Behind The Quest Inn – Making Episode 29: Mostly Butt Stuff

Welcome to the ongoing series of behind-the-scenes posts for our little endeavour that is The Quest Inn at the Centre of the Universe.

/MAKING MOSTLY BUTT STUFF

Session: 03

Title: Mostly Butt Stuff

Recorded: 1pm, 21st December 2018

Location: Library at the Dock Recording Studio

Guest: Stephanie Teitelbaum

Mostly Butt Stuff was the fourth episode recorded in the season and the second of three episodes recorded that day. Stephanie was our first recurring guest from season one – and the only one (so far) to play the same character in this season.

This was our second episode recorded with the full cast and, with Stephanie back in the studio as well, it was a very smooth and natural process.

Following the recording Deja Vu, this episode created a bit of lore and detail for the world, such as Rika-Shore high security prison, which we were able to use and expand upon in Jailhouse Blues.

The climax moment where everyone climbs into Chase’s anus is up there (no pun intended) with one of the most surreal things we’ve done so far – and also one of my favourites. For me, this moment was reminiscent of something that might happen in The Goon Show. If not for discovering Spike Milligan and the goons as a child, I probably wouldn’t be doing this now (I wasn’t alive when it originally aired in the ’50s – I’m old, but not that old – however, my local library did have a decent collection of recordings on cassette).

//ARTWORK:

This is the perfect time to talk about the character art we commission to promote each episode on the website and social media. As mentioned, this is the only episode (so far) that features a recurring guest character from season one and because of this, we get to see two wildly different visual interpretations of Box Fleecey the Rubik’s Cube.

For our first season we brought the very capable piemboons on board to help realise the look of our characters, and for the second, we enlisted the help of local artist Trav Nash. 

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Having a different artist for each season not only differentiates each season, it’s also how we visually represent the improv element of our show. As our guests bring their own personality and details to these characters, so too do our artists when drawing them.

We also like the idea that our characters are not tied down to a specific look. As a listener, you’ll have your own picture in your mind of how they appear – and though that image may differ from what someone else sees in theirs, one is no more correct than the other.

Got your own idea of what Box Fleecey (or any other Quest Inn character) looks like? we’d love to see it! Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your art!

//EDITING:

Creating the audio to reflect our characters getting inside Chase was a lot of fun and a good opportunity to play with cartoony sounds for comic effect.

Also, Box Fleecey’s entry into the cell uses a variety of sounds, including Stephanie’s own digging noises that she came up with during the session. Originally, I was going to pull these out and replace them completely with shovels on dirt, but there’s a certain timbre added by her rhythm and performance that I liked, and so decided to keep it in the mix.

As you’ll hear, the sound of Rika-Shore is consistent with prior episodes. I like what I did here, but it was a relief to get out of that cell to play with a wider audio palette – which I’ll tell you all about in the next episode.

Till next time.

Listen to the full episode here.


If you enjoy reading these reflective pieces (or listening to the podcast itself) and want to help us out, please consider supporting us on Patreon.

Behind The Quest Inn – Making Episode 28: Jailhouse Blues

Welcome to the ongoing series of behind-the-scenes posts for our little endeavour that is The Quest Inn at the Centre of the Universe.

/MAKING JAILHOUSE BLUES

Session: 04

Title: Jailhouse Blues

Recorded: 12pm, 25th January 2019

Location: Library at the Dock Recording Studio

Guests: Simon McCulloch and Derek Wilson

Jailhouse Blues was the fifth episode recorded in the season, and the first of two episodes recorded that day. This was the first session recorded with more than one guest.

As a rule I like having multiple guests, but as soon as the guest count increases, so too does the level of difficulty for getting everyone in the same room at the same time. It was a record-breaking hot day in Melbourne (42°C!) and we were lucky that anyone managed to turn up at all.

Despite the heat, our guests Simon McCulloch and Derek Wilson manage to deliver excellent performances – as well as adding some really interesting lore to the shared backstory of their characters (Lister Een and Alistair Zamboni).

In preparing for season two, we developed the story arc of the Quest Inn crew going to prison (and having to escape) as an opportunity to get the characters away from the usual location for two reasons. The first was to add something new for our listeners, and the second was to allow me (as audio editor) to play and create different scenes using ambience and audio effects.

//EDITING:

The first little difference you’ll notice with this episode from previous episodes is the “Lawless” slide guitar theme which I used to bookend each episode in this arc. This simple blues theme came to me as I was thinking about how I could differentiate this story from standard episodes and the reason it sounds the way it does is because the picture I painted in my head before we developed the Rika-Shore high security prison element was a little jail in the middle of nowhere – akin to something you might find in Texan desert country where dust and tumbleweeds is the name of the game.

As we progressed, I couldn’t divorce myself from the Texan image and so it kind of stuck – that’s why you hear coyotes and crows in there too.

On a side note, I got those animal sounds from Yellowstone Sound Library – a fantastic little resource for natural ambience as well.

The super-cheap electric guitar I used was recorded using a direct line-in and software effects were added in post using the guitar suite in Adobe Audition. I also put a mic on the strings where I played the slide to get the raw acoustic elements of the performance. It doesn’t really work, but it was fun to play around here, just to see what I could achieve without the proper tools.

For this episode, I had to make Rika-Shore high security prison sound big, and I did this buy adding a whole bunch of reverb and panning effects to simulate movement through this space. The addition of heavy doors slamming in the the distance along with alarms and security-like elements all helped to sell this.

