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Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 | 0 comments

Just Listen

Louder!Back around the time I was first starting out, I remember opening up a demo of Cubase VST (on my trusty PowerMac 6400) and taking a look through the various menus. Everything seemed pretty standard, but something in particular caught my eye, a menu item labeled “Ears Only”. Curious, I clicked on it, only to have my monitor go completely blank. After a few seconds of panic thinking I had broken everything, I realized that Steinberg had programmed a mode that completely disabled the monitor and forced you to just listen. At first, this option seemed like a strange addition. Why, when I’m creating sound, would I not be listening to what I’m doing? Listening while working with audio seemed like a no-brainer. However, after gaining a little more experience, this “just listen” mode began to make a lot more sense.

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Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 | 0 comments

Watson Wu on Listening

DSCN6679WatsonExplosionSessionLet’s start out with what to listen for in a recording location. Naturally, we’re always going to be looking for a space that isn’t going to introduce too many environmental and human generated artifacts into the recording, but the physical layout and acoustic properties of a location can contribute as much character to your recordings as microphone selection…sometimes even more. On top of that, recording vehicles and weaponry (what you’ve specialized in) isn’t something you can do just anywhere. So, what do you listen for when scouting potential recording sites?

The biggest problems I face when searching for a recording location is traffic, especially airports and expressways. I’ve scheduled multiple jobs where I had to find ideal locations away from these environments. Fortunately I live and work in a quieter area away so I don’t have to travel too far. However, that rare Ferrari I need to record is located in the middle of a downtown so it’s crucial to make generous car owner friends who are willing to drive an hour or so to a quieter location. Most microphones I’ve tried are quite sensitive in capturing unwanted background sounds. This is why I often use my Sennheiser MKH-418s M/S shotgun mic. For isolation with a mono mic I use either my Neumann 82i or the Rode NTG8. On bigger budget jobs I will rent the Neumann RSM-191s mic (probably one of the best field recording mics ever made).

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Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 | 3 comments

Designing GuitarMonics for Kontakt

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Guest Contribution by Rodney Gates

Greetings!

Welcome, and thanks for checking out this (TL;DR) article on the creation of the virtual instrument sample library, GuitarMonics, designed for Native Instruments’ Kontakt software. It was a long road from concept to completion, and I thought it might be a good idea to discuss some of the processes and discoveries I learned along the way for those that may be interested in creating their own sample libraries, for commercial or personal use.

Having been a Sound Designer and Audio Director for video games for over a decade now, and always a huge fan of virtual instruments that load up in the computer and sound stunningly real, I felt the desire to branch out into this field and begin establishing a foothold of my own with my new company, SoundCues.

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Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 | 2 comments

Vehicle Engine design – Project CARS, Forza Motorsport 5 and REV

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With this article I really wanted to find out about the nuts and bots of vehicle engine sound design and implementation. So I contacted a few people and got some great responses and a fascinating insight into the process. My thanks to Stephen Baysted, Audio Director and Composer at Slightly Mad Studios, Greg Hill, Sound Designer at Soundwave Concepts, Adam Boyd, Sound Designer and John Twigg, Software Engineer at Crankcase Audio and Nick Wiswell, Audio Creative Director at Turn 10 Studios.

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Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 | 0 comments

Beards, Cats and Indie Game Audio – On Listening

The gents with impressive facial hair over at the Beards, Cats and Indie Game Audio Podcast have glommed onto this month’s theme of “Listening”. You can check out the full episode here.

Thanks go out to Matthew Marteinsson (@mattesque) and Gordon McGladdery (@AShellInThePit) for contributing to this month’s discussion!

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Posted by on Aug 3, 2014 | 7 comments

All Ears!

You can be forgiven for assuming Jack picked this picture, but it was all me...I knew he would approve though ;)

You can be forgiven for assuming Jack picked this picture, but it was all me…I knew he would approve though ;)

We have two words that are most commonly used to discuss how we interact with sound: hearing, and listening.

