I wanted to write a little bit about the work I do in producing a radio drama.
Currently I’m working on an anthology series of 3 radio dramas from local writers in North Dublin. As it happens two of these productions are related to James Joyce and I’ve just finished production on two other radio play adaptations of James Joyce short stories. (You can hear a preview here)
All of these dramas are funded under the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Sound and Vision scheme, which was established to provide funding in support of high quality programmes on Irish culture, heritage and experience, and programmes to improve adult literacy.
The St. James Rejoice Boarding House
The first play in the new 3 part anthology series is ‘The St. James Rejoice Boarding House’ by Jack Byrne. It is a semi-adaptation and interpretation of ‘The Boarding House‘ by James Joyce.
The Near FM Drama group actors have been busy rehearsing the play for a month or so now. We have a sort of in house drama group in the radio station comprised of actors from several local drama groups. They would primarily be coming from a stage acting background but many of them have been working on radio dramas with us for several years now and have gained a lot of experience in acting for radio.
The play has 5 main characters in total. I’d generally recommend keeping radio play casts as small as you can. If a scene in a radio play has a huge range of characters then it can be hard for a listener to keep track of which voice belongs to who. I like to ask writers to review their scripts and see if characters can be merged without harming the overall story. The script in this play works well as while it has 5 characters, rarely do you have more than 2 characters speaking in any given scene.
The radio drama recording equipment is separate to the radio stations ‘on-air’ equipment. We have a little cabinet located in the studio where we can neatly store all of the necessary equipment.
I record the radio dramas using a multi-track recording system. This means I’ll be able to isolate each actors voice in post production and play around with the levels and apply effects where needs be. We have the facility to record up to 8 different actors at the same time but as I’ve said keeping casts down makes for a easier time for the listener so a 4 mic set up is generally our maximum.
The mics are arranged in a manner to minimize bleed from the other actors. Each mic will pick up some amount of the other actors voices but arranging the mics back to back to each other in a circle like this cuts down on how much creeps over.
We’re currently using Samson Q7 microphones. This is an affordable dynamic vocal microphone. I’m hoping to upgrade to the superior Rode NT1-A later this year though.
All 4 mics are set up in studio 2 and connected to studio 3. (Studio 1 is our on-air studio)
All the audio is recorded directly onto a PC. The 4 XLR lines are taken into the PC via a Presonus Firepod and the audio is sent to the PC over a Firewire cable (IEEE 1394).
I have a 5th mic plugged directly into the Firepod here in studio 3 which allows me to talk back to the actors in the studio 2.
The software I use for recording and post production is Adobe Audition CS6. This is the latest version in the Audtion series and is a big step up from previous versions. I’ve been working with this software since before it’s acquisition by Adobe when it was Cool Edit Pro so I’m very comfortable with using it.
You can see in the above screenshot that 3 actors voices each get their own track of audio. Some of the lines of dialogue are in the main characters head, with the voices broken into separate tracks like this I’ll have a much easier time of applying an echo type filter to the voices to give the impression that they are interior voices.
As we record I follow along with the script and make notes listing time indexes where I’ll have to make edits or cuts later on. This could range from where I might have heard a slight bang on the mic stand to an actor needing to repeat a line they didn’t get right the first time.
The play had been very well rehearsed in this case and recording was a very smooth process. The actors will have scripts in front of them on the day, so memorising the lines isn’t something the actors need to spend time on, but they do have to put in the rehearsal time in getting used to the dialogue.
That’s all I can think of for now. If you have any questions then get me on twitter @monkeyfudge
I’ll do a follow up post once I start the editing process and layering the sound effects.
Also you can find some of the previous radio dramas we’ve made here.
Just finished post production on radio play adaptations of 2 James Joyce stories.
Below you can hear a preview of ‘Ivy Day in the Committee Room’
In a committee room, Mat O’Connor, a canvasser for Richard Tierney, a candidate in an upcoming municipal election, discusses child-rearing with Old Jack, who tries to keep a fire going. Joe Hynes, another canvasser, arrives and needles O’Connor on whether he’s been paid for his work yet. He proceeds to defend rival candidate Colgan’s working class background and maintains that Tierney, although a Nationalist, will likely present a welcome address at the upcoming visit of King Edward VII. When Hynes points out that it is Ivy Day, a commemoration of Charles Stewart Parnell, a nostalgic silence fills the room. Another canvasser, John Henchy, enters and derides Tierney for not having paid him yet. When Hynes leaves, Henchy voices a suspicion that the man is a spy for Colgan. Henchy badmouths another canvasser, Crofton, just before Crofton himself enters with Lyons. Crofton had worked for the Conservative candidate until the party withdrew and gave their support to Tierney.
