Rick Carter's Jurassic Park: An Audio Drama - Part III
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of producing this audio drama is building the audio with all its individual pieces.
For this project, like my work on Prime Survival, I built the audio in a 5.1 field. This was to allow for a sense of being surrounded by sound and have it come directionally. I also break down the audio into three main categories: voices, ambiance, and specific moment sfx.
Starting with the voices, I would take the characters and narration, going line by line building the scenes. Each character has a slight pan either left or right to also help differentiate the characters and their placement in scenes while keeping the Narrator mostly center.
While building the main voice track, I found there were some moments of fun experimentation where I could layer audio over each other or under the narration to give a sense of continuation. One such fun moment was the Announcer Voice for the Tour Cars. As this audio would naturally be playing once the doors opened, I had the audio begin playing--panned to the Right and under the narration--after Regis opened the car doors until it became more of a focus once the line was completed. This gave a sense of reality to the moment by placing the car firmly to the right of the audience, Regis standing in front of you, while the announcement played as the characters approach the cars. These little moments were fun to find and I felt really helped bring a level of authenticity to the story!
Experimenting with panning the voices is important as a voice panned too far to the left or right can actually be detrimental to the overall sound. If you think how voices are in a movie, a character may be standing slightly left/right on the screen, but the audio is always coming from in front of you (unless they are behind the camera or distant). Similarly, the voice acting should stay mostly front but can have some flexibility of left / right.
From here, I would create an ambiance field for the location. The ambiance builds the sense of location be it a stormy beach, a rainy jungle, or a dry windy desert and would serve as the basis for the scene's setting. In some cases, the ambiance included the hum of electric fences, background construction work, or take an outdoor sound like wind / rain / jungle sounds and muffle it as they transition inside. All of this is to add to the realism of the moments.
Next, I would identify sounds that would be important to the narrative. If a character is walking into a scene, playing pool, closing a door, these all can add to the immersion of the narrative. Characters walking and talking, however, don't usually require the constant sounds of footfalls as it could become distracting. Choosing these moments to give life to the scene but not detract from it is a bit of dancing a fine line. There have been a few moments I've built the scene completely, listened to it, and realized it needed one or two little sound moments still.
This step also includes the dinosaur sounds (although the ambiance tracks sometimes have faint or echoey dinosaur calls). The dinosaur sounds are some of the most fun to play with, creating a living story for these characters. As this is an audio drama and no visuals, sound HAS to sell these creatures. Without it, they won't feel alive or like active participants in the story. The fun part is getting to play around in the sandbox of all the JURASSIC PARK dinosaur sounds and craft these character moments but with all the work done in the saga of films, there were still some sounds that we simply don't have. One such sound, heard from multiple creatures over the course of the story, are burps. Once all this is done, I export the audio into 5.1 (later to be down-mixed to stereo) for each individual sound type (ie: voices, ambiance, sfx). This gives me control over volume, mixing, and space to adjust a sound if it's too much for a moment or need to be pulled up in the mix more.
This all leads us to the final piece of the audio puzzle: the musical score.
(Continued on Part IV)
In the mean time, check out the released parts of the story! The First Iteration: The Island Paradise
The Second Iteration: The Park Tour
The Third Iteration: The Saboteur