|Nathan P. Butler|
|Birthdate||October 17, 1979|
|Location||Fairburn, Georgia, USA|
|Production Occupation||Producer / Writer / Actor|
|Production Company||Rayzur's Edge Audio|
In the Star Wars fan audio community, Nathan Patrick Butler is best known as the man behind both Rayzur's Edge Audio and Star Wars Fanworks. His credits in both official, licensed Star Wars materials, fandom projects, and non-Star Wars works are many and varied, but all are part of a creative hobby that often leaves fans forgetting his actual profession, that of a high school social studies teacher.
Fandom Before Fan AudioEdit
Nathan P. Butler is a lifelong fan of the Star Wars saga, but his participation in the online Star Wars fan community did not begin until around 1996, where that fandom interaction began on a now-defunct America Online Star Wars message board known as Discuss the Prequels. It was in that community that Butler met many longtime friends and fandom colleages, including Kat Murdough, Devon Read, Amy Ferrell, and others.
In the latter half of 1997, Butler began compiling a Star Wars chronology (beginning with a simple listing of titles) to keep track of Star Wars stories for his own use. He soon posted that chronology on Discuss the Prequels, where it gained a small following. That chronology was later developed into The Star Wars Timeline 1.0, which has since evolved over more than a decade into the single most comprehensive Star Wars chronology available online, The Star Wars Timeline Gold.
During the lead up to (and immediate aftermath of) the release of The Phantom Menace, Butler became more and more involved in the Star Wars fan film community, where he again spent time collaborating with Devon Read. Butler acted as a script editor for numerous fan film projects, supported others, and was an active part of that era's unreleased version of the Prelude to Hope fan film project. Butler also had his first taste of true voice acting in this era, as he performed the roles of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda in the animated parody fan films That Prequel Movie and Attack of the Killer Clones from Outer Space.
While working with Devon Read on Prelude to Hope, Butler wrote and developed a fan film script for a feature-length "gritty war drama," known as Second Strike. When Prelude to Hope production encountered numerous delaying problems, Second Strike was shelved for the time being.
As 2000 stretched into 2001, Butler became acquainted with Christopher Hanel of Digital Llama Productions, who was hard at work on the production of their acclaimed fan film The Formula. By this time, Butler had decided to take the Second Strike film script and rework it into a fan audio drama. To aid in mixing, he brought in Hanel to handle the project's third act. In the meantime, Hanel and Digital Llama Productions was launching its first online radio show, Digital Llama Radio. Both events would quickly draw Butler out of the fan film community and into the burgeoning fan audio genre, which he would then help to develop in many respects.
Fan Audio Before FanworksEdit
In 2001, Digital Llama Radio (DLR) premiered, starting with an episode on which Butler was to appear. The interview segment was eliminated in post-production due to technical difficulties, but this experience, alongside working with Hanel and two other mixers (Nick Long and Kristoffer Newsom, who later gave up their mixing duties) on Second Strike helped whet Butler's appetite for fan audio productions, paving the way for many to come.
A short while later, Digital Llama Radio joined TheForce.Net Fan Films (TFN Fan Films). When the seventh new episode of this TFN era of DLR arrived, Butler returned as a guest . . . and technical difficulties again nearly wiped out the episode. Butler quickly took on emergency production duties for the episode, entitled Jim Ward is a Bad Man, allowing it to be completed and released. This episode, released in early 2002, was Butler's first appearance in any Star Wars fan audio production.
The Birth of Rayzur's Edge AudioEdit
After becoming a huge fan of Digital Llama Radio and working with Christopher Hanel on Second Strike (at a time when Hanel had begun mixing the first act of the audio drama), Butler began considering an online radio show of his own to release alongside his Star Wars Timeline Gold. On May 16, 2002, this new radio show premiered. Entitled ChronoRadio, this new series was billed as "the Star Wars continuity buff's internet radio show" and would run for the next five years.
The first few months of ChronoRadio was a growing period, running in parallel to other major events in Butler's online fandom. First, The Star Wars Timeline Gold celebrated the fifth anniversary of its birth as The Star Wars Timeline 1.0 on October 17, 2002. Two months later, on December 25, the first act of Second Strike (entitled Descent) premiered.
Second Strike changed everything. Second Strike was remarkable for being the first Star Wars fan audio drama of its kind to be released online. It also made a splash in the fan film community, as casting had originally been completed in the fan film community, and the story had originally been planned as a film. When Second Strike emerged to many positive reviews, it helped prove that the audio medium could be used for Star Wars fan productions, not just video. Second Strike was also the first production to carry the name under which Butler would continue to produce audio productions, "Rayzur's Edge Audio."
