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Internet-Created Free Audio Dramas?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the scratching-the-itch dept.

Media 215

fraser_joat asks: "The other day I finally took the time to watch Starship Exeter, previously reported on Slashdot. Coincidentally, I also revisited the BBC's excellent radio adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings, following the hype caused by the recent movies. The two of these got me thinking: while _Exeter_ was clearly a huge effort, it looks like they had a lot of fun making it. In many ways they are scratching the same sort of itch that generates free software. So what about audio drama? The technology needed to produce it is freely available, things like Ardour and Csound. So is it possible to produce an audio drama based on free texts such as those from Project Gutenberg in a distributed fashion, with contributers from all across the Net, just like with software? Would they even be useful as an introduction to classic fiction or just as pure entertainment?"

"While the technology exists to cut a play together, I see several possible problems:

  • High-quality audio recording equipment is expensive, and homes are not ideal environments. Can source material of sufficiently good quality be generated without professional facilities?
  • Since the actors could be widely separated, can they act in isolation in a sufficiently convincing manner that they can be cut together later, in the same way that film actors must pretend that the special effects exist during shooting?
  • Are there good (royalty-)free sound effect libraries available?
I think the possibilities are interesting, if people can be gathered together to actually do it. Imagine the subtle horror of Poe's The Cask Of Amontillado, or the adventure of Stevenson's Treasure Island, all staying as faithful to the book as possible, without Hollywood's story-twisting and sensationalism spoiling it all.

It would need to be a real community effort - I fancy that I could produce a passable script adaptation of a book and help with the audio production and sound effects, but I'm no actor, nor do I have equipment at home that even approaches what would be required. What about it?"

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fp? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338244)

i doubt it, but um...suckle my wang
revielle forever!

- cornjchob

Re:fp? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338346)

Good job, 'suckle my wang' is a good one.

Nice to see an FP that wasn't wasted on dumb shit.

DUDE! Where are the pics! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338250)

I was going to read the article, but there were no pictures!

Re:DUDE! Where are the pics! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338409)

I got pictures of some girls with their kits off, is that is what you are looking for.

${[&*!68}&*()! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338263)

Thats perl.

FUCK(YOU); (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338299)

troll.write("Shove your dick in here and LIKE IT"); []

Cartoons (3, Interesting)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338302)

Aren't cartoons done in a segmented fashion? You don't get all of the actors in one room. Each one records there segment and then everything is spliced later on. Actually, there is no reason that you couldn't do exactly like you suggest and find somebody who is willing to do some low end computer animation.

Re:Cartoons (4, Interesting)

geomon (78680) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338363)

That's one of the difficulties noted in the article. The cartoon audio tracks are recorded on high-tech sound gear and are edited with equally high-quality audio edit gear.

Not that getting 'good' quality productions would cost a mint, but there are still blending and overdub techniques that would take some practice in getting right. Consider some of the audio productions of Shakespeare produced on vinyl. The actors are clearly interjecting and interacting in such a way that reproducing that effect from two different locations would be tricky.

It would certainly be fun to try.

Re:Cartoons (3, Interesting)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338662)

As someone currently action in a Macbeth-Production, I can reassure you, that it is absolutely impossible to do stuff like this without actually meeting. So much of the later experience for the audience just has to develop between the actors before. There are times where the actors actually almost start to fight each other, because they disagree how a single line of text should be interpreted. If you let everybody do his thing and then mix it together later you will have n different versions of a single play.

Re:Cartoons (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338847)

The straight-to-syndication, Firefly-ripoff show "Starhunter" has a character who's supposed to be a hologram interface to an AI, played by some guy in England. The rest of the show was filmed in Canada, and the live on-set actors (and I use the term loosely, particularly in regard to the lead) never met that guy, or even spoke to him on the phone. They just each deliver their lines as directed.

Now PLEASE believe me when I say I'm not holding this cheeseball space opera forth as an example of great art, but it works well enough to demonstrate that good direction is 50% of acting (and in this case, good editing is probably another 25%). Add people who can actually act to boot, and I believe it can be made to work. Add some virtual-spaces software and hardware, and it might even work well. Or at least in an interestingly different manner. Not going to keep me away from live theatre, but I might be bothered to download it for free. And if it's n different versions of the same play, I say fire the director.

Re:Cartoons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338510)

What crack smoking moderator modded this offtopic? Did you think you were you moderating the previous article or something?

