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I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with a good rec list. I really wanted to find something that foregrounds the voice acting and sound mixing, and if I followed my instincts I’d try to be as comprehensive as possible...and then I’d default :) Instead, I’ll just talk a little bit about some of the ways I’ve seen podficcers play with sound--and more. And I will look at some podfics I really liked.

I feel like we’re slowly starting to realize what we can actually do with our podfic, experimenting and playing around with the merging of voice, music, and even visuals. In a way, then, this rec post comes straight out of my meta post, Podfic as transformative works--Let me count the ways, and some of the recs are replicated from there.

If I were to list the four main ways in which we move beyond “merely” (and anyone who’s podficced knows that these scare quotes must be taken seriously!) reading, I’d think of VOICES, SOUND EFFECTS, MUSIC, and VISUALS as important ways to expand beyond the text. Below, I mention podfics that have been generally recced all over the place and pick a few more that are more recent and/or personal favorites.
TWO CAVEATS: (1) Given that I’m listening to a lot of bandom (and that bandom is an immensely prolific as well as experimental podfic fandom), there’ll be lots of it. (2) Pulling short excerpts out from podfic is a lot of work, especially since I usually only have the m4b’s. As a result, I use my own examples a bit more than I otherwise would, simply because I have easy access to the wav files and usually can remember where I did certain sound effects.


Voices are pretty much anything we do that sets us apart from a computer-generated book reader. One of the biggest frustrations for podficcers, I think, is the way some authors (and other text-based fans) regard podficcers not as transformative collaborators in their own rights, but merely as a tool for easier/better/different access. But listening to professional recordings, such as Stephen Fry’s Harry Potter or Tina Fey’s Bossypants compared to the Kindle audio reader, for example, it becomes obvious that these readings add, alter, and interpret in important ways. And while podficcers are rarely professional voice actors, nevertheless the same supplemental and interpretive qualities hold true.

Now, I know I can handle two voices, usually by pitching one lower, which works when you have a story with two main characters, but often there are more, and the task of distinguishing these voices becomes more difficult. One of my favorite readers who consistently creates multiple distinguishable voices is Argentumlupine. All her bandom stories have great voices, but I’ll rec one of the shorter ones here, because I adore this AU and have it on constant repeat. This is a story of two guys working in NYC and meeting on the transit train. It captures the weird familiarity of strangers on a train, the slow falling in like; and the reading captures me every time.

On the Midtown Direct [MCR; Reader: Argentumlupine; Author: Mistresscurvy; 1:53:26]

A successful way to achieve different voices is to collaborate. The two most often cited and recced projects that used this are probably Written By the Victors [SGA; Author: Speranza; 5:27:41] and And Be One Traveler [SGA; Author: Trinityofone&Amireal; 7:46:52], using 36 and 32 voices respectively. While few projects are that ambitious, I feel like I’m seeing more and more collaborations. Sometimes the podfic uses different readers to separate different points of view, other times the readers signal past and present or other shifts in the story. I organized a project with seven different readers recently: The Winter of Banked Fires [X-Men; Readers: Cath, Crinklysolution, Helens78, Heyiya, Luzula, Reena_Jenkins, and Rhea314; Author: Yahtzee; 7:50:45]. And while it is a lot of work, it’s great to have different voices, styles, and accents, all offering differing interpretations of these characters.

A lovely recent example for multiple voices is the following podfic, recorded at a live reading during PacifiCon. Every reader voices a different character, and it feels more like an audioplay. Or rather, it feels like we are with everyone in the room having a blast with the story. In this short excerpt we hear four different characters and the narrator (Anna_unfolding, Penny, ohnoktcsk, klb,Templemarker):

I will Destroy Ryan Ross and all that he Loves [Panic/TAI; Reader: Various; Author: Jae_w; 41:13]

