Behind the Scenes of Babylon Park: Frightspace

What did it take to make an indie homebrew cartoon at the turn of the century? It was a mess of affordable and “please max out your credit card.” Macromedia Flash made animation easy and accessible, but recording was still a mess of audio cassette tape and VHS. There was no YouTube or Vimeo. Distribution was very lo-fi with Quicktime or Real. Here’s a look at the process we went through for recording celebrity voices in the year 2000. You know, before all this could be done on a phone and we had to crawl to school over broken glass uphill both ways.

Equipment used: 1 microphone, 1 broken mic stand, 1 odd plastic bit, several comforters and a professional (cassette tape) recorder that was returned to the store because we couldn’t afford to keep it

Software: Macromedia Flash, Music Maker, Sound Forge

Wayne Alexander arrived in Austin in March to record the voice of the main villain in Frightspace, “I-Hop.” That´s him to the right. Apparently he found the script was more coherent upside-down. We even got his wife, B5 wardrobe supervisor Kim Holly, to get really wacky with us doing walla. You know when you´re watching a show and the main characters are in a busy airport? The noise of people talking in the background is “walla.” And probably not the actual ambient noise when it was filmed.

Babylon 5 alum Wayne Alexander reading the script for Babylon Park: Frightspace
Brian Roe with a Babylon Park: Frightspace script

Later, at ConTraption: Here we have Brian Roe: co-Executive Producer, King Con, and the voice of GM. He´s apparently very surprised that I finally got the script finished. Little did he know that he´d be recruited into converting a hotel room into a sound studio in a couple of minutes. You see Patricia Tallman, Jeffrey Willerth and Robin Atkin Downes were going to stop by and record their voices for Frightspace…

Patricia is such an incredible woman. To be a bit New Age, she has a very strong aura. It’s still hard to believe that one year you’re watching these actors on the magic TV screen and the next you’re in their hotel room directing them. Despite living in Austin, the “Live Music Capital of the World”, I wasn’t able to get a proper tabletop microphone stand. We did manage to McGuyver a stand though — it’s that odd blue plastic bit.

Babylon 5 star Pat Tallman, being awesome and voice acting for Babylon Park: Frightspace
Robin Atkin-Downes and Jeffrey Willerth chillin' before it's their turn to record their parts for Babylon Park: Frightspace

Here are Robin and Jeffrey waiting their turn to enter the “Comforter Cavern.” I think this photo was taken a couple minutes before Pat recorded a scene where Leeta wakes up several times. Robin is gearing up for what turned out to be four parts. He really blew us away with his vocal range (it’s not surprising that he landed the sweet role of Mumm-Ra in the Thundercats cartoon reboot). OK everybody, heads down. Hand on your forehead and SWISH your head back. That’s the Robin Salute — created by Jeffrey.