Re:Cartoons (2, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338865)

In the US they are done this way.

In Japan, for instance, all the actors are in an open soundstage and read their lines with everyone else present, and in many cases it keeps the actors from sounding stilted.

Re:Cartoons (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338897)

Aren't cartoons done in a segmented fashion?


A real-time, linear production puts a terrible strain on the animators' wrists.

Anime Fanfiction Radio Plays (2, Funny)

Bonker (243350) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338303) []

Radio plays made by people who write anime fanfiction. Yes, this is the *pinnacle* of geekdom!

And Webcomic Radio Dramas (1)

PipianJ (574459) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338419)

Could it be matched by a radio drama of a webcomic that sometimes parodies anime?

Tsunami Channel [] Radio Drama (current location) [] (future location) []

For those interested, I happen to play the lead male character of Experimental Comic Kotone (Onii-chan) in the scripts and I'm also planning on aiding design of part of the Radio Drama site when relocated. There is a sample script up on the current site for those interested.

Re:And Webcomic Radio Dramas (2, Funny)

Bonker (243350) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338500)

My god... I think we've found a new slot for inclusion on the Geek Hierarchy []

People Who Draw Anime Webcomics
People Who Read Anime Webcomics
People Who Act in Radio Plays Based on Anime Webcomics

Re:Anime Fanfiction Radio Plays (1)

Champaign (307086) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338715)

Seems like the site you mentioned is pretty dead (no news updates since April 23, 2001, many of the important links on their site are dead).

Re:Anime Fanfiction Radio Plays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338956)

Some time ago, I came across a milk-through-the-nose audio parody of Sailormoon called "Sailormoon Stupid" in four installments, they managed to make fun of all the major characters, the american translation of the original japanese, and general pop culture on both sides of the ocean. But the funniest bit has got to be the villians in the form of "The 3 Bills", comprising of Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, and Bill Bandai. Enjoy yourself at:

Make more! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338316)

Because I really want to see poorly coreographed lightsaber duels with AfterEffects glow slapped on top.

Set to a bastard child combo of John Williams and Fatboy Slim and you've got a hit! You're an internet movie star, baby!

Yep, I have to admit. . . (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338395)

that that pretty much describes most amateur produced *audio* drama.

Pitiful, idn'it?


Re:Yep, I have to admit. . . (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338465)

Then mod it OT instead of posting a worthless follow-up. Arrogant prick.

Re:Yep, I have to admit. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338736)

When you hypocritically offer advice, it just makes it look like bad advice, weaselnuts.

Re:Make more! (2, Funny)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338418)

Because I really want to see poorly coreographed lightsaber duels with AfterEffects glow slapped on top.
Rent Star Wars. ;)

I don't see why not (1)

LiftOp (637065) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338327)

Introducing young folks to the classics is as old as, well, Classic Comics [] .

In Soviet Russia... (-1)

-1bynextweek (642604) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338330)

communitarian real-life drama resulted in YOU being walled up behind nitre-caked brick in the wine cellar!!!

Don't get too excited (2, Funny)

Entropy_ah (19070) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338332)

Just remember that internet radio can to terribly, terribly wrong [] .

Re:Don't get too excited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338427)

I can't parse that sentence.

Re:Don't get too excited (1)

Entropy_ah (19070) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338508)

i ment to say 'go' instead of 'to'
no more drinking durring the day for me

Hayward Sanitarium (3, Interesting)

LxDengar (610889) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338333)

A few years ago, I ran into an audio series on the Internet, although it was originally on NPR Playhouse. Apparently it was one of there most popular series of all time. Its a wonderful, campy radio drama. I wish these guys would do more. Highly worth checking out.

Check on Google, but ther RA files can be found here: we en99/hayward_sanitarium/hayward.html

Re:Hayward Sanitarium (1)

PinkStainlessTail (469560) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338356)

Anchored link [] .

Link (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338692)

Link []

I think I'm beginning to understand why it's called the lameness filter.

Nice niche (2, Insightful)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338344)

This might be just the sort of thing to fill a little niche in the consumer marketplace. I personally enjoy audio dramas, as well as a lot of spoken-word work, and it's hard to find in the commercial marketplace. Presumably this is because there is insufficient demand for it to catch the eye of big distributors. I, for one, would welcome this. Might even pay a buck or two for it.