Hearing is a passive act. Pressure waves move our eardrums, the motion is converted to an electrical signal, and our brain tells us that there is a sonic phenomenon in the space around us…perhaps it even provides us with identifying information. It’s what comes after that is fascinating, when we stop to LISTEN to the source. The act of directing attention allows us to focus in on the sound, to the (albeit sometimes limited) exclusion of others. Sometimes the steering of that attention is a subconscious mechanism, but the act of listening is always a conscious one.

That’s our focus this month; “Listening.”

We here at Designing Sound always appreciate the community’s enthusiasm and contributions to the discussion, and we know the community also appreciates anytime a member does. If you’d like to contribute to this month’s topic, drop us a line; either through the contact form, or to ‘shaun [at] this website’. If you prefer to plan ahead a little, next month’s topic will be “Space/Spatial.”

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Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 | 4 comments

Turbocharging and its effect on our soundscape

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Photo Credit to Alex Bellus

Guest Contribution by David Nichols

An engine is, in essence, an air pump. Air comes in, gets mixed with fuel, goes bang, and leaves again. When talking about ways to make more power, the most obvious is to make a bigger bang. However, gasoline works best at a very specific ratio of fuel to air, which is roughly 14:1. So, if you want to make a bigger bang, you need 14 times more air than your increase in fuel to get it.

When trying to get more air, one solution is to use a bigger engine. More, larger cylinders means the pump can inhale a bigger breath, which means more fuel and more power. However, this so-called “natural aspiration” or NA for short, has a limitation in air pressure. Just like a straw, the inhale of an engine works by creating low pressure, which atmospheric pressure then fills in. So, another way to get more air into an engine is to pressurize it, or use “forced induction.”

There are a few different methods of forced induction, but today I want to talk about one in particular: turbocharging. A turbocharger is a turbine that is connected to the exhaust gas leaving the engine on one side, which then drives an impeller on the other side to create air pressure. The more and faster exhaust gas comes out of the exhaust, the more and faster the intake side compresses air. When the amount of pressure generated by the propeller is greater than atmospheric pressure, the system is making “boost” and the amount of boost can be measured in PSI.

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Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 | 1 comment

Car Engine Approximation In Max

Years ago, when I first started dabbling in the deep and dark world of Max/MSP, I attempted to create the sound of a car engine. This month’s theme (which is ‘vehicles’, if you didn’t know) reminded me about it. I opened up the patch after ages and was a bit appalled by the state of it. There are hidden skeletons in every old patch!

Instead of digging through a dated project, I recreated a patch/idea I had used about a year ago when designing sounds for a remote controlled toy airplane. I tried to adapt the simplicity of that implementation to a ‘regular’ car engine.

Here’s a sample of what it sounds like (all synthesised):

This patch was put together fairly quickly and could do with more refinements to improve the character and reduce the amount of ‘digital-ness’ in the sound. The model quite obviously breaks at higher frequencies/RPMs.

Here’s the patch:

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Posted by on Jul 17, 2014 | 3 comments

Planes, Trains and Automobiles …and tanks and bikes and boats and…

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Guest Contribution by Stephan Schütze

Why I am not going to tell you which microphone to use

The simple answer to this statement is, because we don’t have time. The exact choice of which microphone to use for each situation of recording a vehicle is a detailed exercise and would take more pages than we have space for. Even then, there is a major flaw associated with the idea. What I hear and what sounds good to my ears may not work for you. Suggesting Brand X or a Model 2B, stuffed up the exhaust pipe of your Honda, may only serve to encourage you to spend more money than you need to. As much as we all love to buy new equipment, I think there is value in stepping beyond the tools and toys. I’m going to be more general and share a more conceptual approach to capturing good vehicle sounds.

What I will do is take you through some of the essential lessons I’ve learned when recording vehicle sounds for Sound Librarian. In creating our sound libraries, I’ve recorded motorbikes, cars, tanks, boats, airplanes, pretty much every vehicle I could get my microphones near.

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