Bedtime Stories

Hello, everyone! Yesterday, I listened to the episode by The Truth podcast titled “Moon Graffiti.” The episode detailed an imaginary scenario revolving around a real letter meant to be read by then-president Richard Nixon, in the event that astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong failed to make it back from their mission to the Moon in 1969. The spacecraft piloted by Mr. Aldrin and Mr. Armstrong crashes as they attempt to land on the Moon’s surface, and is damaged to the point where they are unable to contact Mission Control and are unable to return to Earth, thus dooming them to die on the Moon. It’s a frightening scenario, to say the least, made even more so by the use of dialogue and realistic sound, to add to the immersion.

The dialogue between the two actors who voice Mr. Aldrin and Mr. Armstrong is pretty realistic, and shows the pair’s devotion to their mission, despite knowing that they’re going to die in a matter of hours as their air supply runs out. The filtering over their voices to give the impression that they’re speaking through devices in their helmets as well as the ambient sounds as they hop around the Moon’s surface help the illusion even further. The same techniques of adding sound effects and dialogue to a story to add a sense of realism and immersion can be seen (or rather heard) in the edited example of Radiolab’s Detective Stories podcast from the audio resources page on Canvas, which I also talked about in a previous blog post:

Listening to both of these examples also remind me of a series of audio stories I used to listen to on YouTube, called Rik Mayall’s Bedside Stories; while they’re all only performed by one person, English actor and comedian Rik Mayall, many of them use ambient music and sound effects to establish mood and draw the listener in to the world where the story takes place.

All three of these examples, while each telling very unique stories, use sound to evoke various imagery–the surface of the Moon, a parking lot, a train station–and emotions–fear, curiosity, love–for the listener, and all three do so quite effectively. I’ll be sure to follow their examples when creating my audio narrative.

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