Search this Site:
HOME | MOVIES | TV | BOOKS | SOFTWARE | INTERVIEWS | FAN FICTION | AUDIO DRAMAS | SUBMIT REVIEW | FORUMS | LINKS
5/31/2004 -- A new fan fiction has been posted. Visit our Fan Fiction department to read our touching and powerful tale about Tahiri Veila, and her struggle to come to terms with Anakin Solo's death in, "The Touch".

5/23/2004 -- Another character image has been added to our Logan Chronicles audio drama section. This time it is the rebellious stormtrooper, Algar!

5/18/2004 -- The first character image has been added to our Logan Chronicles audio drama section. Stop by and take a look at the first character to come to life: Logan!

5/14/2004 -- Well, our behind-the-scenes look at The Lost Patrol has finally concluded. Read about the post-production process and my final thoughts on the project. Stay tuned, however, as a major addition will be coming soon to The Lost Patrol section.


VOTE FOR OUR SITE!
StarWarsFanworks.com
T'Bone's Star Wars Universe
TheForce.Net
 
Audio Drama
The Logan Chronicles follows the adventures of Logan, a former stormtrooper trying to escape the Empire.
Main | Cast | Characters
Behind the Scenes | Downloads
Logan Chronicles
Behind the Scenes:
< INTRODUCTION | PREPRODUCTION | PRODUCTION I |
PRODUCTION II
| PRODUCTION III | POST-PRODUCTION | FINAL THOUGHTS >

INTRODUCTION

The decision to do this project was more out of curiosity than any real desire to create a fan audio production. I had written a few fan fiction stories, and was toying with the idea of developing a fan film. Then I decided to give one of the fan audio dramas a listen. I'd been listening to Nathan Butler's Chronoradio for a while, and thought it was entertaining. But I never actually listened to any of the audio dramas.

So, I checked out Second Strike. Thought it was pretty good, so I listened to a few others. It's a mixed bag, but I generally enjoyed them.

I then started to get interested in the idea of doing an audio drama. I realized that I could convert a fan fiction I had written several years ago, The Lost Patrol, which was posted over at TheForce.net and is featured here. It was a rather simple, short story about a squad of stormtroopers who are attacked by a tribe of Tuskens.

The chief reason I chose to do this story was because, basically, the stormtroopers are all clones. And since they were all clones, I could provide all the voices and it would have a logic within the story. That simplified the project immensely. So, I set out to try and understand what made audio dramas work.

PREPRODUCTION

I scoured the web to find old radio shows. I listened to episodes of The Shadow, as well as a variety of other programs. Found some really great stuff, and they really helped me understand how radio shows were written and performed.

From there, I translated the short story into a audio script. That didn't take too long, as I pretty much did it all exactly the same. However, one of the challenges I had was to communicate everything via dialogue.

One crutch that I think a LOT of audio dramas use is narration. They tell you what's going on. I really wanted to stay away from this. From all the research I did — in other words, all the old radio shows I listened to — they never used narration. There was never someone there describing the action to you. The stories were written to use dialogue to the hilt, and tell the story through the characters.

I felt this was an important edict to adhere to. As such, I used very, very little narration. I did use it once, but even then I was disheartened by it. However, I felt it conveyed an important element of the story, and I couldn't see any other way of doing it short of having the character talk to himself, which would have been silly.

I then set out to find the sound which would make up this audio experiment. I poked around online to find resources, and was given a tip that there is a way to extract the sound files from video games. So, I dug some more, found a program that could do it, and pulled my sounds chiefly from two separate Star Wars games — Force Commander and Dark Forces.

These sounds were terrific, especially the Force Commander sounds, which are the ones predominately featured in the story.

Of course, the sound effects are only part of the story. You also need people to help you put it together. So, I set about casting my little tale.

For that, I posted notices over at TheForce.net and the Galactic Senate message boards. I was only really casting two roles, that of Symon and the narrator. Both made rather brief appearances in the story. However, my choice for Symon was important, since I was considering doing a sequel and he would play a larger role in that production.

