This episode contains the first of numerous musical bits. I was terrified by this because I’m well aware of the fact that I can’t sing worth a damn. Fortunately I quickly realized that I could overlay the original music track to mask my own singing. This has saved me (at least partially) on many occasions since then. You’ll also notice Harry’s voice suddenly dips to a very un-11-year-old level when he’s singing. I’m bad enough in my natural tone, I couldn’t possibly carry a tune while pitching my voice high, and so I refused to try. The world’s eardrums are slightly safer as a result.
This episode marked my first created sound effect. I wanted something to punctuate the gold pile spilling, but couldn’t find anything that sounded right. I took a “dropped doubloon” sound and repeated it several times with slight time offsets to get something semi-acceptable. It’s not terribly impressive, but it marked a psychological switch for me – from mouth-piece to becoming actively involved.
One of my favorite parts of this episode was adding the door bell whenever someone crossed Madam Malkin’s shop threshold. It was inspired by the “Life Serial” episode of Buffy, which started almost every loop in the magic shop with the door hitting it’s bells as it was opened. It wasn’t in the original text, I just thought it would be a lot of fun to do. As the podcast progresses I start adding a lot of things to audio episodes just for the simple pleasure of “this will be fun for me.” I dunno if it makes them more enjoyable for the listener, but it certainly makes it a lot easier to get through the hours of post-production work. :)
The door is described as propped open, but I didn’t see why that would stop a magic bell with the magic equivalent of a laser-trip. That’s also why the bell sounds the same every time, and interrupts itself when two people leave in quick succession (well, that and technical limitations).
In the original recording when I did Draco’s voice I put on a sneer to (hopefully) make him sound more like an arrogant prat. This creates a lot of problems whenever you say a word with a strong “fi” sound in it (like “fish”). It comes out kinda whistley and wet (try it). To combat this I eventually morphed into simply pulling my upper lip back tightly, baring my upper teeth in a sort of aggressive grin. I slow down my speech to indicate a calm mastery of the local peasants. All this together makes for a feeling of absolutely predatory ownership. I can’t get into this pose without a feeling of sweet evil joy underlying every sentence. As such, Draco has become one of my favorite characters to voice. :)
Having used a sound effect in the initial chapter, I was much less hesitant to employ them now. I actually recorded the male laugh myself, and when I submitted it to FreeSound it was originally rejected as suspected of being pulled from a copyrighted work! I guess that’s flattering, but it’s not really that difficult to laugh into a microphone! Who did they think I sounded like?
This episode marked the first use of Harry’s internal voice. Again, in text it’s easily apparent when this happens via italics. In audio I was stumped as to what to do. The echo was disliked, and there isn’t really a good sound effect for “I’m thinking this to myself”. Eventually I came up with putting my mouth right up to the microphone and talking in a much softer tone. I dunno if it’s a “thinking” sound, but it’s certainly different, and that’s enough of a cue. With this rerecording project I can bring this technique to bear in the early episodes.
When I first read this I was defensive about my D&D habits (who hasn’t been mocked for that at some point?) so when Harry says he didn’t play the game I assumed he was being a pompous ass. It wasn’t until much later that I realize that he never played the game because he doesn’t have any friends. After all, the game would be right up his alley, and he does read & enjoy the rulebooks! So when I rerecorded this I tried to make that line sound kinda sad.
Harry receives a letter from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and sends a reply.