Oct 152010

We recently put some audio and video preview clips online, but we’ve been so busy finishing up production on Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle, and preparing for the next two Tom Swift audio dramas, that we forgot to post about the previews!

So belatedly, here you go…

You can find the audio clips here on the SPS site, on The Good Stuff page. The most recent is Sneak Audio Peek #2: Tom’s Encounter in the Rain (Why is it #2, instead of the first or last clip? Well, we’ve been working so hard the past few weeks that we’ve abandoned such trivial concepts as logical order and linearity).

Videos from rehearsals are on our YouTube Channel. The Cow Clip is the sort of thing that happens when you keep actors up way past their bedtimes. But at least we made sure that everyone had warm feet.


 Posted by at 2:24 am
Aug 202010

(Updated August 19, 2010)

We knew this would be a time-consuming task, but even so we underestimated by quite a lot. Part of the reason is that we’re new to this, and so we’re learning the techniques as we go. Part is that we want the end result to be as good as possible. But mostly, it just really does take a long time.

On July 24, I completed the first ‘clipping’ pass, where I took the four recorded microphone tracks and broke them out into tracks for each of the 28 separate characters. Lots of select-copy-paste action, as well as splicing together the best clips from multiple takes.

On August 19, I completed the cleaning pass, in which I removed odd little pops, breath noises, and background sounds. It’s amazing how many of these things you start to hear once your ear is trained. This proved to be extremely detailed and time consuming work…

Act 1 Act 2 Act 3 Act 4
Original recorded length 48 minutes 50 minutes 57 minutes 41 minutes
Time spent on clipping pass 10 hours 10 hours 12 hours 12 hours
Time spent on cleaning pass 25 hours 24 hours 15 hours 10 hours
Length after clipping pass 42 minutes 44 minutes 47 minutes 37 minutes

Yep, the total time editing so far is 118 hours!

A life saver in the cleaning pass was a new tool we added to our arsenal – Izotope RX. This is a pretty amazing piece of software, and well worth the modest price. It lets me remove pops that defy manual clipping and smoothing, restores the cases where a recording went too hot and got clipped, and makes it possible to remove certain kinds of background noises that would have been impossible to fix by hand.


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 Posted by at 12:03 am
Jun 292010

It’s time to clean up the edges of the dialogue; remove paper turning, nose whistling (I’m pointing no fingers), and a few of the little gaffs that are bound to happen. It’s meticulous work, but the process of pulling apart the sound wave like it’s salt water taffy is really cool to see. Cubase, the software, zooms in on the sound wave, allowing for precise tinkering. Instead of hacking away at a whole word, you can zoom in on the exact place where the actor popped his P’s (again, man, not judging).

It starts with the compressed sound wave. One inch contains a lot of information. Every change in pitch and timbre is expressed in a line that rises and dips as it follows our voices.


It looks like something from a movie: Evil’s voice recorded by the savvy computer genius in the lab. An Evil voice that has the tendency to pop his P’s, spiking the meter every time he says “Petroleum”. Check out the sound wave on the right; the section where the wave spikes…


But to eliminate the spike and not take out the whole letter P, Cubase needs to zoom in closer and closer until there is just the sound wave for the word Petroleum, then the syllable Pet, and then the letter P.





Notice Cubase has reduced the sound wave into a line where a section can be removed and the ends fused back together to reconnect the wave. It’s like grafting a plant, or pinching play dough together to make a really long snake that stretches from one end of the table to the other. Kind of. Without all the rolling.


Then the only thing left to do is do it again. And again. And again. Did I write meticulous? I meant tedious. In the nicest possible way. Woe, to suffer for art.

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 Posted by at 2:15 pm