AKA--Community Theatre (2, Insightful)

endoboy (560088) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338347)

it could certainly be done as the poster describes, but most of the benefit of such productions (certainly for the participants, and often for the audience) is related to being in the same room.... immediacy of human contact, and all that

take away the thrill of being on stage, and I'm not sure how much merit there is to producing "Spartacus meets Elvis" for display in a browser window

fUNNY... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338348)


Re:fUNNY... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338368)

Books on tape? (5, Interesting)

tachyonflow (539926) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338365)

Perhaps a less ambitious and more realistic starting point would be to produce "books on tape" of some of the Project Gutenberg works. One person could produce a work with minimal effort and no sound effects.

Re:Books on tape? (1)

Cranx (456394) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338424)

That's what I was thinking, too...but if the effort can put forth to add appropriate sound effects and make use of other actors, it would be much more entertaining. Doing it "books-on-tape" style is a good idea, but in my opinion, it should only be done if doing something a little more entertaining becomes impractical.

Re:Books on tape? (1)

abcxyz (142455) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338502)

Dialog parts would be interesting -- now we're back to the ability to act again. But if one "good" reader (still talking about books-on-tape style) could do the reading and then submit it to whomever could add the special effects. Make it a muli-track operation much like you'd lay down tracks for a song at separate sittings.

Re:Books on tape? (1)

abcxyz (142455) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338451)

I agree with this idea, and would be an excellent aid to those with vision problems, much like the "talking books" you can rent at the library. With this you could do the same thing, but not have to take a trek out to listen to it.

Way ahead of you (4, Informative)

Straker Skunk (16970) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338614)

There's a charity [] that specializes in doing exactly that, through the efforts of volunteers.

(I've been thinking of giving it a go someday....)

Re:Way ahead of you (2, Informative)

cowtamer (311087) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338831)

too bad they don't seem to have it online in mp3 format... (unless I didn't look carefully enough)

Re:Way ahead of you (3, Funny)

Kelerain (577551) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338836)

I would have called it RTFB.


Re:Books on tape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338916)

"no sound effects"

If people can't spice it up with "kablooey!" and "Ploosh!" and other creative onomatopaeia, well, it's just going to be hard to get them interested.

How quickly we forget that guy in Police Academy. No, not Steve Gutenberg!

Similar Issue (4, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338367)

On the StoneTrek site, there's a piece concerning the distribution of these extraordinarily well done hybrid (Flintstones-Star Trek) cartoons. Music was one particular sticking point, as portions of both themes play in the episodes. Assuming a less restrictive copyright code (both shows are over 30 years old, right?) and a better spirit of cooperation between enterprises (not including the ship, no pun intended, either) it's a heck of a smooth effort and very entertaining, but will not see the light of day on TV or commercial distribution.

Oh, you can find StoneTrek here [] , to save some bandwidth on the home site [] .

Re:Similar Issue (3, Interesting)

NaugaHunter (639364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338658)

The "good" news here is that copyright holders end up over-complicating things and hurting each other. On the commentary for The Emperor's New Groove* they mentioned that John Goodman had to sign something so they could use the scat that he made up in the one scene. Similarly, the reason Beavis and Butthead releases are without videos is that while MTV had broadcast rights, they don't have distribution rights to the videos, even though the majority are snippets. Whether they are unwilling to try for them, or they failed, I don't know. The irony here being B&B is where I usually learned about new music I ended up liking. Whoever chose the videos tended to be way more eclectic than the standard playlists of the day.

* - Yes, discussing a Disney movie in a copyright context will probably provoke numerous cries of "Foul!" However, I think that while the movie industry has a number of faults, other than the encryption issues many DVD's are good deals. Not much more than CDs, but hours more use. Especially considering many CDs have less then 15 minutes worth of good stuff on them. If we could just convince the MPAA that they should have a campaign to go after street corner vendors and leave home users alone. After all, those are where they actually lose sales.

Still need talent... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338374)

I watched Exeter, and it was a good effort. In fact, I think its safe to say that it was a pretty darn good effort, and that from a prop and production sense, it was very similar to the original Star Trek.

But, SOMETHING was missing, and I don't know what it is. Maybe it was the director, perhaps it was the acting. I mean, could Bill, Leanord and DeForrest have made it better, with everything else the same?

Voice actors have the same issue. It's very difficult to be convincing over audio when all you have is some pages and are locked into a silent recording booth.

