Monday, February 26, 2007

Making "Post Traumatic Fairy Tail Disorder"

RadioStar has acquired a taste for fairy tales lately, and this was the fourth one we've tackled. There's something enjoyable about having a solid backstory already established, after all the time we've spent starting from absolute ground zero. What made this particular episode curious was that two of the major players are based on a variant of the tale that most of us were not aware of. Diana and I worked out the main outline of what happened in Hansel and Gretel, but Janna was the one who remembered a version of the story where the children were helped home by a goose and a turtle.

Since we recorded it, I've located versions of the story where a duck helps the kids across a river, but I still haven't located any turtle variants. Be that as it may, Goose and Turtle quickly became two of our favorite characters and provide the stability to a cast of very unstable humans.

This is the first episode we've posted with the addition of a third microphone and our new mixing board, which has given us an even cleaner sound than before. Each channel is brought into the computer as a separate AIF file, so I pull all three channels into SoundStudio3, which I've gotten really accustomed to. Unlike the CueBase software that we record with, Sound Studio gives me a large waveform which allows for a largely visual editing style.

The music is a little more random than past fairy tales, which had an intentionally "fairy tale" quality to them. Our Pied Piper show had a lot of flutes in it, and I would have liked to have brought in a lot of accordian music for this one, but I don't have any loops like that, and by the time Jam Pack: World Music showed up, it would have been too late to post the show. So, I decided to play with a more modern musical style.

For those who wondered, that's a fireplace in Turtle and Goose's home at the end. I wanted something nice and warm, but I made it as quiet as possible so that people didn't think that Hansel and Gretel had burned down Turtle's home....


machines that improvise

Back in the 80s, someone came out with a program called racter that told stories, based on a simple templating system. There were also versions of a more sophisticated program from the 60s called eliza floating around, which simulated a therapist by asking questions, examining the answers, and asking more questions based on the user's answers. I read about stuff like this in the computer magazines that I devoured as a kid.

So ever since I learned to improvise, I've always been intrigued by the idea of integrating a machine that improvises into a show. There's not much room for this in our podcast format, but some of us in Radiostar have worked on multimedia stage improv shows, and it might fit in there. I guess we could do it with audio somehow in the podcast, but that room is already full of technology to navigate when we record, and anyway, if it worked really well, people probably wouldn't believe it was improvised. We have that problem already.

There's lots of machine improvisation around on the web. One example is a slick site that generates fake ads using images from flickr: the ad generator. Something like this would be great to just throw up on a screen and react to during an improv show. An operator could punch in keywords and see what comes up; we did this during shows with Google images, and people loved it.

(via the generator blog, a source for all sorts of clever things like this).

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Hang on, friends. Fiddling a bit with formatting to make it more consistent with our shiny new Radiostar Network page. Picked a template, and changed the fonts to Mac-style sans-serif Arial. Next step is pulling in some graphics. And if you don't like the green, please leave a comment or email me.

Green is the new black. Or something.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

this blog thing

Welcome to the Radiostar blog! Please check out our weekly improv podcast over at We have a lot of new material coming soon as well. Next month we'll be launching Radiostar Off The Page, our twice-a-month dramatic readings podcast of original short works by Bay Area and national playwrights! It's the same cast of actors as our improv podcast, with guest directors and writers. Everyone in our improv cast is also an experienced stage actor (often film, as well), so this is a natural extension of the project.

You can check this blog for Radiostar-related info anytime. A few of us are compulsive computer users and/or have tech jobs that put us in front of a keyboard all day, so we may post fairly regularly. Everyone else on the project may or may not show up here, but we'll try to encourage them.

--Chris, artistic director

Monday, February 12, 2007

Welcome to the RadioStar Network

Hey there RadioStar fans! Welcome to the RadioStar Network blog. Everyone involved in RadioStar will be posting here about their notes and experiences about what's going on behind the scenes with RadioStar: Improv, Off the Page, Improv Lab, and The Studio Interviews. Please feel free to post comments, asking us questions or letting us know your thoughts about the podcasts.

At the moment, we're only podcasting the Improv feed, but we'll have "Off the Page" up shortly, followed by "The Studio Interviews", which we began recording last night.

In case you're wondering who I am, I'm the Executive Producer of Cassandra's Call Productions, and the audio engineer for RadioStar: Improv as well of one of the performers.