The Rationale for Star Wars Fanworks EmergesEdit
Second Strike production continued into early 2003, when Christopher Hanel, owing to a lack of time, turned over mixing duties to Butler, who finished the second act (All Fall Down) that Hanel had begun (by mixing just the first scene) and mixing all of the third act (Ascension). The final acts were released in May and June 2003.
Given the success of Second Strike, Butler forged ahead with further audio dramas, while still producing ChronoRadio. The next project from Rayzur's Edge Audio was Anthology, a series of short audio dramas with deeper messages, similar to fables. (The first two episodes, in fact, were both audio drama adaptations of unproduced fan film scripts Butler had written based on concepts by Pete Dixon for a cancelled fan film series, Force Tales, a Star Wars fable series.) The first five episodes of Anthology (Doubts Cast, Dreamscape, The Mob, Addiction, and Responsibility) were released monthly from July through November of 2003.
Rationale 1: Consolidation Already Taking PlaceEdit
Second Strike and Anthology were not alone in the fan audio drama field, however. Ted Alderman and Bryan Henry had produced an audio dramatization of Resurrection (a story from Star Wars Tales by Ron Marz), while two other audio dramas (Shaven Wookiee Productions' Rise of Nobility and Omega Pictures' Smuggler's Run) were also in ongoing production.
In an effort to help fellow fans with similar interests, Butler reached out to Ted Alderman and Smuggler's Run creator Michael Mays to offer them hosting for their short audio dramas on Butler's own website. Therein lay the roots of Star Wars Fanworks.
Over the years, Butler's Star Wars Timeline Project had eventually moved from email distribution to Angelfire and Xoom websites before finally joining with Lou Tambone's StarWarz.com. On StarWarz.com, the timeline had garnered a greater audience and a more visible web presence. Eventually, ChronoRadio, Second Strike, and Anthology had joined the Star Wars Timeline Gold on Butler's area of the site. Now, Resurrection and Smuggler's Run had been added. This area of StarWarz.com was quickly becoming representative of much of the fan audio genre. The only English-language fan audio productions not represented on the site were Digital Llama Radio (already on TheForce.Net), Jedi Talk (no longer in production), and Rise of Nobility (not yet released but having its own website).
Thus, when Tambone came to Butler in early 2003 with news that StarWarz.com was switching servers and offered to help Butler set up a new fan site about any topic he felt passionately about, it was only natural for fan audio to be the topic of choice.
There was, however, one other factor pushing for a new fan audio focused fan site . . .
Rationale 2: Fan Film Community ExodusEdit
With Second Strike, Anthology, and Resurrection gaining attention alongside two ongoing radio shows (ChronoRadio and Digital Llama Radio), the fan audio genre was developing nicely, but it was also becoming apparent that fan audio was not part of the fan film community, but instead something else in its own right.
On the one hand, this was wondefful, as it showed that fan audio was a viable fandom medium. On the other hand, this heralded an exodus (both voluntary and forced, depending upon whose point of view is being considered) from the fan film community.
Since 2001, the fan audio community had been simply a subgenre of fan films. News, casting calls, and even releases had been handled via that community, predominantly via TFN Fan Films. The notion existed that fan audio dramas might one day find a home on TFN Fan Films alongside Digital Llama Radio and Stormtrooper Bob, which were already on the site. This was not to be the case, as two decisions separated the fan audio community from TFN Fan Films and its community.
First, the TFN team had to make a decision as to how to use precious bandwidth and file storage resources. Given that they were beginning to branch into fan films from sources other than Star Wars, the space could not be spared for branching out into hosting audio productions. Thus, a new place for news, hosting, and promotion was necessary.
Second, several fan audio personalities (creators and voice actors), spearheaded by Rise of Nobility mixer Keith Abbott, began a push to give fan audio its own message board on TFN. The hope was to give fan audio creators and fans a new place to discuss audio productions, as there was increasing hostility toward promoting audio on a film message board. The new message board was granted, but, unfortunately, without the thriving fan film community to keep up with discussion, the board quickly faded from view (and remains relatively sparsely used today). Thus, any new community would need a new place for discussion, given that the TFN board was effectively dead.
The time was right, for better or worse, for the emergence of Star Wars Fanworks.
