Posted by: Paul | March 8, 2011

Never work with animals, or children from Gravesend

Had a fun morning yesterday. In the course of working on this brace of projects for Gravesham Council, I was drafted in to record a group of kids from a local primary school taking a tour of the town’s fort, undergoing restoration work and to re-open to the public at the end of May with a shiny new audio tour.

We started at the school itself so the kids could get used to us (I was there with the writer, plus a representative from the local tourist board who had organised the day), and to explain what it was all about. Typically, fascinated by technology, the kids gawped at my modest location kit, but instinctively knew what to do when prompted to speak, i.e. get closer to the mic.

They were a diverse bunch of seven kids, aged about 10. Gravesend seems to have experienced a lot of immigration and ethnic groups other than white British were represented – there were a few Asian kids and one of seemingly Eastern European extraction with a very unusual name which I unfortunately can’t repeat. The school itself is apparently on ‘Special Measures’ – the problem being that kids sometimes appear for a week, and are then never seen again. Attendance is patchy, and so it was interesting to note that all around the corridors were notices in many difference languages and scripts saying ‘Remember to come to school every day!’ Clearly, for some poor kids the onus is on them to remember…

Anyway, they were a bright lot and we made them work for their fee (a bookmark). In addition to providing the semi-scripted responses we needed to things like the little interactive quizzes which punctuate the tour, we had them doing some acting – rifle drills, marching, shouting and cheering, and a disturbingly authentic brawl!

They were very well behaved on the whole – listened when necessary and did exactly as they were told. The great thing about recording kids is you can ask them to do the same thing over and over again and they never question you – I’ve worked with plenty of voiceovers who get slightly chippy after take three, regardless of directions given! There was one particular comedian though, who thought it was funny to whistle down the microphone:

Kid: “Does that hurt your ears?”
Me: (Best stony glare) “It would have if I’d been wearing my headphones, yes.”

This morning I’m wading through the material to select the bits we need to use, polish it up, and construct the various ‘scenes’ where I can. Nice to boot up ProTools again for the first time in a few weeks!


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