Angel Between the Lines

A fan audio drama that tells what happens between the seasons of Angel

Archive for the ‘Feature Posts’ Category

Feature Post: The World of Editing

Posted by Adrianne Vermeulen On May - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

editingImagine your favorite movie or television show without the benefit of editing. Seriously, consider watching an episode of ‘lost’.  Not only would you have to sit through all of the actor flubs and foibles, but each episode would likely be three hours long!  Editors play an important role in the entertainment business, and in the world of podcasting it is no different.

Of all the steps that go into putting together a podcast series, I knew the least about editing.  Well, if I’m completely honest, I don’t know much about any of it.  Here I am, however, ready to learn!  My take on editing is that it is tedious, challenging, often thankless work.  Nevertheless, all editors interviewed for this article mentioned how rewarding it is to get an episode ‘in the can.’

Those extraordinary people involved in editing in the Between the Lines (BtL) universe come from seemingly ordinary backgrounds. Many entered into editing out of necessity or a fascination with manipulating sound. John, an editor for BtL loves to “work with sound to see how far [he] can hear it in the air.” Some editors come from artistic backgrounds, be it theater or music. Universally, editors seem to be fascinated by controlling sound.

Why edit? Robin, another BtL editor, loves listening to bloopers. Volo of BtL “[loves] hearing how the actors put different spins on each reading of their lines.” Volo often laughs at the different ‘takes’ an actor records for a part, or marvels at the emphasis an actor places on certain words. Helping the actors to deliver a quality performance is incredibly satisfying.

That is not to say editing is not without challenges. Trying to filter out hisses, hums and other background noises is high on the editors’ frustration list. Compiling multiple takes from several actors with any one of a thousand different recording systems makes creating a cohesive scene a trial. Also, finding adequate time to dedicate to the project is always difficult. The end result, however, is always the payoff. Bringing together all recorded pieces to create a believable scene is the ultimate goal.

Editors cannot go into the world unaffected by their work on BtL. Each editor comments that this line of work changes how he or she views (or listen to) other works of entertainment. Though not one editor from BtL would criticize another in the editing field, each comments on how their experience (even if limited) leads them to be more aware of how sights and sounds are brought together in movies, television, and other podcasts. Some even study the work of others to become better at what they do. This is fortunate for all of us involved in BtL!

Generally, editors in the BtL universe are not unhappy to work behind the scenes. On their lists of accomplishments, each will point to an effective or emotional podcast or segment of which they are particularly proud. Volo is most proud of writing a “How-to” article about editing that new editors have found helpful. Though they appreciate compliments, often they are the only individuals with knowledge of how much work truly goes into each project.

That leaves only one question. Have you hugged an editor today?

Feature Post: The World of QC

Posted by Okelay On October - 14 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

quality controlBetween the Lines Studios produces many podcasts on a variety of topics, albeit nearly all Whedon-related. For the podcast-in-production of “Angel Between the Lines”,they’ve created a new department called “Quality Control,” This is a process which has long been used in fabrics in order to test products before public comsumptioon. They basically do what it says on the tin, their job consists of listening to and evaluating scenes from the simple to the complex, until an entire episode has been completed.

QC is an experiment. It is an effort to streamline the production and alleviate some burden, especially from the producers since it falls in them to make sure everything’s perfect before it is released. However, like any human, they aren’t flawless. It happens to everyone, someone posts something only to realise a tiny little mistake has been overlooked. Nobody is perfect, and our eyes and ears play tricks on our minds.

That’s why extra ears become quite helpful. As with any task too big for one, it is divided into small,manageable portions, so as to not overwhelm the workers and so they can rely on each other.

Like in Editing, QC is divided into three categories: basic,intermediate and advanced. They do similar tasks, but the higher levels perform more complex ones. The scenes they listen to are longer, have been more produced, include more people, etc. The choice of the QCers and the levels they work on depends on previous experiences and skills, such as if the person has done voice work in the past, if they’ve edited, or have any podcasting experience. It is also important to see if the person has particular listening abilities. Everyone has their skills and sharper senses. Those whose ears are their strong points, find their skills of great use in podcasting.

