Many thanks to Brad Dyck for contributing this interview. You can follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Dyck
It was my pleasure to speak with Rob Blake, Audio Director best known for his work on the Mass Effect trilogy. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is available now for PC and will be available for PS3/PS4 on August 19th.
BD: What originally made you move away from the UK to come over to Canada?
RB: Actually, before I came to Canada I was working at a small start-up in Spain (Tragnarion Studios). It was a really fascinating place to work because they were really passionate gamers who just wanted to make something they wanted to play themselves.
After I’d been with them for nearly a year I got offered the lead position on Mass Effect. I just finished the project I was working on in Spain so the timing worked out well. It was a dream job for me at the time – I’d been an Audio Lead before in the UK but working on something like Mass Effect was very special.
Guest contribution by Ben Minto and Bence Pajor of DICE
… Mr. President!!! …
There we were in The Thirsty Bear, reflecting on the first lot of GDC Audio Sessions, and up walks Mr. Menhorn. He knew what he wanted from us; so after introductions, a few more IPAs and some passionate discussion it was in the bag.
So here we are. A “behind the scenes”, warts and all, article and video about the helicopter models in Battlefield 4, written for the Designing Sound ‘vehicle’ month, of July.
The original model (design, implementation, samples etc.) and video capture were done by Bence Pajor, the Battlefield Audio Director and I’m (Ben Minto) handling the write up, even though I’m heading up the audio for DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront project. This is because we were both Audio Directors on Battlefield 4, due to Bence’s absence during the middle of the project, which was in turn due to the birth of his son (mini) Olof and Sweden’s generous paternity leave. (more…)
“Footsteps with character: the art and craft of Foley”, a great essay written by Benjamin Wright, included in the Screen journal.
“In this essay I look more closely at modern Foley performance and aesthetics, giving special attention to the customized nature of Foley effects and the importance of creating sound with ‘character’. What interests me is not only how Foley professionals have negotiated their role as sound artists but how the professional goals of Foley have shifted in response to the increasing use of digital audio workstations.”
Download/read (PDF file) / via musicofsound
Image by Late Model Restoration Supply, used under Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.
Guest Contribution by Michael Hermes
Modern cars are boring. They’re safe, practical, and quiet to the point of being uninteresting. A passing sedan glides by with a gentle whoosh of air passing over the car and the tires on the pavement. It makes for a pleasant ride to work but a short article on sound.
Cars didn’t start out quiet, though. Decades of engineering and research have identified the potential noise sources on a vehicle and reduced them to almost nothing. The internal combustion engine-powered car has a vast array of potential noise sources, all of which are quantified and treated by Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) engineers.
I held off on the announce post for a few days, because we had a few articles that spilled over from last month’s theme. Now that we’re caught up, it’s time to dive into this month’s theme…Vehicles!
Do we really need more of an introduction than that? My guess is no. And sure, there’s a rail car at a drag race in the image above, but we’re not single-minded. There are boats, planes, jets, motorcycles, bicycles, and more that all fall into this category. We’re lining up some fun articles, but don’t hesitate to bring your experience to the table as well.
Guest contributions are always welcomed and encouraged here on Designing Sound. If you’d like to contribute to this month’s theme, or have an off-topic post you’d like to put in front of the community, make sure you contact us through site’s contact form or e-mail shaun at [this site]. If you’re the kind of person who likes to plan ahead, next month’s theme will be Listening.
For the past few years I have been bothered about the amount of time I spend on a job — not specifically about how busy I am, but rather how much time I spend concentrating on the task that needs getting done. By default, most of us learn to constantly optimise our workflows as our experience grows. This is very important, as successful projects are judged not only on their quality but also budgets! But most of us also have the task of being creative collaborators while working long hours. Not easy.
One of the biggest problems I find with workflow optimisation is that I get stuck with techniques and ideas that have previously worked and quite often end up forcing ideas that don’t fit the context. They are often sub-conscious decisions and I need to consciously stop myself and try something new. I recently started taking ‘silent breaks’ to combat this. I’m a big fan of the pomodoro technique and use a 25 minute timer when I work. With every break (every 25 minutes) I step away from the computer and silently ponder on my work. I was surprised (and in hindsight, not so surprised) to find that it greatly improved my productivity and the quality of my work. There is something quite stimulating in taking a break, staring out of the window in silence and letting the mind wander.
