7 Tips For Improving Your Audio Drama

We’re podcasting live from the middle of Hurricane Abigail to bring you these 7 tips that you can put into action in your own Audio Drama.

1. Do a scene-by-scene breakdown of a professional quality Audio Drama. How does each scene start? What does the soundscape suggest? What characters are involved? What is raised, revealed or resolved? And how does it end? We talk through some examples in Neverwhere and The Sound of Thunder.

2. Try to include a ‘marquee scene’ in each of your shows. That one scene that really showcases your production talents.

3. During the writing process, consider spatialisation. Exactly who is where in each scene, physically? If you have 3 characters in a room, where are they all? Where is the door? Think of the distances between each character and how this applies to your sound and levels. This can help to keep a consistent, realistic sound in production.

4. Dialogue – less is more. Cut, cut, cut. Is your character saying in five sentences what she can say in one? Try asking yourself what you could cut if you ABSOLUTELY had to. You’ll be surprised.

5. Use basic noise reduction techniques. Each line of dialogue is like a little brick on the screen of your DAW. These little bricks all have their own noise floors, and if you’re using a few remote actors these can vary wildly. If the noise floor is high, noise reduction can annihilate the vocals, so use the noisiest recording to create a room tone file to mask it, before layering the scene with its soundscape.

6. Don’t make your characters tell each other things they already know, just because the information is important to the plot. If anything, have them drop hints, or make a way for it to be relevant and sound natural.

7. Try varying the pace of your scenes; one scene could be dialogue heavy whilst two intense characters are sizing each other up… cut to the next scene where a hero is clinging to the roof of a train which is on fire. Choo choo.

Got any more tips you’d like to share? Or maybe you’ve broken down the scenes of your favourite Audio Drama and discovered something really clever or interesting. In any case, don’t keep it all to yourself – get in touch at podcast@audiodramaproduction.com

Big thanks to David Ault of The Sonic Society for this week’s intro!

2 thoughts on “7 Tips For Improving Your Audio Drama”

  1. RE: “7 Tips For Improving Your Audio Drama”, Tip #5, I seek a clarification and have a comment.

    Clarification: Adding a “noise floor” means finding the “noisiest” noise floor among recordings used in a scene, then sampling it to add to a separate track in the scene and repeat the sample as a virtual background to all the voices, other audio in the scene. I think I got that right, didn’t I?

    Comment: Only in the last two weeks have I discovered the rather amazing REAFir equalizing tool in Reaper. After watching a straightforward video on REAFir’s SUBTRACTION (NR) mode, I suddenly found that I could sample a “silent” portion of any voice recording and very precisely eliminate the “silence” either from a single Item or from the entire track! While I can’t just drop the plugin onto the item or track and have it do its thing automagically, like Audition’s Adaptive NR you discussed, still, I can include it in post-edit and, with a short manual routine to do the NR by precise “silence” sampling, get a very good, clean, playback. Depending on how loud the “noise floor” is native to the raw recording, eventually the tinny ring will set in, the scourge of any NR technique short of declaring an Equalizer war on every hertz in a scene. Nonetheless, REAFir is part of my normal NR arsenal until iZotope’s RX5 replaces it.

    Here’s a kicking bonus – if I add REAFir to an armed Reaper RECORDING track, it can listen to the room noise IN REAL TIME and decide how best thereafter to filter the noise floor before I even hit the record button for that track! Again, not too cool in a very naturally noisy area, but certainly a plus in a studio space where you want to catch any and everything you still have missed.

    Now I need to figger out what the other 3 modes of REAFir can do!

    Cheers and thanks for another enlightening episode.

    1. Hey Richard, you’re absolutely right yes. And that sounds like a good technique you’ve got going there too. Where can we find your show?

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