One of the more interesting aspects of bandom has been the creation of the so-called not!fic. It’s not like other fandoms didn’t story talk or share unfinished story ideas, but these not!fics can indeed be fully formed, long stories, where the style is a bit more like story telling than novelized prose. Indeed, not!fics are kind of the perfect source for podfics, because they mimic the storytelling mode, except that not!fics also (ab)use emoticons prolifically. And that can be difficult to narrate, instead requiring a vast array of sounds and voice acting to express these emotions. My rec here is the first story I heard that managed to brilliantly translate a not!fic into a successful podfic:

This Never Happened [MCR; Reader: klb; Author: Bexless; 3:13:33].
Somewhere in the middle of Frank’s Pity Parade, Mikey calls. He’s like, dude, Gee said you ran out all in hurry, what’s up? And Frank’s like sniff sniff WE’RE MOVING and Mikey’s like ………………………………………. but you can’t :| ILU :| and Frank’s like I KNOW but we ARE, what can I do ;___; and after they hang up Mikey goes and tells Gerard, and Gerard’s like but he can’t! And Mikey’s like I know! But he has to! And they sit around on the couch in the living room moping.
Their Mom comes in and sees them lying around like
Gerard: :((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((
Mikey: :||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
(Frank, in his bedroom at home: ;__________________________;)
And she’s like WHO DIED and they tell her about Frank, and she’s like ‘oh no!’ and makes them both a glass of iced tea and sits and rubs Mikey’s knee while he tells the floor how much everything sucks. (source)

The excerpt concludes with a musical interlude to separate the sections. Every interlude here is different, because klb collaborated with Bessyboo, who included a variety of additional sound effects. All of them are relevant and match: the one that concludes the excerpt above, for example, is These Days are Dark by Harry and the Potters, adding yet another layer of fannish collaboration and intertextuality.


“This Never Happened” uses various sound and musical effects to create a complexly layered podfic experience. But just like with voices, most of us do use sound effects to some degree. Sometimes we use music or sounds to signal new chapters or sections, to mark IM or phone or texting. Other times we play with the sound effects our software offers (echo, delay, phaser) to mark off other forms of interaction (again, IM, phone, texting, but also letters, for example), as well as thought. One fandom that has all but standardized some form of sound effect is X-Men: Charles’s thoughts are often italicized or marked somehow to distinguish his mental from vocal speech, and podficcers use sound effects to show this as well. Here are four different readers and the way they separate narration from mental communication:

[excerpts are taken in order from XMFC podfics voiced by Helens78 (Helens78, the sexiest organ is the brain); Rhea314 (Helens78, As Ever); Reena Jenkins (Pprfaith, Bright Nights); and myself (Yahtzee, Undone)]

My central rec is also a slightly older story, but it stands out in its multiple use of sound effects and changing background music. This is the extremely meta story of fans Arthur and Merlin (BNF writer and faithful beta), who finally meet at a con and fall (more) in love. The podfic is smart and great fun, and the reading’s pitch perfect and the various effects never distract and always enhance the narration and the general mood of the story:

Pairing Pendragon/Merlin [Merlin; Reader: Lunchee; Author:Anonymous; 2:36:14]


Music tends to entes podfic either diagetically or extradiegetically, i.e., it can be played within the story itself, it can be mentioned in the story yet appear in the fanfic outside of it, or it can be added to the story to produce more meanings/layers.

For the first, I want to use two examples, one where the podfic artist actually sings, another where she can’t sing to save her life, and thus has to do some judicious editing. The first example is from a lovely Due South story by Luzula, in which she voices Bob Fraser singing "Danny Boy," "pitched too high for his voice" as it is described in the story:

Sixteenth of June [Due South; Reader:Luzula; Author: Resonant; 1:14:26]

The second is an example by myself, an MCR story where a pivotal moment describes the quite memorable live introduction to “You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison.” I can’t sing, so I tried to do the panting but edited in the beginning of the song from a live performance:

Forget About the Dirty Looks [My Chemical Romance; Reader: Various; Author: Sassbandit; 1:51:52]

Finding the perfect soundtrack for intro/outro is often hard, but sometimes a specific piece becomes central to a story and thus a necessary musical backdrop. Two stories that stand out to me are FayJay’s It’s Not the Violin [Sherlock; Reader: FayJay; Author: Sam Storyteller; 0:30:10] and Penny’s Any Note You Can Reach [MCR/Panic; Reader: Penny; Author: Reni_Days; 0:31:29]. In the first, the entire story revolves around Sherlock playing Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” on the violin, and FayJay indeed found a strings only version of the song. The second brings Gerard and Brendon together through Panic’s song Lying when MCR covers the song and the two frontmen flirt with one another through their performances. While I usually try to avoid songs from the bands in the stories, no other song could have been used here, given how central it is to the story.