But there are days when I ignore the timer because I’m too busy trying to make an idea work. I then start to optimise my workflow once again and forget about productive silences. An infinite loop.
A number of years ago I took part in a critical listening exercise where participants where given a piece of music and 3 hours to provide a critical assessment of it. The piece of music lasted just over 4 minutes so during those hours I got very familiar with it, but I didn’t really get much beyond scratching the surface of it, in terms of critical listening. The point of the exercise was to enlighten us as to the difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘critical listening’. For those 3 hours I was receptive to the music, I heard it, absorbed it, liked and disliked aspects of it, but I wasn’t able to engage a more critical mindset and turn my receptive listening into an active evaluation of the music. At that early stage in my career as an engineer I simply didn’t know how to set about the process.
I’ve previously talked about the importance of increasing communication between the sound community and our collaborators. This month’s topic provided the perfect opportunity to bring an outside voice to the Designing Sound community. Patrick Shen is director of the documentary “In Pursuit of Silence,” and I’m happy to be able to bring you his thoughts on the subject!
Would you mind giving yourself a brief introduction?
I’m a filmmaker based out of Los Angeles. My first film Flight from Death was released in 2005. My fourth feature-length film In Pursuit of Silence will be finished mid-2015 and released shortly after. The mission statement of my film company Transcendental Media is “to agitate the sleep of mankind”. I tend to make films that are more thoughtful in nature, films that deal with themes that I hope have the potential to challenge and expand our worldviews. Kierkegaard spoke of the “immediate man,” someone who doesn’t belong to him or herself and recognizes “that he has a self only by externals.” He tranquilizes himself in the trivial. I like to think that my films are an attempt to snap people out of this cultural haze and the process of making these films an attempt at avoiding this inauthentic life for myself.
The fourth annual FilmSoundHamburg got under way in Hamburg on Sunday evening – an event that will bring together enthusiasts from the worlds of sound design, film composition and game music for five days of workshops and seminars and masterclasses.
Among the highlights will be four separate masterclasses given by Tim Nielsen of Skywalker Sound (Maleficient, Lord of the the Rings, John Carter), and composers Olivier Deriviére (Assassin’s Creed IV, Remember Me), Javier Navarrete (Pan’s Labyrinth, Mirrors, Hemmingway & Gellhorn) and Lisle Moore (who has composed trailer music for Maleficient and the last three FIFA World Cups). In addition, a number of workshops and seminars will also be taking place.
FilmSoundHamburg takes place from June 29th until July 4th in Hamburg, Germany. Some places are still available so check the website for the full programme and price list.
FilmSoundHamburg programme of events
FilmSoundHamburg on Facebook
Charlie Chaplin on ‘City Lights’
“Ideally, for me, the perfect sound film has zero tracks. You try to get the audience to a point, somehow, where they can imagine the sound. They hear the sound in their minds, and it really isn’t on the track at all. That’s the ideal sound, the one that exists totally in the mind, because it’s the most intimate. It deals with each person’s experience, and it’s obviously of the highest fidelity imaginable, because it’s not being translated through any kind of medium.” – Walter Murch
Silence can be sonic; sound can be silent. We’re always listening to both. When we listen to a sound, we listen to a silence. When we listen to silence, we listen to sound. The dualism behind this is just an illusion, because in reality, we only find one thing, a single coin, with two faces, but a single coin.
There’s always sound in silence, always. There’s no such thing as sound without silence. There’s no such thing as silence without sound. Both are always dependent on each other and get differentiated just because of our fantasy of reality. We could think as silence as “absence of sound” but that will not be in an absolute way because there’s no place without sound, there’s no time without sound. Silence is absence just in partial ways, depending on the wave, all the time attached to the context the absence of a particular sounds, or just the choices around the speakers can’t reproduce. (more…)