Articles tagged with: audio recording
Posted by Kate on Dec 31, 2011
2011 was Nosy Crow’s first year of publishing. We published our first book in January.
It’s been an incredibly busy and full year, and I find it hard to sort through the events and impressions of the past twelve months to write anything coherent.
But here goes…
The books and apps we published… and signed up
In 2011, we published 23 books for children aged 0 to 14. 8 were board books. 7 were picture books. 8 were fiction titles for children aged 6 to 14. Here they are in reverse publication order finishing, at the time of writing but this will update as publication dates pass, in December 2011.
We published 3 apps: The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella and, just days before Christmas, Bizzy Bear on the Farm.
We signed up a further 38 books and 8 apps for 2012, and already have projects scheduled for publication in 2013 and beyond. You can already find out about some of the forthcoming books (in publication order starting, at the time of writing but this will update as publication dates pass, in January 2012) and about some of the apps.
Selling at home and abroad
Working with Bounce, we had books sold and promoted in a huge range of UK sales outlets from independent booksellers through bookshop chains and online book retailers to supermarkets and toy shops.
We’ve travelled on Nosy Crow business and/or to speak at conferences to the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Holland, Italy, Mexico and Brazil.
We launched partnership deals with Allen and Unwin for book distribution in Australia; with Candlewick Press for illustrated book publishing in the US and Canada; with Carlsen for apps in German and with Gallimard for apps in French.
We sold rights to books in the following languages: French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Hebrew, Chinese, Norwegian, Greek and Korean.
Nosy Crow authors on the road
Nosy Crow authors were at numerous literary festivals, including Hay, Edinburgh, Bath and Cheltenham, and staged countless events in schools, libraries and bookshops.
Nosy Crow on the move
We moved offices from our second office in Lambeth to our third office in Southwark (it’s always cheaper south of the river) as our staff grew from 8 to January 2012’s 19, including part-time people and “attached freelancers”. We’ve lost members of staff too (which is a real rite of passage). Two were only with us on a temporary basis and went on to roles that they had planned before they joined us, but Deb Gaffin has just left us to take on a marketing and partnership strategy role at Mindshapes. We are very grateful to her for helping us shape our first apps and the thinking behind them. Andi Silverman Meyer who has known Deb since they were at school together, and who has been fantastic at getting us US coverage for our apps, is joining Mindshapes too.
Spreading the word
We have reached a lot of people with Nosy Crow news of various kinds.
Nosy Crow as a company or Nosy Crow books or apps have been in the Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, The Gadgetwise Blog of The New York Times, Wired Magazine, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent, The Scotsman, Prima, Junior, Good Housekeeping, Kirkus, School Library Journal, The Melbourne Age, The Australian, The Huffington Post and many great children’s book, parenting, technology and app blogs. We’ve had terrific coverage in trade press and websites including Publisher’s Weekly, The Bookseller, FutureBook, BookBrunch and The Literary Platform. The quickest look at the first few pages of a Google search result for Nosy Crow gives a sense of the range of coverage – and, where it’s third-party coverage, how positive it’s been. We’ve had more than our fair share of TV and radio coverage too, and coverage, through our Gallimard and Carlsen links in Figaro, Marie Claire and Buchreport.
This year, we had over 74,000 unique visitors from 161 countries to the Nosy Crow website and almost half a million page views. Over half of our visitors have returned to the site. The site’s got information on everything from our commitment to paper-sourcing standards to our latest app reviews, and we’ve used the blog section of the site to write about subjects as diverse as library closures, Martin Amis, the thinking behind our apps, chocolate cake, the formation of the child reader, Steve Jobs, Charles Dickens, the role of supermarkets in bookselling and Wilson household New Year traditions.
From around 1,300 Twitter followers for @nosycrow (bit of a guess, this, but based on the numbers we had in September 2010) this time last year, we’ve built our @nosycrow following to over 5,700 and our @nosycrowapps Twitter following grew from 0 to over 1,800. I wrote about Twitter here. We’ve 1,250 Facebook fans.
