it up.

Verdict: I will recommend this story, though I know it isn’t for everyone. It is candy. Not filling, but fun. Especially if you have teen or preteen boys (and/or were raised on John Wayne movies). I will say that at times Mr. Nemcoff’s style of continually trying to keep the action at a breakneck pace was a little tiring, but overall, he did do a good job of it. If you have never heard a story quite like the one described here, I recommend you give it an episode or four to see what you think.

Disclosure: I have no idea if Mr. Nemcoff is even on Twitter. I have not heard his worked ever discussed in the group that I follow, though I seem to remember him doing a voice guest appearance on something I was listening too. I was neither offered or received anything for writing this review.