We here at Designing Sound know that any creative endeavor is about more than just the audio. In order for any piece of media to be successful, it needs a unified creative direction, and the support of numerous skilled people in many different disciplines. In the interest of learning more about other disciplines that run parallel to audio in media, we’re teaming up with Aotg.com to bring you interesting and enlightening articles from other disciplines, including editing and creative direction. Our first cross-site offering is Modern Editing Style, which takes a look at both the wide variety of editing styles in modern cinema, as well as a closer examination of some unique editing choices made in modern films.
Guest Contribution by: Anastasia Devana
With the recent rise of virtual reality (VR), there is a growing interest in fully spatialized 3D audio. Several plugins are available for implementing 3D audio, and choosing between them can be difficult, especially if you’re tackling this technology for the first time.
While it may seem that all 3D audio plugins do the same thing, there are several factors to consider when choosing the right tool for your project, such as ease of use, performance, sound quality, and level of customisation.
The goal of this article is to perform an objective and thorough overview of five leading 3D audio plugins: 3Dception from Two Big Ears, AstoundSound RTI from GenAudio, Phonon 3D from Impulsonic, RealSpace 3D from VisiSonics, and Oculus Audio SDK. I’ll cover their features, compatibility, and pricing, as well as any unique aspects of each plugin. I’ll also report on my personal experience of integrating them into a Unity project, and provide a downloadable interactive demo app that will allow you to audition the plugins, along with video walkthroughs, and performance test results.
This resource is targeted towards sound designers, audio implementation specialists, developers, and anyone interested in using 3D audio in their project, and I hope that people find it helpful!
Image by flickr user Jen Light, and used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to veiw source.
March is over, and you may have noticed that we’re returning to our usual mode of: “Here’s a theme. Here are a few articles on this theme. Do you want to contribute to the theme?” I think it’s important that we take a moment to talk about the community we have here.
Guest contribution by Mirella Diez Moran
My name is Mirella, I’m a video game sound designer and I’m Spanish too. I guess that in any other country none of these things would be particularly relevant, but given that there are very few people working in video game sound over here-not many more than twenty people-I guess I’m like some sort of unicorn.
When I decided I wanted to work as a video game sound designer, I had already worked in a few audiovisual projects. The problem with the Spanish film industry is that most companies are pretty crowded, so I was aware that it would be almost impossible to make a living out of working in it. It was then, when I played a game called “Sword & Sworcery”, that I realized that I could try entering the video game industry. I’m also a gamer since I was little, so I thought it was a brilliant idea.
Tim Prebble’s modular
The first time I saw a modular synth, I was taken aback by the massive nest of patching cables, seemingly flying off in all directions and connecting various devices with countless knobs and flashing lights, somehow creating all kinds of strange sounds. Coming up in a mostly digital world, such a mass of wiring was somewhat foreign to me. Sure, I had put together studios before, but those kinds of wiring setups were far more linear, at least as far as I was concerned. While I had spent a lot of time with Propellerhead’s Reason, virtually patching together all kinds of sound modules, I couldn’t even begin to compare it to the sight of a rack of analog modular hardware. However, I finally got to sit behind a modular at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California last year, and after just a few moments of fiddling, I was hooked.
Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.
I was born in England in 1988. Some of my earliest memories involve old BBC and Mac computers. I grew up listening to CDs, MiniDisks, playing “Duck Hunt” on my sister’s NES. The dial-up modem sounds are imprinted on my memory. I recall my father ordering books from Amazon.com back when that’s all Amazon sold. In my teen years I assembled my own computer to save money and grew to appreciate the inner workings of a computer. What I’m trying to say is, I’m an early product of the digital age, it’s all I’ve known.