My casting didn't go all that well. Very few people responded, and those who did were largely great but I didn't feel they were right for this particular project. I'd always figured that if this audio drama received a good reception, then I would do the sequels — which I had already written as fan fiction. And many of the people who "auditioned" to be a part of The Lost Patrol were much better suited for specific roles in the follow ups.

Anyway, when I was looking for someone to play Symon, I actually approached someone. I'd heard Michael Haspil's voice in another audio production — Anthology: The Mob — and knew instantly that he was perfect for Symon. He has a deep, strong voice which I felt perfectly blended with the muscular, towering humanoid.

Next came the narrator. I didn't have anything in particular in mind, but I honestly hadn't considered a woman. Then, Amy Ferrell mentioned it on the message boards, and I had to do it. And, of course, I had to cast her. Hands down, Amy has the most amazing voice in all of fan audio. Sultry, smooth. She was just perfect.

The last bits of casting here easy. I played the role of the stormtroopers — including the chief character, Logan — while my wife played the role of Lynda (another role which will become more important in the sequel).

With casting complete and sounds gathered, I set out to put my opus together.

PRODUCTION I
Finding my voice

My first challenge was figuring out what program to use in order to create my grand audio yarn. I toyed around with Quicktime Pro, but didn't like the workflow. I also got a piece of software called, WaveLab. It wasn't bad, but again, just didn't like the workflow.

You see, I'm a filmmaker. I'm used to working with video clips on a timeline. That's a process I fine very intuitive. Looking back, I probably should have given those two programs more time, but I wanted to work with something I was more comfortable with.

So, I turned to Final Cut Pro.

Now, this is a beautiful program. I love everything about it. And while it's not really meant for audio editing, I liked working with the timeline and building the audio drama with blocks instead of cut and pasting audio clips.

I think if I do decide to create a second audio drama, then I'll most likely use a program better suited for audio. But, this worked great for my first attempt. My chief concern was simply to get the project done, and I didn't want to bog myself down by learning new software.

Anyway, I transferred all the sound files I'd needed onto the Mac. I also did my voice recording on the Mac. It's built in microphone performed waaaay better than the crappy mic I have on my PC. Heck, I'd even gotten a new mic for it, but there was still a lot of noise. The mic in the Mac delivered really clean sound. I think there were times I should have gotten a little closer to it when I was recording, but it was still really soft, quiet sound that I was really pleased with.

Anyway, I proceeded to get my dialogue done. Now, this was a challenge, because I was doing the voice for four different characters — each of whom were talking to one another. I wanted it to sound natural, but my chief concern was that you — the listener — wouldn't get confused as to who was talking.

So, I read through the script and figured out how to read the dialogue for each character. For example, with the Sarge, I made my voice sort of gruff. He was the only character that I chose to alter my voice a little, because I felt that he would be the oldest, more seasoned character. As such, his voice has been roughened from yelling and such in combat.

With the other characters, I simply read each person differently. Algar was the jovial one, the guy who bucked the norm. TK768 was whiny, while Logan was very calm and unemotional. I wasn't sure how each voice would come off, but after I started piecing them together they did seem like separate individuals. At least, to me. So, I was satisfied with how they came out. I'm not sure I did the greatest job with some of my performances, not so much as a whole but a line reading here and there. Still, overall, I was pleased.

Once I had all my dialogue recorded, I started putting them together on the timeline. Once I had a very basic assemblage, I proceeded to get the recordings done from my actors.

Now, I started this project back in November 2003. I procrastinated a while before finally getting to my actors. First, I went to Haspil. I understood that some other audio drama creators recorded the dialogue themselves so the actor would know how to read the lines. I didn't want to do this initially, so I simply sent him an e-mail and described how the lines should be read.

Basically, I didn't want to tell the actor how to read them, but give him a sense of the character and what I was looking for. However, when I got the recorded lines back — aside from the fact that he had a cold and sounded stuffy — it was all wrong. Not bad, just not what I wanted. It was too angry, and while I wanted anger, I needed it to be subtler.

So, I procrastinated again and went back to working on the mixing.

At this point, I began working at getting the sound effects set in. I wanted to take care of the opening scene. There, I'd experiment with sound, footsteps, background sound.