The process is fairly simple. After the script has been written and lines voiced and uploaded, there’s some basic editing to basically put scenes together. At this point the first round of QCers come in. They’re all asked to wear headphones because it is easier to concetrate and the sound is better. It’s not a process to be done while paying attention to something else.

While listening to a scene, they should have a questionnaire and the script to answer simple and rather obvious questions such as whether or not all the lines are present and files are correctly named. It’s incredible how many obvious things are overlooked and therefore it is important to check that they are there.

After these questions have been answered, it’s time to move onto other aspects like the voice and the sound. Lines must be clear and at a decent volume. There can’t be distracting noises in the background, and the voice shouldn’t sound muffled or electric, but natural. In higher levels they must also check the state of sfx and the music. A recommendation when listening is that it mustn’t sound cartoonish,because this is a serious piece, not a comedy. Also, usually less is more. Too much sfx or loud music can ruin a moment. They must add to the atmosphere without being distracting.

It is after this questionnaire that the QCers decide if the piece passes or not and write down notes and suggestions for the actors and editors. If the piece doesn’t pass, it is sent back to the editors with notes. They try to see if it can be done a different way or with another take and if it doesn’t work, it is sent back to the actor to re-record.

Each QCer has a certain degree of flexibility regarding approval or rejection of a piece, but they’re also asked to show some lenience towards the scenes. They can’t all be perfect and it is possible to become overzealous and reject good pieces for tiny errors. One can also be too lax and let flawed pieces through. It can all be very subjective, which is why there is a team, since it is a team effort like the entire podcast.

Since it is on an experimental phase, it isn’t strictly defined and is still subject to change. So far it has turned out to be a rather good idea. This people have become a kind of ‘beta-listener’ for podcasts and are set to become an essential part of the BTL machinery.

Feature Post: Interview with Glen Bartram (Lorne)

Posted by Crystal On July - 31 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

1. Tell us about your audition experience. Did you plan on auditioning specifically for Lorne, or was the role one of many you tried out for?
 
I auditioned for EVERYTHING! I have been a big fan of BBtL and just really wanted to get involved somehow. Actually, now that I think of it, I didn’t audition for Gunn. Just didn’t think I’d be able to pull that off. “Know your limits.”
    
 
2. Just before the cast was announced, you learned that the originator of the role, Andy Hallett, had passed away. How did you feel when you learned you’d been cast in this role?

WOW! I mean, I wanted the part of Lorne pretty bad, but after he died, and I got the part… just a very bittersweet experience. I started watching Angel pretty late in the series, and was always hoping I’d get to see him find another role after Angel ended. It just goes to show you how important it is to really get out there and LIVE! He was taken from us far too early.
Andy…This is for you man!
 
 
3. The role of Lorne is music – heavy. Tell us about your own musical background.
 
Actually, I have been doing amateur theatre for about 20 years, and most of that has been in musical comedy. I really love performing, and singing in public. Some of my favorite roles have been Nicely-Nicely in Guys and Dolls and The Baker in Into The Woods. I especially love shows by Stephen Sondheim (One of Joss’s faves too.) I am really looking forward to this part, because Lorne has such a distinctive, and “balls-out” vocal style. Can’t wait to make with the singin!!
 
 
4. How does it feel to have your own special back up crew of Lornettes?
 
I haven’t recorded the lines with the Lornettes, but I really can’t wait to get into it. Just hope my real life wife understands. 🙂 

5. What did you to prepare for the audition? For your own lines?

I watched a lot of the Angel Episodes where Lorne sang. Even though the audition called for a song from OMWF or Dr. Horrible, I thought initially about doing a part of Lady Marmalade from the Vegas episode instead just to be different. Then I started to look at the song that Sweet sings in OMWF, and I thought that Lorne would really dig that song and that he’d really be able to sell it. When doing the lines, it takes me a couple of tries at it to “build up” the energy to Lorne’s level. He’s such a great character, and the dry sense of humor he often displays is fun to do. 
 
