We thought it would be interesting to give you an insight into how 4amcab gets made, so this is the second part of a three part blog post doing just that. Lee shares his process for recording.
Part 2: Recording
Once the script is finished, usually a day before the recording, it’s emailed out to the actors. The 4amcab Company will all have been
roped into booked for the recording date and be chomping at the bit to get to the biscuits with the most amount of chocolate on them. We’ve recorded the show in a plethora of locations, including my shed, my car, my garage and a few local venues that have been kind enough to lend their facilities. We currently use a basement room in the Alban Arena, which sounds surprisingly acoustically good.
I arrive slightly early, something for which I’m not known and set up the mobile studio. There’s a mixing desk, one microphone which has switchable polar patterns (that just means that it’s suitable for any number of actors recording at the same time – it has nothing to do with Derek!) and a small solid state recorder where all the voices of the actors are transfered into 1’s and 0’s.
Gradually the actors arrive ready for their moment to shine. I’ve got an unusual directing style in that I don’t immediatley give any, or at least it’s minimal. The thinking behind this is that the actors all give their time freely and I want them to give the best performance that they can and play to their own strengths. Most of the time they are very good and just require only a little nudge or explanation of the sketch to find the humour. In fact, I’m constantly impressed with how flippin’ brilliant they all are and we tend to only do two takes and the occassional pick up to give a variation on the punch line.
Due to the last minuteness of the script, the actors sometimes won’t have had the chance to read the whole thing through before we start. With that in mind, and as the episode is broken up with other sketches along the way, we always start recording the story first. This ensures continuity of the characters and for the flow of the story to make sense. From here on in, it’s just ploughing through the episode’s other sketches and getting the best takes possible. As we have our own company of actors and we write with them in mind, they are cast into their roles before they arrive. It is very rare to have to make changes, however, it’s at this point that I know if a sketch doesn’t quite work and I can try a different actor or even a frantic last minute rewrite. So far we’ve only ever cut two sketches and that is testament to the quality of the writing, awesome acting and flow of the episodes to date.
Once we’ve wrapped the recording, assuming I don’t drop the recorder on the floor without saving and have to record the whole thing again (this actually happed for Series 2 Episode 2!) we all toddle off in our various directions to relax and return to normal life.
If I’m lucky there’ll be a chocolate biscuit left!
Oh yeah, then there’s the small matter of the edit.