Guest Contribution by Scott Kramer
With Haunting Melissa, we sought to bring feature film quality sound to an iOS app. It was an incredible experience, so when Neal Edelstein asked me to join the Hooked Digital Media team for Haunting Melissa: Dark Hearts, I jumped at the chance. Like many of us, my “day job” is designing sound for feature films and television. Hooked is breaking new ground by delivering filmed content via an app, and we thought the sound should be high-quality but also pioneering.
With that in mind, I entered an R&D phase to develop new standards and technologies for this medium. I’m a firm believer in mixing a project in the format and monitoring environment where it will most commonly be heard. We decided to mix these stories on headphones in the hopes that the audience would prefer that experience over the apple device’s built-in speaker, and we’ve found that they often do. Next, I began to research ways to deliver a truly immersive experience using an ordinary pair of headphones.
Guest Contribution By Chanel Summers
As a woman who has built her own career on a platform of game audio, game design and game production, I am passionate about programs that teach and empower women to follow a similar path. As there are such few women in the field of video game audio, fewer are even aware of the opportunities. I have been on a mission to try and change that – trying to introduce this field as a career option to young women and show that women can lead in this field and be highly successful — and perhaps even change the complexion of the video game industry. The reason this is so important is that for an industry or a creative medium to achieve its full potential, it must draw strength from diversity — a diversity of backgrounds, cultures, perspectives, and experiences. Each person approaching opportunity from a different starting point keeps things fresh, vibrant, exciting and new.
That is why I found myself, two years ago, at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, an all-girl’s school in Bellevue, Washington, proposing a summer workshop called, “Artistic Expression in Game Audio Design”. The workshop would give young women an artistic and technical foundation in audio for interactive media and expose them to the career possibilities in video game audio. It would be based on the class that I created and teach at USC’s Interactive Media & Games Division in the School of Cinematic Arts (“Audio Expression”), taking a semester-long course and turning it into an intensive one month long workshop for Forest Ridge. Because we chose not to “adapt” the material for a younger audience, these girls would get the same material I teach to undergrads, grads, and PhD students. In fact, it would be even more intensive, as they would have class every day for four hours each day rather than once a week. By choosing not to “dumb down” the curriculum for students just because they are younger or new to the field, we showed that we respected the young women, which they in turn responded to with vigor.
Knowing your way around audio middleware is quickly becoming a required skill to get a job in the game audio industry. If you are a sound designer and/or a composer that is looking to break into the world of game audio, learning how to work with various audio middleware solutions will not only give you a head start and set you apart from the “competition”, but it will also give you a greater understanding of how the technical side of things works and consequently you will have a greater appreciation of the inner workings of game audio. After Audiokinetic and Firelight Technologies announced their free license options (granted with some limitations), making Wwise and FMOD Studio available at no cost for the indies/small game development companies as of last year, now these programs are being used more than ever. There is no reason for you to not employ these options to create a more interactive and coherent soundscape for the game you are working on while also making life easier for yourself and the game developers.
But on the vast sea of knowledge and misinformation that is called the internet, how would you know where to start learning about these programs? Well, this is a guide to hopefully help you with that by providing you with a general outline of which resources and learning options are available right now for you to find out more about audio middleware as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Clearly the fates have decreed that I should not only be involved in the writing of a new audio degree as education month comes around, but that I should also be well into my own studies, working towards a Master’s degree in Sound Design. However, in getting to this point, my own audio education has meandered along most of the routes one might take in the pursuit of a career in audio. I’ve volunteered at studios, received on the job (and in the pub) training. I’ve studied at private colleges and run my own studio. Each of these diversions had an intrinsic value and it’s unlikely I would be in the position I am now without having taken them. However, as both a lecturer and a student, I am acutely aware that there are mixed views as to the value of a formal audio education, not just from potential students, but also from employers and practitioners (i.e. this interview from a few weeks ago). So I thought it might be useful to talk a little about the nature of writing an audio degree, from the middle so to speak. (Just to note, I am based in the UK so this relates to the process’s undertaken here. I can’t speak for anywhere else.)