6. Have there been any lines/scene that were difficult to act?

Again, we haven’t really gotten to the episodes where Lorne is really featured. But I can’t wait to get the scripts where he first meets with Lee DeMarco. THAT’S a relationship that deserves some background. How they first got in “business” together before everything went south for Lorne. And that gets into what is so great about the Between The Lines projects is you get to have some of those details filled in. (It may not be canon… but who cares?!?)
 
 
7. Do you have a favorite moment in Angel the Series involving Lorne? In ABtL?

Oh, geez! Tons of ’em! I think the episodes where Lorne goes back to Pylea are some of his best moments. Imagine acting as a severed head! And I love his commentary on the goings on during the “Spin the Bottle” episode. Funny… and yet… a bit regretful. I think his best moment though was his last in the TV series where he has to kill Lindsey. I mean, he’s a demon… but killing, and betrayal is really not in him. He’s really the one who has to take one for the team, and it shows in his last line, “G’night, folks.”
 
 
8. Are there any projects or messages you’d like to share with our audience? 

I currently don’t have anything else in the works. However I increasingly interested in the experiences that audio and video podcasting has to offer, and I am playing around with some concepts (serial comedy, Steampunk), etc. that I might be able to develop into something.
I am also trying to break into screenwriting, and I have a half completed screenplay for a Spike movie that I’m working on. If anyone’s interested in hearing more about one or the other, check out my website (125productions.biz) or email me at glen.bartram@gmail.com

Feature Post: The Wonderful World of SFX

Posted by Jen On March - 5 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

sfxWhen I was given the assignment to tell you about the amazing sound affects department here at Angel Between The Lines, there was just one small problem. I had no clue how sound effects even worked!

Well, after a few wonderful interviews, this rookie reporter was set straight.

So, what’s the first step in creating sound effects? Well, it all starts with the scripts. People in the sound effects department read the script, where they are given certain scenes to work on. It is important that they read their scripts very carefully, so as to avoid mishaps such as using the sound effect for a woman’s high heels when a male character is walking.

Then, they go to websites such as Soundsnap or Freesound Project to search for the sounds they need. Sometimes finding just the right sound effect can take quite awhile. For example, finding the sound of twilight can take some time as it is hard to distinguish between night and evening from an audio standpoint.

Often creativity is needed in finding sound effects, as sometimes the desired sound can’t be found. Once the sound of a safe was needed and in this case, a clicking sound, the sound of a door opening, and some creaking was used. The editors then put these sounds together.
On occasion sound effects don’t take long to find at all, even if they are unusual. Once, an episode of Buffy Between The Lines needed eerie flute music and even though the person searching for it thought it would take forever, It only took ten minutes.

Sometimes sound effects can be found somewhere totally unexpected, such as an alligator sound found at the website for the U.S. Wildlife and Fish Fund.

Finding all the sounds needed usually takes one or two hours, or a little longer if you’re just starting out. As you gain more experience, you learn how to phrase your searches and build up a library of clips for reuse. After all the sounds are found you also need to create a file detailing the creator of the sound effects, where it was found, the original filename, and the new filename [if it needed to be changed.] After doing all this, the sound clips still have to be uploaded to the FTP site. With two or three scenes an episode to provide sound effects for, this whole process can take up to approximately six hours.

Besides finding sound effects, some members of the sound effects crew are also responsible for making their own sound effects. This is called foley. Foley is often done with a lot of improvisation, such as dragging a folder along your desk to make the sound of a clipboard hitting a counter.

I hope this article has given you a better understanding and appreciation of what the amazing sound effects crew does to bring you the sounds that add so much to your favorite podcasts. I know this reporter will never listen to a podcast the same way again!

