Sinbad: The New Voyages is an print and audio series of short stories and novellas based on the Arabian legend of Sinbad the Sailor. The exact origins of the stories of Sinbad's voyages is unclear, but Sinbad eventually made it into the 1001 Arabian Nights canon. Most people know Sinbad from the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation effects films of the mid-20th century, the animated shows, and the various other modern retellings. This series of audiobooks is both a tribute to and extension of Harryhausen's style of adventure storytelling. All of the Sinbad: The New Voyages stories honor Airship 27 publisher Ron Fortier's vision of a multi-cultural crew of warriors and mystics accompanying Sinbad on his voyages. Unlike previous and subsequent volumes, Sinbad: The New Voyages Volume 3 consists of one full-length novel instead of a trio of short stories and novellas, enabling the story to play out over a longer period of time.
Here’s my writeup on the first volume in the series, which also explains how I developed the voices for all of the main characters that span all volumes, and here's my writeup for Volume 2.
The story in Volume 3, subtitled "The Warriors of Forever," fits the Sinbad canon nicely: Sinbad and his crew save some unarmed ships from an attack by a giant mechanical dragon. The peace-loving, gentle people on the ships -- the Xubanthali -- are native to a nearby island which was recently raided by a fleet of ghost ships crewed by undead marauders known as The Warriors of Forever. Along with the island's novice shaman Illia, Sinbad and the remaining Xubanthali go on a dangerous quest to find and destroy the Warriors of Forever and the enchantress who controls them.
Volume 3 may be a different, longer format than 1 and 2, but the development of the character voices and effects was the same. To date, the Sinbad series contains my most advanced audio production techniques, and The Warriors of Forever continues that proud cutting-edge tradition. This time, my most impressive development was a werewolf voice for Ecrasis, the demonic wedding crasher.
Every vocal effect starts with a good voice. I've never done a werewolf character before, so there wasn't any prior work I could build on. I started with the question: "What would a dog sound like if it could talk like a human?" Dogs are drooly and nosy and their voices are unrefined and uncontrolled. They can control the pattern of their vocalizations, but not the pitch or volume -- those are determined by their emotions. To represent all of this, I held half a sip of water in my mouth and stood back from the mic a little more than usual to avoid spraying it, closed my lips over my teeth only when necessary, and breathed through my nose in big huffs, like an excited dog. For the inflection and delivery, I asked myself what dogs like to do. They like to sniff, eat, chase, track, and retrieve. From there, it was easy to figure out how to make the voice more werewolf-like with effects: I dropped the pitch, boosted the bass, and added a little reverb.
The Xubanthali, minus Illia, are described like southern Indians, so their leader Al-Bulcar got my standard Indian male voice, but a bit lower and slower, and with more teeth and less lip contact. I think his voice fits his character quite well.
The voice that gave me the most trouble was Ik Numari the Scholar. He is an important character with a lot of dialogue in two chapters, but his physical description didn't give me any solid clues as to how he should sound. It would have been easy to make him a boring, stuffy old scribe. Easy, but not entertaining. I decided that he should be a slow-moving spider at the center of a delicate web; his personality evolves slowly from one of erudite calm to an excited hunger for new knowledge at any cost. I had several competing possibilities for his voice, but settled on one modeled after Andrew Robinson's portrayal of Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space 9.
Al-Izrikel the Scarlet is a spectral representation of a powerful wizard from antiquity. I chose to make him melodramatic and mysterious, showing that he has immense power even in death. The only vocal model that came to mind was the great VO artist Michael Bell's portrayal of Medivh, Guardian of Tirisfal from Warcraft III. I decided that a little ghostly reverb was all that was necessary to give Al-Izrikel a supernatural impression. My favorite part of Sinbad: The New Voyages Volume 3, The Warriors of Forever is when Sinbad reads aloud from Al-Izrikel's book, causing his ghost to fade into being as he speaks. To represent this in audio, I recorded the passage in each voice, put them on separate tracks, then cross-faded them.
The Arlegon Witches are described as being exceptionally beautiful and hospitable. They also seemed carefree and mercurial to me; not really taking anything seriously despite their deadly charades. I modeled Lonkra after the Faerie voices in Rift; she speaks musically, as though even the direst of scenarios is charming and glittery. I raised the pitch a little bit on her dialogue, not just to make her seem more girly, but more saccharine and elfin as well. It ended up sounding like a demented Shirley Temple, which is perfect for Lonkra. Charlvel was a different construct that I can't quite trace; I just needed a voice that contrasted with Lonkra, so her voice was low and even, and I multi-tracked it with the same pitch change, slight flange, and slight reverb as Lonkra. For reasons I cannot recall, I named this effect chain "Good Witch Alien."
The Warriors of Forever are skeletons, and therefore need to sound thin and hollow. I started with a slow, dry, raspy whisper, then lowered the bass, boosted the treble, and added a little flange and reverb. (Haroun's father was the same, with a lowered pitch).
Sinbad: The New Voyages Volume 3 is a lot of fun to listen to, but if you haven’t heard the previous volumes yet, then you're better off starting with Volume 1 and then moving to Volume 2 before listening to Volume 3. While it's possible to start with Volume 3 and not get lost, by this point in the series the stories are building on some of the elements that have been established in previous volumes, so it'll be more fun to experience it from the beginning. And also, I want you to buy all three audio books, not just this one (and eventually the next two in the series, when they're released).