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Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 | 2 comments

Sulpha: The New PS4 Mastering Suite

Sony for a very long time has spearheaded the effort to standardise loudness in games. The recent PS4 SDK update (2.500) includes a mastering suite — Sulpha analysis tools — to help developers master their titles for a variety of playback systems, from full range surround sound systems to TVs, to mobile devices.

It features a 4-band equaliser, a 3-band dynamics processor, gain and limiter controls and loudness management and analysis tools. The interesting thing about the toolset is that it utilises resources from the operating system and is therefore compatible with game audio middleware, third party engines and all PS4 titles.

I briefly interviewed Garry Taylor, Audio Director at Creative Services Group, Sony Worldwide Studios and Marina Villanueva-Barreiro who is a senior engineer at SCEE Research and Development. I found it interesting that about 50% of users listen to PlayStation titles through their TV speakers. I was expecting the percentage to be much higher.

Sulpha

DS: Sony in many ways has been spearheading the loudness standard for games. Did the development of these tools seem like a natural progression from the development of the standard?

Garry: Very much so.  Having a loudness standard is all well and good, but we needed to make it as easy as possible for developers to hit the PS4 loudness target without having to spend big money on new equipment.  Loudness metering has been part of the PS4 operating system for a couple of revisions now, and this is the next logical step, allowing developers to manipulate overall EQ , dynamic range and loudness easily and quickly.  Smaller teams working on PlayStation titles may not have the resources or technical knowledge required to conform to a standard, so having one easy-to-use audio mastering tool that works on every single title made a lot of sense.

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Posted by on May 29, 2015 | 1 comment

Comedy…”It’s an Interesting Thing to Try and Nail Down” – Interview with Chris Scarabosio

Chris Scarabosio is a sound designer and re-recording mixer who works at Skywalker Sound. This interview was originally intended to be part of our comedy theme in April. Schedules didn’t quite work out, so we’re bringing it to you now…

SCARABOSIO_ChrisDS: So our theme for April was comedy, and I thought yours would be an interesting brain to pick on the subject.

CS: I was thinking about it, “What makes a sound funny?” And it’s kind of hard to figure out. Some sounds are funny, like pops…just suction pops, for whatever reason. What makes that funny? I don’t know. The things I learned funny from are: Looney Tunes, Three Stooges, Flintstones… Kind of dissecting it, and even now doing Minions, it’s just “absurdity.” I think something so absurd makes you laugh, like anvil hits. Something hits that’s nowhere near the weight of an anvil, and it makes this ridiculous, “DONK!” It’s funny, I guess, because it’s absurd.

DS: The exaggeration of it maybe?

CS: Exaggeration, yeah. Something so over the top, that it couldn’t possibly make that sound. That makes it funny.

DS: Those are the first things that I go to as well. For sound in comedy, you think about the slapstick and musical stuff in Looney Tunes, a lot of times they do something that’s completely unrelated. Like if a feather has an anvil sound when it hits. It’s a different type of absurd, not necessarily an exaggeration…

CS: It’s the opposite, right. It’s an odd thing to talk about, because it’s hard to explain. There are no hard and fast rules, other than kind of what we learned growing up and watching cartoons. In doing it, you try different things. I’m trying to think of something…

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Posted by on May 27, 2015 | 0 comments

Accidents? Those are the great bits! – a Designing Sound interview with Warren Ellis

Nick Cave (L) and Warren Ellis (R)

Nick Cave (L) and Warren Ellis (R)

Warren Ellis is unstoppable. The busy Australian is a member of – at least – three different bands: The Bad Seeds, Grinderman and Dirty Three. He plays violin, piano, bouzouki, guitar, flute, mandolin, viola and, yes, probably even more. He is pretty much constantly touring the world, making records or creating soundtracks. Anyone who’s experienced him onstage with Nick Cave knows his powerful presence and amazing musicianship – he’s been a member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since 1994.

Together with Nick Cave he’s scored several films, among these The Proposition (2005), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), The Road (2009) and just recently they did the score for the French drama Loin des Hommes – Far From Men is the UK title – which is based on the Albert Camus short story and set in Algeria in the years leading up to independence.

This month’s theme here at Designing Sound is Destruction and Ellis is someone who’s not afraid of gritty, noisy, textured, explosive, destructive sound – his approach to sound is often to use accidents in creative ways. Here he talks about his methods and inspirations – and why he loves cinema:

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Posted by on Apr 30, 2015 | 0 comments

The Sound of the Rapture – Interview with Audio Designer Adam Hay

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Following on from last month’s interview with The Chinese Room‘s Director and Composer Jessica Curry I was lucky enough to grab some time to chat with the studio’s Audio Designer Adam Hay.

Designing Sound: Thanks for taking the time to speak to me Adam. So, looking back through your credit list the first games you worked on were at Traveller’s Tales?

Adam Hay: That’s correct, yeah. I started doing music technology at University and when I finished my degree I knew I wanted to get into games. I’ve been a lifelong game enthusiast. The first game that had a big impact on me was Monkey Island 2. I saw that first when I must have been 7 or 8 and I was totally enraptured by the sound and music of that game. I’ve been a bit of an adventure game addict since then. I got into early things like Click and Play and Games Factory so after University it seemed like a natural extension of my two passions, music & sound and games, to try and get into the industry. So I sent my post-University CV of to every games company in the UK and as luck would have it TT were looking for a junior sound designer at the time and I was lucky enough to get in there.

