Cover image by Mirko Tobias Schaefer (flic.kr/p/5vBCdn). Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
What is the essence of sound design?
It is widely accepted that individuals who are visually impaired develop the ability to hear heightened detail and extract deeper levels of information through their other senses, in which hearing/sound is a large part.
For many of us, the sounds we regularly design are for the distinct purpose of supporting, and enhancing the context of (often moving) images within a larger media project such as a film, or a video game.
This month, Designing Sound would like to take away any potential (visual or otherwise) “crutches” that we lean on when designing sounds and consider what sound design is at its core, in its purest form, and without any visual aids to help (or distract) us. This a month to reflect on, and explore the depth, and meaning, of “pure” sound design.
As always, we here at Designing Sound encourage our community (and yes, that means you) to contribute an article for this month’s theme, or any sound design related topic that may be on your mind. Your contributions, and added perspectives are a large part of what keeps this site vibrant and fresh. So please, keep reading, thinking, and writing about sound design, and anytime you would like to contribute, just contact doron [@] this website. Thank you for being a part of our community.
Michael Raphael has been recording and releasing high res sound effect collections for sound designers and editors since 2010. His site Rabbit Ears Audio covers such diverse sonic ground as Hind Helicopters, train whistles, and typewriters. In a recent collaboration with Audio Director Rob Bridgett he has released a new library called Port of Call and they’ve kindly offered to give us some insight into its creation. Many thanks to Michael and Rob for this contribution.
Many thanks to Brad Dyck for contributing this interview. You can follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Dyck
Gordon Durity is the Executive Audio Director of the EA Audioworks team, which supports the audio development of the upcoming Need for Speed release available on November 3rd, 2015 for PS4 and Xbox One (PC due in the spring of 2016). I’d like to extend my thanks to Gordon for sitting down to chat with me.
Brad Dyck: Could you describe some of the responsibilities you deal with day to day?
Gordon Durity: I look at all the titles that I’m in charge of – all of the sports games, Need for Speed, Plants vs Zombies and mobile products just to keep track of where everything’s going as far as audio content and quality. I do R&D as well, looking at where our technology is headed, what’s out there competitively, what we’re building in-house, what we need to build for emerging platforms, and what we need to re-factor to make things work better. Because we’re a central team, I spend time with the senior leaders of the titles we service whether it’s FIFA, Madden or Need for Speed, just to make sure that we’re completely aligned with our dev partners.
Rob Bridgett is an audio director at Eidos-Montréal.
Leonard Paul is the president of the School of Video Game Audio.
Images courtesy of Rob Bridgett & Leonard Paul
Nine years ago, we collaborated on an article on the idea of limitations for Gamasutra and wanted to see where our thoughts would take us. This time around, rather than produce another article, this submission is a set of our musings meant to be used as starting points or inspiration when working with the limitations of game audio.
Allowing a view of the long-term in our art gives a certain freedom but it can also be paralyzing unless we set limits on ourselves.
An exciting, creative challenge is one with well defined limits: a well defined brief; a box to play in.
Not only do technical limits advance but also creative limits as well.
Working within a genre is a form of self-limitation (style and structure, for instance, “we’re going to write a 3 minute pop song”). A platform/format is a limitation: 12 inch, an LP (two sides), a CD (long running playlist). We need to consider the equivalent boxes and structures in games (menu, mission, genre, format, art style).
When the topic of restriction first came up I immeadiately thought of the Dogme 95 movement. It seemed like such an obvious response that I spent some time hunting around for another topic. Inevitably though I’ve come back to Dogme. Partly because it really is a great example of working under restriction, but also because the films created within the movement are so striking in their subversion of the restrictions placed on them. This also gave me the opportunity to revisit two films I enjoy immensely, Festen (1998) and It’s All About Love (2003); both directed by Thomas Vinterberg and written by Vinterberg and Mogens Rukov.
Photo credit to: Nic McPhee
From time to time, while working specifically on the audio portion of film projects (this is true for other mediums as well, though this month is focused on film), a sort of “tunnel vision” can occur and it is easy to overlook the importance of film as a complete artform and its impact on the world around us.
This month’s theme of Film Theory gives us all a chance to take a step back and review the purpose, power, and importance of film in our society. Also, this month serves as a great chance to reexamine and look deeper at what each of us sees as audio’s role(s) and importance within all genres of film.
We here at Designing Sound always encourage contributions from the community. If you would like to add your thoughts on Film Theory, please be in touch and let us know. As always, feel free to contribute to this month’s theme, or possibly next month’s topic is of more interest to you (which will be “Pure Sound Design”), or go completely off-topic. Anything is fair game. Please contact doron [@] this website and we will get the ball rolling.
Image by flickr user Boston Public Library. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.
In my relatively short career, I’ve been fortunate to work in a variety of roles within different frameworks (freelancer, startup, in-house and a contract employee). Whilst we sometimes hear people discussing what specific roles are like, we don’t often hear about these different frameworks and how they compare. I thought it might be interesting to share my observations on what pros and cons I found in each of these frameworks. So whether you’re a student looking for your first opportunities or a seasoned pro looking to transition roles, I hope some of these insights prove useful.
What do you think of when you hear (or read) the word restriction?
Unfortunately, the word restriction often carries with it a negative connotation. Though within the creative process, restrictions can be quite beneficial, and sometimes inspiring. As Belle Beth Cooper explains in her Buffer blog post, “What restrictions do is take away some of the choices available to us, and with them, the paralysis of choice that stops us from getting started.” We all have restrictions that somehow shape our work (from a simple self-imposed framework or template to budget constraints, and so on) and this month we want to explore some of these restrictions from the perspective of sound design.
We here at Designing Sound ALWAYS encourage contributions from the community. If you would like to throw in your “two-cents” on this topic, please be in touch and let us know. As always, feel free to contribute to this month’s theme, or maybe next month’s topic is of more interest to you (which will be “Film Theory”), or go completely off-topic. Anything is fair game. Please contact doron [@] this website to get the ball rolling.
There’s a lot of things to like about Frozen. The animation is beautiful, the script is tight, the performances are great, and it even features a catchy tune or two. It’s also got some great sound. Check out the opening ice cutting sequence. It probably had whole cinemas ducking for cover in 3D but even in plain old 2D it works. The effects are great and when you get out from under the ice into the open air there’s that indefinable ‘softness’ to the soundstage that only happens in a snowy environment. And the film has a lot of it; ice, snow, crunchy, soft, cracking, and exploding and it all sounds just right. But my favourite thing about Frozen are some door knocks from right at the start.
It’s been long overdue, but we’ve finally updated the archive links to include the featured topics we’ve been running over the last few years. Just hover over the “Archives” tab in the menu bar above, and click on “Featured Topics.” Don’t forget that there’s a bunch of other cool stuff in the site archives, including links to the site’s previous feature system, “Featured Sound Designers.”