Saturday, October 30, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 13

So this is the final day of the 13 Days of Halloween. In many ways it seems anti-climactic, at least to me, but it's only because the characters are finally out of the basement. But that doesn't mean they're out of danger.

I could probably have had the characters describing the library yesterday but there's little need. They're were going to be in it for one episode. After such a long ordeal one might expect it to be more climactic but there's little point. After all, it's not like the characters haven't been in a library before and the average public library is far more impressive then a small private one. And they were more interested at that point in just getting their music and leaving.

You'll also notice that I just seemed to jump past their use of the elevator. I had thought of starting the scene with the sound of the elevator but then I would have had to spend time with them stepping out and meeting again with Count Cordova. Their use of the elevator is nothing more than a way to get them from one point to another in a short amount of time. Actually spending time dealing with it would have done nothing more than slow down the story. By just starting at a point after they used the elevator I move right away into the interesting material and the listener automatically assumes they used the elevator.

So there you have it. I can't say if I'll be doing one next year because it depends on a few things. The most important of course is the music. If I only have a few pieces then I can present them in a single episode rather than over 13 days. I'm probably not going to do another story since it's so much work. Instead I'm likely to do what I was thinking of initially for this year and just having a couple of paragraphs of narration with a song. It also depends upon whether I have the time and energy to do it.

I've been planning on getting a new podcast going. I was thinking about doing it this year but I found I just didn't have the time. It seems lately that I can only work on one at a time. I didn't even get anything more done on Podcast Ping. I have been considering putting Blue Hot Gossip on hiatus, mostly to allow me to work on the new podcast, although that wouldn't be until at least next year. I'll also try to get an anniversary episode in.

I'll almost certainly get a Christmas episode in and possibly one before that giving me a total of twenty to twenty-one regular episodes of Blue Hot Gossip. I'm thinking of doing about twenty-five episodes before putting the show on indefinite hiatus. That's about the length of a TV season for a single show. The show has been reasonably popular, at least in the torrents, but since Mininova, the site I've been using, has been slipping so too have my download numbers on it making it less worthwhile.

Come January I'll have been doing the show for about three years. It's been hard to even get it out on a monthly basis and I'm finding it to be more work each episode. It's also hard to go back to something simpler after doing something complex. If I do start a new podcast I'm going to want to spend time on that. But it will probably not be until next summer before I suspend this podcast.

Keep an eye on my blog, The Best Blog In The Unknown Universe, which is now at for more information.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 12

Since this was the first time did a script this long and I was trying to stretch it over 12 days, I probably stretched the story out a little longer than needed. This episode may also not seem quite as climactic or scary, but this was suppose to be a comedy story, not a horror. The scenes are made more to allow for jokes than a proper story. I could have had monsters pop up but the point is that they're locked away in the rooms. It's simply enough of a threat to just know they're down there somewhere. An actual attack breaks the tension because one knows for certain that there's a danger rather than the uncertainty of not knowing. And I do have Edward, who appeared throught the encounters, accompanying them and he's shown an affiliation for playing with sharp objects. And he has a knife. A very sharp knife.

Tomorrow will be the last day. It will be nice to get it posted and finished. It's been a big job and when it's done it will be the bulk of work for the podcast this year. I'll probably just have a couple more after this.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 11

This episode was tricky because of the number of voices I had to do. In doing so many it's easy to forget exactly how I did the voice. Fortunately, I've added voices gradually over time so I'm usually only dealing with one new voice. But I commonly find myself using the wrong voice.

There's a clear separation of voices in this episode which isn't always as apparent. I also did a slight separation for Walt's encounter with the little man and Charlie's encounter with the clown but those don't come across as clearly. The trick helps to distinguish each character as a separate speaker which can compensate for any slip-ups I might make. I also found the echo effect helped a little.

It's like a form of audio 3D. The brain initially hears a voice coming from a different direction and assumes it to be someone else. However, it tends to get weaker with long speaking parts because the brain adjusts within a few seconds. After that point it's only the difference in sound that works. So it works better when the characters are talking in short breaks. A good example of where it doesn't work as well is during the 25th day of the Christmas specials when the Blue Hot Gossip characters are reading a poem. But since I recorded it and I'm familiar with the sound of my voice it's harder for me to be fooled so I don't know how well it plays to other listeners.

