Holmes & Watson: The Case of Sharpshooter Sebastia Moran
To all my lovely friends who voice acted, and put it all out there when I asked them to just "volunteer". To that one awesome guy Neal who was the difference between finishing on time or having to re-record a whole scene over again. To Talyn ESPECIALLY because you're my rock, and every project I throw at you you take it on as your own too-- I appreciate all your help and support.
Written/Directed/Edited by: Mandy Daigle/Langarang
Script Editor/P.A.: Talyn Brumley
Based on: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's incredible Sherlock Holmes series.
-Sheree Holmes: Mandy Daigle
-Joshua Watson: Tyler Bain
-Sebastia Moran: Talyn Brumley
-Mrs. Hudson: Talyn Brumley
-Chief Lestrade: Chris M.
-Forensic Team Member 1: Brittany S.
-Forensic Team Member 2: Jeff E.
-Cab Driver: Kelly H.
-Tascam DR 07-MkII
-Recording studio at Boise State University
Various Sound Effects:
"Skyfall" by Adele
"Love Suicide" - Rule of Rose OST
"Pink" and "The Game is On" - Sherlock OST
(WHILE CREATED FOR SURROUND SOUND--BEST HEARD WITH HEADPHONES!)
For each project I try to challenge myself with a new type of audio production. This year I have done text and sound, documentary, soundscape, and a music mix. With what we’ve been talking about recently in my Adv. Audio class with ‘radio dramas’ becoming a lost art form I really wanted to give a radio drama my first shot, and see what I could challenge myself to do. What resulted was probably one of the most intensive projects I’ve ever done, but it has become easily one of my favorite project experiences to date.
Where to begin? The script and sounds! I am a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes book series, but also the many film and TV show adaptions. There are radio adaptions as well, but I wanted to try my own with an American, present-day twist on the first episode of what would be a radio drama series. Now, what I learned throughout this process was that one of the things that makes or breaks a radio piece is the writing. I am not a writer, and it is very evident if you listen to the piece—in many instances it is cheesy at best. However, I think I was able to create an adaption where the names, the environment, and the timeline were changed, but the integrity of the original was preserved. I used a total of seven friend’s voice talents for the piece: Myself as “Sheree” Holmes/miscellaneous, Tyler as “Joshua” Watson, Talyn as “Sebastia” Moran/Mrs. Hudson, Chris as Chief Lestrade, Jeff and Brittany as Forensic Members 1 & 2, and Eric as the cab driver. While I was not able to hire ‘real’ voice actors for this production I was pleasantly surprised to find that everyone was not only willing to participate, but also gave a great effort. To obtain their voices I used a couple of methods. With the major parts (Holmes, Watson, Hudson, and Sebastia) we went into the recording booths at school, and had a blast getting into character and acting to our scripts. With the other bit parts and other misc. voices I needed to get to add texture to backgrounds I used my own Tascam for the job. For the other sound effects (various gunshots, door slams, footsteps, cars, birds, ships, ect) I spent a few days downloading over fifty of them to add to the piece’s depth, and visual environment for the listener. It was amazing how I would try to continue onto the next scene, but then realize that I had to add, subtract, or rearrange a sound based on logistics or what I wanted the viewer to picture visually. Basically, I tried to have every sound effect have a purpose. In that same thread, I also picked music that I thought was emotionally appropriate—several ‘cinematic loop tracks’ from various free music loop sites, a few from ominous selections from some of my favorite video game sound tracks, a tribute with a transition track from the newest BBC adaption of the series called “Sherlock”, and last but not least the beginning and ending themes from the newest James Bond film that I thought matched emotionally and lyrically with the last scene.
As for my methods I aligned the voice tracks according to the script I wrote. Then, I proceeded to create the environment around the voices by adding layers upon layers of sound. I didn’t want to overwhelm the listener, but when creating the piece I had a very distinct vision in mind. Unlike a lot of my pieces in the past I wanted to create this radio drama with not a whole lot left to the listener’s imagination. For example, when I created the image of scene 4 from the harbor, I layered the sounds of the ocean, seagulls, ship’s lulling engines, ship horns, concrete footsteps, ect for a very precise image. From that point I added the music tracks behind the voices, and sound FX to give the project a more cinematic feeling. I do not know if this was the best choice, but I do think it adds an emotional tone I wasn’t able to make up for with my writing! Once I fine-tuned all the voices, sound FX, and music tracks to where I wanted them on the timeline (which took several days) I proceeded to go back through the whole piece to arrange sounds to create the illusion of space and time. I panned the voices (30 notches right and left, 60 notches right and left) to where I thought they would be if the listener was standing smack dab in the middle of the piece, and listening to the action themselves. If the main character of the scene was moving from one place to the other I tried to pan their footsteps to walk across a particular area of interest. I tried to use panning and volume as much as I could to create depth because I did not have the foresight to make my voice actors/myself record lines at a distance from one another, or project more in certain areas that needed it. I largely regret this. Admittedly despite my technical efforts to make up for my shortcomings, I think it is the weakest element of my project. After I did adjustments with volume/panning I went through and added manipulations to the voices, sound FX, and music tracks. I added reverb touches to the vocal tracks where I could to give them a ‘fuller’ sound, and especially where the characters were in an echoing warehouse. I used flanger effects on some of the music to give it an ‘eerie’ sound, and used delay/echo on many of the villain’s tracks to make her especially creepy and evil sounding. Talyn’s voice was the most fun to work with, as I was able to create a flat vocal track turn into an enigmatic presence, floating in and out of the shadows creating mischief and horror for Holmes’s character with technical manipulation.
I thought Matt V.'s music mix project was my most challenging, but I was dead wrong. Creating a radio drama was fantastic fun, but it took a lot of work, and some of which I wasn’t even prepared for. Now that I have done a project like this I have such an appreciation for the radio artists of new and old who do/did these live, and have/were able to do so effectively for so many years. After this one project alone I am completely exhausted, and even in its finished state this project does not come close to their caliber of work. I still have a lot to learn, and there’s much more room for growth, but for now I am happy to of had the experience. I was able to take on the challenge of writing, acting in, directing, and editing my own final project: a radio drama.
- Radio Drama