Our apps were included in so many “best apps” listings in the US, UK, France and Germany that it’s difficult to list them here. They won several awards, including, most recently a KAPi award for best ebook and a FutureBook Award for best children’s app which were both won by our Cinderella app. Our ratings in the iTunes app stores are excellent.
Our KAPi award
We won the Mumpreneur Inspiring Business Mum of the Year award, and have just been named in The Independent as one of the six book people or organisations who wrote glorious chapters in 2011
A measure of success
We invoiced over a million pounds in sales.
What went wrong?
It would be ridiculous to pretend it was a year without disappointments or irritations. The much-investigated drainy smell in the bathrooms at 10a Lant Street continues to baffle. The many cakes we make and eat continue to contain a lot of calories. Camilla had her bag stolen and we had to have all the office locks changed. There are one or two important UK retailers who still haven’t stocked our books. There are several countries to which we’d hoped to sell rights but haven’t yet managed to do so – Japan for example, but there are good reasons for that. We didn’t always (though we did generally) agree what books we wanted to publish and how much we wanted to publish them. We offered for some books that we didn’t manage to buy, a couple of which I still feel sad about. One or two books (and I mean “one or two”: our strike rate has been good) didn’t sell quite as well as we thought they would. We had to cancel a couple of projects because they just weren’t working out the way that we’d planned.
But it’s been a very good year.
Whatever we achieved in this first year, we did it in partnership with our many authors and illustrators, new and established, and with other artistic collaborators, such as composers, audio experts and paper engineers. Without them, we have nothing to publish. We threw a party to say thank you. You can see the pictures at the top of our Facebook page.
Our author party in The Crow’s Nest in Lant Street a few weeks ago
And whatever we’ve achieved in this first year, we did it thanks to the support of publishers abroad; booksellers of many kinds; librarians; reviewers; bloggers; literacy organisations; literary and illustrators agents; printers and print managers; talented freelancers; and, of course, the parents and grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, teachers and librarians who have bought and read our books and apps to, with and for children.
Posted by Kate on May 27, 2011
Today’s a big day for all of us at Nosy Crow: our The Three Little Pigs app app is the Number 1 New and Noteworthy app in the UK App Store. It’s on the homepage! This is a real recognition of the app’s quality and innovation. The Three Little Pigs is Nosy Crow’s first app, and it has already been reviewed amazingly well, as you’ll see from the list of reviews in the Media Mentions section of our Media Kit page.
The Three Little Pigs has
appeared on the home pages of 12 continental European countries already it’s great to see it here in the UK App Store. Not only is the UK a really important market for our apps, but it is also “our” store: the one we buy our apps in ourselves.
The app also tops the “What’s Hot” list in book apps on the UK store:
Huge congratulations are due to Ed, who illustrated and animated the app; Will who did the engineering work; Robin Beanland who composed the music; Ali Muirden from Creative Content who worked with Lance England on the audio; the kids who did the voices, particularly Freya Wilson who provided the narration; and, in a last-but-far-from-least slot, Deb who managed the project and worked on the UK marketing.
We’re pleased and proud.
Posted by Deb on Mar 21, 2011
It’s funny to think that we didn’t include music in our initial plans for The Three Little Pigs. Back then, we didn’t know how much it would underscore the story’s drama and the characters’ personalities. Thanks to Robin Beanland, now Three Little Pigs app enthusiasts everywhere are humming along as they read. By day, Robin works in the games industry creating audio and composing music for Rare Ltd as their audio director. In his spare time, he’s the man behind the music of The Three Little Pigs app. We thought you might like to know more.
What sort of work have you done in the past? Have you ever made music for an app?
I’ve been composing music for video games for the past 17 years. Prior to that I wrote music for TV with a smattering of session work on various albums and library CDs. I can honestly say this is the first children’s book I’ve written music for.
How did you get involved with The Three Little Pigs app?