I layered in the Tatooine wind, which was going to be the only constant throughout the entire drama. I then had to play with the dialogue in order to get that unique stormtrooper sound. I had several clips of stormtrooper dialogue, all of which included the clicks at the beginning and end of every stormtrooper line. I trimmed those off and added them to each line of dialogue that required it.

Then, I had to make adjustments to the dialogue itself to make it sound metallic and filtered. I looked online for a solution, and found it. Basically, it's the same trick one would use to make a person sound as if his voice is coming through a telephone. For the most part, you just lower the bass, and your done. I'd explain in more detail, but the audio filters are elaborate with Final Cut Pro and don't really carry over well into other programs.

The first time I did a few lines, and played it back, I got excited. It sounded great! I was very pleased with the outcome, and this was the first bit of sound manipulation that actually went right.

My next challenge was a speeder arriving and hovering. The hovering part was relatively simple, as I had a plethora of hover sounds. However, the speeder sound was very hard to come by. Then, when I finally did get it — courtesy of Nathan Butler — it's just a flyby. I tried several times to manipulate the sound in order to make it work in the context of what I needed, but to no avail. The sound always became distorted. So, I elected to leave it alone.

Does it sound great? Not really. But it worked for what I needed it to do — alert the audience that a speeder had approached. I tried not to get too bogged down in these little elements, because I did the best I could with it. I had to move on to other challenges.

And there were plenty.

PRODUCTION II
Crash and Burn

Making an effective crash effect is not that simple. For the most part, these sounds don't necessarily exist. I mean, in my case I probably could have pulled sound from The Phantom Menace, where the pod race provides a lot of crashing sounds. But, the goal here was to create the major sound effects myself. Besides, that sound would be waaay too familiar to people, and I didn't want them filled with images of The Phantom Menace race.

I struggled a lot with this part. One of the biggest challenges I had was the explosion. In fact, I ran into this similar problem with the explosion of the moisture farm a few moments earlier in the story.

All the explosion sound effects I used were from Force Commander. There was a wide variety of them, including weapon impact explosions, small-medium-large vehicle explosions, and just generic explosions. The problem, however, was that all these explosions were rather dry. Each begins and ends rather abruptly, and don't naturally fade away.

Now, I tried to adjust them with a little echo effect and so forth, but it still didn't sound right. I just couldn't get the explosions to have that slow drop off that I really wanted.

Now, I did manage to get it a little with the initial explosion of the moisture farm. That's because I inserted the Death Star explosion, which has a much softer and longer fade out. I liked this, because it meant I didn't have to alter the sound.

Personally, the less I had to manipulate the sound the better. Every manipulation I tried often ruined the effect. As I mentioned earlier, I created this audio drama with Final Cut Pro, a digital video editing program that I love using but isn't optimized for working effectively with audio. I think the latest version (Final Cut Pro 4) has a new audio plug in which is supposed to be great, but I have Final Cut Pro 3.

Anyway, when I began work on the speeder crash, I tried a lot of different things to manipulate the sound to give the effect that the speeder was having mechanical problems. I think the crash sequence in another audio drama, Rise of Nobility, is a great example of a crash sequence. However, the difference between that crash and mine was that it was a ship flying high above the ground. Mine was a speeder, which glides only a few feet over the surface. So, I couldn't build up the crash by raising the pitch of the engines. The problem wasn't that they were plummeting to the ground, but instead that they couldn't control the speeder and they were in danger of crashing into the canyon walls and large boulders.

So, I figured there was one important element to the crash that was a requirement. Without it, the whole shebang just wouldn't work.

The crash had to be short!

Make it too long, and it's just not going to work. Make it quick, and maybe people will get caught up in the characters desperate attempt to regain control of the speeder that they'll forgive the bad sound effects.

Anyway, I had written only a few lines of frantic yelling and orders, so the time between the sound of the initial surprising gunshot to the actual crash is pretty brief.

While the crash was something that I just wanted to get done and over with so I could move on with the story, the bit of dialogue that follows it is by far my favorite moment in the audio drama. It's just a very simple tidbit, with TK544 — a.k.a. Logan — recovering from the crash and trying to see if anyone else is alive. Those three short lines, with the sound of the Tatooine wind and the filtered effect of his helmet communicator are, I think, the highlight of the whole project.

