Greetings, and welcome to the first Tin Can Audio newsletter.
My name is David Devereux, I'm a writer, musician, sound designer and audio producer here at Tin Can Audio, and I'll be sharing a little bit on what we've been up to in the past month, what we're going to be up to in the upcoming month, as well as some thoughts and ramblings on sound design, music, podcasting, writing, and, I imagine, other stuff as well.
This is a new thing we're trying and, I'll be wholly transparent here, this post is more or less me figuring out how this thing works (it should not be this complicated, but it is).
Last Month's Links
We're still in the process of releasing our latest show The Dungeon Economic Model, there are only a couple of episodes left in the series!
I recorded the sound design workshop I ran at PodUK Goes Digital at the end of May, in which I look at some of my work for Middle:Below, Tin Can, Dungeon Economic Model, and Stellar Firma. You can watch it here.
PodUK have recently been streaming on Twitch, and it's been getting me through a lot of the admin work of last month. Recently they streamed the Audio Drama Panel from 2019, and it was nice to relisten to a very nervous me on my very first panel.
This Month: 'Middle:Below II & Moving to Remote Recording'
This month we are restarting production on the second season of our comedy-horror series Middle:Below, entitled Middle:Below II - Ghost Town. We had to halt production on the show back in March (for reasons that are not difficult to work out).
We usually record episodes with cast & crew all in the same room, as there's a certain energy and sense of play that comes from everyone being in the same space. Performers bounce of each other, there's a shared energy and a freedom to improvise together in a way that is hard to do when they're not in the same room.
It also creates a group atmosphere that makes everyone feel more like they're a part of something. For season one we had a full cast readthrough, followed by a group trip to a trampolining centre (which was a bad idea). We then spent the rest of the week recording the series (albeit with very sore limbs). It was a concentrated week of creativity and focus on this one individual project.
[this was actually a recording session for a later episode, I sadly don't have any photos of the original recording sessions]
It's understandable to be asking at this point, given that we're still in the midst of a pandemic with lockdown restrictions still in place: why have we started up production again? What's changed?
The short answer is that we're ready and we know how to record the series remotely in a way that, for the most part, still maintains the energy and spontaneity that comes from all recording in the same space.
The long answer is that we had the opportunity to test out different approaches to recording audio fiction remotely, and also through supporting each other, we've been able to set us up to all record to a consistent level.
We recorded our latest show, The Dungeon Economic Model, in lockdown. We recorded all the narration over a weekend, with a readthrough on the Saturday, and recording all day Sunday. We had a group call running on Discord, and Roger (the narrator) recorded his lines at his end, and then send them over to me afterwards.
It was a really fun recording session, and there was still the same energy and fun that we were used to from recording in person. That being said, DEM only had one speaking character (all the silly, incidental noises from me came during the editing process) so there was still the question of how we would record multiple people with different recording technology and environments.
So, we also made a special Middle:Below episode.
[My webcam wasn't working that day...]
A lot of making indie audio fiction is working within limitations, and trying to get round them creatively (the same principle as turning a bug into a feature in video game development). When I started my first fiction podcast Tin Can, I was the only voice actor, so I wrote a story about being stranded alone out in space. Later, when I brought in other voice actors, they were mostly recording remotely, and they were all using different kind of mics. To get around this, I had the characters interact through ship communication systems (pro tip: a radio/phone EQ hides many sins).
We used a similar trick with the Middle:Below special episode. While David Pellow (Gil), Megan Buchanan (Sans) and I all had proper recording mics, Charlotte Ryder (Heather) was recording into her phone, and we didn't really know how it would sound having all of us record in different environments. The solution was to have the episode take place over a phone call, meaning we could use the aforementioned radio/phone EQ to standardise the sound by downgrading the mic-recorded audio, and shaping the phone-recorded audio.
(see also: Tin Can, The Tower, Dungeon Economic Model...it's a trick I clearly like using).
In recording, we found we were still able to maintain the creative energy and silliness that we had all come to expect from Middle:Below recording sessions, and the episode ended up being one of my favourites in the series.
Since that recording, we managed to get Charlotte kitted out with her own USB microphone, and we've taken the lessons learned from recording Dungeon Economic Model and the special episode to move into recording Middle:Below II and still make the show we wanted to make.
I guess the point I'm getting at here is that, if you're wanting to make something, it is worth testing different approaches and playing around with the limitations presented to you in the process. There should always be an element of play and experimentation when making things, especially in audio, where the listener is also a part of the creative process.
If you like what we do and you want to help us make more, you can buy us hot beverages on ko-fi. You can also support us by buying something from our bandcamp, where we have the soundtracks to our show as well as extra music.
If you want to support us long term, you can sign up to our Patreon, where you'll receive additional content such as blooper reels, live content and interviews with our cast & crew.
All that being said, the best support you can give is listening to our shows and telling other people about them. Word-of-mouth is everything to small indie podcasters, and hearing from people who have enjoyed our work is what keeps us going.
Thank you for listening.