My favorite audio play is "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". The production on this CD is absolutely amazing, from the actors, the sounds, the music, everything. Simply incredible. (it's funny as hell too)

So, while we may have the technical means to produce "cheap audio", there's still a human factor involved that is difficult to quantify.

Re:Still need talent... (2, Insightful)

insanecarbonbasedlif (623558) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338441)

Voice actors have the same issue. It's very difficult to be convincing over audio when all you have is some pages and are locked into a silent recording booth.

Plus, though I think there would be a *plethora* (SAT word of the day) of volunteers, many would be geeks/nerds, who tend to have the least inflection in their voices of anybody...

Auditioning people to do the voices might be worse than what the judges of American Idol have to sit through. You saw how suprised the tonedeaf people were when they were told they couldn't sing...
imagine the DDoS attack from a vengeful nerd who you told couldn't speak well.

Re:Still need talent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338653)

I think there would be a *plethora*

Ci, el Guapo, I would say you have a *plethora*! :o)

Re:Still need talent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338448)

My favorite audio play is "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". The production on this CD is absolutely amazing, from the actors, the sounds, the music, everything. Simply incredible. (it's funny as hell too)
Particularly loved Dan Castallaneta's cameo ;D

Familiarity is the key! (1)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338545)

Possibly the thing that was missing here was familiarity with establised characters.

If you were to watch an original series episode for the first time, especially now, you'd probably firstly notice how 'ham' the acting is.

Having compared an original episode with 'Exeter', I'd tend to conclude that it doesn't feel quite the same because I'm not familiar with the new characters. The acting however is just as ham.

But what if there were a few more Exeter episodes? Would that make all the difference?

Re:Still need talent... (1)

ThatMadeNoSense (651445) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338600)

I think its safe to say

That made no sense.

Dr. Who audio dramas (4, Informative)

Masem (1171) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338379)

There's been a few specially written audio dramas written for Doctor Who and featured on BBC's Cult site (can't recall URL presently), which IIRC have used some of the original actors when possible as well as some reasonably famous celebrities for additional voices.

Re:Dr. Who audio dramas (3, Informative)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338633)

You're probably thinking of Big Finish Productions (, who have done a ton of Audio Dramas, most newly written for them, typically by the original writers and starring the original cast members. Well worth the effort to get, especially if you spend any time in a car.

Alternatively - look around, there's already a ton of audio dramas, most done decades ago. It's called OTR - Old Time Radio. Suspense did "The Dunwich Horror", Lux Radio Theater did a ton of movies (most with the original cast - it was a way to advertise the movie), X-1 did stories by Sturgeon, Heinlein, etc. And frequently the collectors own the original tape, and have cleaned it up before posting mp3s. is a good term to google on (most people who do it are OTR geeks), or a good newsgroup to look at.

Plays and actors... (4, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338389)

I'm really sorry to break it to all the geeks here BUT you do actually need to act to do Radio plays. It can be much harder to convey feeling when all you have is a voice.

People who can act have a skill, just like coders. And lets face it...

No one has ever said that communication is the strongest skill that a geek ever had.

The good thing: More visibility. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338525)

Spielburg got into filmmaking by going out with his friends and having them run at each other with sticks for guns.

Various mappers got picked up by gaming houses for creating maps for games like Quake.

The Counterstrike people got their commercial start by making a free mod for Half-Life.

Visibility is a good thing. Given the fact that voice acting is slowly coming into demand again (see the rise of Anime in the US), an outlet for the 'amateurs' is a good thing.

Most dubs, for example, suck. I'm not talking about the idiocies they throw in from mistranslation, I'm talking about the actual voices. Being an actor in a movie doesn't make you a good voice actor, and vice versa. Voice acting *is* harder - you don't have facial and bodily expressions to help you out.

Thus, if we get audio dramas and crap to be mildly popular, it gives amateurs a place to work/show off their talent, and in the future, with any luck, dubbing on animated movies won't suck nearly as much.

Re:Plays and actors... (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338566)

No one has ever said that communication is the strongest skill that a geek ever had.

But then I submit that acting is about emoting, not communication - and i have emotions to spare...

Re:Plays and actors... (1)

bamse (642716) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338567)

No one has ever said that communication is the strongest skill that a geek ever had.

Does that mean that I can't be an actor and a geek at the same time?
Damn, there went my career plans...