The talk of politics drifts to Charles Stewart Parnell, who has his defenders and detractors in the room. Hynes returns and is encouraged to read his sentimental poem dedicated to Parnell. The poem is highly critical of those who betrayed him, including the Roman Catholic Church, and places Parnell among the ancient heroes of Ireland. All applaud the performance and seem to forget their differences for the moment.
The adaptions of ‘Ivy Day in the Committee Room’ and ‘A Painful Case’ will air soon on Near FM.
I’m back in the studio this week to start recording a new 3 part anthology series. I’ll be aiming to document the production of the new series on here.
I’m still alive and well… and I am still a human and Darwin is still a monkey!
It would seem that while I was busy running around chasing after clues that Darwin was also busy working on a way to put a stop to the curse. He even came up with two solutions to be extra sure that the curse was broken.
Solution Number 1:
Darwin figured that the real bad guys in this whole sordid affair were not the Coolock Chaffinch Fancier’s Club (CCFC) but actually the Irish League of Pigeon Fanciers (ILPF). It was the ILPF’s scorn and contempt for the CCFC that made the young Coolockians so fustrated that it drove them to assault poor Barry Fitzsimons. So if anyone deserves to be turned into a Chaffinch then it is the heads of the ILPF. And so to go about doing this Darwin sent an email to each of the heads of the ILPF with the subject line ‘The Best Pigeon Related Website You’ll EVER See!” the link contained within the email however was not link to www.pigeonconspiracy.com (Clearly the best pigeon related website on the internet) but instead it was a link to Barry Fitzsimons’ cursed website.
So now the curse has been passed on from me and Darwin and onto the heads of the ILPF.. and it is them, not us, who will be turned in Chaffinchs. Which for a pigeon fancier is a particularly bad faith.
But Darwin wasn’t taking any chances… what if this wasn’t enough to lift the curse from us… so he came up with a second solution as well.
Solution Number 2:
Darwin figured it would also be best to tackle this problem right at the source. Namely the ghost of Barry Fitzsimons. Darwin invented a device known simply as The Dynamic Hodgenoscope.
The Dynamic Hodgenoscope was capable of capturing and dispersing spirits. Don’t ask me how it works… it just does! And work it did. Barry Fitzsimons’ ghost won’t be troubling anyone ever again.
I’m just glad that we can finally put this week of hell behind us. Now myself and Darwin can get back to work on our other projects… I’ve actually been thinking about becoming a mime artist on Grafton Street, I bet there is lots of money to be made there.
This may be my last ever entry in my online journal.
By the time you read this I may already be a wretched chaffinch.
My plan to use the last surviving member of the CCFC to break the curse has failed at the last moment and now I am left sitting here waiting for my ultimate doom. I’m all out of ideas.
Here is what happened today:
I awoke early this morning and was pleased to see that it was a calm and plesent day so I had no problem chartering a boat out to Ireland’s Eye. Before setting sail I asked around at the docks about Tom McFadden, the last surviving member of the CCFC. I was told that he did indeed live in a small hut on the island… but no one was sure as to the exact whereabouts of his hut.
I set off towards Ireland’s Eye feeling hopeful that I would be able to put an end to this curse once and for all.
Ireland’s Eye isn’t that big of an island, but it still took me some time to find Tom’s hut… this was time I didn’t have. The seconds, and minutes and hours left in my human life quickly ticked by… I was starting to panic… but then I saw it… Tom’s hut!
It was much smaller than I had expected. It was about the size that you would expect an outhouse to be. It was hardly big enough for a grown man to live in. I cautiously walked up and knocked upon the door.
There was no answer.
I hadn’t got time for this. I pushed open the door which was unlocked and saw that there was nothing inside the small hut except for a hole in the ground with a ladder going down inside it.
Fear was no longer an option for me. I climbed down the ladder into the darkness. Using only the display off my mobile phone as a light source I made my way through a long series of tunnels until there in the front of me stood Tom McFadden.
As you can see from my rough sketch he was quite a sorry sight to behold. And there I was in the darkness with this shadow of a man and I started to talk to him. I explained all about the cursed website and about Barry Fitzsimons and about how I knew that he and the other members of the CCFC were responsible for his death.
Tom was deeply remorseful about what had happened and seemed greatly relieved that someone had finally discovered his shameful secret as he had always been too cowardly to confess to his crimes. He told me that he wanted to come with me back to the haunted internet cafe and confront the ghost of Barry Fitzsimons and ask for his forgiveness.
This was perfect. This had to be the way for me to lift the dreaded chaffinch curse.
Tom and myself set off at once back towards the mainland.
But then everything went wrong.
On the boat trip back Tom started to freak out… he keept going on about how was he going to face Barry after what he had done to him… then he stood up in the small boat and started to shout:
“I’M A MONSTER! I’M A MONSTER” over and over again.
I tried my best to get Tom to sit down but he only became more frantic. The boat started to shake backwards and forwards and it eventually capsized. Tom must have banged his head when the boat turned over in the waves as when he hit the water he didn’t struggle to stay afloat, he merely sank deep down into the watery depths.