Feature Post: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Posted by Tabz On November - 25 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

hollywoodforeverDeep in the city of Los Angeles lays an idyllic Cemetery that’s final resting place to some of the legends of the entertainment industry. In the shadow of Paramount Studios is Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Founded in 1899, the original location occupied 100 acres, but 40 acres were sold off to Paramount and RKO Studios in 1920.

The cemetery (which started off as Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery) had a rough history. By the end of the 20tth century, the owners had run into financial difficulties and the cemetery became run down. This caused California to stop new internments in the cemetery. In 1989, Tyler Cassity of Forever Enterprises brought the property, renamed it Hollywood Forever, and started restoration. The cemetery is in current use and offers a wide array of services, including a live webcast and LifeStory tributes.

You’ll see the graves of many famous folks at Hollywood Forever Cemetery including John Huston, Peter Lorre, Jayne Mansfield, Johnny Ramone, Cecil B. DeMille, and “Alfalfa” from the Little Rascals. There are also tombs, monuments, headstones and two large indoor mausoleums (one of which you might recognize from the TV show “Charmed”).
Some of the BtL crew got to visit Hollywood Forever recently, and see for ourselves where our episode takes place! Due to its history, Hollywood Forever Cemetery has many ghost stories attached to it, including the story of the Lady in Black, which we “borrowed” for Episode 3.

Heidi poses as the Lady in Black (her character in episode 003)

Heidi poses as the Lady in Black, her character for Episode 003 – The Truth is Out There

In 1926, film star Rudolph Valentino was at the height of his fame. On August 23, 1926 he died from a perforated ulcer (which caused blood poisoning). He was so popular that it’s estimated that a crowd of 100,000 people showed up for his funeral services in New York City. After the service his body was transported to Los Angeles by train and fans lined the tracks to get a glimpse of the train. Once in Los Angeles, some 80,000 people came to the cemetery as his casket was carried into the Cathedral Mausoleum on the grounds of Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Valentino was supposed to get a more elaborate memorial, but complications arose and the Mausoleum became his final resting place.


liane

Liane U. (Fred) poses as poor sick Fred!

The legend of the Lady in Black is said to have begun on the first anniversary of Valentino’s death when a mysterious woman, dressed all in black, visited Valentino’s crypt with red roses and left them there. All without saying a word. She apparently appears every year since then. Not long after the media got word of the story and began writing about “The Lady in Black”.

While the true Lady in Black may not have been ghostly, the legend has sparked many tales of a ghostly lady in black kneeling in front of Valentino’s tomb. Others have reported being alone in the mausoleum and finding roses that suddenly appeared in the previously empty vases that hang from Valentino’s crypt. Others have heard footsteps or feel like they’re being watched.

The Lady in Black captured Nashville songwriters Danny Dill and Marijohn Wikin and, in 1959, they wrote and produced a song called “The Long Black Veil”. First recorded by Lefty Frizzell the song has also been performed by Johnny Cash, The Band, The Dave Matthews band, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and others.

If you’re in Los Angeles, make sure you take the historic walking tour which is lead by historian Karie Bible, who has taken over the Lady in Black’s official duties of leaving a rose on Valentino’s crypt every year.

(photos by Tabz)

Feature Post: The World of P.G. Holyfield

Posted by ElderDaniel On November - 19 - 2009 2 COMMENTS

Please don’t forget to vote for Buffy Between the Lines at the Podcast Awards!

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P.G. Holyfield is the author of one of our original Wolfram & Hart stories, “Exit Strategy”. He’s also the creator of the free serialized podcast novel, “Murder at Avedon Hill“, which is an epic high fantasy murder mystery. And I do mean epic, or as Evo Terra infamously dubbed it, “the podiobook that never ends.” On May 21, 2009 after 42 episodes, “Murder at Avedon Hill” did finally wrap production. Not only was this story epic in scope and scale, but the sheer number of over 45 talented voice actors from many podcasts also lends to this grand tale.

