Sunday, September 15, 2013

DOC SAVAGE - THE RADIO SERIES CONTINUES! NOW COMES THE SOUNDTRACK...

With the script for The Fortress of Solitude finally in the can, I started putting together the soundtrack, complete with a music score and sound effects. To put together the various elements, I used Nero Soundtrax, a very handy, if imperfect, part of Nero 8 software.

As with the previous radio play, I cribbed the score from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which I've always considered a great Doc Savage score that wound up in a well-meaning but lifeless movie. Many of the sound effects I utilized were available for free on line, and those I couldn't locate I put a little money into on iTunes and pretty vast collection of sound effects.

It's a crazy process, trying to coordinate the script, the music track, and the sound effects into one cohesive whole. I basically read the script aloud until just the right cue, pause the track and insert the effect. At times I've got one that just isn't loud enough for the given effect, so I boost the signal a bit, sometimes even using some of Nero's interesting effects to enhance it.

Edward Shearmur's glorious score encompasses every conceivable element you would want in an action-adventure thriller... pulse-pounding suspense, thrilling battle music, the heroic theme, and even some lighthearted humorous rifts. With a little judicious editing, it makes for a fabulous whole.

Now the big problem forthcoming is getting my three other actors synced up to the finished track. We'll see how well that will go in our next episode.





Thursday, August 22, 2013

DOC SAVAGE - THE RADIO SERIES CONTINUES!

Okay, so regular readers of this blog (I think there might be a few of you still out there with the patience of Job) know that I am very into Doc Savage, the pulp magazine prototype of Superman, as could be seen in the last YouTube video I posted featuring myself, my partner Mike Walt, and Who-Net member and friend Terry O'Connell. We performed my adaptation of Lester Dent's 1934 pilot script for an early Doc Savage radio series and based on the first of the 181 Doc Savage novels, "The Man of Bronze" at last July's InConJunction convention in Indianapolis.

Though it was a small crowd, and although we had a few hiccups in syncing our performances with the soundtrack, the live radio play went over great, and I was approached by many of the attendees asking if I was seriously going to do the follow-up that was teased at the end of the program. It didn't take a week after the convention for me to pull down Doc Savage Double Reprint Novel #1 and start re-reading "The Fortress of Solitude".

For those of you not familiar with the plot, I'll try to not get too spoilery:
#
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3

At a remote gulag in Siberia, a mass prison break occurs freeing several dozen murderous characters, one of whom is a mysterious, almost hypnotic gent named John Sunlight, who holds many of the escaped convicts in a grip of fear. Seizing an icebreaking freighter stopping off near the gulag to drop off supplies, the ship breaks down and flounders in the ice flow, taking the helpless crew far into the northern reaches.

Near starvation, the crew and the ship run aground and they are met with an awesome sight... a giant blue dome in the middle of the wintery wastes. Sunlight becomes obsessed to find out what's inside, and finally discovers a secret door. As it turns out, the dome is Doc Savage's remote retreat, The Fortress of Solitude, containing many of his incredible inventions, vehicles... and weapons.

A year later, Doc, unaware of the events at the Fortress (no vacation for the Man of Bronze!), and his men Monk, Ham, and Long Tom find themselves in the middle of kidnapping, blackmail, and murder due to what Doc is sure is someone using his deadliest weapons for their own ends. Sunlight has an ultimate plan... one that threatens the entire world!
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3

Of all the 181 "supersagas", as Philip Jose Farmer described them in his book Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, "Fortress" almost always lands at the top of the best. The reason for that is simple: its unlike many of the Doc novels, which were written to a pretty rigid outline that rarely ever wavered. "Fortress" not only breaks from Dent's outline, it practically throws a brick through it.

It is one of the few novels where Doc isn't as triumphant in the end as usual. In fact, he downright fails. His greatest secrets are splayed out in a very public forum before not only his best friends whom he kept in the dark for most of the story, but also an army of criminals and convicts, among them possibly the devil incarnate. It forces him to take extreme measures to secure the secrecy of the Fortress, measures I didn't quite find believable in the original prose, but I eventually came up with a slight twist to make it work in the radio play to remain true to Dent's original ending.

