Well, now, here’s a novelty. It was only last month that I was opining – yet again – about Science Brian and his sound effects. But not to worry, I thought, because Episode 18 is an Action Dan episode. His sound effects are always lovely. And then this happened:
Welcome to the latest episode in my irregular series: ‘Complaining About Science Brian’s Sound Descriptions’. This month we have this charmingly and unnecessarily specific addition to the list:
Why? What possible reason could I have to go and stand in a field in Wales for two days? It’ll be raining and there’ll be sheep and hippies and people who haven’t bathed, and there’ll also be Action Dan and Science Brian (aka. all of the above). You are kidding, right? There is no way on Earth that I would ever, ever, produce a live podcast at Green Man festival.
Wait – how did I get here? Ergh – get that unwashed science hippy-sheep away from me…
Ground control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
– ‘Space Oddity’, David Bowie
[Beep] [Static] … [Beep] [Static] … [Beep] [Static] … Houston, we have a cliché … [Beep] [Static]
It seems that my last tirade about Science Brian’s ludicrous sound effects has borne fruit. He has now started inserting apologies into his scripts to pre-empt my wrath. Well, sort-of apologies…
But the thing is, ‘punching a robot’ is not a particularly difficult sound effect to create. It’s just a case of mixing the ‘cartoon punch’ effect that I’ve used in many previous episodes with any of the 272 hits* produced when you enter ‘metallic clang’ into the Freesound search engine.
So that’s that dealt with. Now, what am I going to fill the rest of this blog with?
Oh, I know – let’s talk about equalisation.
Growing up in the north-east of England, it was impossible to remain unware of the region’s industrial heritage. In particular, shipbuilding on the Tyne has a distinguished 800-year history. As a child of the 1970s and 80s, however, it was also impossible to ignore the decline in shipbuilding – indeed, in all forms of manufacturing industry – in northern England at that time. Unemployment rose, and once-busy docks and slipways fell into disuse, lending a melancholy air to the river, and a sense of dispair to the region as a whole.
Since then there has been massive regeneration. Like similar areas in cities such as Sheffield and Birmingham, Newcastle’s Quayside has been transformed into a centre for arts and culture, as well as new housing developments.
So what does all this have to do with Editing Episode 10? Well… not much. But after 10 episodes, I’m rather running out of things to talk about.
We then ran to Producer Dan and said, “We have no idea how to actually turn all this into reality! Help us!”
– Science Brian
That, in his ‘how it all started’ blog, is how Science Brian described the moment he asked me to get involved in Action Science Theatre. It’s quite charming, in its way – glowing with the enthusiasm of a young Irishman making his way in a strange, faraway land, hope shining in his eyes, alight with the realisation that all his Christmases have come at yearly intervals.
It is, of course, a thin, supermarket-brand, single-ply tissue of lies.*
In these days of climate change, peak oil, fracking and Jeremy Clarkson, it behoves us all to do our bit for the environment. And what better way to help make a greener tomorrow than with a little recycling? So, as you listen to Episode 7 of Action Science Theatre, don’t sit there thinking, “I’m sure that sound has been in the past three episodes.” Instead, rejoice in the knowledge that, by recycling sound effects, we at Action Science Theatre are contributing to greener podcasting.
Hmm… need to work on my titles.
Anyway, as I discussed in an earlier blog, much of my time in editing Action Science Theatre is spent trying to find or create sound effects that sound as close as possible to the real thing. Sometimes, however, the reverse is true; what you want isn’t anything like the real thing, because the real thing is too nondescript, or simply inaudible. This is where stereotypical auditory cues come in, allowing the creation of what Vincent McInerney* calls ‘mindvisible images’ – instant visualisation of what is meant to be happening. While McInerney is talking about writing rather than sound effects, similar principles apply.