(In 2008, fan audio would be reintegrated with fan films on the TFN boards, but the transition would provide even less fan audio discussion than on the dedicated fan audio board, nearly excising fan audio from TFN discussion altogether by accident, rather than design.)
Fan Audio and Star Wars FanworksEdit
Taking Lou "T-Bone" Tambone of StarWarz.com up on his offer to help create a new fandom website, Butler took the initiative to create a new website for the entire Star Wars fan audio genre. Dubbed "Star Wars Fanworks," the site was to be hosted on Tambone's StarWarz.com server account at Nexcess.Net.
Having only mediocre webmastering skills at the time, Butler turned to fellow Star Wars fan Sonja Nelson for help in designing the website. Using a dummy image of what the site might look like, provided by Butler using Photoshop, Nelson created the overall site template for Star Wars Fanworks, while Butler spent the summer of 2003 creating content for the website.
Finally, Star Wars Fanworks launched on September 1, 2003, featuring the first episode of Rich Sigfrit's radio show Requiem of the Outcast as its first new premiere. This release was promoted that weekend at Dragon*Con 2003 in Atlanta, Georgia, during Butler's first fan audio panel convention experience (see below).
In the years since the launch of Star Wars Fanworks, the fan audio genre has continued to grow, eventually blending into the podcasting genre, and the site has continued to cover the genre and its community ever since. The site would undergo a major expansion in January 2008, with the addition of Fanworks groups on Facebook and MySpace, the Star Wars Fanworks Audio Feed, the Star Wars Fanworks Wiki, and other new additions.
Fan Audio Productions (2004 - 2008)Edit
Radio Shows (Podcasts)Edit
While ChronoRadio continued through a total of 85 episodes, ending in May 2007, Butler premiered several new podcasts over the next few years.
Other Voices premiered in June 2003. Intended to be a sort of news magazine style of program, the series featured community-submitted segments, rather than Butler himself, while Butler remained behind the scenes to produce the series. Unfortunately, the reliance on inexperienced individuals in production led to many segments being canceled or otherwise dropped, leading Butler to cancel the series after its second episode in September 2003.
Fan Audio Made EasyEdit
Inspired by ideas from Rich Sigfrit and Michael Stackpole, Butler created Fan Audio Made Easy (FAME) to provide a 36-episode tutorial in fan audio production. The series was a success, bringing in numerous other fan audio creators to provide tutorials as well. The series, which premiered in August 2005, ended with its predetermined final episode in February 2007.
On October 17, 2005, Butler premiered The Butlerniverse. Billed as a show for topics other than Star Wars (though focusing at times on the Star Wars fan audio community and a restriction entirely lifted after the end of ChronoRadio), the series features various topics and has no set release schedule. As of August 2008, The Butlerniverse now consists of several subseries: "regular" episodes; ChronoRadio: Series 2 (a resurrection of ChronoRadio); Sith Eye (a snarky, tongue-in-cheek take on Star Wars); and film commentaries.
Fan Audio News SourceEdit
The most ill-conceived fan audio production on Butler's behalf since the failed Other Voices, Fan Audio News Source (FANS) was meant to be a news recap show to cover fan audio news. However, the series proved to be redundant, given coverage on Star Wars Fanworks and was canceled by Butler after only eight episodes (September 2006 - May 2007).
Star Wars Fanworks Audio Feed NewsEdit
Premiering on April 12, 2008, Star Wars Fanworks Audio Feed News is exactly what it sounds like. It presents news concerning releases (both previous and forthcoming) and events relating to the Star Wars Fanworks Audio Feed. Episodes are released without a set schedule and available exclusively through the feed, to whose listeners it caters.
While Butler produced several radio shows (podcasts), he was also working on other audio dramas, though nothing on the scale of his previous projects.
Nothing Changes was a reworking of an unproduced script for a new version of Prelude to Hope. This tale was a first for Butler in two ways. First, it was the first time that Butler turned over mixing for an entire audio drama he had written to another mixer (Steve Fluharty of Ear Candy). Second, the audio drama featured two different releases, a serialized six-episode release (July - December 2004) and a revised "producer's cut" (September 2005).
A sequel to Nothing Changes, entitled Everything Changes (based on the unreleased Prelude to Hope sequel prose story Forgotten Knights), was released as a Serial Edition of ChronoRadio in March and April of 2005.