Re:Plays and actors... (1)

nikal (141824) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338568)

Two points:

A) Not only geeks are active in the free software/open source movements. Artist, musicians, and quite probably actors are also involved. I would think that you could probably come up with plenty of actors who would do some of these for free.

B) Not all geeks are only computer nerds. Most of the friends I know from my computer science classes also do many other things. I play soccer, and while I'm not nearly professional I can hold my own. I know plenty of geeks who can draw, sing, play an instrument, write, create poetry, and do many other artistic things. I'm sure you could find some geeks who act, and act well.


Subject Line Troll (581198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338624)

Re:Plays and actors... (1)

chrisseaton (573490) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338627)

Wil Wheaton comes to mind...

Re:Plays and actors... (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338690)

I was a thespian! Damnit...

(*goes back to monosylabic mumbling*)

Re:Plays and actors... (1)

schon (31600) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338739)

No one has ever said that communication is the strongest skill that a geek ever had.

Actually, (for coding geeks, anyway), communication probably is their strongest skill.

Remember those lawsuits about code being speech? Coders communicate what they want to the computer (or to other coders).

Programming is communication. It's just not verbal communication.

Re:Plays and actors... (1)

asparagus (29121) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338952)

Yes and no.

I've gotten both extremely good and extremely bad results out of untrained actors.

Yes, DeNiro using method acting in Taxi Driver is a seemingly unstoppable force.

However, we each wander through our lives attempting to solve the same basic problems. If you ask a manic-depressive guy to play a gregarious politician, you're going to have problems. However, if you ask him to play himself, you can get interesting results.

The main trick to directing is picking the right people to do the right things and then not getting in the way.

So, go ahead. Try it. Out of all the people pursuing these things, eventually something will congeal into an interesting piece of art.

And that, ultimately, is what it is all about. Attempting to understand the thing that is humanity.


Free audio facilities (3, Interesting)

risingphoenix (638581) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338422)

More and more universities are offering their students high quality audio equipment for free use. One place I know of is Johns Hopkins, where a number of people I know have produced professional sounding recordings simply by taking a quick class in how to use the equipment offered by the university.

Possibly other places, like libraries might do the same for out of school people. The equipment's there, there just needs to be the time and the money.

I don't know about the legal issues with use, though, such as students using the equipment to bootleg concerts, etc. Other issues might include people renting the equipment to make "home videos".

There's tons of them out there already! (2, Informative)

sh00z (206503) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338429)

There was just a mention of a Star Wars fan-created drama [] right here!

There's plenty of free professional-grade stuff at Seeing Ear Theatre [] . occasionally even throws in some classic radio stuff, but the best source for "X Minus One" (Bradbury, Dick, Zelazny, etc.) is Old-Time Radio mp3 trees [] where you trade CD-R's through the mail.

Dramatizations vs. Audio Books (2, Insightful)

Titusdot Groan (468949) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338431)

I find dramatizations can't hold a candle to the original work.

The example you gave, BBC's dramatization of Lord of the Rings is very poor compared to the performance of Rob Inglis in his unabridged "reading" of those books.

This is even more apparent with the American dramatizations of LotR's or for the BBC dramatization of The Hobbit vs. Inglis' performance.

The most difficulty is in the abridgement -- especially for an amateur cast -- the author doing the shortening had better be good.

However, a dramatic reading could be done by a single person with modern technology and you wouldn't have the problems of remote communications you mentioned.

Re:Dramatizations vs. Audio Books (1)

warmcat (3545) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338611)

The most difficulty is in the abridgement -- especially for an amateur cast -- the author doing the shortening had better be good.

That's a good insight into the problem right there. Also most litereary works are full of narrative not dialogue. Somehow the information that is not spoken by the characters needs to be conveyed in the audio.

A major part of the effort would be creating good quality scripts that all the actors liked before recording was started.

Someone else mentioned there would be a lack of interaction with the voices recorded separately, but you could imaging some kind of realtime conference call type thing going on if people had broadband.

I have to say this sounds like a brilliant idea. Especially about the old Science Fiction stories someone else pointed out as being ripe for redoing.

Great idea. (0, Troll)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338436)

Internet radio dramas are a great idea. How else will the visually impaired get to enjoy [] ?

Audio drama is perfect for science fiction (4, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338449)

Before television was popular, there were many radio dramas. I'm way too young to have heard them originally, but I've heard rebroadcasts of some, and what stands out is how good science fiction can be on audio.

