Working on SMOKE was a real eye—or I guess I should I say—ear opener! I had no idea where we would end up when Hank Shaeffer approached me to record and sweeten what would become his epic release of the SMOKE PODCAST/AUDIOBOOK.
We started out as one would expect, recording his perfectly cast voice-over, chapter by chapter, sometimes pulling up multiple takes to find the right one, cleaning up as necessary, until the entire novel was complete. THEN, came the fun stuff!
Having gotten acquainted with the novel, I knew right off the top that it would be loaded with SoundFX, I mean we’re talking about a “comedy-crime”, featuring some two dozen very colorful characters, partaking in some pretty weird stuff! So, after we had the foundation of the voice-over nicely recorded and laid out, the sweetening began! We started by putting an ambient background bed under everything. Every scene occurs in a particular place—a helicopter, a truck, a boat, even a massage room, and we wanted to put you there! I already had a modest library of SoundFX but I needed to expand my palette. I decided to go with an online service that I used in the past, SoundSnap.com. It was perfect and the pricing was flexible. We could easily log into my account, audition the sounds we needed, then download and mix. Quick and easy, never interfering with our pace or creativity. The thing is, with an audio book project like SMOKE, we just couldn’t get enough! The more SoundFX we explored, the better and funnier it got!
Of course, the other important component was the music. After checking around, Hank decided to go with an online service called Olemusicbox.com, which has put together an impressive library of music tracks in all styles and tempos from some very talented composers. A key component to embellishing an audiobook, especially one like SMOKE is the careful pairing of music with character and setting. Hank certainly did his homework, spending many hours auditioning music tracks until he arrived at the perfect combination of character and underscore. The result is a cinematic experience without the picture!
The audiobook is certainly a genre which is gaining ground in the marketplace, and SMOKE demonstrates that the possibilities are endless! I had one hell of a time working on SMOKE with Hank Shaeffer. It has opened my eyes, ears … and interest … into a whole new audio world and experience.
— GEORGE LANDRESS