Ed Bryan called me just before Christmas and asked if I would be interested in writing some music for a project he was working on. If memory serves correctly, I think I replied something along the lines of “I thought you’d never ask.” ☺
Did you use real instruments to make the music or is it digitally generated?
I played a bit of trumpet and harmonica, the rest of the score was generated using sampled versions of traditional orchestral instruments.
What sort of feelings were you trying to evoke with the music?
The first thing I wanted to do was to write a tune that was upbeat, positive and friendly. I wanted the tune to allow me to introduce the personalities of the three main characters. This is the first piece of music you hear on the title screen of the app and it’s one of the main themes that runs throughout.
Next I focused on the wolf. I didn’t want anything too scary but I still wanted the music to be ever so slightly menacing. I wanted it to be something that I could have fun with. I think this comes across in the scenes where the wolf is chasing the pigs down the road and at the climax of the story where I use ‘laughing’ woodwinds and wah trumpet.
Why did you make each character have unique music?
I wanted to use the music as a tool for reinforcing each character’s personality. I chose certain instruments to help make that happen. So you have whistle, piccolo and banjo for the little pigs and contra bassoon and bass clarinet for the wolf. I think listening to Peter and the Wolf as a child probably influenced my decisions about which instruments to use for each of the characters in The Three Little Pigs.
What was the most challenging thing about working on this project?
To be honest the biggest challenge was the amount of time I had to get the music written! The project fell around the Christmas period and an unusually busy January. I did have a nice view from the studio window to inspire me though.
What was the most fulfilling part of working on this app?
For me it was the interactive music. I wanted the music to change as children tapped on different parts of the screen and on the characters. When I initially suggested this to Will he said we didn’t have time to implement it. But within hours I got an email from him saying “Actually I think we can do it!” A few days later Ed and Will popped round with the latest version of the app and Will had worked his magic. I remember giggling as he tapped the pigs and we heard their individual melodies fade up. It was brilliant!
Making an app with a live orchestra… ☺
Posted by Deb on Feb 25, 2011
We recently sat down with actress Freya Wilson, 11, to discuss her role in creating The Three Little Pigs app. Freya also plays the part of Princess Elizabeth in the Oscar-nominated movie The King’s Speech. And, quite the professional, she answered the phone only once during our interview: a call to discuss a homework assignment.
Which character or voices do you perform in the Three Little Pigs app?
I narrated the story and I did the bit parts of Mr. Pig and the Spider.
What was it like in the recording studio? Did you have to do multiple takes to get it just right, or was it pretty easy?
It was hard work! We spent several days in the studio over the course of a few months. We started the day warming up our voices by doing tongue-twisters like “Popocatapetl, copper-plated kettle” to get going. Each of us went individually into the recording room, which has a sound-proof glass wall. When we were in there we could hear the comments of Ali (Muirden, voice audio expert) and Deb through earphones. We did lots of takes because we had to try different ways of saying the lines – sometimes whiny, sometimes scared, sometimes less expressive. We had to stay in character, which was hard because we’re not used to being fairy tale characters! We had to remember to speak the parts as though we were reading the story to a child who was younger than us.
What is it like to hear your voice coming out of the mouth of the characters when you use the app?
I thought it would be embarrassing to hear my voice coming out of a spider and a pig, but it’s not! I don’t think it sounds very much like me. I think I sound younger. You know, I think the Three Little Pigs is an incredibly interactive app – there’s lots for children to do – and it’s been really cool to see it come together from the script to the finished thing.
Do you have any memories of reading The Three Little Pigs or other fairy tales when you were little?
Mum used to read me fairy tales and also other books. I remember reading The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig which is a parody of the real The Three Little Pigs story. I remember reading the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson a lot.
You recently played the part of Princess Elizabeth in the film The King’s Speech. How did your experience recording the app compare to working on a film?