Likewise, some stories use multiple musical insertion that resonate with the story. One of the earliest I can remember is Rave Atlantis [SGA; Reader: Dodificus; Author: Smittywing; 1:47:56], where the songs that are placed throughout the podfic are an all but necessary addition to a story that revolves around meeting at secrets raves in the bowels of Atlantis. A more recent example, which I absolutely adore, is Live and On Stage [J2; Reader: Baylor; Author: Allamboy;  2:13:13], where Jared and Jensen are teen pop starts, and the music in between the section pulled from a variety of pop songs that pull me back into my popslash days.

My central rec in this section is one I rec whenever I get a chance, but it’s just this good, this smooth, this exemplary for what I’m discussing here. Recorded by Penny, with musical assistance of Xenakis, this performance beautifully illustrates how podfic creates both an interpretation and supplement to the story: where Arthur and Eames are singer and accompanist, creating art out of the music they see on the page, Penny and Xenakis collaborate to bring toomuchplor's story to life. In fact, the central piece of the story is Der Erlkönig which is in itself a transformative piece, set by Schubert to lyrics by Goethe (and, in a further transformation, Franz Liszt created an amazing solo piano version) in a way that Inception gives life to toomuchplor's transformative work. Below is the intersection of the story, Penny’s reading, and a performance of "Der Erlkönig" (the excerpt is quite a bit longer than the others, because I couldn't cut the Lied:):

Ach des Knaben Augen [Inception; Reader: Penny; Author: Toomuchplor; 2:36:18]


At this point in podfic history, it’s pretty common to create podbooks for one’s podfics (at least over a certain length) and embed a cover image. I love the well done photo manips and the gorgeous art that often accompany podbooks, being both nice to look at on my ipod and functional when I forget author or reader. Just as the rise of visual capabilities on the World Wide Web suddenly allowed fanfic to experiment and embed multimedia, so has the increasing capability of podbook makers allowed more engagement with visuals. There are two stories that spring to mind for me, both by Lunchee, but I’m looking forward to more podficcers using the visual component.

The Giraffe Notes [TSN RPF; Reader: Lunchee; Writer: Jeyhawk; 2:34:09] is a sweet lovely story of anonymous admirers and email romances. Lunchee creates these characters beautifully and manages to incorporate the various drawings that accompany the story. Each new image begins a new chapter and the listeners can see the image as a cover on their screen. Here are some of the images from the story that Lunchee includes:

-- --

The second podfic I want to rec is a thrilling XMFC AU with an interesting structure; Charles’s Killer [XMFC; Reader: Lunchee; Author: Luchia; 4:40:00]. I had assumed it’d be hard to follow the non-chronological time line, but including the covers definitely helps. All the images match in style and tone, and the clear numbering helps with the internal timeline. The characters are beautifully IC and the non-powers AU translates them beautifully with Lunchee's reading enhancing the complicated relationship between Charles and Erik, letting us understand both:

-- --


Last not least, I want to mention something I stumbled across via a twitter link: YouTube fanfic. I can’t recommend one in particular, both because this really isn’t my community and because I don’t listen to podfic on the computer and thus have no idea why anyone would want to sit and listen to an hour or more but...it’s a fascinating multimedia endeavor, resembling fan videos on some level while creating a sound track via podfic. If you’ve never seen it, here are a couple of examples: Coffee and rain and sarcasm [Sherlock; Reader: Sursumuma; Author: SursumUma; 0:2:42]; Worlds Apart [STR; Reader: MisplacedMama; Author: Team Kalifarr; 0:29:04]; and After the Storm [Sherlock; Reader Obstinatrix; Author: Obstinatrix; 0:03:11].


