Monday, August 12, 2019

Creating the Bloody Walls Audio Book...a quick overview.

Welly, well, well, Hello Kiddies,

So I’ve written the book and published on Amazon. Besides promotion, what’s next? Why the audiobook of course.

Now, at first this idea seemed rather daunting. Would I need a narrator, a sound engineer, a competent programmer? Well, a little research was all it took to realize I was capable and you can be too, provided you have the necessary equipment. This equipment doesn’t have to be extreme studio quality, merely a laptop and microphone will do. However, better equipment means better quality and for the purpose of this overview, I will discuss what I am specifically using, which is substantially more, but should, in no way, shape or form, be a deterrent. There are countless ways to accomplish this and therefore, explore your needs.  Regardless, creating an audiobook is much easier than you think.

But, before we begin, ask yourself these questions.

Is your voice capable of a good narration?

Do you have a quiet place to record?

Are you tech savvy enough to follow the ACX format requirements?

If you answered yes to all three questions, by all means, read on. Note: for this project, I am using a Toshiba Satellite C75 Laptop.

My mixer...
Behringer Xenyx 1204 USB & Behringer HPS3000 Headphones
A while back I had been considering an internet radio show or podcast (and still am for that matter and am actively seeking a co-host) and the Behringer Xenyx 1204 USB, having more than enough inputs, was a great choice. But to create an audiobook, it is not really needed and using something basic through the microphone jack on the computer will more than likely suffice. After all, bass, treble and such can be adjusted during mastering. 

However, blocking out ambient sounds and hearing everything is of utmost important and therefore, good headphones are a requirement. I use the Behringer HPS3000.

My microphone...
Neewer NW 800 microphone
The microphone I'm using is the Neewer NW 800. It offers a deeper tone and great sound at any angle, but pointing it makes it better. But, it requires a phantom power supply and thus, will not work by simply adding an 1/8 inch adapter and plugging it into the computer mic jack. Regardless what microphone you choose to use, a screen will be needed to block typical voice and lips pronunciation poof or hiss sounds. P's are especially vulnerable to this.. 

My mixing interface software...
Voicemeeter Banana
Voicemeeter Banana is great open source mixing software that allows the ability to control various inputs. Configuration is relatively easy (once you get beyond the monopolizing sound program that came with the computer) and mine is configured with 2 microphones, a web based input and an auxiliary input. I have yet to explore all the features, but what I've used works perfect. Note: this is not required to create a basic audiobook, but depending upon equipment, some sort of interface is.

My sound recorder & editor...

Audacity audio recorder and editor
Now we're starting to get into the meat of it all, the audio recorder & editor. Audacity is free multi-platform (Windows & Mac) open source software that couldn't be easier to use. Simply use the dropdown menu to set the microphone, press record and start talking. After learning your way around, mastering will become second nature. Plenty of effects are also included, but for audiobook creation, most are not used.

However, there are two must have addons that are not included, but easy to incorporate and will make audiobook creation considerably easier.

Chris's Dynamic Compressor

Chris's Dynamic Compressor
plugin is a streamlined way to adjust the Noise Gate, Max Amplitude, Normalize and Compression Ratio. Ideal settings to meet the ACX audiobook format requirements are:

Noise Gate - 2
Max Amplitude - .95
Normalize -  -3 dbs
Compression Ratio - .85

Nyquest ACX check plugin indicating requirements met

Another is the ACX Check plugin. This verifies the audio file is ready for upload. 

As mentioned earlier, this is simply an overview of what I'm using and how I'm doing it. There are also other requirements such as format and sound consistency, having open and closing credits, etc... that need to be followed. These are discussed in detail on the ACX website and for anyone considering creating an audiobook, it is must reading. 

 Introducing the Crafting Horror Blog

On occasion I tend to craft, but this crafting is nowhere near pristine and pretty. I have built a Negan baseball bat, a Christine model car, an authentic "witch" broom and many other things. Currently, and probably forever, I am working on a rather dreadful dollhouse that will eventually include rooms having different horrors, and Halloween always finds me creating some type of creepy decor.

Sometimes these crafts are substantial. In order to discuss them in detail and avoid overloading Staying Scared, I've differentiated and created the Crafting Horror blog. While I'm still in the design phase, feel free to lurk by and maybe sign up for updates.

The Staying Scared Collector's Corner

With Night of the Living Dead being my all-time favorite horror movie, it only seemed natural that I would somehow end up with these autographs and proudly display them.

An original NOTLD poster signed by George Romero

Russ Streiner as Johnny

Judith O'Dea as Barbara
Kyra Schon as Karen
Tom Savini's FX career began with NOTLD

And so fellow ghouls, until next time, remember fear is a good thing!

Stay Scared,
Thomas aka Wee Willie Wicked


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