Well, when I was being filmed in The King’s Speech I spent quite a lot of time in hair and make-up and we had very good food at lunchtime. For The Three Little Pigs I just wore jeans and we only got sandwiches. But in other ways it was similar: for both we had to spend a long time waiting for takes and needed to be very thorough and say the lines again and again in a different ways. In both, we were very serious, but also silly.
What’s next for you? More movies? Voice-overs?
I’m going to be the narrator and maybe other parts in the next Nosy Crow fairy tale app which is Cinderella. I really want to be an ugly sister, though. I have recently filmed a short film called Elevator Operator where I get to play the part of a girl with a hearing-aid who can’t speak.
If you could write a children’s book or app, what would it be about?
I would write something about an imaginary land or I’d write historical fiction. I do a lot of writing now, mainly poetry and play scripts.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to read and play the guitar and talk to my friends. No sport – never, never!
How did you get into acting?
A casting agent came to an after-school drama club I went to. I was sent to an audition for an HBO series called Game of Thrones, and I think I got quite far. Then my parents decided it wasn’t really right for me to act in something I wouldn’t be allowed to watch because some bits aren’t suitable for children. But this led to my getting an agent.
How did you get the part in the King’s Speech?
My agent put me forward for an audition, I think. I listened to clips of speeches made by Princess Elizabeth beforehand. I was called back three times and finally got the part.
What is it like to see the King’s Speech nominated for so many awards?
Astonishing and exhilarating! It wasn’t what I’d expected. But they’re awards for people like the director and for Colin Firth mainly, not for people with little parts.
Do you want to continue acting?
Definitely! I love transforming into another character. But I also really enjoy writing and would like to write professionally.
Which actors do you admire?
I really admire Helena Bonham Carter (who plays Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in the King’s Speech) because she’s just astonishingly cool. I also like Derek Jacobi, Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh.
Thank you Freya, and good luck!
Posted by Kate on Dec 07, 2010
On Saturday, we were back in the recording studio recording yet more audio content for various things, including more funny comments and noises for the first of our 3-D Fairy Tales, The Three Little Pigs. As we work on the apps that we will be releasing next year, we are learning never to underestimate how much content – visual, textual, audio and animated – a really rich and interestingly interactive app requires.
Here are our three pigs and our narrator, practicing their piggy grunts.
Posted by Deb on Aug 11, 2010
This Monday found us back in the studio with producer Ali Muirden and sound engineer Lance England (pictured). Kate and Deb, along with our crew of very talented young voice actors, were there to record the narration for Animal SnApp: Farm, the first in our series of forthcoming SnApp apps.
Fueled with fruit and lots of little cakes (what else?), our actors put in brilliantly heartfelt performances as Dizzy Duck, Higgly Hen, Hoofy Horse, and the rest of the Animal SnApp: Farm gang. They also gave us enthusiastic baa-ing, moo-ing, oinking, neighing and gobbling.. and a bit of giggling, too.
Here’s a snippet from Portly Pig:
Portly Pig felt much too clean
He squealed, “I don’t like grass that’s green!’
I think flowers and trees are yucky
I want to find a place that’s mucky.”
Don’t Ali and Lance look calm and cheerful? From their smiling faces, you’d never guess that this photo was taken after four hours listening to funny and slightly silly rhymes about farmyard animals.
Posted by Deb on Jul 12, 2010
We escaped Saturday’s sweltering heat in an historic subterranean audio studio in Soho. Our mission: record the narration and sound effect tracks for The Three Little Pigs app. Mission definitely accomplished.
After a quick run-through of the script and a few challenging tongue-twisters (e.g. “Popocatépetl Copper-plated Kettle” and “Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry”), our six young actors were ready to record. What they lacked in professional training they certainly made up for with poise, talent and boundless energy. We got great audio clips for all three pigs, their crying and cooing baby piglet sibling, Mr. and Mrs. Pig, an adorable bouncing rabbit and a VERY scary-sounding wolf.
We recorded some wonderful sound effects, too. See the photo above for what three giggling, oinking, squealing pigs look like when photographed through the double-paned glass of a soundproof booth.