Consider something like the the bar with the aliens in "Star Wars". In an audio drama, all you have to do is have a few words by the narrator (something about a typical seedy spaceport dive, with a band of aliens playing exotic instruments), and then some simple sound effects, and the listener gets an image of the place.

Not "the" image...but "an" image...which is better, because everyone gets the image of the perfect seedy spaceport dive for them.

In a movie, all we get is the director's image...and unless they spend a lot on costumes and effects, it's a cheesy image at that.

When you don't have to spend most of your budget on effects, you can spend more on story. Many classic SF stories that we'll probably never seen done well on the screen were done in the 50's on radio.

Finally, audio works great in the car.

Re:Audio drama is perfect for science fiction (1)

TheAngryMob (49125) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338679)

Absolutely. Four words come to mind: "War of the Worlds." That sent people into a complete panic, and that was just simple radio drama.

the clithero kid. (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338682)

Growing up in jamaica TV wasn't a commodity as it is today in the US. I remember spending weekend at our grand parents who didn't have electricity and all they had was an old radio. On sunday nights we would all listen to an english drama called the 'clithero kid' a sort of dennis the menice type deal. Not ony that they had day time radio drama's much like soap operas. That I must admit were very interesting. When I see shallow kids show's such as mighty morphing power rangers and well pick any big boob cop, warrior princess show they lack the depth of story that radio dramas have. All you need is a expressive actor and an old organ in teh back ground.

I like the idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338473)

Even if it's not going to generate much excitement here (on /.). It's a small niche but I'm sure there are people for whom this could be the ideal creativity outlet. The original poster should have created a web site first, and post the URL so that those interested could have a permanent point of contact to share information and brew projects.

What's the URL for BBC's LOTR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338475)

Has anyone got a URL for the BBC's radio play version of LOTR?

I've been looking for "spoken word" user sites! (1)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338488)

I make software that turns collections of MP3 files into streaming web sites. I've got lots of bands, but I've recently been looking for "spoken word" type content - dramas would be SO cool! If at all interested, check out Andromeda [] and get in touch! -Scott

While this could certainly be done (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338492)

I think it falls into the catagory of "why bother?"

If you've got a net everything starts to look like a net problem I guess. I've never known any physical local that suffered a shortage of dramatic wannabes. I know towns with populations in the hundreds that have *more* than one community theater.

While the net would be an ideal medium for *distributing* such works just putting a notice on a college bulliten board should turn up more actors than you need to stage the complete works of Shakepeare without repeating anybody.

Of course the college is likely to bust you for distributing those "illegal" mp3 files, but that's a different issue.


bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338543)

I've thought about it. The tech side is easy, art side a bit more challenging (getting people who can really do radio well -- they may be actors, though some writers have a better gift/understanding of spoken word), BUT who pays for the bandwidth? If you're paying by the GB, even a moderately popular project could be very expensive.

This is a great idea (1)

fitzsimmons (651860) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338547)

I think this is a great idea and with the right software support, it could create a new form of mass artistic collaboration. I would love to participate. FYI, XM Radio has two channels devoted to radio drama. XM163 has Sonic Theater, which does modern serialized radio plays and dramatic readings of classic fiction, e.g., things you might find in Guttenberg. Some of it's really quite good. XM164 is classic Old Time Radio, most of which I happen to love. These two channels are a large part of the reason I got XM.

Barnyard Productions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338573)

It's sounding an awful lot like a Little Rascals or Mickey Rooney Judy Garland film:

"I can sing!"

"I can make decorations!"

"And I can rip it to mp3!"

hmm (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338586)

The problem is you generally need actors with some training to provide the voices. Don't assume that it's "just talking".

The best example of not heeding this warning can be seen in those computer games (thankfully most places do everything professionally now) where it's obvious that the programmer's friends did the voices. It sounds horrible.

Re:hmm (1)

TheKodiak (79167) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338664)

Well, sure, the same as you need good programmers with some training to author free software.

I mean, festival makes all the free radio dramas I can stomach, but I don't think that's really what they had in mind.

Re:hmm (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338841)

Well the difference is voice acting needs a measure of diversity; different ages, different nationalities, different ethnicities.

Unless of course you can find a radio script where the only characters are nasal white guys in their mid-to-late 20's.

