July 8th, 2008

Red Shift

all things shift

Production on The Rise of the Repo-Bots, the second RED SHIFT, INTERPLANETARY DO-GOODER audio drama serial is underway. You can't imagine how thrilled this makes me.

(If you're wondering about the first serial, The Terror of Terra-Khan, it's currently in post-production -- yes, still -- and I'll make a big honkin announcement once we begin to distribute the episodes.)

Our first recording session was last Saturday and, after we got the obligatory technical difficulties out of the way, went quite well. We got good takes of almost everything we needed. The downtime during the technical difficulties meant we all got to wander out for some food and mob Spike's for lunch ("Hello, we'll be your lunch rush this afternoon...") and wasn't that an enjoyable treat. For us, at least. The guys at Spike's, who knows how they felt.

We're working with a more piecemeal approach to recording this time around. Individual schedules, other projects and technical limitations being how they are, we just don't have the capability to perform most of our scenes in one (that is, in one take, starting at the beginning and going all the way to the end with all the actors together.) I prefer the in-one approach whenever I can get it, because it can bring with it the kind of spontaneity you get from live performances. Everybody's all together and reacting to one another right there, and the tone and energy grow and change as the actors all work off each other's lines. But honestly, that setup is a rare luxury. It's far easier on a practical level to record individual parts and lines, taking pickups when necessary, and then piece them together all jigsaw-like in post. (For one, you don't have to herd all the cats together in one room. So many cats! So many cat committments!)

You don't get the organic ebb and flow of the scene's energy, but you do get a whole lot of creative control and shape that scene's tone yourself. It can be considered a fair trade-off, and it makes the recording process a lot easier.

For Terra-Khan we recorded at a studio in Cambridge which allowed us to use as many mics as we needed at once, and we set up the entire cast to perform scenes in one. Our new recording setup, which is much more cost-efficient, uses four mics only. I could write scenes for just four characters each (and I have) but it's much more relieving to know I can write a scene with multi-layered dialogue, background chatter, and several minor characters popping in and out, and still be able to get it done with the four mic system and a lot of pickups. And from a sound editing point of view, it's damned thrilling to hear the final result of all those jigsaw pieces put together and not be able to tell where the edits are. The goal, then, is to record piecemeal, but construct the show so that you can't tell it was piecemeal. And we've got the technology and the skills to do that, I think.

The second session will be this Saturday, and I'm looking forward to it. Meanwhile, I spent the bulk of this evening writing six pages of dialogue for the final episode of the serial, and it's gone smoothly. I admit I've overhauled the damn thing more times than I'd have liked, but I've ironed everything out. My last major story problem was trying to integrate an element which we'd had planned since the first story meetings, but its inclusion kept getting shuttled around the story structure and continually put off until absolutely necessary. There was always something more important to focus on. As it turns out, we've now gone and written around the element, and it became clear to me tonight that it's no longer needed. It was a real "Oh, DUH" moment, but it's a moment that was more than welcome. Am I glad not to have that stinkin albatross around anymore!

The new Red Shift website and merchandise mart will be filled out and ready for public perusal quite soon. I consider myself entirely fortunate that there's a team of people who believe in this project and that we're working together to keep this train a-rolling. It just warms the cockles of my heart to know that. Seriously it does. So stop snickering at "cockles."
Tom Lehrer is Smug

i make watch telelevisions

1. Delta and the Bannermen, a Doctor Who serial from 1987 starring Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and Bonnie Langford as Mel, the screamiest companion ever. And you were right, dskasak. It was pretty awful. Paradise Towers is goofy and bad, and so it gets a pass because you can laugh at it and feel like it's a guilty pleasure. But with this one, the "oh god, that's bad" overwhelmed the "so bad it's good" camp in a serious way. I tried to find things to like about it -- Stubby Kaye was in it, that was cool! But his role is completely useless! He and the guy with the Worst Southern American Accent Ever are part of this C story that contributes nothing to the main adventure at hand!

The girl playing the motorcyclist was rather cute! But... all she did was pine for a boy and ride around on the motorcycle, giving us the Doctor Who equivalent of Rock Climbing. Any time the episode needed padding, they just threw in a few more shots of everybody gaily riding about on their motorcycles. Eventually the group gets too large so they add a car to the parade. How fun! Mel even waves hello to cows from a sidecar. Yes. SHE WAVES HELLO TO COWS. They're hurriedly escaping from vicious, cold-blooded warrior types and seeking a safe spot, riding through the Welsh countryside, and Mel's WAVING HELLO TO FREAKING COWS. She didn't even call them on her side, so I called them from my side, and that means Mel lost all her cows.

But I absolutely lost it when we got to the baby painted green. (For those of you without a shred of context, yes, all this is entirely true, including the green baby. And the Rock Climbing motorcycle riding. DEEP HURTING. DEEEEEP HURTING.)

2. This week's episode of the Venture Bros. Now there's some quality Scooby-Doo style adventuring gone horribly awry. HORRIBLY SEXY AWRY! Was this episode written after six months at sea? My god. It was like Brock fighting Molotov Cocktease times three. I wonder how many concessions Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer had to make to the Cartoon Network Standards & Practices department (or whatever they're called) in order to get this one approved. I wonder how many bits of other episodes they had to rein in to make the deal. Or perhaps they did the ol' trick of including much, much, much more Verboten material to make the stuff they eventually got away with seem tame in comparison. I don't know. There's parts in this episode that you won't be able to unsee. And I suspect the Rule 34 guys are going absolutely apeshit right about now.

Now it's time to pretend to pass out for a few hours. Wish us luck. The heat is oppressively heat-y.