There's something similar that happens with the Muppets. If you look at The Muppet Show you'll find times when Kermit, who was voiced by Jim Henson, is speaking with Ralph who is also voiced by Jim Henson yet they're taken as two different characters because we see two characters on screen. Although years of experience also helped him to keep the voices separate when speaking.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 10

The title and transition music is just something I made up using a program that allowed me to write sheet music and convert it to a midi. I then re-recorded the midi as a sound file and modified it a bit. I used an organ sound partially because of it's eerie quality and because I previously mentioned that Count Cordova had an organ in his house. It could be assumed that it's the same organ.

While last year I used a clip of music but I wanted something different for this year. I also needed transitional music between Count Cordova's narrative and the story to clearly separate the two, especially when transitioning out of the story otherwise it might seem as if he was appearing out of nowhere. By using something original I didn't have to bother giving credit which helped because I wanted to end the show on the song and not end credits. It would also have seemed repetitive to give credit every time I started the show. Using something original allowed me to avoid that.

The work is only about 20 seconds long, the length of the intro. I may develop it into something more later. I've played with the program only a little before but I do like it because I can play around and try things out while I'm writing with it. Although I'm not really a musician and I'm usually better with lyrics than music. I do play a little guitar, when my fingers decide they want to, but I'm far from professional even when I'm in practice. Still, I might just try coming up with something and sticking it on iTunes. (I'd also likely play it on a podcast as well.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 09

There were many firsts for this production for me. It was the first time I've tried such a long story, particularly one stretching over many days. While I do try to keep some sort of consistency to the overall storyline of the show, each episode tends to stand on it's own. It also meant creating and using a new voice which takes a while to develop. And while I did use background for the Blue Hot Gossip 19, that was only the previous episode to this presentation. I also wrote a new piece of music, although that's not the first time I've done that. But I did do some mixing of sounds and sound effects which I haven't done before.

It was the first time I tried mixing up sounds. You'll notice when Al goes into the room he goes from the echoing hallway into a non-echoing room. I didn't feel the need to put background sound into normal rooms and aside from the sound of something like a TV or fan most rooms are fairly quiet. I used this a couple times in other parts which helps to give a feeling that the characters are moving from one place to another.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 08

When using the background sounds I had to be careful not to allow them to overpower the character's dialogue. As such some sounds seem softer than they should as anyone who has tried to record in a moderately crowded room would attest. But this trick is used in entertainment all the time. Most of the time when you see a TV show or movie where the scene takes place on a street all the sounds and even the voices of the actors are mixed in later. If you actually tried to record two people talking on a busy street all you would hear is traffic.

For this episode I used two layers of sound effects. The haunted house sounds are in the background while the footsteps were mixed in with the spoken portion. I didn't want the footsteps to blend in too much to the haunted house sounds or Charlie's mention of them would seem pointless. They had to be distinct enough for someone to notice them apart from the haunted house sounds.

You may notice that I left out the footsteps of the characters in the hallway but I felt they would have distracted too much and made the sound of the footsteps in the haunted house less significant. It would also have been tricky to add footsteps for three people that sounded like they came from those people without putting them into all the other parts of the story as well. And people usually don't tend to pay attention to their own footsteps anyways so I felt I could get away with leaving them out. It's one of those things that I could have added but would have added significantly to the amount of work and I was just trying to keep the sound to the essential effects.

I also make a joke about him talking to himself. Normally, people don't tend to talk to themselves when alone but since I'm not working in a visual medium I needed to convey what was happening. In a movie it's possible to just show the character acting silently or overdub them thinking to themselves. I've run into a few situations in the past where not having the visual element made things a little more difficult and I've had to alter my approach to a scene to allow for that. If you ever heard Orson Well's version of War of the Worlds you'll recall there's one character that tells the story into a tape recorder. This is done to overcome the handicap of having a character with nobody else to talk to. The news broadcast portion of the play also helps with that.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day

Day 7 marks the mid-way point in the 13 days. At this point all the real work is done and it's just a matter of uploading. But even that takes time and it tends to be a little boring. It's sort of a marathon since I have to post every day, including weekends. As I discovered in the past, I'm uploading the evening before because it's a little easier than trying to get it all out on the same day and I have time to adjust for server problems.

Last year I was just uploading to the Podcast Ping podcast blog site and Mininova. This year I decided to upload to Demonoid and The Pirate Bay as well. In doing so I wound up uploading slightly different torrents. Since Demonoid requires an extra file that The Pirate Bay doesn't recognize for it's music torrents, I also included the show notes in the Demonoid file.

With Mininova I could use their content distribution service which meant I don't have to maintain a torrent. But Demonoid and The Pirate Bay require one, so I have to try and keep those seeded. Since the activity for those has been fairly low I probably won't bother to keep seeding much past Halloween, although I don't expect a lot of people will be trying to download from them. Mininova's structure makes it easy to find new torrents but neither The Pirate Bay nor Demonoid make the torrents as obvious.

