Dark Dice, a horror actual-play D&D podcast, stars six travellers who journey into the ruinous domain of the nameless god. Writer and Creator Travis Vengroff shares about his experiences with producing Dark Dice, and working with his talented cast and crew.
Producing Scripted vs. Non-scripted Shows
We actually create four different shows at the moment: The White Vault, VAST Horizon, Liberty, and Dark Dice. The first three shows are scripted, and Dark Dice is almost entirely improvised.
It is always easier to produce and edit a scripted podcast. A single writer will typically have a clear vision, meaning that you typically will only have to record your actors once, they are aware of exactly what they need to record, and episodes have a clear start/stop point. You also do not have to panic when the dice roll a certain way or one of your main (fictional) characters dies on the show.
Overcoming the Challenges of Producing Dark Dice
The hardest part of production for us is the overall editing process. The mixture of recorded audio, re-recorded audio, sound effects, and music are edited somewhat fluidly, meaning that if something doesn't sound right, we'll keep changing the scene until it sounds right for us. There is a lot of experimentation during this process and many of our the ideas simply don't work. However, the more episodes we create, and the more ideas we try, the closer we get toward creating a seamless story. The toughest hurdle for us is sometimes taking a step back, working on a different project for a days, and coming back with a fresh set of ears. (returning once you've had some time away from the story)
Receiving Support for Dark Dice
Building an Audience
Kaitlin (co-creator) and myself have primarily built the audience for Dark Dice by promoting our story on social media, and by releasing quality episodes on a regular basis. It is a slow process, but after a point it can become quite fun to interact with the community you've created. In turn, these people who are having fun will invite their friends to join your community
Fool and Scholar Productions is almost entirely funded by fans through Patreon. While that platform is far from perfect, reoccurring crowdfunding platforms allow creators to cover their expenses and pay the people they work with. Barring that, podcasters like us have been paying people with money from our day jobs. I recognize that I'm particularly fortunate in that my day job has become podcasting.
Process of Producing an Episode of Dark Dice
Stage 1: Creating the Story
Because Dark Dice is improvised, but I as the storyteller hope to maintain a sense of dread in each episode, I'll write out detailed descriptions well in advance of everything that I think the actors could possible encounter in a given session in advance.
Stage 2: Recording the Audio
Then we record the session online (typically in Zoom) with all of the primary actors. Our cast ranges from 2 to 6 primary actors, plus myself as the storyteller. A session is typically around 3-6 hours in length, and will cover 2-5 episodes of content. The actors all record locally and send me their audio.
Stage 3: Editing and Design
Stage 4: Upload the episode
Marisa sends me the final MP3, I'll upload it, and start the process all over again. Most of the processes are the work of a single person, and the only areas where multiple people get involved are the initial recording process and the review of the final mix.
Advice for Aspiring Podcast Creators
My advice is to create what you enjoy, to not plan for fame or to make money, to release content on a consistent basis, and to not waste money by advertising on social media.
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