Buzzy Multimedia team was generous enough to send a couple of
photographs of James at the studio with the following comment:
"The recording went very well. James was superb.
His attention to detail, his skill as an actor, and his always
professional attitude came together to bring about an even higher
than usual energy, making this the best recording ever."
New - Summer Knight Outtakes
With the release of Summer Knight
just around the corner, Buzzy Multimedia has provided a few amusing
outtakes from James' recording sessions.
»Blooper 2 **
**Brief expletive may offend some listeners
Interview with June Williams, Vice
President of Buzzy Multimedia regarding James' involvement in the
Dresden recordings. Enjoy.
JM.com: Please describe how the Dresden narration project came
about. Whose idea was it to approach James and why did you feel he
was the one for the job? How did you sell him or his manager on the
JW: We had been looking around for a book series that
would lend itself to the medium of audio; a first person narrative,
something with an immediate hook into the character, a good deal of
action, and language that painted pictures that would grab a
listener - something that would make you want to keep coming back.
The first Dresden Files book that I read was Fool Moon,
second in the series. I knew within the first paragraph that this
was the kind of a visual that a gifted narrator could sink his teeth
into. I tracked down the first book, Storm Front, gave both
to my partner, and by the next day we both had decided this was a
series that we really wanted to record.
Marsters? I wasn’t a huge Buffy fan but
a friend had recommended I take a look at it because a “new” actor
had joined the cast and something special was happening. He was
right. James Marsters was that something special. I was curious
about his back ground and found that he had an enormous body of work
in the theatre which meant to us that he would likely have the sheer
stamina to do an unabridged novel. He also had a fabulous voice and
appeared to be both gifted and disciplined. As to selling the idea
to his manager, I think Steve Himber understood how brilliant James
was and while this was a very small project, it did give an
opportunity for people who only knew him as an English-accented
vampire to hear some of his range.
JM.com: Knowing James' energy, how do you get him to sit for
so long? How many Red Bulls does he go through during the course of
a session? :-)
discipline and focus are a match for his energy. Basically, he
channels all that energy into the work with a singularly diamond
edged focus. Red Bull ? Nope. Lots of water.
JM.com: Does James remember the way he portrays each character from
book to book, or does he have to backtrack in order to jog his
the most part, he remembers how he portrayed the characters from the
earlier work but there are so MANY characters that we did have a few
tracks available to refresh his recollection. After hearing just a
few words he would catch the nuances and be off and running.
JM.com: Have James' readings changed and evolved over the
course of the four books?
When he came in for Storm Front it was his first audio book
and he was just finishing wrapping a season of Buffy. He seems to
be more comfortable with the process now. His readings have become
more fluid over time. He always cared about hitting the right
emotional mark for each passage but now it seems nearly effortless.
JM.com: Do you give him a list of hard-to-pronounce words
(like Chaunzaggoroth or Amoracchius) to help him in his
pronunciation, or do you just let him wing it?
Yes, WE have a list ready just in case and sometimes he uses it. :-)
He gets it - and it is amazing that after he says it that first time
it’s like he’s been saying it all of his life.
does James actually go about his reading? Does he have a "process?
For example, does he do a quick read through first, or does he do it
"cold?" In the photo, I notice he's not wearing headphones. Does
he listen to playback before continuing to the next section?
best answers on this should come from James but I’ll do the best I
can based on observation. I can’t possibly say what he does to
internally prepare but you can tell when he is in the zone. He is
able to get into the work with amazing speed. Headphones are
optional. It can help a narrator keep track of the sound of their
own voice while recording but James has little need or no need of it
at this point of time. Anytime he wants a playback he’ll get it,
but over time he has needed and asked for it less and less. Now it’s
pretty rare except for scenes with large crowds of characters
James does different voices, does he change his facial expression or
posture to match the character?
A big yes to that one - both face and posture. He acts with his
entire body, but being in a tiny booth and restricted to a chair,
there are some constraints.
are your favorite moments of James' work? His voices? Emotional
moments? Capturing the humor?
the above and add to that the action sequences. He seems to live
them and feels the blows that Harry experiences.
talk about the Summer Knight session? What are your
impressions of how it went?
is one of the most character-laden of the Dresden Files books.
James is brilliant but he is only one human being, or is he? His
ability to create voices on the spot and give each character a
different delivery never ceases to amaze me. The recording sessions
went very, very well.