I also attempted to make it sound like Alistair Zamboni was walking up and down a long corridor every time he came and went – this was an interesting challenge, and I think I did okay with it.

Tell us what you think! Did we do a good job with this one? What did you love? What could we have done better? Any questions or comments are welcome!

Till next time.

Listen to the full episode here.


If you enjoy reading these reflective pieces (or listening to the podcast itself) and want to help us out, please consider supporting us on Patreon.

Behind The Quest Inn – Making Episode 27: Deja Vu

Welcome to the first behind-the-scenes post for our little endeavour that is The Quest Inn at the Centre of the Universe.

/WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?

First up, let me bring you up to speed. The Quest Inn at the Centre of the Universe is an ongoing narrative comedy podcast series, but it’s also improvised. That means we know where it’s going in terms of story, but instead of scripts – our talented cast of improvisers make it up on the spot.

IMAG0274
Indiana Kiely, Tom Fahey and Beau Windon

For a quick introduction to the series, check out this post here.

All caught up? Good.

I started writing these bloggy post things primarily for my own archival purposes (that is to help the old memory, which is beyond terrible if I don’t write things down) and also to help anyone else that might be thinking of making a show of their own – for that reason I’ll try to be as informative as possible when it comes to what I use and how we do things. As a result, these posts are as much about you as they are about us.

If at any time you have a question, comment or suggestion, go ahead and add it to the comments below – we want to hear from you!

Also, these posts were originally intended as exclusive content on our Patreon page, but it soon became apparent that I didn’t have the energy to do these in real-time to meet any kind of reward-based deadline, so I figured I’d just share them here in my own time instead. Because of this, you might find references to Patreon all over the place. Forgive me for going on about it – I’m not trying that hard to sell this to you (as much as it might appear otherwise).

So, here we go:

This first post doesn’t have much in the way of photos because I didn’t know I was going to do this when we recorded the episode.

“But why,” you ask. “Didn’t you start the Patreon at the same time as the new season?”

The answer is yes, but we started recording episodes about six months before I even thought about Patreon as a thing we could do.

As the episodes progress, you’ll start to see more pictures – but until then, it’s going to be a little text-heavy. I think it’s from about episode 32 that we really start committing to the idea of photos and how to do this in the most engaging way for you.

That said, we’re still not quite sure. Like all good projects this one will continue to evolve, and with your help, become the best damned thing it can be for everyone involved.

/PREPARING FOR A NEW SEASON

I guess the first thing you should know is that, as previously mentioned, we don’t record these episodes in the week before we release them – or necessarily in chronological order.

“But it’s improv!” you say, “how do you keep continuity?” The answer to that is careful planning (so many episode notes!) and a knack for thinking on the fly – something that Beau, Indiana and Tom bring to their performances with incredible finesse.

So yes, chronological order is not necessarily how we do this, and the reason is mostly to do with scheduling. Sometimes we want a specific guest (or three!) in the one place at the one time. “Like herding cats” is an expression that, I’m convinced, was invented to describe attempting to get actors to co-ordinate schedules.

Prior to commencing the new season, the four of us got together for a brainstorm session about where we might want to go with season 2 in terms of story. The first season was loosely planned and narrative arcs developed from week to week as we got to know our characters. This time around, however, we felt it might take a little pressure off all of us if we planned what would happen from episode to episode.

With the exception of Deja vu (which follows the script of episode 01), each episode has a narrative arc with major plot points – the improv element kicks in when we press record to discover how our characters will get from point to point.

/MAKING DEJA VU

Session: 03

Title: Deja Vu

Recorded: 12pm, 21st December 2018

Location: Library at the Dock Recording Studio

Guests: N/A

Deja Vu was the second episode recorded in the season and the first of three episodes (plus additional content) recorded that day. It was the first time in months that the whole team were back in the studio together playing the characters of the Quest Inn crew, but it felt like no time had passed at all.

Perhaps following a script helped, but everyone eased perfectly into their characters and I feel this episode works perfectly as an introductory episode to new listeners.

Why did we choose to follow the first episode from season 1 so closely? Well, to begin with, we thought it would be funny to mess with listeners – but the thought grew into the prison recreation simulation idea (spoilers!). I feel that with the reveal at the end of the episode, this flippant premise really came into its own as part of the ongoing story.

//EDITING:

The idea of gradually hinting to the listener that not everything in this episode is as it first appears with audio effects was an appealing concept to me that came with its own challenges. I chose to reflect this concept with glitch sounds and white noise.

For those wondering, if I don’t make the effects myself (a rare occurrence due to time constraints), I’ll likely find them on Freesound. If you want sound effects for your own projects, this resource is a great place to start looking for them. Just be sure to pay attention to the creator’s specified license and terms of use!

The challenge with using glitches in the episode was to introduce them in a subtle way that felt random, but also to make them appear to be part of the show – and not just artifacts of a bad recording. I’m not sure how successful I was with this, but I enjoyed the process nonetheless.

Another fun element was introducing the “Lawless” theme at the end of the episode. It’s just me playing around with a steel slide on an electric guitar – again, not perfect – and if I have the opportunity to re-record it, I think I will.

In terms of making the show feel a little more like a full package from episode to episode, one of my goals for this season is to introduce more incidental music. Don’t worry, I get better at it as we progress.

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! I hope this format works and that it was easy enough for you to get all the way to the end.

Remember, this is for you – so let me know what works, what doesn’t, and what might be missing.

Catch you for the next instalment.


 

If you enjoy reading these reflective pieces (or listening to the podcast itself) and want to help us out, please consider supporting us on Patreon.