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Posted by on Feb 28, 2016 | 3 comments

Sunday Sound Thought 9 – Constructing Which Reality?

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

Though it’s not the first time Randy Thom has voiced his opinions about “detail” in sound design, his first personal blog post felt like it dove-tailed in nicely with one of the ideas I had planned for this series…so much that I thought I should push it forward in the schedule. The concept of “reality” in film.

I once knew a man who considered himself a great film sound aficionado, and he explained to me a game he and his father like to play that they called “bad foley.” Ignoring the fact that the term “foley” doesn’t actually apply to the targets of their disdain, it basically boiled down to picking out sounds that had no basis in reality. They viewed this as something that should be avoided. The quickest example he gave me was the sound that accompanied the helicopter in Terminator 2…specifically, the whoosh that tracked the search light as it panned through the building. This game of his bothers me on a number of levels, but there is one primary argument I have against it.

Sound design is not about re-constructing reality, it’s about constructing a reality…one that suits the purposes of the story and augments the characters’ perspectives. As Mr. Thom said, and I’m paraphrasing here, choosing which details to present can be “the most powerful choice.” There are times when that most powerful detail might just be something we would never experience in our own personal lives.

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Posted by on Feb 21, 2016 | 1 comment

Sunday Sound Thought 8 – Solipsism

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

Solipsism is the idea that the only thing that can be confirmed in life is the existence of one’s self. Whether or not we want to accept the possibility that this idea is true, an extrapolation can be made from the idea…one that is a little easier to accept. The only perspective that can be confirmed to exist is one’s own.

It’s impossible for us to see through another’s eyes, hear through their ears, or fully understand the complex impressions of the mind behind the words that people use to express themselves. Without a direct link between minds (something which we’re not currently capable of), it is impossible to truly share the sensory experience of another person. That’s something we can take advantage of in sound design.

Sound is solipsistic. Not every character needs to hear something the same way. The audience certainly won’t. Leaving room for them to interpret what those differences in character perspective (and maybe the realization that they have a different perspective as well), allows for a more complex story that feeds each individual’s experience and reaffirms their unique perspective. If you don’t believe me, go watch The Conversation (Coppola, 1974).

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Posted by on Feb 15, 2016 | 1 comment

Sunday Sound Thought 7 – Time Travel

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

No sound is perceived at its moment of inception. Sound takes time to reach our ears. By the time we perceive it, the physical event that spawned it may already be over. Even with those sounds that happen right in front of us, we’re still perceiving a previous event. The brain has latency…neural signals travel at 1 meter per second according to this article. So no matter what we do, we’re never hearing anything other than echoes of the past.

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Posted by on Feb 7, 2016 | 1 comment

Sunday Sound Thought 6 – Feeling Sound

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

Picking up an element from last week’s thought… “sound is the result of a physical event.”

It’s the vibration of physical objects in response to a state change in other physical objects. It can’t move through the environment without those carrier objects…such as air (yes, I’m considering gas a physical object here). It exerts force on those objects, which can then exert force on other objects. It’s how we hear. Pressure waves in the air around us exert force on and displace our ear drums. Our brain converts the resulting signals to sound.

Maybe hearing is not it’s own separate and distinct sense, but instead a kind of specialized function of the sense of touch.  The sound in our environment “touches” us, our brain just interprets it differently than a hand on your arm.

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Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 | 0 comments

Quick Tip: Using Templates in Wwise

WwiseTemplates_03WwiseTemplates_01

Guest post by Bradley Meyer

Like any tool in a game developers toolbox, Wwise is a deep, complex program with an owners manual longer than most novels. Who has time to read through an entire manual these days? I wanted to show off a simple, often overlooked feature in Wwise, which may not be readily apparent to someone who hasn’t read the manual. The ability to import a folder structure and apply a Wwise structure as a template to it can save a ridiculous amount of time when setting up structures in your project which may have a similar layout to other ones already in your project. With a little forethought and a few mouse clicks, the process of setting up complex structures in Wwise becomes an automated dream.

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Posted by on Jan 31, 2016 | 0 comments

Sunday Sound Thought 5 – Unexpected Language

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

All sound communicates.

Sound is the result of a physical event. Whether it be the wind blowing through the trees, air passing over your vocal chords, or electrons traveling through a piece of metal to/from a transducer, there’s a physical event happening. Sound helps us register and comprehend that event. It doesn’t really matter if that event has any immediate meaning to us, sound is there for us to use. Our environment is always speaking to us.

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Posted by on Jan 31, 2016 | 2 comments

Macros for Audio Production – Automating Your Workflow

This article was born out of an idea for a GDC audio talk proposal. Another one of my proposals was selected so I thought I’d turn the core idea of this one into a DS post in case it’s of use to the community.

Professor_Lucifer_Butts

used under creative commons, click for source

Do you use macros in your music/sound production? If the answer is yes, then this article isn’t for you. Given January’s theme is all about time management, I feel duty-bound to say you should make better use of your time and read one of the many other fantastic articles here on this site. If however, any of the following apply, read on!

  • “I don’t know what a macro is”
  • “Macros are just shortcuts right, like CMD C to copy?”
  • “Macros are only used by programmers.”
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Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 | 0 comments

Walter Murch and Trains: A Sound Exploration

An S-Bahn Class 480 train coming to a stop.

An S-Bahn Class 480 train coming to a stop. Photo Credits: http://hampage.hu/

Guest Post by Beau Anthony Jimenez

Introduction

In the film and sound world, Walter Murch is a man that needs no introduction.

But for the few who need a brief idea of this Renaissance man: Walter Murch is a pioneer of the film-sound world. His way of thinking about sound for film has been revered for decades. His body of work is legendary, both as a sound editor and picture editor.

As one studies his work, you may find that Murch utilizes the sound of trains in moments where he wants the audience to reside in the character’s perspective. These moments are essentially a sound designer’s playground, capable of delving into non-diegetic sound design and an abstract mix.

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Posted by on Jan 24, 2016 | 5 comments

Sunday Sound Thought 4 – ???

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

This week’s post is a short rhetorical question, and I’m piggy-backing off of last week’s connection between time and sound.

I wish I could remember where, but I once read that there is no experiment science can conduct that would prove/disprove the existence of time. Let’s presume for the moment that this is correct…

If we cannot prove the existence of time, and we need time to perceive sound, then how can we prove the existence of sound?

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Posted by on Jan 17, 2016 | 1 comment

Sunday Sound Thought 3 – Time

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

Sound is a representation of time.

Actually, that doesn’t sit right. Sound IS time.

If you think about the differences between a picture and a sound captured over an infinitely short span of time, you’ll understand what I mean. A picture is a representation of space. Something captured in a true instant generates a visual field which can be looked at, studied…understood. Time may be required to do all of those things, but the image exists.

The same is not true for sound. A sound captured in the same way is nothing. Attempting to continuously play back that representation for study would be like running a DC signal into a speaker. It would instantly deflect to a given position, and remain there as long the current continues. You would hear nothing.

Without time, sound does not exist.

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