And of course, it's the only novel in the series where the villain returns to fight another day.

Street and Smith's rules with their hero prose novels is that each one would stand alone, as they believed that each issue was someone's first issue. Only the Shadow actually had a recurring villain in Shiwan Khan, who appeared in several of the Shadow novels. Maybe the exception was the bi-weekly publication schedule and the speed with which Walter Gibson and his assistants banged out one riproaring novel after another. They needed a familiar antagonist every now and then to face off against the Dark Avenger. Dent had no such intention of taking on such a grueling schedule, even though S & S pressured him to do so. But for some reason, an exception was made in the case of John Sunlight.

So the conundrum I faced is how to turn a 55-plus page novellette into an hour radioplay, or approximately four twenty minute episodes. The first step was, indeed, worry about chapterplays later, just do the best job to translate Dent's epic tale into radioplay format.

The first thing I needed was a tantalizing opening that would engage the listener. Dent's opening describing the prison break worked well in the novel, but would take far too much time to introduce John Sunlight and his crew and leave the audience bored waiting for action. With that, I felt bringing two new characters, a pair of Soviet pilots chosen to fly over the area, the perfect foils to reveal the horror of the break. From there, we cut to months later, with the icebreaker floundering and the crew starving.

From there, I stuck fairly close to Dent's original narrative, with the only real big change being the attack on Sunlight's island fortress, which, in the long run, did nothing the forward the plot, and those few important elements could be dealt with as Doc and the Brotherhood of Bronze made their way north.

I also thought that the blindness bomb should be given a distinctive name, thus "The Indigo Pulse", thereby planting the first seeds of doubt in the minds of Ham and Long Tom when Doc lets its name slipafter the attack on Serge Mafnoff's compound.

Another element I really wanted in the story, although she doesn't make any appearance in the original novel, was Pat Savage. That came about when I was trying to figure out how to transfer the incident at the nightclub with the "playboy prince" (whom I finally named Shamar) into a workable scenario for radio, and suddenly brainstormed that Pat could easily disguise herself as a 1930's party girl and somehow mingle with the prince, and then insinuate herself into the adventure.

A few more edits were required from the novel, such as the attack on Doc's advanced skiplane flown by Ham and Long Tom as backup (which I designated "The Bronze Angel"), but very minor changes. A more tragic consequence for Doc's lack of security measures and then a sentimental ending to assure that Doc's bond with his crew was everlasting. And the script was finished in less than a month.

So next... the making of the soundtrack.

To be continued....

Friday, July 12, 2013

De Boss Rules the World: Episode 6 - Who-Net at InCon

Yep, I'm back after a long InConJunction-enduced hiatus, and here's some of the highlights of our time at Indianapolis' biggest sci-fi convention! Many thanks to our Who-Net helpers Julie and Jeffrey Lee, James Robinson, and my partner-in-crime Michael Walt for his camera work!

Monday, June 10, 2013

De Boss Rules the World Episode 5

Yep, been a while since the last post, mostly due to all the big tech changes around here, including a new laptop, but here's the latest posting of my video series, including the acquisition of a new family vehicle....

Sunday, May 5, 2013

De Boss Rules the World Presents The Crossing Open Mic Nite 4/26/13 Part 4

As usual, having no clue as to when enough is enough, De Boss lays waste to Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason" and "Try", while an overachieving smoke machine tries to do what a reticent audience won't...

Monday, April 29, 2013

De Boss Rules the World Presents The Crossing Open Mic Nite 4/26/13 Parts 1-3

At last, you lucky people get a taste of the wonder and musical talent that assembles Open Mic Nite, which assembles generally the third Friday night of every month at the Columbus, Indiana church The Crossing. Opening the show is my brother Tim and his musical partner from their 80's retro duo Ta-Daaa Angela Adrian. Then I step up to bat, providing a fifteen minute set that's the most fun you can have without launching nuclear missiles.

De Boss Rules the World! Episode 2

This one's a little late due to an overwhelming number of projects on my plate, but here's the second episode of De Boss Rules the World, with a special word about movie tie-ins. I should know... I'm on the front lines of one of the biggest.