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100% Synthesized SFX for Stylized Realism in Games

Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 | 1 comment

Guest Contribution by Alex May

If you were born in the 70’s or 80’s and played video games, you’ll no doubt have fond memories of the early days of game audio when consoles were incapable of playing back more than basic pulse waves or noise. All sounds had to be forged from these primitives, and game SFX were rarely even slightly reminiscent of anything actually real. Now, however, realistic sound is only as far away as your portable recorder or favourite sound library. Realism in sound has become accessible to the point of it being often considered a given; a basic assumption of the art.

Enter the idea of “100% synthesized SFX”. This is a self-imposed workflow limitation that declares that all sounds for a project will be synthesized, and not recorded. Foley, vehicles, weapons, combat, ambience, UI, and in certain cases even voices; all produced with synthesizers.

Wait, all synthesized? What could we possibly gain from doing things in such an inefficient and impractical manner? Surely it makes better sense to use tools and methods that are appropriate for the results we’re after, right?

Well, yes, that is true. However, being that ultimately we’re aiming to produce sound that complements the visual style of the game, it may not always be the case that recorded real-world sources are the best fit. If the visual style has a strong character about it, then so should the sound. One method for achieving this character is to place limitations on the production process, and that is what this article discusses: limiting sound production to synthesis. By doing this we can achieve an overarching “stylized realism” that, when paired with equally stylized visuals, can contribute to a sense of immersion in the game world.

Let’s now take a look at some work practices for a 100% Synthesis approach. (more…)

Sonic Architecture

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 | 0 comments

Expo 1958 paviljoen van Philips

The Philips Pavilion, based on hyperbolic paraboloids originally used in Metastaseis musical piece by Iannis Xenakis

“Sound is a spatial event, a material phenomenon and an auditive experience rolled into one. It can be described using the vectors of distance, direction and location. Within architecture, every built space can modify, position, reflect or reverberate the sounds that occur there. Sound embraces and transcends the spaces in which it occurs, opening up a consummate context for the listener: the acoustic source and its surroundings unite into a unique auditory experience.”

OASE

The spatial metaphor

Over the years, the relationship and analogy between music/sound art/sound design and architecture has been explored in several aspects. In the same way architecture works over the solid materials, visual spaces, geometry, abstract realities or social contexts, it does over the aural realities, the sonic dimension. When it comes to space, sound can be valued in an architectural process, just as architecture is also sonic.

Although when it comes to music, there has been a discussion on the validity of the analogy between the musical space and that of architecture, and there’s also some way of relating both concepts in the role of sound design, since it doesn’t rely in a fixed language as some music is, and it’s always open to the contexts in which it evolves or in which it is developed, such as a film. Space in terms of sound design is immensely important, both in terms of the visual/outer spaces projected in a particular audiovisual medium, but also in the inner, abstract or invisible faculties of a piece like a film or a videogame, thus introducing the possibility of creating architecture with aural elements in the same way the visual aspect creates its own spaces and objects. (more…)

Spaces From Noise

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 | 0 comments

white-noise2

Impulse responses are great for recreating spaces, whether it is a resonant glass bottle or a large cave. Here’s a handy a trick for sculpting your own impulse responses, and therefore your own reverbs, from something that we spend a lot of time getting rid of — noise!

If you listen to an impulse response by itself, you’ll find that it has noise-like qualities, except the frequency response changes over time. This isn’t surprising as sine sweeps and pistol shots are representations of bursts of noise.

For the examples below, I’ve used Logic’s Space Designer, but this technique is possible with any convolution reverb. The white noise samples were processed in Logic, bounced out as a wav file and then dropped into Space Designer’s interface. [Space Designer's dry level was set to 0dB and wet level to -6dB with filter and volume envelopes bypassed]

Here’s an example of a white noise sample that was about 1.5 seconds long with an exponential fade out. The samples below include the dry noise sample (watch your speaker/headphone level) followed by the convolved output (apologies for the rather sad drum loop).

