The Opti Interview: 2legs

2 Conversations

A magic biro

Opti: This week your hostess - that's me Opti – welcomes 2legs, who, despite appearing to be blamed for just about everything, is much loved by many researchers and has a key role within the h2g2 AViators.

Hello 2legs, please make yourself at home.

* Puts an assortment of foe tiger-skin cushions on the floor in front of the sofa, and lounges back on them, ignoring the chairs and sofas, and pours a large G&T.*

2legs: Ready, I'm at home now.

Opti: How did the idea for the Aviators come about?

2legs: It all started in a galaxy far, far away. A unique and chance meeting of two clans of badgers.... ahhh, nope, I'm probably thinking of something else entirely....

Right, err, let me think......

Well, I think for a long while there had been various talk amongst some members on h2g2 of wanting to have Audio-Visual user-generated content in the guide, and also more broadly on h2g2. Jimster was quite in favour of this too, and I seem to recall we made efforts to establish the Aviators whilst Jimster was still working on the h2g2 site.

I'm being quite vague... It's probably all the alcohol that seems to be necessary in order to produce AV content... No, really, it's almost entirely impossible to produce audio clips in particular without the necessity for alcohol...It's kind of like what Hashish was to the Jamaican dub/reggae music industry.

Well, one thing I do remember from this point is that amongst the group of us initially involved that Skankyrich was absolutely key to getting it going along with Jimster....

I've met Rich many times now, he really is one of those hugely annoying individuals.... There he is, busy full-time running a hotel in sunny Devon, finding time to do all his outdoor pursuits, environmental work and such like, and yet somehow, whereas the rest of us would have long ago run out of time, not to mention energy, he still finds time to do the mountain of work he does on h2g2; not just the Aviators, but the Edited Guide, and of course the small matter of the Post.... For me to have that much energy would involve far too many hard drugs...... smiley - tongueincheek

Anyhow, where was I? Ahhhh yes, the infamous incident of the vodka in the night... err, nope I've lost my thread again....

Yes, so around this time the aviators began being set up, with the E-mail group for members, and AV started being produced, hosted back then, I think, mainly on YouTube...

There was a lot of discussion going on; obviously what we ideally desired was to be able to host the materials we produced on the h2g2 servers, but I think with Jimster leaving his job at h2g2, the likelihood of that ever happening reduced considerably...

Then at some point, some skulduggery and secret work by TRiG and Rich suddenly revealed to us the h2g2 aviators very own web-site, at

I think that was when things really picked up; It could have gotten very messy with some of our clips being on YouTube, others hosted on picture only sites, and basically things scattered about everywhere.... rather like they are in my studio in fact...

Opti: So what does it mean to be an Aviator, for those not in the know?

2legs: First, and foremost, being an Aviator means you're entitled to free drinks at any h2g2 meet.... well... maybe not ... but it'd be a nice idea wouldn't it? smiley - pggb

I guess there are several parts to being an aviator, and those of us involved tend to concentrate each on those, or that part that they're most comfortable doing or in the best position to do.

First I guess is the coming up with new ideas for aviating; Spotting an edited entry that would be suitable to be narrated, or have photography or video to accompany it, or spotting a piece of fiction, e.g. in the Post that might be suited to being turned into an audio play etc... I'm not so good at this, I suffer from idea-itis... I tend to have about a million ideas a day, usually all coinciding with each other and getting muddled up, and then my CPU gets all confused and I get them all mixed up, and then I forget what I'm doing and have to have a hot bath with a glass of pink Champaign or just eat some more pickled chilli peppers to help me calm down before my ancient cerebral cortex overheats...

So, actually, a good example of this recently: I was emailed by B'Elana with an idea we had for the issue of the Post to coincide with h2g2's birthday. She emailed me some MP3 audio clips of her recordings of the article, one in German the other in English.

Anyhow, then I forgot entirely about it until she reminded me... told you I get easily distracted....

Then I finally got around to it, listened to them, and examined them in the recording software I use, and said they were fine quality to use.

So I got sent the original .wav audio (it just works better than MP3 for when messing about with audio).

I added these into a project, did some introductory narration, and outro narration, recorded in my studio. I 'cleaned up' the audio recordings I'd been sent; you always get microphone noise, background hiss, and mains hum; I can as much as possible try to remove these with various noise filters. Then I add compression to the tracks, to bring the overall volume/level up.

I thought I already had some music I could use in the intro and outro for the piece... But nothing I found seemed to fit, so in the end I just picked up my guitar and quickly recorded a short couple of passages from a song, I wrote, well, really more like a finger practice piece, and then as a final stage, added a limiter to the whole thing, to stop it distorting or 'clipping' over.

At this point I remember I was fairly* happy with the sound, but it wasn't quite right, so I put a 10 band EQ on the 'master' track (through which all the other tracks go), and altered it a bit to make it sound better (well to my ears anyhow).

Once that was done I mixed it down, converted it to MP3, and then once I'd done the same for both the English and German language versions I emailed them back off... : It was a fairly short project so I only used the one bottle of vodka... smiley - winkeye

I guess it depends on what happens after the 'idea' stage, on what kind of AV is needed. Some people are good at doing the video work, or photography, others at recording narration, some at doing music, and I tend to concentrate on helping putting audio together, adding music to it, bits of narration if needed, and hopefully making it sound as good as I can...