I loved it so much, in fact, I wished I'd done it earlier, because it would have made a great addition to the trailer.

Did I mentioned that I made a trailer? I may not have.

It was around this time I realized this project was taking waaay too long to make. There were times I just dragged my feet, other times work got in the way. But, I was getting questioned often about how I was progressing and knew I had to get my butt in gear.

It then occurred to me that I could create a trailer, which would be a simple thing to do, so I could satisfy some people who were looking forward to hearing the project, and possibly buy me some time to get it finished.

So, I threw the trailer together in about a half hour. I wasn't really concerned with explaining the story — which isn't really that complicated — I simply wanted to give people an idea of what to expect.

Lots of action, lots of gunfire, lots of angry Tuskens.

Creating the trailer was pretty fun, chiefly because it was quick and easy. It also gave me an opportunity to utilize one of my favorite pieces of music by Ennio Marricone — which I also used at the end of The Lost Patrol. But, doing the trailer also helped me with the next complicated part of the project:

The gunfight scene between the stormtroopers and the Tuskens.

PRODUCTION III
Your Bantha or Your Life

Developing the gunfight was probably the one thing about this project that really had me excited. I wanted to get through all the other junk just to do the gunfight. Tusken projectile rifles, stormtrooper blasters. Zipping right to left, left to right. Cool stuff.

The first challenge I had was to make sure the gunfight was cool, but at the same time the audience would still here the limited about of dialogue. But, this proved easier than I initially thought, because basically the Tuskens were going to be pretty far off to begin with so I could keep their gunfire pretty low at first — which is where most of the dialogue is spoken. Important dialogue, anyway.

The funny thing is, the Tusken gunfire was probably the very first major complaint I received regarding the story. Not during the audio production, but at the time I had written the original fan fiction it was based upon.

When I wrote the fan fiction, I detailed the Tusken guns as using projectiles — unlike the blasters commonly seen in Star Wars. I received a complaint from one of the "proofreaders" who volunteer with TheForce.net who disagreed with my logic. He didn't believe that the Tuskens used projectile weapons.

Now, I actually didn't look it up. I simply based this off The Phantom Menace, when the Tuskens were taking popshots at the pod racers. Seemed pretty clear to me that they were using projectile weapons, since the bullets were bouncing off the racers. Well, when he challenged me, I immediately went over to the official site and looked it up.

And they do in fact use projectile weapons.

Anyway, with that little rant over, I got the projectile weapon sound for the Tusken weapons from Force Commander. Doing the Tusken stuff was pretty simple, because there was only one basic sound to choose from. The fun really came into the Tusken grunts and groans.

I had about 17 different sounds to choose from, which was fun. They were all very different, and I just played around with different combinations. At times, I actually tried to work it that they were having conversations, calling out orders to one another. One voice I actually kept separate, as he is the leader and has the harsher, louder barks.

I mixed the gunfire and Tusken "dialogue" in a separate file. I knew how long I needed it to be, so I just put it all together and outputted it as a .wav file. Then brought it into the overall mix, which made it easier to control the sound and pan levels.

The final challenge was again helped by the creation of the trailer. I wanted to let the gunfire drip away, leaving only the intermittent sound of approaching Tuskens as TK768 and Algar lay dying and awaiting their fate. I brought the Tuskens back slowly, and had it build up. I wanted to have it that the leader Tusken was attacking for hand to hand combat.

This point was also the first use of music in the project. I intentionally didn't want to use much music, and while I originally considered using Star Wars music, I eventually nixed the idea. Basically because it was just too darn recognizable.

It wouldn't have mattered what I chose to use, it would have immediately brought forth images of A New Hope, or Return of the Jedi, or whatever. I just didn't want that. So, I elected to use music that I'm sure few people would recognize.

The last bit of editing came with the dialogue between Lynda and Symon. This was fun, because it's the only portion of the entire audio drama that I'm not in. Sure, I have two lines, but it finally introduced two other actors. I really appreciated this, because at that point I was pretty tired of hearing my own voice.

Then, another piece of music — again something that came from my creation of the trailer — and I were done. I'd completed my first Star Wars audio drama. Woohoo!

