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The 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 1   »Blooper 2 **   »Blooper 3   »Blooper 4

**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 idea?

  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.

Why James 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.   Click to enlarge

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?  :-) 

JW: His 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 memory?  

JW: For 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? 

JW:  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?

JW:  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.

JM.com: How 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? 

JW:  The 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 interacting.

JM.com:  When James does different voices, does he change his facial expression or posture to match the character? 

JW:   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.

JM.com:  What are your favorite moments of James' work?  His voices?  Emotional moments?  Capturing the humor?

JW:  All of the above and add to that the action sequences. He seems to live them and feels the blows that Harry experiences.

JM.com:  Can you talk about the Summer Knight session?  What are your impressions of how it went?

JW:  Summer Knight 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.

JM.com:  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 for purchase?   

JW:  The 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.

Within the 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.

Click to enlargeJM.com:   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 going in?

JW:  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. http://tinyurl.com/yxff9o They have spoken to each other once or twice but nothing beforehand to my knowledge.

JM.com:  Does 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 redo it?   

JW:  Nope. Jim trusts our judgment and I hope we have not disappointed him.

JM.com:  Jim has 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?

JW:  To my 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.

JM.com:  I know plans can't be firmly made, but is it your goal to have James read the entire series of 20 books, his schedule permitting?

JW:  Ahh, but 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.

JM.com:  With 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?

JW:  I 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?

JW:  Mostly 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.

JM.com:  Where can these audio books be purchased?  What about preorders?  Are they available for MP3 players and Ipods? Itunes?

JW:  They can be purchased at www.buzzymultimedia.com 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.  We 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?

JW:  It's still uncertain but we are shooting for January.

Sincere thanks to June for taking the time to talk to us. 

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