Editing Episode 1

It’s about 10 o’clock at night, a tiresome collection of buffoons has just lef… *ahem* the cast has just left my house, the place is a mess, and England are in the process of being knocked out of Euro 2012 on penalties. Time to go to work.

Editing a radio play seems a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. I am faced with a huge collection of dialogue tracks, sound effects and ambient noises; somehow I have to combine them into a coherent whole. This bit of dialogue goes here, this sound effect goes there, this sound effect… doesn’t exist. Ah.

Recording a filing cabinet opening

Filing cabinet opens,
filing cabinet closes…

So, off I go, rampaging around my house with a microphone, much to the cats’ annoyance. Opening doors, closing doors, slamming doors, knocking on doors (there are a lot of doors in this play), crumpling bits of paper, uncrumpling bits of paper, grabbing bits of paper, turning over bits of paper (there are a lot of bits of paper in this play), opening filing cabinets, closing filing cabinets, opening filing cabinets again (there are… never mind). This is complicated by Science Brian’s… idiosyncratic approach to sound effects. What the hell is ‘hard-boiled rain’? I wonder if he’ll notice if I just add ‘rain’?

By 1.15 am I have completed about 5 minutes of the edit and it’s suddenly very important that I go to bed. Then it’s 1.30 am and it’s suddenly very important that I get up again and feed the cats, who seem to have been overlooked in all the excitement. Oops.

Overall, the edit takes about 7 hours, spread over 2 nights, definitely getting easier as I work out what I’m doing and get into a rhythm. And, unlike every jigsaw I ever did as a kid, I’m not left with a huge number of identical sky-blue pieces after finishing the interesting bits with people and things in.

So, at 11.30 on Monday night I email the final version to Action Dan and Science Brian. I resolve not to listen to it ever again, as I know I’ll find things that I want to change, but it’s late and I’m tired and I can’t remember whether I remembered to feed the cats.

Postscript: I did have one more listen to it, the next morning. It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad… The next one will be even better.

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