Creating dramatized audiobooks for children

When we first started creating Rockford’s Rock Opera and the story which has now become the dramatized children’s audiobook Lost on Infinity it was around 2004.

At that time computer sequencing and computer-based recording was pretty well established but, I have to admit, when the computer arrived with a copy of Apple Logic on board it all seemed pretty unintelligible to me.

Anyway, over the next few years, while recording Lost on Infinity, I learned how to use Logic, creating sound effects and editing, not only the songs but also all of the individual chapters, dialogue and dramatic parts that made up the two and half hour dramatized audiobook story. It got me thinking how almost impossible it would have been in the past for an individual such as myself to have created such an expansive work.

The Point and War of the Worlds

Of course, there had been musical audiobooks and dramatized audiobooks in the past. I was brought up on

and of course, Jeff Wayne’s seminal work, the Musical Story of War of the Worlds, but these were rare creations… and I can understand why.

In the past, it would have taken hours and hours of expensive studio time, session musicians, actors, Foley sound effects artists, not to mention studio engineers and producers, to create such a ‘major’ work and very few people, except perhaps Jeff Wayne and Harry Nilsson, would have the time and the money to do it. It was only with the advent of computer recording, and indeed the web, that meant creations such as Rockford’s Rock Opera’s Lost on Infinity, The King of Nowhere, The Spoooo who Grew, and now, The End of Infinity, could be made possible.

Sound Effects for Dramatized Audiobooks for Children

Another change that has happened more recently and which certainly made the recording of The End of Infinity children’s audiobook musical possible is the availability of fantastic banks of sound effects and musical effects that can be incorporated into the story. For this, in my case, I have to thank Pond 5 from where I have obtained large numbers of sound effects for everything from farts and explosions to cave sounds, animal noises and a lot more. It’s not as if these couldn’t have been sourced previously – I remember in the past sourcing many sound effects from BBC sound effects records and CDs – but nowadays everything is so much easier as whole collections of excellent sound effects are available online at the touch of a button.

Obviously, it’s also nice to be providing income for other sound creators such as myself. Other points worth mentioning in terms of the creation of our musical audiobook is all the musicians and singers who have been involved, some of whom I’ve never actually met but who do their fantastic work and add so much to the story.

The drummer on many of our audio stories in Rockford’s Rock Opera is a wonderful and very, very talented musician called Paul Robinson or ‘’ who actually also hits things for legendary producer, Trevor Horn. SO that can’t be bad?

It’s wonderful having access to such amazing talent – musicians like Paul bring so much to the project, quite apart from their musicality, it’s lovely to be able to share in the creation process with other people. Of course, Paul and other musicians involved are only involved in certain parts of the production, there are obviously other individuals who are far more deeply involved. Obviously the creators themselves such as Steve Punt,  my wife Elaine, and my Producer and Co-conspirator in terms of the engineering of all the music, Martin Dewar, otherwise known as Ed Solo.

Audiobooks in Lockdown

But since a large part of our most recent children’s ecological audiobook musical has been created during lockdown, many of these people have only ever been at the end of computers.

It’s a wonderful example of how technology has actually made a huge difference – not only the technology behind the recording software like Logic but also the technology that allows file exchanges, Zoom calls, Teams calls, and all the rest.

Although many of us have become fed up with video calls over the last year it certainly kept us going in terms of the creation of Rockford’s Rock Opera and all our audio stories.

If anyone would like advice or to talk about how our audiobooks were created I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions by email – not that in anyway I consider myself an expert at all the individual skills involved I think I’ve got a pretty unique overview of all the different elements that have taken place in terms of the creation of this unique series of audio adventures. Simply drop me a line at matthew at sweetapple dot co dot… uk!