Always in Motion: Ambush on An'KerraEdit
Always in Motion: Ambush on An'Kerra was a unique project, one that Butler, once the idea emerged, could not sit on. Instead, he charged ahead into full production on this new Star Wars audio drama concept: a "multi-path" (or "choose your own adventure") audio drama. The story featured a total of 39 separate tracks (MP3 files), which listeners would navigate, rather than listening to in sequence, to determine the path taken by the story's main character, Zallaron Kell, played by Bryan Patrick Stoyle.
Solitude was an audio drama experiment conducted by Butler. The idea was to create a "solo a capella" audio drama, wherein every voice, sound effect, and music selection to be heard would be the work of one voice (Butler's) with only tweaking with audio effects within his editing program. No pre-recorded music or sound effects were used, nor was any original foley work, barring filters and effects applied to sounds made with Butler's own voice.
Other Fan Audio Appearances and Post-2008Edit
Over the years, Butler has played numerous characters in various Star Wars fan audio dramas and parodies, while also being a guest on numerous radio shows and producing regular segments for several podcasts.
This is the capacity in which Butler prefers to act in the post-ChronoRadio era. He acts as a patron to the fan audio community via Star Wars Fanworks, acts in various audio productions, continues producing podcast segments and appearing as guests on podcasts, and, every so often, produces a new episode of The Butlerniverse.
This change is in keeping with Butler's desire to move ahead to more original works, while still giving back to the fan audio community, under the constant time constraints of working full-time as a high school teacher.
His completion of a graduate degree in June 2009, however, has allowed him to again branch out into more active participation in the genre, though usually in situations where Butler is not the mixer on the project, given the time considerations for such duties.
Fan Audio at ConventionsEdit
Butler has participated in several conventions as a representative of the Star Wars fan audio community (and as a writer). These include Dragon*Con 2003, Dragon*Con 2004, ConCarolinas 2004, ConCarolinas 2005, ConCarolinas 2006, ConCarolinas 2007, and ConCarolilnas 2009. While future Dragon*Con appearances are questionable, further appearances at ConCarolinas seem certain, at least for now.
Other Published Star Wars AppearancesEdit
Official Star Wars Continuity ContributionsEdit
Butler has been fortunate enough to contribute to the lore of the Star Wars Expanded Universe three times (twice actively and once passively).
Equals and OppositesEdit
On October 20, 2004, Dark Horse Comics released Star Wars Tales #21, featuring the short story Equals and Opposites, written by Nathan P. Butler. The story was one of three in this issue and featured artwork by James Raiz.
The story was released a second time as part of the Star Wars Tales, Volume 6 collected edition on January 25, 2006.
Butler was hired to write the story by Jeremy Barlow, who was then the Associate Editor for Dark Horse's Star Wars comic book line.
In August 2009, a Dark Horse Comics / Hasbro "Comic Pack" was released, featuring a special single-story reprinting of Equals and Opposites, along with a new action figure of Kyle Katarn (his second ever) and the first-ever Yuuzhan Vong action figure.
DC0052 Intergalactic SpeederEdit
As part of the What's the Story? feature on StarWars.com, Butler submitted a databank entry for the DC0052 Intergalactic Speeder. Butler's entry was chosen, as was an entry by forum poster "The Dark Moose." The two entries were merged to form the official background for the vehicle. (The entry was made official on April 17, 2006.)
Krono Relt (What Sin Loyalty?)Edit
Krono Relt, a character in the story What Sin Loyalty? (Star Wars: Empire #13) by Jeremy Barlow, was named after Nathan P. Butler. The name is a play on the "Chrono" in ChronoRadio (Butler's first radio show, but also his username on the Dark Horse forums) and a reversal of the last four letters of his last name (Butler = Relt).
This issue was released November 26, 2003, then collected in Empire, Volume 3: The Imperial Perspective in October 2004, the same month that Equals and Opposites was released in Star Wars Tales #21.
Official Star Wars Publications (Non-Fiction)Edit
Outside of Expanded Universe contributions, Butler has seen his name in official Star Wars print (outside of internet articles) three times.
The Essential AtlasEdit
Butler joined with Eddie van der Heijden to craft specific, in-universe dates for a series of twelve maps for The Essential Atlas by Jason Fry and Daniel Wallace. These maps included: the Road to Coruscant; the Hunt for Zsinj; the Thrawn Campaign; three New Jedi Order maps; and maps for each of the six primary Star Wars films.
The New Essential Guide to CharactersEdit
Author Daniel Wallace used Butler's Star Wars Timeline Gold when writing The New Essential Guide to Characters. Thus, Butler earned a "thanks" credit in the book's opening pages. This was the first time Butler ever saw his name in official Star Wars print.
