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.
In the newest episode of the Tonebenders Podcast, two audio podcasts collide when Matthew Marteinsson of Beards, Cats, and Indie Game Audio joins Rene Coronado to delve into the unique challenges of audio for interactive media. Matthew brings his expertise on game audio to bear on workflow, session organization, and asset mixing and mastering, among other subjects. You can find the new Tonebenders episode on the page linked above, as well as on iTunes and Stitcher.
Recently, game audio industry vet Jeremy Rogers launched a new SFX library store & blog at www.thesoundkeeper.com. While the blog is still new, he’s already putting out some interesting articles, including his most recent “The Top 5 Must-Have Plugins for Sound Designers“. Check it out for Jeremy’s plugin recommendations, as well as some brief descriptions on how he uses them in his own work!
In a recent video, some members of the Killer Instinct sound team, including Zachary Quarles, Adam Isgreen, Mick Gordon, Chase Ashbaker, and Jeff Dombkowski, discuss some of the unique approaches and techniques they used in creating the sounds for some of the new characters featured in the second season of the game, including how they created fire effects, scarab attacks, and raptor vocals.
And if that’s not enough enticement, you also get to hear Mick Gordon throat-sing!