There was nothing I could do to save him.
So… here I sit in the dark… cold and wet back in my internet cafe. I can do nothing now but await my terrible faith.
And Darwin will soon share my faith with me… I have completely doomed us both.
Tomorrow is my final day… it will have been exactly one week since I saw the cursed website.
But I’m closing in on Barry’s killers or should I say killer… there is only one of them left alive. Out of the gang of 5 only one of them hasn’t died in a pointless joyriding related death.
Want to know how I figured out who they were?
Ha… They were all members of the Coolock Chaffinch Fancier’s Club…
In fact they were the only members of the Coolock Chaffinch Fancier’s Club. They were too poor to afford pigeons or something. The CCFC was constantly looked down upon by the many hoity toity pigeon clubs in the area and this led to a great deal of frustration on the part of the CCFC’s members. And it was poor Barry Fitzsimons that they chose to vent this frustration upon.
Terry McFadden is the man that I must see. Apparently he has become something of a recluse and now lives in a ramshackle hut on Ireland’s Eye. I shall travel to the island first thing in the morning and see if I can finally put an end to this curse.
Darwin has locked himself in his room for the past few days… I really hope he is okay.
I’ve spent the weekend buried in newspaper archives.
Both my eyes and my fingers are sore from sifting though pages and pages of old newspaper clippings.
But it was worth it in the end.
I have found my ghost.
It would seem that about 10 years ago a promising young web design student called Barry Fitzwilliam was studying at DCU. He rented a place in Coolock and each evening after college he would get the 17A bus as far as the Northside Shopping Centre and then walk the rest of the way home to his bedsit.
It was on one these walks back home on a cold October evening that he ran into a gang of vicious youths. Apparently they made fun of his glasses and of his dress sense (Young Barry unfortunetly being a big fan of dungarees at the time).
Things quickly turned voilent and poor Barry was severly beat by the young thugs. They finished him off with several major blows to the head which left him unconscious. The thugs, thinking that they had killed Barry, panicked and decided to dispose of the body. They shoved him deep inside the bonfire that had been set up in a nearby field that was due to be lit for Halloween the following evening.
Barry was so badly injured that he remained unconscious for all that night and all of next day. It was only the burning embers cascading down on his face that finally awoke him. With his arms and legs badly beaten and broken all he could do was cry for help. But his cries went unheard over the screams of delight of the children gathered around the bonfire, all of them unaware of the gruesome faith that Barry was meeting deep inside the flames.
The field where Barry met his untimely death is the same field that the building that holds my internet cafe was constructed upon.
Now that I have all this information, I’m still unsure as to how to avoid my own grisly faith.
I need to find out what became of Barry’s attackers and find out exactly what the connection to Chaffinches is.
I’m running out of time!
Oh dear lord!
My worst fears have been realised.
I’ve been quite frantic in my research and I have been leaving far too many of my notes lying around.
And the worst thing that could possibly happen, happened!
Darwin found some of my notes on the phantom website that I had carelessly left lying around and now Darwin has seen the website. Now he has just 7 short days left before he too is turned into a chaffinch.
Turning a man into chaffinch is one thing, but to turn a monkey, the most wonderful of all nature’s creatures into one is cruelty beyond compare.
I must double my efforts to solve the mystery, there is far too much at stake now.
My research into fatal accidents at the construction site has lead to nothing. I must look back even earlier… something must have happened there back when it was just a greenfield site. Something horrifying.
May god have mercy on my soul for getting Darwin involved in this…
My research has begun in earnest.
The building is pretty new and I’ve been working there since it opened. In all my time here there hasn’t been a single fatality. I did some research to double check this and I was right, no one has ever died in this building.
So I have to look back further…
The construction of the building… that’s where I’ll look next.
Perhaps one of the builders met with an unpleasant faith while working on the construction site of the building… That’s got to be it… I shall waste no time finding out what happened.
Darwin, my pet monkey and dear friend, is looking worried. He must know that there is something wrong with me, but I can’t bring myself to tell him that his best friend is going to be turned into a chaffinch in a weeks time if he doesn’t solve the mystery of spectral midnight web user.
I’m in big trouble.
My curiosity about the strange midnight uses of my internet cafe got the better of me.
I checked the internet log files for last nights strange visits and found that someone had visited a peculiarly named website. I felt I’d better investigate further so I could determine the identity of this strange midnight internet user so I logged into this website. It was the worst mistake of my life… I can not begin to describe the horrors that I saw there… and then at the end a message came up on screen telling me that in 7 days I’ll metamorphose into a chaffinch. A faith worse than death, I’m sure you’ll agree…
I have to crack the mystery of this website and I have to do it soon.
I think the ghost is the key… if I can work out the identity of this ghost then maybe I’ll be able to figure out a way to break this curse.
I’ve got to start doing some research.