Sometimes, modern technology puts a brand-new spin on a beloved classic, even in the digital age. That definitely holds true for the radio dramas that were extremely popular in the 1930’s and 40’s. During a Halloween edition of Mercury Theater, for instance, Orson Welles even had people believing that Martians actually were invading Earth.
Like Welles, Larry Fessenden and Glenn McQuaid, the men behind Glass Eye Pix, use theater of the mind to terrorize their listeners. Fessenden and McQuaid have returned with the second season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” a series of audio dramas that pay homage to the Golden Age of Radio.
In the two years since the original “Pale” went on the market, Apple’s iPod and iPad grabbed an even larger share of the technology market. Glass Eye Pix now has made it possible to listen to these tales on portable devices like these. It is quite easy to get lost in a purely audio world that’s fueled only by the listener’s imagination.
“On one hand, we are making radio in a digital age. I think a lot of people like Glenn and myself enjoy listening to books on tape. It actually seems very contemporary to have your head in an earbud enjoying audio programs,” Fessenden said during a recent conference bridge.
Getting lost in your earbuds definitely is possible with stories like “Ram King,” a food-oriented story from Joe Maggio. When listening to this cheesy (pun intended) audio adventure, the sound effects paint a vivid picture of an old-style marketplace. Foley, the art of reproducing everyday sounds in the studio, definitely comes into play here.
“We were really firm believers in using Foley and tapping into that tradition that harks way back to ‘War of the Worlds,'” McQuaid said, explaining how they created such realistic audio worlds. “We do mix our sound sources, but certainly we are very passionate about using props–like an old cabbage being stabbed with a knife to substitute for flesh.”
McQuaid also said it was exciting-and nerve wracking-to produce these tales in front of a live audience: “Having to bring all that live Foley work and having to choreograph it with whatever pre-recorded sound designs we had made was certainly a new frontier for us. We were absolutely determined to have real sounds in there-real Foley-as opposed to just being an electronic composer or composition”
Fessenden added that they used all the modern technologies to capture and celebrate sound in all of its glory. “We are all filmmakers in our daily lives, but to just strip away the picture to see what we can do with sound becomes its own challenge, its own world. That’s the fun part,” he said.
The second season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale” is now available for download on their website .