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Gav Thorpe Blog - Interview With Matt Renshaw € Audio Producer At Black Library

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 02:38 PM

Hand-of-Darkness-by-Gav-Thorpe-Black-LibMatt Renshaw, Audio Producer at Black Library, has been kind enough to answer a few questions from his side of the process, including some advice on writing for the audio format.

Matt has also given me the cast list for my two new audio dramas, Eye of Night and Hand of Darkness, which you can read at the bottom of the page.

If you’re enjoying these audio dramas, you might also like to read my Author’s Notes.

How did you get involved with audio work? What’s your background?

I’m a music technology nerd, and took a course in audio engineering a few years back, where I learnt how to record and produce bands. I wasn’t expecting any kind of career from it. But, luckily, right after I finished my course, I wangled a job at an audiobook studio. (I also love books, so that was double-lucky). There, I recorded and produced lots of audiobooks, and transferred to GW 3 years ago.

Did you have any connection to Games Workshop before joining the company – are you a Warhammer hobbyist?

I’d known a little about GW, as my brother was a hobbyist when I was younger (my Dad still keeps finding 3rd edition Ultramarines as he tidies his house…), and, I’d played the odd game of Dawn of War; but wouldn’t say I had any real connection to the company.

However, I’ve certainly become a fan of the background since. Its such a rich and deep universe. Its a real pleasure to record the novels and dramas, and seeing where authors take the various series next.

I’m not yet a hobbyist. Must not yield…must resist…the lure…of…the…new Thunderhawk….

Could you tell us a bit about the process to turn a script into a finished audio drama. Which part do you enjoy the most?

Once I have a finished script, I start to annotate it using my unique/convoluted sticky-tabs system, thinking about the dynamics and beats of each scene. I create a wilds list (all the shouts and screams the actors make), and work out a recording plan.

I then cast and book the actors in. Alongside the script, I’ll send each actor some brief character info; background on the story and setting; and perhaps some artwork or photos of their character’s model.

We’ll then spend a morning or afternoon recording the narration with a single actor; and a full day recording the dialogue – usually with a small group. This is the part I enjoy the most. Its a fun challenge to direct the cast and get them to stretch their imaginations – as they’re often voicing roles unlike anything they have previously. Its also great to listen to the actors interact and watch them feed off each other’s energy as they perform a scene.

Once we’ve finished recording, a couple of days are required to edit the session down to the best takes of each line of the script.

This audio is then sent off to the sound designers, who add their magic to the production. They’ll send me mixes of their progress, and I’ll give feedback on timings, musical themes, weapon FX, atmospheres and so on – ensuring their ideas fit the Games Workshop IP and, hopefully, sound awesome. It takes our sound designers around 10-15 days of very skilled, intense work to complete a 70 minute drama.

Do you have a nugget of wisdom you’d like to share with writers thinking about working on an audio script?

1. Think about which parts of the script can be expressed with the sound design, instead of via the narration or dialogue.

2. Try and give your characters their own distinctive voice/idiolect on the page. This will inspire the actors when they come to perform their roles, and distinguish each character for the listeners.

3. Try and have each scene occur in a single location. This will help avoid any complex changes of points of view in the sound design.

If you enjoyed that interview, you might like to read this previous interview with Penelope Rawlins, the voice actor who plays Yvraine in Hand of Darkness.

Cast List for Eye of Night and Hand of Darkness

Eye-of-Night-by-Gav-Thorpe-Black-LibraryEye of Night
Narrator: Gareth Armstrong
Katarinya Greyfax: Emma Gregory
Roboute Guilliman: Jonathan Keeble
Horst: Steve Conlin
Moriana: Annie Aldington
Genhain: Cliff Chapman
The Familiar: Matthew Hunt
Axaeus: Gareth Armstrong
Custodian: Melvyn Rawlinson

Hand of Darkness
Narrator: Gareth Armstrong
Yvraine: Penelope Rawlins
Roboute Guilliman / Birdwhisper: Jonathan Keeble
Eldrad Ulthran: Toby Longworth
The Visarch: Steve Conlin
Tigurius: Cliff Chapman
Veilwalker: Emma Gregory
Ruisafoneth: Matthew Hunt
Meliniel: Melvyn Rawlinson

It can sometimes take a while for me to listen to the final version of my audio dramas, as I’m often several projects down the line by the time they come out, and deadlines for other titles are usually looming. This time around I’ve managed to listen to both Eye of Night and Hand of Darkness, and I’m really pleased with how they have turned out – Emma Gregory does a particularly great job as Greyfax.

If you would like to find out more about any other part of the writing / publication process, let me know in the comments and I’ll pester people for interviews!

**To make sure you don’t miss out on any blog posts, you can keep up-to-date with everything Gav by signing up to my monthly newsletter. As a bonus, every other month I randomly pick a newsletter subscriber to receive a free signed copy of one of my books.**

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