The voice of the Sorting Hat came to me quickly. In years past there was an animated Moses movie, which I didn’t bother to watch, but I managed to hear an interview with someone involved in its production. They were speaking about the difficulty of coming up with a decent Voice Of God during the Burning Bush scene. The “old American patriarch” voice certainly wouldn’t do, because this movie was aimed at the broader public rather than just fundamentalist American Christians. But how do you do God’s voice then? You can’t use a male or a female voice without assigning god a gender, you can’t make him sound like any particular nationality or ethnicity, etc. They tried layering many voices of many actors together for an all-inclusive deity voice, but apparently it ended up sounding awful.
Eventually they settled on simply taking Moses’s own voice and echoing it back to him. Which I personally thought was brilliant, and appropriate on several levels (pssst.. He only exists in your head! ;)) So when Harry is talking to a very powerful entity that borrows his own brain hardware in order to extrapolate what his sorting volition would be… well hell, what it should sound like was easy!
Chapter 9 was originally The Musical Chapter, it was greatly overhauled in the early chapter re-writes. I have to say that I’m happy for the change – as I’ve mentioned previously I’m rather self-conscious about my lack of singing ability and so having an entire musical chapter was a nightmare for me. I believe it came through in the voice work as well, I think I sounded rather awkward. The original is still listed in the Table of Contents if you’d like to hear it, because I don’t think information should be destroyed just because it’s embarrassing in retrospect. But really, it’s not good.
The one saving grace was that The Ghostbusters Theme was chosen – it’s already fairly ridiculous. On a technical level it was a perfect choice as well. The 80s synthesizer sound made it ideal for vamping (since it was far too short in its original state to fill all the time needed for narration). With large chunks that were identical in sound it was easy enough to cut & splice that even a noob with less than 80 hours of sound editing experience could make it loop endlessly at several points. It helped that I was talking over the music too, which made disguising the cuts easier. It was probably the best possible song to work with. Thank goodness for small mercies.
The origin of the All-Powerful Snap. Also introducing Hermione and Neville.
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SPOILER NOTE! This production note contains spoilers for Chapter 7. Do not read it if you haven’t read or listened to Chapter 7 in it’s entirety yet, and you care about that sort of thing.
Seriously, big spoiler.
Before we get to what everyone’s waiting for, I just wanted to say how much I love Harry’s “This Is Why Science Is Awesome” speech. It’s damned inspirational, one of the great pieces of pro-science propaganda. There’s even a short video of it. This is what makes humanity great.
And in stark contrast to that – the rape-threat scene. Obviously this story was never intended for young audiences, but this cemented that into place. It was during this chapter that I decided I had to follow this series to its end. Half of it was Harry’s incredible speech, and half of it is the pure emotional shock of hearing an 11-year-old boy casually say he plans to rape a 10-year-old girl. It had an immediate physical effect on me, and the after-effects lingered for the rest of the day. The fact that it came so out of the blue in such an unexpected setting… it was damned effective.