Making tracks for the Murder in the Manor

Rhys Lamberth recording a story for the Murder in the Manor project.
Rhys Lamberth recording a story for the Murder in the Manor project.

A couple of weeks ago, our young Little Green Pig writers made audio recordings of their stories for the Murder in the Manor website. Unlike the previous two workshops, which took place at Preston Manor, we used the studio at Pier Productions, just along the road from Brighton Museum.

None of the writers had been to a recording studio before, but they did a great job. Voice recording is harder than you might think: being alone in an unfamiliar room, speaking into a large microphone hovering in front of your face, carefully reading words you have only finished editing a few minutes before — that all takes a lot of nerve and concentration, but our writers pulled it off brilliantly. They were also helped by the sound engineer, Simon James, who did a great job of keeping our writers relaxed, and coping with our slightly unusual methods.

The recordings will be used to tell the story of the murder mystery, alongside text. We’re using audio for several reasons: it provides greater accessibility for visually impaired users, and since the site is being designed with smartphones and tablets in mind, it will provide a richer experience for those using headphones. But one of the more surprising reasons, perhaps, is that it will remind the users that this is a piece of collective creative writing, not a drama. Our writers have written their stories in the voices of characters much older than them, and often of a different gender. Rather than getting actors to interpret their words, we want to ensure that the writers’ works are at the surface of the experience.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the writers on this project are all very talented, and I’m impressed by the quality of their work. I’m reminded of this now, because in my broad role in producing the project I have only been able to sit in on the writing sessions for short periods; after a few  minutes I have usually been called upon to supervise something else in the manor, such as filming, photography, or chasing after lunchtime sandwiches. Having now had a chance to appreciate the stories more fully, I’m struck by how sophisticated some of the narratives are, with a remarkable degree of emotional complexity.

Our writers have now completed their work on the project. The photography, recordings and text are all being put together in the website, with the plan to launch  soon after Easter. In the run up to launch, we’ll have another couple of updates on the blog, and even a short film or two.

Kevin Bacon, Digital Development Officer

Update 29/04/13: Murder in the Manor is now live:

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