“Murder at Avedon Hill” began its life in 2003 when P.G. started working on a gaming module for BioWare’s Neverwinter Nights, which is a licensed D&D video game. When the module itself did not become a reality, P.G. took the story ideas and non-player characters and created an interactive story that he shared with the Neverwinter Vault fan website. He posted chapters on a bi-weekly basis, about 23 chapters at the time, and ended each chapter with either a question or cliffhanger. He made the story interactive by getting input from the readers, not with a standard polling booth feature, but with a betting system for readers to bet on what would happen next.

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Featured Post: From Audition to Assignment, A Newbie’s Experience

Posted by Gene Wilburn On November - 16 - 2009 2 COMMENTS



Please Take a Moment to Vote for Buffy Between the Lines at the PodcastAwards!

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No one was more surprised than me at becoming a voice actor — it’s not something I’d ever considered. What strange set of circumstances could lead a retired 64-year-old IT guy to try voice acting?

The tale begins with Buffy. My wife and I were introduced to Buffy the Vampire Slayer by some younger folk, and we became instant addicts. So much so we we bought the box set of Buffy, then Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dr. Horrible, and Dollhouse.

I also discovered Buffy Between the Lines. Like Spike at Halloween, all I could think was, “This is just … neat!” How on earth, I wondered, did these amazing young people do all this?

In a nutshell: creativity, energy, love of Joss’s work, love of story telling, talent, cooperation, drive, and very hard work. Remarkable people from all over the globe, using the Internet to freely donate their talents and time to create a fan-based audio drama of remarkable quality and freshness.

When I heard that Between the Lines Studios was holding auditions for the upcoming Angel Between the Lines, I thought heck, even auditioning would be fun, so I tried out for General Cast, never expecting to be considered. When an email arrived welcoming me to the cast, I had an Oz moment: “Huh!”

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Feautre Post: Secondary Characters in Between the Lines Studios

Posted by Jimmy Davis On November - 6 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

225px-GwenSecondary characters have always been treated well by the Whedonverse.  The shows may focus around a central character like Buffy or Angel, but the other characters have importance and we care about them.  Even secondary characters only seen in a single episode have a depth or mystery about them that intrigues the viewer.  In fact, many of the major characters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer started out as secondary characters.  Spike, Anya, Tara, Warren, and Jonathan all lived well past their intended shelf lives and enriched our television experience.  So obviously, secondary characters are very important to the overall show.  Likewise, these characters are invaluable to Angel Between the Lines (ABTL).

The writers have taken some characters that received very little screen time in the original “Angel” series and have given them a story of their own, fleshing out the character that the fans never really got to know.  “My character is in one memorable scene in the first season of Angel a very funny scene, which we have to reenact. But it’s so interesting that the writers took that character and developed him fully. Hawkins was just a sleazy Wolfram and Hart lawyer and now he has a back story and you find out what he had been through since that moment,” said Robin Burdge.

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Behind the Story: Author Kevin Cummings

Posted by Tabz On October - 20 - 2009 1 COMMENT

ABtLS1DuluthitunesKevin Cummings is the Parsec Award-winning humorist behind the popular Short Cummings Audio podcast.  Each episode features a short, funny story that explores the humor to be found in ordinary life.  Listeners often feel that Kevin must be watching their lives because the experiences he writes about feel so familiar to them.

Kevin got his start writing humor as a stringer for The Davis County Clipper in the early nineties when he wrote an allegedly-funny weekly column.  When a new editor took the paper in a new direction, the column was axed.  In June of 2006 he resurrected the column as a podcast and has grown an audience of devoted fans.

In the Fall of 2009 he released a book-length collection of essays entitled Happily Domesticated.  In addition to material from the podcast, the book features a dozen essays from his days with the newspaper.  Information about the book and podcast can be found at Kevin’s newly redesigned web-site at http://www.HappilyDomesticated.com

His other forays into new media and blogging include working as an actor and director for the Between the Lines Studios and as a game review for TechTalkforFamilies. He particularly enjoyed writing Duluth as part of the Angel Between the Lines project.

