We all know and love Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House on the hit TV show of the same name. But not so many know he’s also a celebrated author of fiction. His debut novel The Gun Seller was received well when first published in 1996, but has garnered quite a bit more attention as his celebrity has increased over the years.
I am thrilled and honored to be producing the audiobook edition for Highbridge Audio. Production is already underway with the great Simon Prebble behind the microphone!
Any fan of Laurie’s will find his dry wit and impeccable comedic timing alive and well here, so be sure to keep an eye (and an ear!) out for the release in a few months time.
P.S. – rumor has it Laurie is working on a screenplay adaptation – and a sequel has been long in the works!
Amazon/Audible (the latter being owned by the former) have developed quite a love/hate relationship with the entire publishing industry. But one aspect that pretty much exclusively falls on the ‘love’ side for those in the industry, is how these two companies are quickly bringing eBooks and Audiobooks into the same social awareness category that such media as movies and traditional books currently enjoy.
One of Audible’s latest strategies in this regard is their ‘A-list’ of audiobook titles. These titles feature, well….A-list actors behind the microphone on the audiobook editions of a number of best-sellers.
To promote them, their doing short featurette videos of the actors in studio. Below is one of my favourites; Anne Hathaway reading The Wizard Of Oz. Be sure to check out others featuring Samuel L Jackson, Kate Winslet, Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon and others on Audible’s YouTube channel.
The past 12 months have been busy busy on the audiobook production front. Publishers and producers are struggling to keep up with demand. The best kind of problem you can have in any business.
But in addition to that wonderful challenge, there’s another on the minds of every individual and entity in the entire publishing industry; that of adapting to, and capitalizing on, the digital revolution.
Audiobooks have had an interesting existence – jumping around from purpose to purpose in the consumer market. They started purely as a tool for the blind and eventually transitioned into their current dominant role; educating and entertaining the commuter.
But there is change afoot yet again. What’s driving it? Wireless, portable electronics. Primarily smart phones and tablets.
What’s most interesting to me is the fact that it is equally affecting the entire publishing industry. Not only that, it’s actually forcing traditional books and traditional audiobooks to merge towards a single product. Whereas in the past, audiobooks were a clear subset of the greater publishing world (each existing in two completely separate mediums), we’re moving towards a place where the medium will be one and the same for both. And that is inevitably resulting in the two products merging into one.
What exactly will this product look like? Unknown. The primary medium? Uncertain. It’s exciting! And it’s full of opportunity!
Don’t miss this video of Christopher Walken reading Where The Wild Things Are as a perfect (and hilarious) example!
Amazon beat Apple and Google to the punch by recently announcing the official launch of their new web-based music player, store and storage solution.
The concept is simple. When your music library is stored on a web server, you can access it anywhere you have an internet connection – no transferring of files from device to device, no downloading (unless you want to), no syncing, and no worrying about losing your content due to drive failure. The term ‘cloud’ comes from ‘cloud computing’, and simply refers to the fact that your owned content remains on a provider’s server.
Ready or not, there is little doubt that this method of product consumption will become the norm in the years to come. Not just music of course – its expected that Apple and Google will launch later this year with solutions that incorporate video, apps, etc. But it doesn’t stop there either, these three big players all intend to become your ‘cloud’ provider, hosting any and all of your digitized content.
But since the news of the day is just about music, what does this mean for that industry? Allow me to speculate wildly;
Imagine a single web server-based music library/database. Anyone who wishes to consume any type of music subscribes to this service, which grants them access to any and all music without additional cost. The usage of each piece of music is tracked individually, so artists/labels can be paid royalties accordingly (much like how radio currently operates).
Advertisements are also linked to the music – higher paying advertisers will seek slots associated with the most popular music, much like we’re starting to see on YouTube.
The digital files could be pirated, but it won’t happen because its too inconvenient for people to store their own files – all smartphones, computers, etc will be developed around the cloud system of storage/retrieval/access, and therefore won’t have their own onboard storage.
It will probably be the music industry’s knight in shining armour, yet Amazon may well face lawsuits from the the likes of Sony Music. Amazing……
There have been projections that our myriad of electronic devices (TVs, phones, computers) will eventually meld into one. My computer is already thinner than my TV, has a higher resolution capability, and is the actual source of my entertainment programming, so its easy to see how the TV will quickly become redundant.
Tablets have of course been all the rage this year, but so far they haven’t really had the guts to be contenders for a true all-in-one device. Smartphones on the other hand, are becoming very interesting.
The Motorola Atrix 4G represents the first legitimate picture of what a true all-in-one device could look like – a device that can actually go with you everywhere and facilitate whatever you’re doing. It is a fully functional smartphone on its own. By slipping it into the Motorola LapDock, it becomes a laptop. By connecting it to your LCD monitor, it becomes your entertainment hub, capable of full HD content.
I’ve heard it suggested that Google is taking over the world. This may make Motorola their partner in crime.
