The Hobbit still stands as a literary masterpiece evoking emotions of adventure in its readers.

With colorful characters set to a fantasy background, Middle Earth as its skillfully described in the Hobbit looks enticing to anyone who reads it. May it be for relaxation, for pure enjoyment or escapism. The Hobbit book written by R. J. J. Tolkien is often found as an assigned reading for middle school students and still resonates with many adult readers, ourselves included.

At once a classic myth and a modern fairy tale, The Hobbit has been made into numerous audiobooks, and is one of literature’s most enduring and well-loved novels. 

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit Book

Audiobooks are made to be shared!

A few months ago, I read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio for our YouTube channel.

Over the past few months our channel ‘Read Along Book Club’ has grown immensely and after just a few days we started to get comments on the video. One of the commenters, a middle school student, requested that we read The Hobbit. I was flattered, but this seemed like a daunting task at first.

The Hobbit book has been highly regarded for many years, and the movie adaptation left little room for error in terms of bringing the book’s characters to light. It was a combination of both, the viewer having enough faith in my reading ability to pull it off and an interest in re-visiting the Hobbit characters, that I finally sat down to make the recording.

When I took an ‘Introduction to Literature’ class in college, I remembered the instructor telling the class that if they thought they could take a short cut, and watch the movie instead of reading the book, they were sadly mistaken. The Hobbit is no exception! I’m not going into any specifics here, but let’s just say that there are enough embellishments in the film that the story almost becomes unrecognizable.

What Is Immersive Reading?

Most of the books that we read for our Read Along channel show the physical book being read and us pointing to each word as it’s being read aloud. This process is called ‘immersive reading’ and goes back to the original premise of the YouTube channel we created. The intent of immersive reading is to help young readers, and those learning to read, pronounce words, whole sentences and being able to follow the words on the page.

Immersive reading works very well for larger picture books that take 5 – 10 minutes to record. But, it is very time consuming and can be cumbersome and frustrating to record lengthy chapter books. It did also work for the book Wonder but it was not going to be possible for The Hobbit. We just didn’t the time and patience to record every single page while it is being read aloud by Nick.

Being DIY’ers we don’t have the money for all of the proper and expensive recording equipment to produce audiobook  videos that are many hours long.

We improvise as much as we can and eventually did decide to make an investment in the audiobook channel. We upped our game by purchasing the ROCCAT 7.1 speaker headphones. The Hobbit story seemed like the perfect book to initiate the headphones. We wanted the story to both feel and sound crisp and clear from beginning to end.

How We Record Chapter Audiobooks

The process for recording an audiobook involves the actual reading of the book out loud, chapter by chapter. This is  followed by editing and sometimes by re-recording sections several times over. The editing process and length of time needed varies from chapter to chapter.

If things are flowing smoothly, and I can ‘spit out’ the words correctly, it can be a breeze to edit a chapter and all we really do then is to make sure that the flow of the story is maintained properly. If the audio recording hits a few snags, if my voice falters or croaks weirdly, or if a word is hard to pronounce, then a considerable amount of time can be spent editing.

This might entail re-recording certain parts of a paragraph, a word, a sentence or even a whole chapter, so the story sounds more cohesive. Each chapter of the audiobook is then saved as its own recording.

Once all the different chapters are read and edited the rendering process begins. We reupload the chapters into the video editing program, add background music, images, intros and/or outros. The chapters are then rendered while they are being saved to our computer as one long video recording.

Rather than releasing our Hobbit audiobook as one long video (a total of over 8 hours) on YouTube, we decided to break the book apart into four parts. This made the rendering process easier for us and hopefully the viewing more enjoyable for our viewers. Subsequently chapters 1-5 became their own video followed by chapters 6-10 and so forth.

Naturally, not all the chapters of the Hobbit book are of the same length therefore not all four parts of our Hobbit audiobooks are the same length either.

Unexplained Noises In The Hobbit Audiobook  – Nothing’s Ever Easy!

During the recording of the Hobbit, it became apparent there were some unusual sounds in the final version of our audiobooks. I had first attributed this to maybe accidentally hitting the mic during the recording process, but then I realized that it was happening intermittently.

I called ROCCAT customer service and sent them one of the video recordings. Sacha from ROCCAT picked up on the background noise right away and I was told that the headphone set was still under warranty.

They would replace the headphones for us! The hitch was they needed physical proof that I had destroyed my current headphone set and it would take 10-14 business days to replace them. Cutting that USB cable was probably the hardest thing that I had to do. Once it was done, so was the recording. I resolved myself to the fact that I couldn’t continue if the sound quality was bad. The recording was at this point, put on hold.

Video Closed Captioning For Read Along Videos

Since the pages of the Hobbit book were not going to be displayed in the videos, we are really relying on YouTube’s Closed Captioning to show the text on the screen for our viewers to be able to read along. When the YouTube video rendering process was finally completed, we were excited to see the final product. The words were on the screen, but there was no punctuation at all!

We literally went through every chapter of the Hobbit once again, with the book in hand, and inserted all the missing sentence structures. Time consuming and tedious to say the least. At this point we have a lot of time invested in this project and this doesn’t account for the rendering and uploading of the videos.

To say that we are fully vested in The Hobbit Audiobook sounds like a major understatement.

Upon the final completion of The Hobbit video process, we hope that young read along listeners as well as more mature readers will enjoy this remarkable story. The book is 300 pages long and is recommended for reading ages 12 and up.

We will be releasing our own audiobooks of the story in four parts over several weeks. Start your own listening and reading along journey here: The Hobbit Audiobook Part 1

The Dragon Bird House AKA Smaug In Flight

I was so inspired by the Hobbit book that one of my bird houses was transformed into a version of Smaug! If you have ever heard anyone say, ‘the book is better than the movie’, then this is truly the case with J. R. R. Tolkien’s story. I’m not dissing the movie here. In and of itself the movie serves its own purpose. The book on the other hand offers adventure, humor and passion that can only be conveyed through the written word.

Smaug the Dragon Birdhouse

The Hobbit Audiobook On YouTube

If you have ever heard anyone say, ‘the book is better than the movie’, then this is truly the case with J. R. R. Tolkien’s story. I’m not dissing the movie here. In and of itself the movie serves its own purpose. It’s an exciting story to watch with lots of amazing actors.

The book ‘The Hobbit’ on the other hand offers adventure, humor, valor, and passion that can only be conveyed through the written word. Take a listen of our Hobbit Audiobook for yourself and read along with me as we make new friends while traveling through Middle Earth from the Shire to the Lonely Mountains and back.

Be sure to leave us a comment before you leave! We would love to hear your opinion.

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