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The Weekend of Hell... or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Zombies

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-----Listen to Episode 18-3 BEFORE reading this----

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Ok, Monday Morning. The new episode is up. iTunes disabled the ability to ping the podcast using a URL, so I have to wait now for it's location to be pinged by the spiders over at iTunes. No Problem. Oh, look a new review. Let's read.
"Pick up the pace!" 3 Stars - Jellyfish
"I fell in love with this podcast during season 1, the story the acting were all top notch. Season 2's story line however has slowed to a crawl! Where is the fast paced, heart pumping story that hooked me initially? The story has been bogged down and is need of a serious shot in the arm. To the writers if the show, please go back and listen to how amazing season 1 was. Bring back the excitement and thrills. Leave the slow plodding melodrama behind and get back to what made this podcast the best on iTunes."
..."Sigh". For those of you who know me personally, although many don't, I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, so of course I'm going to read every review. This was by no stretch a bad review, but after the weekend of hell, it's not the greatest. So what happened? Let's get into it.

I work 8-5 Monday to Friday. It's a nice job, but has its own fair share of stress involving 3d animation workflows, development, hardware troubleshooting etc... It's a mighty complicated technical job. This week I was privileged enough for the University to put me into two Pro Tools training courses on Friday and Saturday. Normally, I would be hesitant of anything that disrupts my weekend, since Friday, Sat, and a chunk of Sunday I devote to editing sound sessions of We're Alive. I was aware of this training session weeks in advance and knew what was coming. I made arrangements with our Stage 1 Sound Designer that the episode needed to be done earlier than usual because of the schedule; giving me extra time to work on the episode in advance.

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ID:	81And thus the problems started. In Chapter 18 part 2, I had plenty of time to work on that episode. In the original script THAT'S when the climax for Angel and Kalani was supposed to be. Due to a mixup with the Stage 1 Sound Designer and the person who worked on the voice cut of that Chapter, it ended up coming in part 3 instead of part 1. Some things can be re-arranged, and it works fine, but if you notice at the 2nd portion of Chapter 18 Part 3, Pegs starts the scene with saying, "She doesn't care about"... referring to Tanya. Normally I would never start a scene with a preposition about a person we aren't exactly sure who it was. It's still clear, but in the audio drama work, confusion is a giant hurdle to get over. Part of this mistake was on me as well as I spent more time focusing on writing Chapters 19 and 20 instead of the voice cut on Chapter 18. The real hurdle was the part that was the MOST complicated, fell into the time slot where I had the least amount of time.

How does an episode get produced and who is this Stage 1 Sound Designer? Well, the Stage 1 Sound designer takes the episode from the voice cut and creates their own version of the episode. They take what's on the page and create a soundscape. I'm Stage 2. They send me the sound design and I focus on polishing, adjustments, music, credits, etc... Since we have 3 sound designers, having me be the 2nd stage allows the show to have a consistent feel and sound. If the characters are in a place that has a wood floor, or carpets, or the doors have a certain sound, I know what is where and change it if need be. Sometimes my changes are major, sometimes very minor. It all depends on the episode. In the schedule, the 1st Stage sound designers edit the episode and deliver it on Friday, where I work about 4 hours Friday night, about 8 to 10 hours Saturday, and maybe 3 or 4 on Sunday. That's a typical week.

This weekend, which I'm getting to the reason it was hell, I had training for Pro Tools (our editing software) on Friday and Saturday. This course is supposed to be taught over 6 days, but we were an accelerated class. We did it in 2 days. It was scheduled from 9 AM till 5 PM, but really went till 7 pm. I did not know this ahead of time. I didn't freak out as much until Friday after the class when I started editing after getting home. I'm not going to say that stage 1 was bad, but it was missing pieces of what I felt made the episode what it should be. Granted, it does not have music, but I couldn't tell what was going on. In audio drama, that can be a bad bad thing. Here's a peak behind the curtain. Here is stage one of Chapter 18 part 3. BEFORE you listen to this, be sure to listen to the final product. I wouldn't want to spoil the episode.

So I freaked out a little bit, and was somewhat helpless. Normally, I would say, there's always time to fix it, but in this case, there wasn't. I started working as hard and as fast as I could. The scene that took place on the balcony of the water tower, I re-arranged lines to establish what was going on, and took a baking pan, a piece of paper, and did some Foley work inside my office. When Kalani is drawing the map, it's me with my kitchen-ware. I went as far as I could, and couldn't take any more. Going through training all day long, and then the episode was a bit too much, and it wasn't going to get easier. I knew that Saturday's class would no doubt go long, and I would have even less time. So I called in re-enforcements. Shane came over on Saturday and worked on it while I was at training. He did some arranging and we added a few lines to try and clean up what felt missing. I continued to work on it then, and all of Sunday.

On Sunday, which was the super-bowl, I started my day by getting up early and heading to the foley stage. We didn't have the right sound effects for when Pegs was on crutches. They sounded like they were from a stock library and didn't have any personality to the motion of what was going on. So I ran back and forth between the booth and the stage doing a one-man-show of me hobbling around with a crutch. Few more sound effects later and I raced back home and continued working on it for the next day. I ended around 9 or 10 that night. So I missed the game- oh well. There's always next year. I only watch a few games a year, it just so happened that this was one of them.

So there it is. It's done, it's out there, I think you'll enjoy it, and if you don't... tough. I had to share my experience, and explain a little bit of what happens behind the scenes of We're Alive. And if you think the story is dragging, talk to me at the end of Season 2 and let me know. What good is a climax if there's absolutely no setup to it?
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  1. Funny Muffins's Avatar
    I appreciate the time you took away from your weekend to get this episode out, started the series last week and was dying to get ahold of 18.3 to finally catch up!
    This series has much to offer and has already proven that it can produce a quality product, I highly doubt that anyone would care argue that point with me.

    Keep up the great work, and make sure to keep the story progressing!

    You may have missed a great game on Sunday, but the Packers won so yeah...

    Go Steelers!
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  2. Teethingbiscuit's Avatar
    One of my first grumbles last year sometime was, "Got to wait another 7 days for the next episode... " and then, "When is the new season going to get here?" Well, sir I tell you now, that wait being the worst part about following the We're Alive story is perhaps the best part of the story.
    In food terms this format keeps me from gorging.
    Drinking terms I am able to stay at the bar for ages rather than being drug out by my two cousins (thumps head with acknowledgment, "That's why I quit drinking!). 10yrs proud.

    Thanks Kc, in case you have not heard it recently.
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  3. j0be's Avatar
    Holy crap. I loved the look behind the scenes. I do some amateur sound design, and it was great to see some of the work you do behind the scenes.
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