Today I’m happy to announce that Rob Bridgett, one of our best friends here at Designing Sound (and who started the monthly special series almost a year ago) is releasing “From the Shadows of Film Sound“, a new must-have book for anyone interested in sound for video games.
As a practitioner in video game development, Rob Bridgett has explored and written about the connective tissue between film sound production and a newly emerging video game audio production culture. This new volume brings together, for the first time, freshly edited writings with many previously unpublished articles, documenting his work and thinking over the past ten years. This book is equally suited to film sound designers intrigued by game sound production as much as those in game sound wishing to further explore the meaning of cinematic sound. A fresh, insightful, and long overdue volume offering nourishment for students of sound as well as ammunition for sound artists working on the front line of development.
“From the Shadows of Film Sound” is available now on blurb.com at US $21.85. Also, below you can find a Q&A session I had with Rob talking about the book.
DS: What made you decide to write this book?
RB: First of all, thanks for taking time to talk with me about the book, I’m really excited about the project and finally getting it out there. As you know, I’ve accumulated a lot of written material over the years – various articles, features and post-mortems – and it was while re-reading many of the older articles for my website that I began to see some common threads that tied the work together in an interesting way. A lot of the articles are hard to find and some only exist as scanned print pages, so it felt like I needed to re-visit them in an archival way too. The main thread, which I wasn’t conscious of at all at the time of writing, was of looking to cinema sound to shed light on production issues found in video game sound. This wasn’t anything I was conscious of doing when I began writing articles, just something that occurred to me a year or so ago, that all of these pieces could be tied together and read, not only as a collection of individual pieces, but also as a reasonably coherent whole. Since then, it’s been a really exciting process putting the book together and realizing that there really isn’t anything out there already that addresses these topics from a practitioner’s viewpoint. It’s a book I’d have killed for when I was studying sound and trying to break into the industry!
DS: Could you give us a quick overview then of the topics and different ideas we could find in there?
RB: I’ve really tried to cover everything that I have come across, or been challenged with, as a video game audio director, and that’s a very wide scope. That goes from music implementation and communication with composers, to sfx & dialogue production and processes. I spend a significant part of the book discussing post-production techniques, including sound effects replacement and interactive mixing techniques that occur very late in the production cycle of a game, but also practical ideas about sound personnel embedding themselves in the earliest production opportunities on any project in order to leverage as much artistic and technical collaborative influence as possible on the project. So, lots of detail yet also plenty of broad, higher level examples.
DS: As you mentioned, the book contains some articles already found on the internet, yet in a re-edited form, could you talk a little about these?
RB: Previously published articles form the heart of this book for sure. Every single article though has been re-edited and updated significantly in order to give it more relevance. I’ve also given new contextual introductions and summaries, which help these articles actually feel more like a book with a single central themes.
DS: ‘From the Shadows of Film Sound’ is an interesting title for a book about video game sound. Is there a particular reason behind this title?
RB: Yeah, I guess it’s a very different title for a game audio book! The main idea behind the title is that, for me, video game sound is bound up in the history and culture of cinema sound, whether consciously trying to emulate it, or to reject it. I see game audio as being something that is emerging from this culture and history and, that over the next few decades, will very much evolve a distinctive style of its own. Video games really used to sound like video games twenty years ago, but now it’s getting very difficult to differentiate games from films.
DS: In the book you often refer back to a relationship between film and game audio production. Do you consider this book also important for someone working on sound for film?
RB: Definitely. All of the film sound people I’ve met and worked with are incredibly curious about how sound is implemented in video games. If you work in another medium, you often perceive a ‘grass is greener’ situation, and, from a film sound perspective, us game audio folks have a lot of things easy, such as being on a project from day one during the pre-production and concept phase. I believe there is a great deal that both film and game sound can learn from one another about production and creative process – it is definitely a two way street.
DS: You have chosen to go for a self-published book, rather than through an established publisher, could you talk a little about the reasons behind this?
RB: Several practical reasons really. I didn’t want to work with any time constraints or deadlines, this book has taken a long time to write and edit and I definitely didn’t want to feel rushed or pressured into getting something out that was unfinished, or wasn’t 100% something I was happy with. This is an important factor for me while working in game development, as I don’t have the time to spend dedicated full-time on a book project. Control over the whole process has also been really important, in terms of how the text looks on the page right down to the cover design and detail, this may sound like a fickle point, but the cover art for almost all game audio books so far published kinda sucks! Finally, I always wanted to put out a book that would be priced reasonably and therefore accessible, as a lot of the books on audio for games that I’ve purchased over the years have been in the $40 – $50 range, and some even higher, which, for me anyways, feels like a lot.
DS: What’s next for you Rob? Can we expect new publications soon?
RB: At the moment I’m gearing up into full production on an awesome unannounced project with Radical, which is really exciting, so there is little time to delve too deeply into new articles. I’m also more fully involved with the GANG IESD group as a co-chair, along with Kenny Young and Scott Selfon, so this may focus a lot of my writing efforts in that direction in the future.
More information can be found at Arkhive Sound.