Sunday, January 03, 2010

McLevy the Edinburgh Detective

Happy New Year! It's been a busy one for me. Isn't it always? I haven't been encoding many books to audio lately and haven't had much to post about, but do have some items of interest that I've been listening to and will pass on to you.

First off, there's my love hate relationship with Wormwood, and excellent supernatural detective mystery. The acting is mostly good, the stories are sharp and exciting and the incidental music and sounds effects are great. My only complaint is that it is mixed very poorly. In situations such as driving in a car or surrounded by other ambient noise, you may find you have to fiddle with the volume knob of your radio or mp3 player to alternately listen to quiet dialog and back off on sudden crashing loud jabs of sound. Quite unpleasant aurally, but the stories are good enough to keep me going, annoyed as I am. Doctor Xander Crowe was a formidable psychologist until a terrible tragedy sent him spiraling down the dark pathways of the occult. Now, a strange vision leads Doctor Crowe to the hidden town of Wormwood, where shadows lurk in every corner and evil stains the souls of the inhabitants. Welcome to Wormwood.

Also, the latest seasons of Black Jack Justice and Red Panda have started, which are a joy all the way around. Red Panda is a fun detective pulp with sprinkles of scifi/fantasy and comic book hero action. Black Jack Justice is a hard-boiled detective comedy. Both are great fun but written and played in very different styles.

And then there is also McLevy, an audio drama from the BBC which airs weekly on their iplayer. I find this to be a very fascinating series and have put together a mini webpage about him. In short, James McLevy was a real detective in 1800's Edinburgh. He wrote several memoirs about his exploits which were very popular. There's some speculation that aside from the obvious homages to his teacher, Doctor Joseph Bell, that Arthur Conan Doyle may have gleaned some bits of inspiration for Sherlock Holmes from McLevy's memoirs.

I was fascinated by stumbling across the exsistance of McLevy but have not found an ultimate website or font of information about him, which is why I put this together. Please visit McLevy The Edinburgh Detective to find out more.


David Accampo said...

Thanks for the mention of Wormwood. We realize the mixing has had its share of problems -- we have done it all ourselves, learning as we go. I'd like to believe that as the series has progressed, we have gotten better.

I'd be curious to know how far you've gotten into the series? I think it smooths out a bit in the second season...

shonokin said...

Hi David, thanks for dropping by. Sadly I finally had to temporarily stop listening at episode 17 of the second season. The first several episodes of the second season were well mixed, but things started going awry again around episode 11 or so, and got worse until 17, which almost caused me to wreck my car while trying to dive for the volume knob. No joke.

I have run that particular episode through a free program called "The Levelator" which brings up very quiet areas of audio and brings down very loud areas, so that it is all more cohesive.

It seemed to help quite a bit and I didn't really notice it breaking down incidental music and effects. But I was primarily focusing on the real trouble areas such as when your actors are holding a normal conversation and Arthur breaks in with a screaming fit.

I know criticism of a problem you already know about can be annoying, especially when you are trying to rectify the issues at hand, but please keep in mind that I do love the show. The writing, subject matter, acting, music... all of it hits the right notes and on all cylinders.

I hope this further explanation helps.

David Accampo said...

That's a GREAT deal of help, shonokin -- and I really do appreciate the constructive feedback.

We do struggle with a couple of problems, and one is that as awesome as Arthur Russell is, he does tend to go up and down quite a bit. But we love it so much, we try to compensate. In more recent (s3) episodes, I've been focusing on reducing his volume during the edit, but sometimes I guess we slip (it's only me and Jeremy editing, and sometimes we struggle with this). Sorry to hear it's still a pain. I'll definitely look into the levelator. It seems as though that might be something we can run all the episodes through, improving some of the mixing quality without going back and doing a true re-mixing of the series (which would be a bear).

Thanks again for the feedback, and I'm glad you stuck with the show as long as you did! Hopefully, we can rectify some of these problems, and keep you on as a listener!

-- Dave

shonokin said...

I haven't played with The Levalator beyond the one episode I tried it on. So please proceed with caution if you decide to use it.

And you've certainly not lost me as a listener! No worries about that.

BTW, have you heard of Manly Wade Wellman? He wrote a few stories with/about the Hand of Glory. That is where I first heard of the Hand.

Unknown said...

website under construction here which will allow me to share my research into this fascinating man. I have been searching archives intermittently for the last three years. The main website was taking up too much of my time grappling with technology with very poor results.