Alison Hindell, Head of Audio Drama at the BBC explains Pod Plays
What are Pod Plays?
Pod Plays are a unique collection of short-form audio drama stories. Each one tells a different story by a different writer but what makes them special is the way they are recorded. In fact, that’s why we decided to make them…
Catherine Robinson, a sound engineer at BBC Wales, has been doing a lot of work with our R&D team on the potential for VR and 360° sound. She felt that audio drama would lend itself well to an experiment in “augmented reality sound”. By this, she meant that we could create dramas specially designed to be heard in specific locations and then we would conjure a story made in 3-D sound set in those locations – so that the listener’s experience of being part of the drama would be extra enhanced. A kind of “reality – plus”, if you like.
So we got together a team of interested producers and writers and spent some time listening to (and watching) examples of 3-D and VR storytelling and discussing ways in which we might apply the methods to our own work. Of course, we’ve been making drama in binaural sound for many years, on and off, but now that so many listeners use headphones as a matter of course, it means we can exploit the technology much more readily. Drama listeners are all familiar with the way audio drama transports you into the story, but we felt that 360° sound which surrounds the listener would make this effect even more convincing and compelling. And because it’s on headphones, it’s even more effective than cinema surround sound systems – because it comes directly into your head.
The challenge was then for the writers to create stories set in specific locations in which listeners might regularly listen anyway, and then transform those locations from the ordinary into an extraordinary experience. The places we’ve ended up with include the bedroom, the bathroom, the pub and the living room – but the journeys we’ll take you on are bizarre, funny, touching, scary and literally out of this ordinary world.
The five stories are all separate, so you can listen to all or some of them and in any order. And you don’t have to listen in the same location that they are set, but it might be worth a try for some of them if you can. So put on your headphones, close your eyes and let’s begin….