Converting the Firefly (the series) into an audiobook

Firefly: The complete series I am a huge Firefly fan to the point of being the platinum sponsor of the Ottawa Serenity Charity Showing for the past few years which has been held at the Mayfair Theatre on Bank Street.

Before we left for our vacation I didn’t have time to find any new audiobooks from Audible but it occurred to me that given that there are 14 episodes of Firefly that I could conceivably convert the whole thing into an audiobook and listen to that. I’ve done this to a few movies – the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Exorcist, and others. This really shines when the movies have a good audio team.

Before you ask if I’ll give you copies, no, I won’t.

But I will explain how I’ve done it (teach a person to fish and all that jazz).

This isn’t by far the only way to do this – this is the way I’ve done it, using the tools I’m most familiar with. Someone clever could probably write an app to do this very thing (or maybe already has).

1) I took my Firefly DVD box set and used Handbreak to transfer video from the DVDs into my computer as MPEG-4 files. This was actually done some time ago, but doesn’t take very long.

2) Open each episode in QuickTime to extract the audio for each episode and saving out as an AIF file.

3) Then I opened up Final Cut Pro 7, dragged all of the episodes in, and arranged them in order of the episodes into one rather long sequence.

Note: there is a limit of around twelve hours for a audio/video file in Quicktime.  So if you’re converting a longer series, you’ll have to be mindful of this, which is also why audio books form Audible are in less than twelve-ish hour chunks.

Yes, I know FCP is a video editing software. But it works really well for chopping up audio too.

4) Next, I did a bit of trimming. I removed the intro music, then the audio for the credits on all the episodes with the exception of the first episode and let the credit music roll one the last episode.

In reality, this part could have been done in Quicktime 7 pretty easily (Quicktime X, I don’t know), but I figured I’d be faster at it in FCP.

5) Next I added chapter markers for each episode, labelling each marker with the episode’s name, then exported the whole thing as an AAC file.

6) Then, I dropped the file onto iTunes, and then I used Doug’s Make Bookmarkable script to make audiobook save its place when played.

7) Edited metadata in iTunes for the file so the attributes were correct.

8) Dropped the new audiobook into my iPhone and done!
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So, what was it like, listening to all the episodes of Firefly as an audio book?

Actually, it’s pretty amazing. Supervising sound editor Cindy Rabideau, production sound mixer / production sound designer David Yaffe, and their team did a fantastic job.

When I finished listening to it, I began to wonder how hard it would be to get the cast together to record a series of audio-episodes – certainly less than another TV series – and possibly easier to schedule the cast.

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