Final Piece

Time is Money – an audio drama

 

This audio drama will actually combine studio and field recording techniques to create a hybrid piece. The story begins 500 years from now, on board a dank, sprawling space station where petty thief and protagonist Rose is caught up in the web of dodgy antique dealer Mr Jennings, who sends her back in time to present day Edinburgh.

Her mission, once back on ‘Old Earth’ (now uninhabitable after the great nuclear war of 2166) will be to retrieve a painting and bring it back to the future, where Jennings has already agreed its sale with a dangerous and powerful mafia boss.

The first half of the story, recorded in the studio, will be designed to sound dark, eerie, sterile, and synthetic. Water will drip from old rusty pipes, rats will scuttle in dark corners of rooms, and along deserted corridors. When Rose is then transported to ‘the past’ (the present day) the story will suddenly become a field recorded piece. The aim here is to ‘jolt’ the listener, to make them feel a bit like she probably would.

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With the first scene of her arrival in present day Scotland being outdoors, the sheer openness of the recording should sound huge and overwhelming compared to the dark, claustrophobic, metallic chambers of the space station that she’s lived her entire life on.

A (possibly dated and tenuous) visual example of this technique might be The Wizard Of Oz, when Dorothy arrives in Munchkin Land and it switches from black and white to colour footage. The effect in Time is Money is meant to be a bit more ‘raw’ however, but both are using two different techniques to demonstrate something and create an impact.

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Concept art so far, thanks to Kessi

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Location Recording ‘Time is Money’ Part 2

Monday the 2nd March was the final location recording session to create part two of Time is Money.

We faced a few challenges here for 2 main reasons.

1. I needed to get my 3 actors together at a time that suited everyone.

2. I then needed optimal recording conditions in and around my house.

Arranging a suitable day and time with the actors worked out fine though, and I set up all the equipment in advance. I planned out each scene in terms of logistics, character placing, and microphone placing. The kit was as simple and basic as two Zoom H2 recorders, two microphone stands, and two small table stands. Both recorders were used as individual actor microphones in most scenes, aside from one where a Zoom was sat on the table whilst the scene was acted around it, and another in the car, where the Zoom was positioned between the driver and passenger seats.

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Zoom H2 on mic stand indoors

Two things that I was conscious of, having read Ric Viers Location Sound Bible, have a brand new packet of batteries (don’t rely on old batteries, even if they’ve just been used briefly before), and clear the memory cards on the recorders previous to starting the session. You can actually plug the Zooms in to the mains but I find this increases the hiss level in them.

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Zoom H2 on homemade boom pole with windjammer for outdoor use

In terms of outdoor interference, we had experienced problems with an ice cream van during the test recordings, but as this was a Monday afternoon, that didn’t repeat itself. A lot of work has been taking place in a house nearby, much of which is done outside (hammering, drilling etc) but fortunately it seemed to be completed a few days before our recording date. During the car scene another car arrived in the street and idled for a period, but fortunately the driver was kind enough (though confused) to switch it off when I asked.

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Zoom H2 on table stand for indoor scene

Wind was always going to be the most daunting obstacle. As good as the Zoom recorders are, and even with a windjammer over them, they are very sensitive to wind. The outdoors scene was a very short one, recorded in a sheltered area of my garden. Even though it was not extremely windy it still took about seven takes to get a fully clean recording, free of distortion.

I wanted a clean take from start to finish here because I’m hesitant to edit outdoor scenes, where sounds of traffic and outdoor ambience can make it impossible to clip dialogue and unwanted takes.

We did four or five takes of every scene so I knew I had everything I needed and more going into the post-production phase. Retakes wouldn’t really be an option so this was vital. Overall I was very happy with the session and got to work that evening to finish the piece and upload it.

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