Opti: What first caught your attention, when thinking about becoming an Aviator?

2legs: Hmmm.... I'm not sure... I think I was probably most earnestly approached directly about the idea by Rich, after he'd gotten me suitably drunk at one of the London meets, and in my alcohol-soaked state I agreed to it... I doubt I knew to what I was agreeing at the time.

smiley - winkeyesmiley - pggb

Aren't these new smileys great?

smiley - flyingpig

See I'm very easily distracted, without Rich, and the others to constantly keep me on track I'd rapidly disappear in a mist of vodka fumes...

But, err I think what caught my attention was... Just how much h2g2 was crying out for something new, something like the aviators, more multimedia, more 'new media', Web 2.0 and all that... and yeh, I guess more user-generated content (to coin an awful phrase that seems to have become wildly popular in the past few years).

I thought It'd be good from my point of view in particular to produce audio, and in a strange kind of way kind of heading right back to the routes of the Hitchhiker's Guide; thinking of course, of the original radio series... see I really am *that* old...

Actually, thinking about it, two of my favourite projects I've been involved in are "The Faces" , and "Firestorm". The Faces was a really good example of various people working together to make it happen; though I know at some points it really looked like it'd never get done!

Written by Tibley Bobley, scripted out by Mina, and then read/played by Mu Beta, Lil and EMR. I basically took a *huge* pile of audio clips from the three actors, did my usual trick of ignoring it forever, until I was nagged, and then began the process of putting it all together... I'm probably a lot better at working with speech audio clips now than I was when I did this, but I still think it came out pretty well, and the music was, if I recall, a strange piece I'd written some time earlier...

Terran's story, Firestorm, is, I think, the largest thing I've been involved in... We've done the first part now, but I think there are many parts to go! I get sent the readings of each part by Terran and then with the music Roymondo wrote and recorded, add these all together; do the intro and outro narration, add in any special effects, and package it all up....: Think I was pretty close to missing some of the deadlines on this... It takes a lot of vodka, and quite a bit of pink Champaign or pink gin to do these... smiley - pggb

Actually I think we're probably wildly behind schedule for the next part of Firestorm, which we're doing a bit different to the first part... I'll not say any more than that, as... it's a bit dependant on us getting sufficient pink Champaign and vodka to complete the mission...

Opti: When did you become an Aviator?

2legs: It was a dark dark night, mist hung in the air in exactly the same way that elephants don't. A lone distant badger cried out across the moors, and through the icy mist, a lone figure approached on

smiley - pony


Petunias at the ready, I stood at the gates to castle 2legs and was made an offer I couldn't refuse...

At least... I *think* that was what happened... when? err.... a while back now... but not so long ago as to be really far in the past, but not so recent as to be since Christmas... So... err can't remember... I was very drunk you see....

Did I mention how great I think the new smileys are?

smiley - flyingpigsmiley - pggbsmiley - pggbsmiley - elvis

Opti: How have things changed since then?

2legs: Well, if I were a sociology expert, I'd be able to talk at great depth here at how interesting it's been watching the 'group dynamics' develop within the Aviators; how people seem to have, kind of without being organised to do so, settled down in to their own individual niches, but instead, and because my sociology is old fashioned, instead, I'll say...

I think we're probably a bit, well a lot better organised than we were originally (though I still have to be endlessly nagged to finish things on time).

For me, at least, it's often annoying, as I'd like to help do so much more for the aviators, and produce a lot more (in my case), audio content, but really it can be very time consuming, not just in terms of producing the audio, but then getting it hosted and such like.... I've a few things this year I'd like to get done but as ever it's a question of finding the time, the inspiration, the 'right place' for it to sit (in the Post, in the EG, etc), and most particularly of finding sufficient gin or vodka or pink Champaign in order to complete a piece...

smiley - pggb

Opti: And finally, what do you see yourself being blamed for next?

2legs: Tricky, there are just so many 'things' in the world. No, really, just so many, you won't believe how many 'things'. And, it's such a mind blowing number, that it really is hard to comprehend, and then, now this will really trip you out; there is even more than *that* many!, really, millions and millions, and then it's still more.

So, trying to pick, out of the myriad infinitely of 'things' is not as easy as one might hope it would be.

However, I think I can safely say I am very soon about to be blamed for the huge splurging of text in answer to your questions which I am just now about to send of to you... Then I'll probably be blamed for all the Aviator stuff I have just suddenly remembered I should have been doing since Christmas...

smiley - evilgrinsmiley - pggbsmiley - flyingpig

Did I mention about the new smileys, btw?; I think they're great!

smiley - pggbsmiley - flyingpigsmiley - elvissmiley - drumroll

Opti: Thank you 2legs for being such a great sport. May you long continue to enjoy all that h2g2 has to offer.

The Opti Interview Archive

Opticalillusion and 2legs

12.10.09 Front Page

Back Issue Page

Bookmark on your Personal Space



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry


h2g2 Entries

External Links

Not Panicking Ltd is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more