The entire entertainment industry has been in a painful state of transition for more than a few years now. Consumers are making it clear they want new distribution methods that make use of, and keep pace with, technological development. I posted about the music industry’s struggle back in Baker vs. CRIA, now its the television and film industry under the gun.
Netflix has offered their DVD-by-mail service since 1997, and in fact mailed over 1 billion disks out to customers within 10 years of operation. But DVD-by-mail is old news – electronic distribution is an inevitability. As with the music industry though, the struggle has been over the ability to control copyrighted material when its in 1s and 0s that are easily duplicated. Netflix has been at the forefront of forcing a solution and in the U.S. has made leaps and bounds.
Canadians have not been so lucky. Here in the great white north, television and film studios are not the only ones who own rights to the material they produce – television networks also own a piece. That means they also need to sign off on any contract that would see the material distributed under a new model, and they’re perfectly happy with business as usual, thank-you very much!
Though the first reaction of the studios and networks in Canada was to treat customers who wanted a new model as criminals, we are slowly coming out of the dark ages. On September 22, 2010, Netflix announced electronic distribution had arrived in Canada!
Yes, the content offerings were pitiful upon launch – convincing the powers that be to release their death grip on their beloved content is perhaps not unlike separating a pack of wolves from its kill. And Canadians have been quick to moan and complain like overfed wolf pups. We need to have the foresight to see the victory here – we’re on our way! Netflix launched at $7.99 a month! Compare that to your cable bill, which has steadily risen while the content (at least quality content) has steadily decreased.
At $7.99, would you be willing to at least drop your cable service down to a lower plan to make room for it in the budget and give it a go?
Audio for gaming applications is a beast all unto itself. Or so I’ve read countless times in the pages of Mix magazine. I recently got the opportunity to move from reading about it to experiencing it through my first foray into said beast.
Ubisoft is a giant in the gaming field, and it was for an upcoming title of theirs destined for Sony’s PS3 that I found myself recording vocal cues. Ubisoft has branches located all of the world, but the wonders of the net and Skype meant that the talent in the studio here in Canada could be directed by Ubisoft representatives in Germany. Remote collaboration is something I’ve become quite endeared to!
One unique aspect of gaming audio is the shear amount of content required to make the gamer’s experience seem boundless and open ended. So we were recording thousands of vocal cues to cover all circumstances and to minimize repetition even when identical circumstances repeat themselves. I can tell you, that it helps immensely to work with highly professional voice talent in such a case. Jodi Krangle is a regular client who made incredibly short work of such a daunting task!
Oops! Now I’ve got a taste for gaming audio – and I want more!
I read recently about how the new squeezable ketchup bottles outline an important truth in business – just because an idea is successful doesn’t mean it can’t be better. The glass ketchup bottle carried the product that made the Heinz name synonymous with the tomato condiment, but somebody had the insight and boldness to suggest something new.
Audiobooks have enjoyed great success through various media formats, from cassette in the early days on to CD. But digital downloads and portable media players have opened up the floodgates of possibilities for this growing industry, and the group of visionaries who formed Modern Book Factory (www.modernbookfactory.com) are working to see that potential realized.
The company are developing apps for the iPhone, iPad and other devices that will take the audiobook experience to a new level. Not unlike the extras found on DVD movies, the apps will allow for additional media content relating to the book to be included with the audiobook – perhaps such as author interviews, backstories, and e-versions of the book.
Also exciting is the fact that the apps will allow independent authors and publishing houses to effectively self-publish, with their publications retailing alongside major publisher content, growing the ‘long tail’ as described by Chris Anderson.
I’m very fortunate to be involved in this new initiative through my affiliation with audiobook production house, Bee Audio (www.beeaudio.com), who is partnering with Modern Book Factory on the initiative.
This post is about how to continue blogging when you’re swamped with work. Just kidding……
Its amazing how purpose driven a microphone design can really be. The Canadian Professional Golf Association (CPGA) is a new client with which I’m producing a radio-style news podcast. Its proven a great opportunity to work with some mics built specifically with this purpose in mind.
There’s at least a handful of good options on the market but I ultimately selected the Shure SM7B to record the shows. Since my illustrious career hasn’t taken me through the fast paced world of radio, I can’t say I’ve had any first hand experience with some of the other radio voice recording notables, such as Electrovoice’s RE20 or Sennheiser’s 421 (although I’ve loved the 421 on toms!).
Like most broadcast mics, the SM7B requires a MASSIVE amount of gain. I have my preferred processing techniques for voice recording, which includes the use of a gentle expander, but this proved an absolutely essential tool here because of the relatively small signal to noise ratio.
I was quite happy with the results – of the studio voice recording anyway. The show also calls for a phone patch so the guys can host industry pros on each episode. With a phone patch, you just never know what sort of signal you’ll receive over the line, which are pretty terrible on the best of days. One of the two calls we took had a horrible signal that required some pretty intense digital cleaning to get it usable. As I said, radio engineers live a faced paced work life! If we were live to air there wouldn’t be any restoration happening!
Take a listen to the first show;