Star Wars Insider #78Edit
Star Wars Insider #78 features an article about the revamped Star Wars Tales series, including a mention of Equals and Opposites in Star Wars Tales #21 where Butler is mentioned by name.
Star Wars Comics CompanionEdit
Equals and Opposites is also mentioned (along with Butler's writing credit) in Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars Comics Companion.
Unofficial Star Wars PublicationsEdit
Butler has also contributed in various forms to two published Star Wars works that fall outside of licensed materials.
Using the Force: Creativity, Community, and Star Wars FansEdit
Will Brooker's excellent study on Star Wars fandom features a brief interview with Butler (as a fan film maker) in its chapter on fan films. However, he is incorrectly credited as the director of Prelude to Hope, rather than its lead writer (at the time).
The Star Wars Super Collector's Wish Book, 4th EditionEdit
Butler wrote an article, entitled A Brief Star Wars Chronology for Geoffrey Todd Carlton's collecting book, The Star Wars Super Collector's Wish Book, 4th Edition.
Other Original Fiction WorksEdit
In August 2009, Butler released his first full-length novel, Greater Good as a print (hardcover and softcover novel). The story centers around telepaths, time travel, and ethnic cleansing, and is available via Lulu.com.
In 2006, Butler released his first full-length novella, Echoes as an online audiobook (a "podiobook," though released independently of Podiobooks.com at the time). The twenty chapter story was released April through May of 2006, then released in print form via Lulu.com in June 2006.
Do You Hear What I Hear?Edit
During the 2002 - 2003 school year, Butler wrote the short story Do You Hear What I Hear? for the literary magazine produced by the high school where he teaches. The short story was told from the perspective of one of the victims of 9/11 from the afterlife. It was later presented in audio format in the eighth episode of The Butlerniverse.
Twenty Years at Five Hundred FeetEdit
During the 2006 - 2007 school year, Butler wrote the short story Twenty Years at Five Hundred Feet for the literary magazine produced by the high school where he teaches. The short story was told from the perspective of a young man in the moments when something other than his life passes before his eyes, so to speak. It was later presented in audio format in the ninth episode of The Butlerniverse, but the literary magazine itself did not end up seeing print that year.
Butler is currently working on several audio and fiction projects, but all are going somewhat slow due to the time demands of a teaching career and other obligations. These projects, which may or may not see the light of day, include:
- The Star Wars Timeline Gold (further editions)
- The Butlerniverse (further episodes, including episodes in the film commentary subseries, the ChronoRadio: Series 2 subseries, and the Sith Eye subseries)
- Star Wars Fanworks Audio Feed News (further episodes, rarely if ever again)
- Expanded Universe Segments for Star Wars Action News
- EU Guru Segments for the EUCast
- Host of The EU Review
- Currently unrevealed new podcast, co-hosted with another major Star Wars podcast's host
- Numerous voice acting roles (including roles in High Stakes, Marvels, New World Army, and more)
- A possible short story and poem collection, which would include Do You Hear What I Hear?, Twenty Years at Five Hundred Feet, and other unreleased materials (including a possible finished version of the short story Recantation)
- Greater Good (audiobook/podiobook adaptation of previously published novel)
- Revisions to the EU Primer (alongside the SWT-G)
- Other projects, details of which are currently not revealed
- Other Voices
- Fan Audio Made Easy
- The Butlerniverse
- Fan Audio News Source
- Star Wars Fanworks Audio Feed News
- Second Strike
- Doubts Cast
- The Mob
- Nothing Changes
- Always in Motion: Ambush on An'Kerra
- Digital Llama Radio (First Appearance)
- Requiem of the Outcast
- Star Wars en Direct
- Star Wars and Beyond
- RoneyZone Radio
- Star Wars FM
- In the Beginning
- The Galaxy Report
- The Jedi Council Speaks
- Ian's Sci-Fi Review
- Star Wars Action News Book Club Podcast
- Star Wars Action News
- Things Are Looking Up
- No Way Out
- To Overcome
- A Sith's Journal
- Conquest of the Empire
- Sins of Salvation: Absolution
- Omega Squad: Targets
- Knights of the Old Republic: Outcasts
- Jawa Raiders
- High Stakes
- Tatooine TV
- Dragon*Con 2003
- Dragon*Con 2004
- ConCarolinas 2004
- ConCarolinas 2005
- ConCarolinas 2006
- ConCarolinas 2007