Feature Post: Tucked in Between the Lines

Posted by Jarrett Lennon Kaufman On October - 9 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

Hello Angel fans, my name is TurboFool, but AFK I go by Jarrett, and I’ll be entertaining you for the next few minutes, assuming you’re easily entertained by mundane introductions from people you don’t know. Yay, you!

The reason I have to introduce myself is become I’m brand new around these parts. Yep, Angel Between the Lines is my first step into the Between the Lines network, and more than that, my first foray into podcasting! That’s right, this will be the first time my voice enters the podcasting universe (although Steve Eley did read one of my comments aloud on an episode of Escape Pod which made me way too giddy for my own good), and I couldn’t be happier about it.

See, I got started late on this whole scene in general, so when I got my Zune 80 for my birthday in February of ’08 and decided to see what the hubbub was about, I went berserk. I have far too many podcast subscriptions than I have time to listen to, leading to epic internal battles over which shows to get hopelessly addicted to this week and then, after catching up, which other show to obsess over while the other ones start filling right back up again. It’s an endless, thankless, stressful task with no pay or health benefits to speak of. But I don’t care, because I’m loving it. It’s opened me up to great viewpoints from fascinating people, and wonderful sources of fiction from all sorts of incredibly talented authors. And getting to listen to the same voices every week really makes you feel like you know these people personally. So this community is one I’ve embraced on a pretty personal level and have really wanted to become a part of. Who doesn’t like a little bit of internet immortality, right?

In the case of Angel Between the Lines, I saw a Tweet for an open casting call in March and figured, “what the heck?” I have a decent microphone, I’ve got Audacity, it’s not like I’m a stranger to voice recording (but more on that later), and it just sounds like fun. So off I went, lines recorded and submitted, and next thing I know I’m cast in the role of Groo! Now how cool is that? [very, in case you’re a little slow]

So far it’s kind of a kick. I had only just begun to listen to Buffy Between the Lines when this all started, so I’m just getting into how this all works, but in the meantime I’m loving the behind-the-scenes. I’ll be getting to flex a few creative muscles I didn’t know I had (actually, my fingers are crossed that they’re even there), and working with a really amazing team of people who seem to be having a blast putting this all together. What more could I ask for? Okay, that’s a stupid question, because right now you’re probably imagining all sorts of drastically more lucrative and awe-inspiring desires that I could have requested, but I’m just not that greedy, okay? I asked for this, I got it, and I’m happy with that. …also, the Oompa Loompas never made it through immigration, and the millions of dollars in unexpected inheritance hasn’t arrived yet from Nigeria.

Now for a little background on me: One of the reasons I was drawn to this at all is because I’m not exactly inexperienced when it comes to performing. In fact, I was a professional actor for the vast majority of my life! And I’m uniquely and doubly qualified for my involvement here. As a kid, I did endless work in voiceover, playing roles in many cartoons (some of which people have actually heard of!), radio commercials, dubbing over the lines of kids who mumbled too much in major motion pictures, etc., so I know all of the ropes. But I also have a more direct connection, as I both read for an episode of Angel, and was cast shortly thereafter in an episode of Buffy, where I was interrogated and intimidated by the Slayer, herself! Having been a fan of the show (and Joss in general), it was an exciting moment to say the least. So that feeling of personal connection to the Buffyverse ensured that I had to get involved here when the opportunity arose. One taste of being a part of this legacy just isn’t enough. Plus it gave me a totally unnecessary excuse to re-watch Angel.

So that’s my mildly-entertaining introduction. Should the Senior Partners see fit, you’ll hopefully be hearing more from me as the production progresses. If not, just look around in all the typical hangouts, and odds are you’ll see TurboFool lurking somewhere in the shadows, writing overly-wordy rants nobody reads.
















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