I've also noticed far lower download numbers from Mininova for this year's show than the last. Almost all of this is due to people abandoning Mininova after it went legit last November. This discourages me from bothering to do it next year, but I don't know if I would be able to come up with enough good Halloween music for it. Even amongst non-podsafe music there really isn't a lot of Halloween music around. After Monster Mash the selection gets slim. Although this year's selection actually turned out better than last year's.

But at this point I can't say if I'll do it again or not. The lack of music would be the biggest reason, but there's also a lot of work in doing and posting them. And if I do the work I want to get enough downloads to make it seem worthwhile. It may still be worth doing a Halloween episode, and I likely will even if it turns out to be an hour long, but at this point it's not likely that I'll do another 13 days.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 06

Day 6.

Doing a voice, let alone a new voice, can be difficult. While I might come up with one I like it's not always easy to reproduce it the next day. My throat might be tighter, drier or more congested than when I first did it. And I've got to find the right voice for the character. It's also tricky switching between voices. Eventually, I get use to doing the voice enough so that I can keep it fairly consistent.

I've also got to do a voice that doesn't sound too much like any other. When I first tried to come up with a voice for the new character I was going to use a Peter Lorre type voice but that came across sounding too much like Charlie. What I came up with was something between Walt and Charlie that sounds distinct enough.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 05

Day 5.

I used some background sound on Blue Hot Gossip 19 and decided to use some for this story. I've kept it fairly simple though. The echoes were nothing more than a filter but they do add to the atmosphere. I was only going to use background sound for one part but found it helped to add it to a few other parts as well. All the sounds were ones I found for free on the Internet, although I did modify and mix them a little.

When adding in the sound effects for the doors I had to be careful in most spots to include the sound of the doors closing. This is most significant in this episode because it's related to the story. There is one spot where I didn't bother with the sound of the door closing because it doesn't really matter. It could be assumed that the door is open and it wouldn't make a difference.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 04

Day 4.

I initially wrote the story as one long script then divided it into 12 parts. I planned on doing it as 13 parts but found it would have seemed too stretched out done that way. And there's enough narrative in the first day so that the story isn't really missed.

As the days go on the narrative shortens. I was going to have a paragraph of narrative before the song but found it hard to come up with material. And as it works out it's probably for the better. As the story gets going the narrative isn't really missed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 03

Writing the script wasn't the only work although it was the first time I've tried such a long story as a script. With the introduction of a new character it meant that on a few episodes I was doing as many as five different voices. This also meant the creation of a new voice which you may notice varies a bit throughout the days. I had much the same problem last year with Count Cordova although I've gotten smoother with that voice this year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 02

Day 2.

This year I decided to do a story instead of poetry. Had I realized how much work it would be I likely wouldn't have bothered. And if I do one next year I'm likely to just stick to a short narrative before the song. Last year I was able to use a few poems I had already written but this year required a completely new story. However, much of the narrative is shortened, mostly because I found I just didn't have the time to spend. Although the story makes up for it. In comparison, I believe the scripts for each episode are longer.

I'm also trying to torrent it through The Pirate Bay and Demonoid as well as Mininova which I used last year. Since Mininova's traffic has fallen greatly I figured the other sites would help make up for the loss. I don't expect the number of last year's show but I would still like to get about a thousand downloads per episode. It does mean more work to upload and The Pirate Bay doesn't seem to give stats, but it will help to reach a larger audience than just the blog and Mininova alone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween - Day 01

Day 1 of Blue Hot Gossip's 13 Days of Halloween.

For the next 13 Days from now until Halloween I will be releasing an episode a day. As I did previously I'm inclined to post them the night before.

For those who haven't listened to The Blue Hot Gossip Comedy Show before, you can find it at The story presented this year uses characters from that show. While the episodes of the show are meant to be independent of each other, it helps to have some familiarity with the show. The first five episodes are loosely structured and are just a collection of short vocal skits with music intermixed. It was about episode six that I got into the current format which was setup by the last skit of episode five. But they're all worth listening to and with less than 20 episodes it doesn't take long to catch up.

While I did this on Podcast Ping last year, I thought I'd do the 13 Days of Halloween on Blue Hot Gossip this year for a few reasons. For one thing, the main character is a Blue Hot Gossip character so it seemed more suitable. I'm also using comedy music and I decided to do a story this year which uses the Blue Hot Gossip characters and setting. Blue Hot Gossip has also been the only podcast I've been doing this year. So it just seemed much more appropriate.