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Posted by on Apr 28, 2015 | 0 comments

Broken Age – An Interview with Camden Stoddard and the audio team at Double Fine

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Broken Age launched Act I in January 2014. Funded through Kickstarter with it’s development the subject of an epic (and ongoing) documentary courtesy of 2 Player Productions, the game was noteworthy for a number of reasons. I personally really enjoyed the games sound and music so in August 2014 I caught up with Camden Stoddard, the lead sound designer on the game for a chat. I was lucky enough to catch up with him again in March 2015 and also meet the other members of the audio team, Ashley Coull and Paul O’Rourke, as they closed in on the end of Act II

Designing Sound: Hi Camden. Thanks for taking the time to chat to me today. How are things going?

Camden Stoddard: Well, we’re in a weird place right now. I’m in Broken Age Act II land now. There’s a lot of layouts being done and there’s a whole bunch of work coming my way and I can’t really touch it until it’s locked. So now I’m kinda sketching and guessing what they’re going to do. So right now, I’m actually helping out on a couple of other projects, working on Costume Quest 2 and Massive Chalice.

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Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 | 0 comments

“His screaming as a woman with a high pitched voice really helped that scene.” An interview with Mike Wilhoit

Mike Wilhoit

Mike Wilhoit is currently a Supervising Sound Editor for Technicolor and has perviously worked for Soundelux, Universal and Goldwyn Studios. Designing Sound spoke to him about his career with a focus on his work in comedic feature films.

Designing Sound: How did you find your way into sound for film and television?

Mike Wilhoit: I started at Goldwyn Studios in 1974. I started as an apprentice and worked my way up; Assistant Sound Editor, Foley Artist, Sound Editor, Sound Supervisor. My father Ken Wilhoit was a music editor for Quinn Martin Productions. He called me at work (I was also attending California State University, Northridge) and said “Son you have a union job as an apprentice, you start tomorrow”. I quit my job and studies, and started the next day.

DS: You have fellow family members who also work in the film and television business. Do you all enjoy talking about each other’s work, is it nice that they all have an appreciation for what you do?

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Posted by on Apr 10, 2015 | 6 comments

“All we can do, as a community, is to welcome anyone who wants to learn. ” An Interview with Fryda Wolff

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[ed. This interview was originally intended as a part of our focus on women in March]

Fryda Wolff began her adult life working in video games for 12 years before deciding to run away and join the circus as a voice actor. She can be reached and researched at her website or on Twitter. 

Designing Sound: How did you start working in the video game industry and what led you to game audio specifically?

Fryda Wolff : I got my foot in the door via Customer Service for EverQuest, as a Game Master. Three and a half years later, Sony Online Entertainment created its first audio department specifically to support EverQuest II. They needed someone entry level just to implement VO, I applied, and was hired. In high school I’d thought I’d like to become a recording engineer. When I learned that most university programs required credits of math and chemistry, I gave up on that idea. At the time I wasn’t aware of the myriad technical schools that specialize in audio. My entire games and audio education was received while on the job.

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Posted by on Mar 18, 2015 | 1 comment

“…desperately unstrategic…” – An interview with Jessica Curry, Director and Composer at The Chinese Room

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Jessica Curry is a Director and Composer at The Chinese Room, a game development studio based in Brighton, UK. The studio shipped their first game, Dear Esther in 2012 and are currently hard at work on their third, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.

Designing Sound: Tell us a little about how you got started out as a composer? What kind of projects did you start out with?

Jessica Curry: I started composing when I was a little girl. I begged for piano lessons and loved it from the outset. I was always writing little songs; the first Mozartian classic being “Jessica Curry is in a hurry, she’s going on holiday/Hip hip, hurray, she’s going on holiday.” I think you can spot the innate talent right there. Then a fun three years reading English Literature and Language at University followed by a “what the hell are you doing with your life, you’re working at the Warner Brothers store” talk from my amazing late step-dad who gently pushed the National Film and Television screenwriting Screen Music course application under my nose. From then on, a vast and pretty bizarre array of projects. I often say that I’ve had a desperately unstrategic career but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always follow my heart rather than my head and this has led to some phenomenally interesting collaborations, ranging from a Requiem for a Second Life character for the Royal Opera House to writing lullabies for Great Ormond Street Hospital. So although I’ve very probably sacrificed recognition in one particular field, to me what I’ve gained is the most wonderful and unusual collection of projects and that to me has been worth far more.

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Posted by on Feb 28, 2015 | 1 comment

“ADC, it’s easy as 1 10 11″ – A Retrospective from the Pros

Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

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.

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Posted by on Feb 4, 2015 | 1 comment

The Japan Sound Effects Collection Interview

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 8.58.30 PM

At the time of writing, recent graduate and field recordist Chris Trevino has a Kickstarter campaign called “The Japan Sound Effect Collection” which he plans to be a collection of ambiences, train passes, and walla. Chris was kind enough to answer a few questions about his current campaign.

Designing Sound: Tell us a little bit about your own background in sound and field recording.

Chris Trevino: I was enraptured at a young age by the games that were coming out of Japan in the 90s. The music of Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy Series) and Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger/Cross) gave me both the game and Japan bugs. These games inspired me to take up the tenor saxophone and then later choir when I was younger and made me want to be a game composer.

I first started my undergraduate as an anthropology major, because of my love of cultures, but quickly discovered that I loved the ideas but was not passionate about the work.  At the end of my first year, still dreaming of game music, I took summer music composition classes and my first sound design class. Needless to say, I got hooked.

Since then, I’ve sound designed a handful of theater productions and have done a lot of field recording on my own. In the summers of 2012/13, I trained with Ric Viers at The Detroit Chop Shop.  While there, I helped record and edit four commercial sound effects libraries for BlastwaveFX. I started the Japan collection in Fall of 2013 while I was studying Japanese at a language center in Japan.

 

DS: What made you choose Japan as a subject for field recording?

CT: Choosing Japan as a subject for field recording was a natural choice given how much Japanese games influenced me when I was younger. When I was accepted into the language center in Japan, I knew that I needed to do as much recordings there as I could.

 

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