Take a Cue from Public Access Cable (3, Interesting)

serutan (259622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338588)

Back in the eighties I had a lot of friends who produced public cable access TV shows. You can borrow the cameras and use the studios and editing facilities. Depends on the city, but in Portland Oregon all you had to pay for was tape. Most of the shows were on the level of two people sitting in the studio with a fake potted plant between them. But there were some scripted stories shot on location with local actors, or at least acting students. Very amateurish but occasionally interesting and sometimes actually good.

My point is that people who want to do these things are already doing them. There's nothing holding back anybody from producing audio drama and throwing it on Live365 etc.

I had to chuckle... (0, Redundant)

Alioth (221270) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338602)

I had to chuckle when I saw this Slashdot article - looking like they'd discovered some 'new thing'. In Britain, Radio 4 has had radio dramas for decades, and even long running radio soap operas. The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy started as a radio play (and the radio version IMHO is the best).

The thing about radio dramas is they create special effects in your mind that would cost tens of millions to create in a film...on a budget many orders of magnitude lower than a film. You still need good actors for radio drama - but they don't have to look pretty. Also, a good actor can easily play three or four parts in a radio drama.

There are some excellent radio plays put out by the BBC - those people who live in deprived countries can get them on the internet, I'm sure :-)

Re:I had to chuckle... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338634)

I had to chuckle when I saw how you appear to have misread the article. I think the author was aware that radio dramas have existed for some time. Note, for instance, that ey refers to "revisiting" the BBC radio adaptation - the sort of action one might expect to be taken by someone already familiar with the work.

Your condescending attitude... That wasn't worth a chuckle.

I've been trying to do this for a while. (5, Informative)

rdewalt (13105) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338648)

So far the hardest part has been to get the Voice Actors to record with the same settings, as close to the same way as possible.

Nothing like a VA who doesn't understand the format request, giving 4khz/8bit when you ask for 44khz, 16 bit.
Or the VA who speaks three angstroms from the microphone.
Or the VA who practically whispers so quitely the 'cut off' clips most of her audio, and what you -do- get is "household" noise.

I'm still going to keep attempting this. I just find that the hardest part is Voice Actor wrangling.

Re:I've been trying to do this for a while. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338709)

I'd be interested in doing some of this as a voice actor, how do I get more information?

Only the Shadow knows...what evil lurks.... (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338649)

These kinds of things are out there already. Try this streaming audio for old time radio shows: []

Or: []

I agree it would also be nice to see new creative scripts and performances as another alternative to these oldies.

"Open Source" Book (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338655)

I think an "open source book" would be a very interesting experiment. Of course you'd have to limit who could update your CVS archive, or else lots of kiddies would continually give it the textual equivalent of the goatse treatment.

Still, I'd like to see someone try it. Maybe it would turn out to be a bland lowest-common-denominator mush, but OTOH maybe the authors would build on each others ideas to create something nice.

good audio sci-fi (2, Informative)

Triv (181010) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338671)

It's not free (and it isn't really what you're talking about) but ZBS Media [] has been putting out sci-fi/fantasy audio dramas for close to two decades. Their most notable series are the Ruby Series (a film-noir detective set on another planet - I recommend the first one [] . Oh yeah, and she slows time. :) and Jack Flanders (an inter-dimentional traveller, for lack of a better description. More fantasyish. Check this one [] .) Both are awsome. They're also completely not-for-profit, so if you like their stuff you can donate at their website.



This question goes too far :) (2, Interesting)

timothy (36799) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338691)

Rather than complicated, multi-part dramas (though those would be nice, too), what I would like to find is a collection of audiobooks in the same style as Project Gutenberg. That is, a competent reader, clearly recorded, reading works with unambiguous copyright clearance.

I've recorded myself reading a few snippets from books on Project Gutenberg, and will spare anyone else from every listening to the results, so I can rule myself out as "a competent reader" for such a project, but there are a lot of folks with better voices.

(Ditto language learning materials! I'd like to be able to practice German, or learn some Spanish, by popping a CD of compressed files into a car player as I drive place to place. Eventually, those compressed files would be Ogg, but for now, I'd settle for MP3 ;))


Funny (unintentional) statement (1)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338726)

all staying as faithful to the book as possible, without Hollywood's story-twisting and sensationalism spoiling it all.