Everyone seems interested in the actual mechanics of how a recording
takes place. Can you describe the actual process of how it comes
about from the time you step into the LA studio until it's available
studio itself has a few desks, comfortable chairs, and lots and lots
of recording, mixing, and editing equipment - enough dials to
impress the pilot of a Boeing 777. The studio we work with does a
lot of movie work, mostly finishing touches as well as commercials,
MTV videos and of course, audio books.
studio is a very small. baffled booth with a chair, headphones,
microphone, and tripod for papers. The walls and door are thick and
soundproof. As the door closes you can hear a thwumping sound and
then the narrator is sealed in. The mike is sensitive enough to pick
up a rumble in a stomach or the sound of shifting in a chair. Sound
checks are done and a small warm-up of a few lines or a paragraph
with a feedback so that James can be certain of how it is sounding
before things begin in earnest. After that there are three sets of
ears listening to the narrator. Two to make sure that the text is
being read correctly and one to check the sound levels, the dats,
(digital audio tapes) and ambient noise. If something is
questionable one can signal the narrator by hitting the red button
and asking him to go over the word or sentence. Occasionally a
narrator will change the words but not the meaning of a sentence if
it simply sounds wrong when read aloud.
First there is
editing. This involves the very delicate balancing act of taking out
some sounds that might distract a listener but leaving in
enough to allow for a feel of intimacy and immediacy, as well as the
removal of mistakes made by either the narrator, sound engineer or
yes, even us. As the book is being edited chapters are forwarded to
Buzzy where we listen to see if there is anything the editor has
missed. This flies back and forth for quite some time. Then comes
the choice of packaging, design, and manufacture. This involves both
commercial artists and, last but not least, the factory.
What does Jim Butcher say about James' interpretations of his
novels? Do they discuss how things should be
read/interpreted beforehand, or does Jim allow James free reign
Jim loves what
James has done. You don’t have to take my word for it. Here is a
link to an interview with Jim Butcher taken at DragonCon this year.
They have spoken
to each other once or twice but nothing beforehand to my knowledge.
Jim have a say in when the reading is final? For example, if Jim
hears a section and really thinks it's "off" does James go back and
Nope. Jim trusts our judgment and I hope we have not disappointed
mentioned how James was actually the one responsible for bringing
the books to the attention of Morgan Gendel (an executive producer
of the upcoming Dresden Files TV series) when they had worked
together on the 2003 Spiderman animated series. Can you tell us a
bit more about that story?
understanding James was working on the Spiderman animated series and
somehow the conversation must have turned to the other voice work he
had just finished and Morgan was intrigued enough to seek out the
books, and then seeing the potential, optioned Dresden for
television or film.
plans can't be firmly made, but is it your goal to have James read
the entire series of 20 books, his schedule permitting?
that is the thing. We don’t know if he will be available or willing,
but if he is…well, for us he is the voice of Harry. At least the
Harry Dresden of the books.
the new Dresden series coming out on Sci-Fi and an entirely new
actor bringing his own interpretations to the Harry Dresden
character, do you foresee any problems ahead as the television
character becomes more well known? Do you see that impacting the
work that James does?
don’t see that as having anything but a positive impact. People who
see the TV series will hopefully go on to read and listen to the
books. The TV series should be terrific but there is more
opportunity for depth in a novel and the Harry of the novels is, to
my way of thinking, James’ Harry.
JM.com: What are the most commonly asked questions you get
about James and his recordings?
when will the next book be ready? No joke. Then things like how is
he to work with, how long does it take to record.
can these audio books be purchased? What about preorders?
Are they available for MP3 players and Ipods? Itunes?
They can be
and by special order at your local bookstore. The CD-MP3 editions
are available through Amazon. Pre-orders won’t be taken till we have
a more solid release date.
have them available in CD-MP3 editions. MP3 audio books on compact
disc can be played on CD players that support MP3 technology and on
any personal computer that has Microsoft's Media Player or similar
software. I’ve been told they transfer to Ipods. They are not
available on Itunes. We are planning on posting the first 3 chapters
on the net for FREE download. After you’ve heard the first three,
will there be anyone that won’t want the rest ???
JM.com: Do you have an approximate
date of release?
uncertain but we are shooting for January.
Sincere thanks to June for taking the time to talk to us.