When I first flew into the United States almost 20 years ago I hadn’t done much commercial flying. Getting about the UK for me meant long train or car rides – I once flew to Aberdeen, but that was it. So here in the early years I was like a kid whenever I boarded a commercial airliner (in fact, as a kid, I’d long had the fantasy of becoming a pilot) and I was always so excited. I had to have the window seat, and stayed glued to the view from 36,000 ft.
But over the past 20 years the thrill has worn off and flying has become something of a chore… I’m flying now, as I write this (distance to go 2,652 miles). I’ve just left Boston Logan Airport to return to San Francisco after spending a week in the brand-spanking new studios of AudioGo(formerly BBC Audiobooks America) and I thought I’d make this whole trip go faster if I tried to polish off an update to my blog here – pictures and everything, starting from scratch. It helps that I’m flying VirginAmerica and they have wi-fi (for a fee) and power sockets by the seats!
So let me begin by telling you what I’ve been doing here… I mean, there… in Rhode Island where AudioGo are based. British author Chris Ewan has written four books in a series that goes under the general title The Good Thief’s Guide To… (insert city here). I was recording the first and fourth in the series which are set in Amsterdam and Venice respectively. I shall be recording the second and third books (set in Paris and Las Vegas) in the not to distant future. They’re fun books and I’ve enjoyed reading them – brief info here or the actual ‘Good Thief’ site for more details.
If you follow my video blogs you’ll know it’s unusual for me to leave my home studio but Dan at AudioGo asked me very nicely, and the studios were only three weeks old, and I said yes. Being in a studio with an engineer is a very different experience from working on your own as a narrator. I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to recording and I find it hard, at first, to relinquish control. As a solo narrator you have to have all levels of your mind working at once – part of your consciousness is totally in the story: getting that essence of ‘here and now’ that producer Paul Ruben mentions in his excellent blog. But you’ve also got to be aware of what’s happening technically – and that covers anything from getting all the words right and keeping the characters consistent to ensuring the levels are fine and your equipment is functioning as well as keeping aware of extraneous noises and so on. In a studio with an engineer (and especially if you’re lucky enough to have a producer like Paul) you can let a lot of that slide and simply focus on the story – or you could if you weren’t me.
I’m so used to doing those other levels that I just can’t let go, and I stopped myself to redo passages or sequences far more than my engineer did – I’m also very self judgmental… did I say that? Tucker, my engineer at AudioGo, was very tolerant.And he was fast with the ‘punch in’ editing mode, which helps. I still managed to get at least four hours a day of finished audio – which enabled me to finish a day early and go sight seeing (to Newport, RI – where these two photos were taken).
If anyone doubts that it’s possible to achieve high quality production from a home studio let me just note (and blow my own trumpet) that, this last week, I received a fourth Audie Nomination, this time in the category of ‘Distinguished Achievement in Production’ for Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. This goes alongside my nominations for Humor (Paul is Undead), Thriller/Suspense (TGWKT Hornet’s Nest, again) and Multi-Voiced Performance (Great Classic Science Fiction – one of many talented narrators). I should add a quick shout out to Aaron who received and mastered the files I recorded at home and should definitely share in the production credits (and the Audie glory!) for Hornet’s Nest.
It’s always a thrill to be nominated for an Audie and I look forward to the Awards Ceremony to be held in New York City towards the end of this month (the 24th May, I believe). In fact, with this latest nomination I could be said to be ‘flying high’ in so many different ways (except drug induced…I’m too old for that nonsense )
If you’re interested, now that the words are mostly done (I’ll tidy it up before publishing), I’m at 36,138 feet going at 431mph with 2,345 miles to go! Now to work on the pictures.. and that can take some time.
Well, that didn’t take as long as I expected – we’ve still got 1,940 miles to go… Maybe I’ll watch a movie, I hear ‘The Town’ with Ben Affleck is quite good. Then I’ll take a nap. Of course, I might just sneak a peek out of the window every now and then, and marvel at the miracle of flight.
It’s possible I’ll have this published before I touch down, and if you read it before I’m home (about 10:30 tonight Pacific) then I’ll consider that something of a miracle too…