I’d love to hear some more examples of interesting use of voices, sounds, music, or imagery in new stories and strange fandoms :) I used to dislike music in podfic, but I think I (and we as a community) have come a long way, and the fact that we are trying new things and experimenting with different forms is really exciting!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-16 08:06 am (UTC)
dodificus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dodificus
I think this is something that I've come to appreciate more and more as podfic fandom gets older, the risks people take and the effort they go to in making the listening experience even more interesting or exciting.

Every time I hear the strings version of Alejandro (I bought the song after listening to the podfic), I think of that story and all the emotions it created in me at the time. Music can be really powerful for me.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-16 10:12 am (UTC)
dodificus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dodificus
I never even would have heard of Regina Spektor if not for vids! Half of my itunes can trace its way back to fannish vids and podfic:D

Look, I'm a fan of anything that can immerse me even deeper into the experience, if I'm wide eyed and tense because of the way you've used a song or a sound effect or your voice then that is *awesome*, that's a win.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-16 11:58 am (UTC)
adistantsun: (dinos flail like it's 1999)
From: [personal profile] adistantsun
Quoting directly from my rec post for this rec list, because it really is a fantastic analysis of podfic! Thank you so much for putting it together :D

I love these kinds of critical analyses of fandom forms, how people are experimenting with them and reinterpreting what that particular form is. Because, you know, these are things that we built. Podfic is more than just a subsidiary of the text, as [you've] demonstrate[d] in [this] post, complete with audio samples from the various podfics recced. In this community bubbling with amniotic creativity, we've created a form of our own, whose rules and conventions are fluid, and everyone's contributions and reinventions are equally welcomed. It's quite amazing what we've achieved, when you think about it.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-16 06:02 pm (UTC)
cybel: (Flail)
From: [personal profile] cybel
Gorgeous post! This is just the sort of thing that needs to be included as a rec in any discussion of podficcing as transformative art. It should certainly be a part of the podfic page(s?) on Fanlore.

I'm not really a Bandom fan, yet I've listened to and greatly enjoyed some of those you are reccing here, so I guess you'd say I'm a fan of Bandom podfics. Several podfics in other fandoms mentioned are definitely among my all time favorites as well. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-16 08:30 pm (UTC)
cybel: cybel (AudioFiction)
From: [personal profile] cybel
Thank you!

Undoubtedly the single greatest achievement in my life--unrelated to my nursing career at least--has been my role in bringing the first audiobooks to the podficcing community, promoting the format, and coining the word podbooks. It took a while for them to catch on and for others to start making them as well, but the wait was so worth it with so many people now making them for themselves and others!

I iz quietly proud and oh, so grateful for each and every one I download!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-16 08:08 pm (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
From: [personal profile] luzula
Ooh, meta and recs all rolled into one! \o/

That excerpt with me singing was kind of fun, because what happened was that I overloaded the mike on the high note, thus making Fraser's statement that it would sound painful when Bob went too high come true. Also, I recorded that while I was working up in the mountains, and I didn't actually know the song "Danny Boy", so I had to climb up on a mountaintop to get cellphone coverage and ask my sister to teach it to me. *g*

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-16 08:24 pm (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
From: [personal profile] luzula
Ooops. Should I have lowered the volume, do you think? I mean, I wanted it to be funny-painful, not actually painful.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-16 09:21 pm (UTC)
pennyplainknits: greaser brendon singing (ready to pod)
From: [personal profile] pennyplainknits
Oh wow, this post makes me so proud of us as a community! Look at how awesome all these readers are, how inventive and innovative!

Also I really like the idea of the little snippits- very cool!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-17 02:29 am (UTC)
crinklysolution: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crinklysolution
Wow, what a fantastic, thoughtful, innovative way to do recs! I am in awe. AND, I picked up some stuff I'd likely never have stumbled across otherwise, so thank you kindly for that! Great job with the rec post.
jiele: Inception: Arthur stepping from wall to ceiling during the rotating hallway scene. hall is turned diamondwise. (INC - Defying Gravity)
From: [personal profile] jiele
Bookmarking this forever. Meta plus recs plus EXCERPTS! \o/ it's like a primer but with sound.

