There’s a common joke among game audio artists and designers: if you ask any number of sound designers what genre they’d most like to work on, the odds are good they’ll all say “horror”, twice. It’s no surprise it’s such a common answer, either; horror games offer designers some of the most interesting and diverse sound design opportunities one can come across. There’s no doubt that Frictional Games’s upcoming title SOMA fits this mold as well, evidenced by a fantastic blog post on Frictional’s website by the game’s audio director, Samuel Justice.
In the post, Sam discusses the approach he and the rest of the team took towards defining the distinct above- and underwater worlds of this eagerly-anticipated horror title. Sam goes into extensive detail on the techniques they used, both in the game’s engine and in content creation, to achieve a unique sonic identity for the game. Check out the post here, and also take a look at Sam’s other online home over at Sweet Justice, which features another great blog chock full of good info.
In a recent blog post, A Sound Effect spoke to sound designers Ruslan Nesteruk and Glen Bondarenko on the techniques and tools they utilize in creating sci-fi weaponry SFX. The post delves into layering, synthesis techniques, breaking down each weapon into its constituent components, and a great deal more. If you want some insights on creating better sci-go weaponry, you owe it to yourself to head over to the post now.
Photo: Steve “Major” Giammaria
Today at 12:00PM PST, Steve “Major” Giammaria, Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer at Sound Lounge in NYC, will discuss the processes, tools and methods he uses for audio post production during an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on AOTG. This event is made possible by iZotope. For more information, visit the announcement, or join the AMA, which will be active very soon.
Photo: Dave J Doe
The month of favorites may be over, but for me, the chirp of a wild bird can comfort at any time. When I think of an early morning robin, a lone wintery chickadee, or a nest of spring-time sparrows hidden under the roof, specific emotions evoke from the sonic data in their calls. They express the time, the season and weather, and the topography they declare home. Their calls, as well as their silence, create a thick atmosphere that can enhance just about any scene, from the mockingbirds of the South Atlantic in the US version of House of Cards to the backyard birds surrounding the peaceful but seclusive Mulwray mansion in Chinatown. In interactive scenes, they reflect the actions and the changing landscape around the avatar, signaling moods from solitude to panic, though they are rarely the cause of threat (unless you’re in Bodega Bay). In our existential life, they remind us the world continues on with or without our presence.
So, who is the owner of your favorite call? If you can recognize him or her by sound but not by name, check out The Macaulay Library from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which has uploaded nearly 137,000 of their 175,000 audio samples online, or the Xeno-Canto noncommercial database, which allows you to search by call length, number of notes, or even changes in pitch or rate.
If your sound effects library is lacking the charm of even the intercontinental sparrow, there are several commercial libraries to meet your twittering needs. The massive Animal Planet Sounds, Vol 1 from Sound Ideas contains hundreds of bird calls and ambiences, though the bird sounds consist of less than half the library. If you are looking for a more specific library, consider Quiet Planet’s Prairies, Boom Library’s Birds of Prey and Deciduous Forests, or The Recordist’s Bats, Birds and Bugs. Each library contains over 100 sound effects, metadata, multiple versions of each sound, and a recording quality of at least 48kHz/24-bit.
We as a community are lucky to have a number of amazingly informative resources available to us, and podcasts count among the most popular. Well, add a new one to your listening list: the Dolby Institute, in conjunction with SoundWorks Collection, is presenting a limited number of podcasts in a series entitled “Conversations with Sound Artists”. For the first episode, released a few days ago, they speak to Randy Thom of Skywalker Sound. Read more info on the podcast on SoundWorks Collection’s page.
The Mark 2 Lancer Assault Rifle created by Epic Games
What is your favorite sound effect from a video game? Reminiscent sounds from arcade, Atari and Nintendo games often come to mind, but effects from a few modern games have also become classics. Yet it is not from their nostalgic qualities that they join Mario’s square waves but rather from their versatility and ability to evoke sensations of skin-raising, visceral empathy. I am, of course, referring to a sound on my own list, the Mk2 Lancer with its chainsaw bayonet from Gears of War.
This summer the franchise gets an upgrade, and in this short video, development team The Coalition shares how they not only translated the game to Dolby 7.1 Surround, but also how they remastered the orchestral score and overhauled the sound design with new Foley while maintaining the distinctly crunchy character of the original game.
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.”
Photo: Adriane Kuzminski
“Peace and Love” by Banksy
As this is the month of favorites, what do you “heart”? In NPR’s Morning Edition, Christopher Joyce and Bill McQuay discuss how the invention of the stethoscope in 1816 revolutionized cardiovascular and respiratory diagnoses. They also visit the world’s largest collection of natural sounds located at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where, thanks to the invention of the phonograph in 1880, one can experience other living stories told through their nature patterns and harmonics.
This story is both an article and a radio segment, and it is part of Morning Edition’s weekly summer series on the “culture of listening” among researchers. The most recent edition contains more audio from the Cornell collection, featuring whale songs and their complex patterns and ethereal echoes from the bottom of the sea.
Jeremy Rogers at The Sound Keeper has just come out with a great new blog post on one of the most iconic film sound effects: the Indiana Jones punch. In the post, he recreates the sound, breaking it down step by step with great example clips and a detailed tutorial video. Head over to his post to check it out!
Photo: Heike Liss
Snippets of Dren McDonald’s score for his seven-piece ensemble.
Dren McDonald shares his third and final entry on the audio production of Gathering Sky. Written during the game’s development, the first two entries focus on keeping an open mind when joining a team late in the game’s development and maintaining this flexible mindset while composing and recording a live studio session. In the final entry, a post mortem, McDonald further emphasizes flexibility by sharing his incremental process of designing “reverse” dynamics in FMOD before the studio session recording.