Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The difficulty pod-cast journey

Creating podcasts and books-on-CD is turning out to be harder than expected, Abigail author Mark Walma now admits.

"I got into it on a whim, to be honest," he said. "A person with a vision impairment emailed Abigail some time ago saying that, although she has heard the Abigail Massey books are pretty good good and although she had purchased copies for friends and family around the world, she still hadn't been able to enjoy the stories herself."

Mark first sent the woman the stories in their electronic (Word) format, so that a program on her computer could read them to her.

"But I thought, 'maybe I can do better'," he said with a laugh. "I didn't realise what I was getting myself into."

First, there's doing the recording itself. Mark had to bring together the right equipment and software just to get started. Once that was done, he needed to find quiet time to read the stories into the computer.

"All it takes is for the dog to bark or a loud truck to drive by and you have to stop and rewind," he said. "I had one 'take' ruined when someone flushed a toilet!"

Then came the actual reading part of it.

"Reading like that isn't as easy as one might expect," he said. "There's nothing like a digital recording to show you how many ums, ahs, coughs and sniffs you commit in a single minute of reading. And then there's the problem of stumbling over words, mispronouncements and stuff like that."

It took him more than two hours to record each of the four stories from the first volume in any kind of decent shape and editing each one has taken many hours more.

"You want to remove the blemishes, sure, but you also want to make sure you get the pacing right," he explained. "You have to deal with the fact that, when you do so many 'takes' in the course of reading a single story, you're going to have sometimes significant differences in volume as well."

And then there's the problem of time. Mark's goal is to fit the four stories from the first volume on a single CD. Well, most CDs handle only 80 minutes of recording. And not a minute more.

"Each story turned out to be between 18 and 25 minutes in length," he said, laughing. "So, when all was said and done, when I had the recording of each story in pretty good shape, I found out I was still about two minutes over the limit."

So now it's back to the editing booth.

"I'll get there, I'm sure," Mark promised. "It's just a much more difficult journey than I expected."

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