"because I couldn't cut the Lied"
Best decision. Only decision. Lol. Ugh what Schubert did with the setting of that poem.................ugh ugh ugh so much love. The piano outlining the tone of each speaker alone would be shudder-inducing, and then Fischer-Dieskau's performance just takes the vocal line into the stratosphere. Ugh. And then my brain explodes. Every. Time. #musicnerd #bestrecordingchoice

It is probably bad that I spent so long rhapsodising about Der Erlkönig. But I suppose that just shows how important music can be? Because in that fic, that particular recording of that particular song is what transports it from "oh that was quite nice" to *twitch twitch* ded. For me, anyway.

Thank you for this lovely post, bb. :)


Date: 2012-07-17 09:55 am (UTC)
lunchee: chi alarmed (what the!!)
From: [personal profile] lunchee
This is such an incredible post!! It's like reading a paper on stuff that I actually want to read a paper about! It also tracks really well atm because I'm listening to 'Written by the Victors' myself and am just modeling your words in an academic journal voice \o/ You've clearly put so much thought into this, and I love how you signposted and presented each section. The clips are really handy, and I applaud your patience at collating them like this.

I agree whole heartedly with what you said about Ach, des Knaben Augen - xenakis did such a brilliant job with the sound design as well as the editing, it was a really powerful and spine-tingling listening experience! I'm definitely going to check out some of the pods you've recced, because I LOVEEEE how podficcers are experimenting with the medium and continually inspiring the rest of us to branch out and try out new things too. I'm not sure if you've listened to [personal profile] revolutionaryjo's 'Thousand Threads of What Might Have Beens' , but she uses incredibly innovative sound editing to integrate not only the music of the fic into the podfic, but uses sound effects in a way to really convey how cramped and intense Sherlock's mind can be sometimes. I stole a few of her ideas and used it in one of my own podfics myself XD (And thank you so much for reccing me! Especially the images aspect! I really didn't think many people would appreciate it, or even notice it, and it makes me so, so happy to know that you do ♥)


Date: 2012-07-31 07:14 am (UTC)
lunchee: B&W Minzy from 2NE1 on a blue and white patterned background (Minzy ooh!)
From: [personal profile] lunchee
listen to klb and my Ryan gosling xmfc podfic, when fics take on a life

THIS SOUNDS AMAZING. Do you perchance, have a link handy? :D You and klb really think all the thinky thoughts, it's really wonderful to be able to listen to you guys meta :)

I don't think I'm following you because I am scatterbrained with stuff like that, but I will remedy that now! I'd love to hear your thoughts about Victors, especially now that I've finished the pod :D :D

Jo does amazing, amazing things with Threads, so I really do hope you enjoy it! When I was beta-listening to the WIP, my jaw would just drop at the simple, ingenious things she did to marry the narration and the sound design. Seriously, I have a whole other level of enjoyment while listening to it because I enjoy the sound design so much. (And if you're interested, my pod that was influenced by Threads is Shadows on the Wall, another BBC Sherlock podfic.)

That you noticed the covers changing at all seriously makes me all warm and fuzzy inside ♥ The Giraffe Notes is the absolute cutest, and I was so pleased with myself for being able to find a way to integrate them with the pod (and I had an ungodly amount of fun finding pics for other parts too, like hugecock.jpg XD) Doing so many covers for CK was exhausting, but I'm still glad I ended up going for it. If nothing else, I can look at it and rest assured that I did my best. And I'm so, so happy you liked the colour progression!! ::flails in delight:: I do all the cover placement in Garageband, but from what Cybel tells me, I think you can put a new cover at the start of each part of the audiobook? In any case, I'd love to see how it turns out for you ♥


Date: 2012-08-02 11:11 am (UTC)
lunchee: 2NE1's Park Bom from the 'Can't Nobody' MV (Bom chair)
From: [personal profile] lunchee
Thanks! I just finished listening to it, and it was brilliant to experience a lot of problematic issues about fandom delivered and discussed in a very amusing way. Kudos to everybody involved :) Loved the birds tweeting at the beginning of ever FRG reply, and that soundbyte of RG at the beginning! Nice touch!