Wait a minute, as faithful as "possible"? By stating that you're saying that you ARE willing to make changes that you deem approriate for whatever reason you are deeming it appropriate. Is this not what Hollywood does? If are willing to change the source material at all, then you shouldn't go around blasting others for changing the source material regardless of how "morally superiour" you consider your changes.

Re:Funny (unintentional) statement (1)

TheKodiak (79167) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338824)


I believe the article was about audio /dramas/. I don't believe it's possible to dramatize a work without "making changes that you deem appropriate." Heck, it's not possible to read a book on tape without making changes - the book allows each reader to provide their own inflection.

I don't think it's a matter of "moral superiority" to distinguish between people who intend to faithfully reproduce a work in a new format (such as Olivier's Hamlet) and people who intend to adapt a work not only to a new medium, but to add new meaning to the work itself (such as 10 Things I Hate About You).

Re:Funny (unintentional) statement (1)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338963)

I don't think it's a matter of "moral superiority"

It is this statement that makes it an issue of "moral superiority":

without Hollywood's story-twisting and sensationalism spoiling it all

The poster made it a moral issue by his statement. It is the author that misses your point, that the transfer of a work from one medium to another often entails the modification of that work. Now without a doubt, some Hollywood productions are VERY loosly based on a work, but so what? Is it now wrong to be inspired (or to use as inspiration) someone elses work? I think peoples biggest complaint isn't so much Hollywood playing fast and loose with original source material, it's the quality of the work that gets produced (i.e. it's mostly crap). This is an entirely different issue.

Re:Funny (unintentional) statement (1)

vincevincevince (639366) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338883)

The interesting thing about books is they were meant to be read. The gap between reading and being read to is close, and merits few changes, primarily the time aspect. The gap between reading and seeing however is vast. Why vocalise the description of Mr Foo when you can see him on screen? And many subtle twists rely on the fact that you can't actually see what's happening in a book.. so you fill in details.. and you find it is thrilling to find you were wrong by a later revelation which changes your whole outlook. The point of the post is that changes must be made with a change in medium. I would never support changing a work of fiction when producing a reprint.

Get High School Radio/TV/Drama clubs Involved (1)

justsomecomputerguy (545196) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338734)

I bet a good place to find enthusiastic (but untrained and probably a little too full of themselves) voice talent and access to decent recording equipment is to propose this to the Radio (and maybe also TV) production classes that many larger high schools (or even colleges for that matter) offer. Maybe get the drama club involved WITH the broadcasting teachers.

THEN show them how they can use the internet as another way to distribute their final result.

I can think of a lot worse ways for a bunch of kids to waste their time.

Great radio drama - Joe Frankj (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5338735)

Joe Frank has some really great stuff, check out Joe Frank Download Page []

Those Andorians look vaguely familiar.... (1)

darth_flannel (651866) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338825)

(from the Exeter cast description) Governor Kinthmus (played by Keith St. Louis)

It's David St. Hubbins from Spinal Tap! The patron saint of quality footwear has branched into the fine dramatic arts! Or maybe that's to come in the BBC version of Exeter....

Star Wars "Radio" Dramas (1)

CaptCosmic (323617) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338840)

Be sure to check out the Star Wars: Second Strike [] site. They put together a radio drama using a cast from all over the world. MP3s are available for download.

They are "free"ly available already (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338908)

Up until the 1980s (but primarily in the 1950s), major radio stations produced audio dramas. Sometimes adaptations of books (including both of your examples, Treasure Island [] and Amontillado [] , and others of the ilk), sometimes pulp-magazine short stories, and sometimes originals.

A simple websearch for "OTR" or "Old Time Radio" will find many sources for digitized recordings- on CDROM, MP3, or streaming audio [] .

The providers / traders of these files seem to act as if the stuff is public domain. I guess they haven't heard of the Sonny Bono act. It's hard to blame them for ignoring the law- it seems quite silly to think that something broadcast in 1935 is still copyrighted.

In any event, the widespread availablity of last century's radio plays reduces the incentive for any modern group to work on reading Gutenberg texts aloud. No net.geek will do a better job than Orson Welles [] .

Related topic for project G - first book free (1)

mindserfer (209937) | more than 11 years ago | (#5338923)

Lets encourage all authors who write a series of books to copyleft the first book of the series.

They will sell more their other books and the first book will be available to free distribution.
This will encourage reading and education.
Everybody wins. This could be active upon the authors death. What do yall think?

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