Back in the 30s and 40s, everyone gathered around their radios to hear the latest adventures of The Shadow, Dick Tracy, Johnny Dollar, and more. These days, you can listen whenever and where ever you want, thanks to iTunes having such a plethora of them.
And more are to come, thanks to Kc Wayland’s interterm Audio Drama Production class!
When we last left Wayland, he had recently left his Dodge College position to work on a big budget show, Bronzeville, from Laurence Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions and Larenz Tate’s TateMen Entertaiment. But now, Kc is back, and teaching his craft to students who are interested in the genre.
“Right now, there’s a budding new industry starting to be reborn with the advent of podcast distribution for Audio Dramas,” said Wayland. “By teaching students some of the techniques in producing audio-only content, it can only strengthen their skillset when dealing with the aural-side of storytelling.”
He is definitely on the right track, because his students are learning how to tell stories in a whole new way.
“Directing just voices is very different to directing someone on the screen,” said Mike Pinkerton (BA/Screenwriting ’18). “When you have the visual, an actor can use their entire body language to help convey an emotion. With voice acting, they really need to get that all across with just the sound of their voice, and it’s amazing that they can.”
Audio Drama is a very wide subject to be covering during the short interterm, but Kc has managed to pack in almost every single aspect of it to help his students learn the art. In just four short weeks, they have covered storytelling through audio, playing with aural perspective, forcing visualization through dialogue and sound, foley, production logistics and scheduling, sound editing, auditions, and direction. It may sound like an information overload, but the students have loved it! Throughout the course, they have been working together to create their own short audio dramas for their final project.
“My focus is on sound design, so this class has really helped me with stuff with my major,” said Roman Richard (BFA/Film Production ’19). “I have never done pure audio before, so it has helped me re-think how to approach some things.”
The day I visited the class, Kc was showing them how to make footsteps on the foley stage. He showed them how a simple sprinkling of dirt can change the entire dynamic of the sound, and helped them to get the exact one they were looking for. Too much dirt on the tile, and it sounded like they were outside. Not enough was too hollow. But just the right amount, and it was perfect for the abandoned hospital wing setting they were going for.
While not all of them may plan to make their own audio dramas after the class, the new sound techniques they have learned will definitely aid them in their filmmaking careers.
“It is amazing how much of what I have learned about manipulating audio can be applied to animation,” said Erin Fleming (BFA/Digital Arts ’17).
Kc’s experience in the genre has been invaluable to the class, though, and helps give them a unique perspective on things.
“I want students to have a new perception of sound and how it can be used to tell a story,” said Wayland. “Too often the focus on the screen tends to detract from the other elements, and aural elements are usually the last on the list. By bringing them to the forefront, I hope to hear storytelling take advantage of all sound has to offer.”
Of course, he also has hopes that some of them will continue in the audio drama forum, and take it to the next level.
“I hope it spurs new content creators to start pioneering in the medium.”