It didn't seem like an aftereffect as much as intrinsic to the story!

::preens:: I'm really proud of how it turned out, and that arasigyrn liked it too! I'm not sure why I decided to do it like that, besides the fact that I didn't want to just chuck my go-to telepathy filter on it and call it a day. It was the first time doing that much sound mixing, as well as deliberately changing the text to suit my needs. I don't know if I'll ever meet another fic that will challenge me in the same way again.

the consistent aesthetics with ever slightly changing coloring and themes in CK is brilliant!!!

:D :D :D :D :D

Thank you!! Looking back on them, I would tweak a few of the covers and probably change the font of the numbers, but on the whole I am really pleased with them. Now if only every cover design could be that systematic to create...

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-17 08:34 pm (UTC)
becquinho: (Default)
From: [personal profile] becquinho
This post is so lovely, I just want to curl up around all the meta and roll around with it for awhile <3. I'll never forget the first time I listened to 'Ach des Knaben Augen' and was overcome with awed enchantment the first time music wove its way around and through the reading...enthrallment which lasted for the entirety of the podfic. The skillful use of music editing to transform a reading holds so many charms based on how evocative an atmosphere music creates..and the layers of feelings it can stir.

Forever going to be deeply impressed with the myriad range of creativity podficcers who tackle projects in less conventional fashions bring to the whole experience as well, especially given I often lack the motivation or tech skills to pull off similar feats, but experimentation is ace. So ridiculously pleased more people seem to be playing around and taking risks by incorporating different mediums or collaborating on projects. Anyway rambling but the meta and example recs to outline your thoughts were delicious..mmmm and I love how you structured this post..it's such a thoughtful beautifully written treat \:D/! Thank you for it <3

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-18 07:09 am (UTC)
isweedan: A happy fic reader hugs an ALOT. "I like this fic alot" (I LIKE THIS FIC ALOT.)
From: [personal profile] isweedan
::happy sigh:: That was a lovely read. &podfic; &podficcers;

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-18 12:03 pm (UTC)
greedy_dancer: Close-up of Nick Grimshaw's face (Default)
From: [personal profile] greedy_dancer
Hi mods! If you're aware of this ignore it! :)

I've just tried to look at this year's posts and it seems there are 2 tags for this round:




If it's a typo I thought you'd like to know :)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-11 04:08 pm (UTC)
greedy_dancer: Bruce and Tony are science bros (Avengers - Nerdgasm)
From: [personal profile] greedy_dancer
This link came up on Twitter again today and I just realized I'd never actually commented to say how much I loved the post /o\ Thank you for showcasing how creative our community can be, and for pointing me in the direction of podfics I might not have listened to otherwise!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-19 12:16 am (UTC)
xenakis: (rach3)
From: [personal profile] xenakis

And also, WEEE! Steinway rec! Every time I listen to this bit, I think of all different ways the edit could have gone. I just want to fiddle with everything again and shift segments up or down a few seconds, lengthen a crescendo or two, get Penny to rerecord a few sentences slower/faster... TINKER FOREVER ARGH.

I still love this collab madly, though. It might be the fannish thing I'm most proud of having had a part in creating :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-19 04:25 am (UTC)
regonym: (Default)
From: [personal profile] regonym
This is a wonderfully detailed recs post! I've usually stayed away from including many sound effects or musical interludes in my podfics because I've never been properly sure of how to go about including them - listening to the works you recced might help give me some confidence/ideas for future ones. Thanks for putting this together! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-22 06:32 pm (UTC)
paintedmaypole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] paintedmaypole
Ooo! These all look so interesting, thank you. I'm really curious to see these video podfics, I haven't encountered those before at all. Also intrigued by the illustrations accompanying the Giraffe Notes story. I love the idea of looking down at your device (iphone, mp3 player, whatev) and having the display change as story moves forward.


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