Monday, December 18, 2006

Back to Audio Commentary

Yours Truly with actor John Phillip Law, during the 2004 commentary sessions for Paramount's DANGER: DIABOLIK.
Photo (c) ZAP Zoetrope Aubry Productions.

You should know me well enough by now to know that, if I'm not busy here, I'm busy somewhere else. I was able to post only a couple of blog updates last week, not counting the letter of comment, because I was immersed in preparations for a new round of audio commentary recordings. Happily, the first phase of this work is now behind me; over the weekend, I recorded not one, not two, but three new audio commentaries for a set of DVD releases scheduled for early 2007. And I'm contracted to deliver another four by the end of January. I'm not at liberty to reveal any titles as yet, but I can tell you that, come next Spring, there will be no fewer than eight new Tim Lucas audio commentaries on the market -- the now-known quantity being Dark Sky Films' March 27th release of Mario Bava's KILL, BABY... KILL!, which announced last week.
Before this past weekend, I had recorded commentaries for BLACK SUNDAY and the aforementioned KBK for Image Entertainment (the latter unreleased till now), THE WHIP AND THE BODY and BLOOD AND BLACK LACE for VCI, DANGER: DIABOLIK for Paramount and Kim Aubry's ZAP Productions (with John Phillip Law), and a short commentary track for "The Gentle Old Madman" in The PPS Group's MONSTER KID HOME MOVIES. Now I've brought that number up to 9.
No matter how often I do this sort of work, it's always a bit anxious-making... especially when I'm flying solo. It's an entirely different process when you have someone else to work with, whether it's a helpful producer/director of the track or someone associated with the film you're talking about. Working with John Phillip Law and Kim Aubry on the DANGER: DIABOLIK commentary was pure pleasure, not only because they both made the experience more relaxed, but because John and I had the luxury of speaking at length, knowing that our comments would later be edited into a finished track.
I recorded these latest tracks at home with the assistance of a rented Fostex FR-2 Field Memory Recorder and a Sennheiser studio quality digital microphone, and the set-up was easy to use and fun getting to know. It's been more than a year since I've done work like this, and it's difficult for a writer (and a not-very-talkative one, at that) to cultivate a relaxed and graceful presence in sound -- at least it has been for me. It's even more challenging when you've made the choice to be scene-specific in your commentaries, which require one to keep one eye on one's script and the other on the test disc's timecodes. My initial steps with the Fostex weren't very confident, but fortunately, I was able to scrap those early files and keep only those I was pleased with. Even in the midst of an acceptable take, one can't help but falter over a word here and there, so I left some silences for the editor to surgically remove my stumblings. If all goes well, the tracks should come back sounding ideal.
The first commentary took the longest to get off the ground; the second went more smoothly; the third, I'm happy to report, was a breeze. And now I have to put these wonderful toys down for a few weeks, and come back to them next year... once I've gotten un-used to them again.
Actually, I'm feeling pleasantly tired after writing three 17-page, single-spaced scripts and creating commentaries from them in the past week or so; I'm actually quite happy to sit back now and devote this last week before Christmas to rest and recreation, in happy anticipation of the holidays. (Hey, this could be the year I actually read Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL... if I feel like it.) But considering the unseasonable weather Cincinnati has been having, it's hard to believe that the year-end holidays are upon us; I'm still wearing my summer clothes around the house and sleeping mostly outside the blankets.
Come to think of it, the next week can't all be rest and relaxation. This blog has its second annual Favorite DVDs lists yet to present, and I should try to post them here by the same date they were presented last year: December 22. After that, our annual Merrython is on -- wedding anniversary, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day -- and I'll likely be gone for a little while. But knowing me, this week, I just might spend some time here. This is my fun, after all.

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