Well, almost done. I still had to output my opus.

POST-PRODUCTION
File Doormat

Well, the work was done. The voices laid in. The music placed over. The sound mixed.

The project was complete.

Now, I just had to output it so people could listen to my masterpiece. Not a problem. I just created the whole thing using Final Cut Pro and somehow had to get it onto my PC so it could be encoded as an MP3 and uploaded onto my website.

This is a pretty simple hurdle to leap. I have made attempts to get my iMac and PC to communicate like good friends for quite some time. It's been difficult, however. To be honest, they just don't like one another. I've opened them up, taught them how to share, even made them go to Starbucks together and talk it over with a nice, hot latte.

Still nothing.

So, I use an FTP program called WS_FTP. It's a very basic piece of software. I use the free version, and it does enable me to get files back and forth between my PC and iMac.

Using Final Cut Pro, I outputted by audio opus into a .wav format. This ensured that I didn't go and lose any audio quality. I then used by FTP software, pulled the file over to my PC, then loaded into WaveLab.

Now, WaveLab is a sweet piece of software. I probably could have utilized it more when I was doing this project, but unfortunately I found it a little cumbersome. I figured I'd be better off working with my trusty FCP. Perhaps I was wrong, but this didn't stop me from using the software to convert my large .wav file into a streamlined .mp3 — FCP does not work well with that format.

I had some trouble with this initially. The first time the file couldn't be played with the Windows Media Player. It was an odd problem, but I suppose it was just a general glitch more than anything else because when I outputted it the second time it came out fine. I was really impressed with the quality of the MP3. While the file size proved dramatically lower, the sound quality was still great.

Gotta love modern technology.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The End of the Beginning

Well, it's been almost a month and a half since this project was completed. Looking back on it now I suppose there are a few things I would have done differently. But, I really enjoyed making it. It was fun, challenging, and the most elaborate fan project I've ever been involved with.

What did I get out of it? A better understanding of sound, for one thing. Over the past few years, I've gotten a bit of an education on the importance of sound. From different film projects that I've been a part of, as well as the failing of my own ears. This project really helped me understand how important sound is. How it can affect the way in which people form images in their head. It's such a powerful tool, one I don't think I completely respected before creating this audio drama.

I've always loved telling stories. It's one of the defining factors of who I am. And I am grateful that I created this audio drama because it fueled and developed that love in more ways than I expected.

I'll also be honest in that I felt a certain disappointment when the audio drama wasn't met with as much... enthusiasm... as I had initially imagined. Not that I expected people to be crashing my website in an effort to download the file. But, I kind of thought I would get a reaction. At least more than I did.

The arrival of The Lost Patrol was greeted mostly with silence. I got a good batch of downloads in the first few days, but it dwindled fast. The threads on the Galactic Senate and TheForce.net, and even my own message board, were pretty quiet. Sure, a few things were posted, but not much. I did get a few e-mails and comments outside those venues which were favorable. I think in general people liked it. But, I don't know, perhaps I was overestimating the response. I just expected more feedback.

It wasn't that I was expecting a flood of compliments, or a torrential downpour of "you suck!". Just something.

Ah well. More audio dramas will be coming out soon, and I look forward to hearing what everyone else will come up with. I'm still mulling over the idea of continuing the adventures of Logan. I may, but just haven't settled in on the decision to go ahead with the project or not.

When I posted my audio drama online, I fitted it with a special tracking program to keep tabs on how many people have downloaded it. As of today - 5/14/03 - the file has been downloaded 78 times since being posted on 4/1/04. (The trailer has been downloaded 61 times since 2/5/04.)

Is this a lot? I haven't a clue. But, I want to thank all of you who have downloaded it and listened. I hope you enjoyed the tale as much as I enjoyed making it.

< INTRODUCTION | PREPRODUCTION | PRODUCTION I |
PRODUCTION II
| PRODUCTION III | POST-PRODUCTION | FINAL THOUGHTS >

The Star Wars Combine Banner Exchange
HOME | MOVIES | TV | BOOKS | SOFTWARE | INTERVIEWS | FAN FICTION | AUDIO DRAMAS | SUBMIT REVIEW | FORUMS | LINKS
Back to Top