Noise_Dry_Fade

(more…)

SFX Independence – September 2014 (Part 1)

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 | 1 comment

It has been a little while since the last SFX Independence post. So many new sfx libraries have come to our attention during that time that this roundup comes in two parts, designed to make it more digestible. Part 2 will follow later in the week.

Our aim is to provide readers information about the best and most innovative independent sound effects library available, so if you’d like your recently-released library to be considered for inclusion in the next roundup, all you need to do is fill in the Independent SFX Library submission form.

Tim Nielsen – Yellowstone

The Yellowstone SFX Library comprises 120 stereo tracks, recorded at 96/24 by supervising sound editor and sound designer Tim Nielsen. This 8GB pack of sounds from the Yellowstone geothermal volcano in Wyoming, USA, includes giant geysers, bubbling mud pots, fumaroles, hot springs, water streams and more.

Recorded using a SoundDevices 722, using Schoeps MS rig (CMC6 XT extended frequency bodies with an MK41/MK8 Capsule setup) and a Telinga Stereo Parabolic microphone.

Released: August 2014
Price: $50.00

Tim Nielsen on IMDB
Sonic Salute

(more…)

The Making Of Thunderstorm 3 SFX Library Part 1

Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 | 0 comments

Guest Contribution by Frank Bry

In this article I will reveal my secrets and techniques to recording decent thunder and lightning. Many, many years and sleepless nights have gone into perfecting the art of recording the thunderstorm and I will finally share. But first, I want to share a little history and tell you how I developed these secrets and techniques. It was not so easy at first and here’s the story I’m still alive to tell. Part 1: Live and Learn. (more…)

Sound Design Inspiration from Outer Space

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 | 5 comments

YouTube Preview Image

A few months ago I came across a Twitter post made by Stephan Schütze (a recent Designing Sound contributor) that continues to resonate with me (no pun intended) and I wanted to share it with anyone in the sound design community that has yet to hear these sounds.

As a side note, Stephan’s tweet was unrelated to his Designing Sound contribution (which can be found here) that he wrote for our monthly theme dedicated to Vehicles.

The original Twitter post was for an article entitled:

NASA Probes Record Sounds In Space – And It’s Terrifying.

I was immediately enthralled as soon as I heard the sounds. Opposed to my previous beliefs, outer space actually does produce sound, and the sounds are quite remarkable.

(more…)

Real Spaces

Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 | 2 comments

Image by Stewart Butterfield. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click picture to view source.

Image by Stewart Butterfield, used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

When we say “space”, people generally think of two things: outer space, or a bounded area that something fits into. It’s a safe bet that most people in the sound community immediately think of the latter. So often we focus on the characteristics of a space…how far a sound carries, reflections and reverberation time, etc. Certainly that helps us define a space, but…for the most part…only on a technical level. What really defines a space, is what occupies it. There’s no denying that production designers and location scouts in film, or level designers and artists in games, have a strong role in creating a space, but we in the sonic branch of our respective mediums have the unique ability to refine…or even redefine…those spaces they create. Sometimes, we’re even given the opportunity to create spaces where they cannot. What I want us to consider in light of that, is how we approach the creation of that space.

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Article With Neil Benezra In CineMontage

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 | 0 comments

If you made it to the Designing Sound mixer we held during the AES conference in New York last year, you may have met Neil Benezra. Neil is a Brooklyn based sound designer and mixer, and he’s just shown up on the cover of the latest issue of CineMontage (the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild Journal). We’re always happy to see members of our community being recognized. Why not go give it a read? ;)

Congrats Neil!

CineMontage_Neil

GameSoundCon – Game audio workers survey and a sound design contest!

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 | 0 comments

gamesoundcon 2014

GameSoundCon, gearing up for their 10th conference, which will take place October 7-8 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, have made two recent news announcements.

Game Audio Workers Survey

First up, the results of the GamesSoundCon and Games Audio Network and Guild (GANG) joint survey that looked at working in the game audio industry are out. Whilst the results give cause for optimism with regards to general pay for composers, sound designers and audio developers, less encouraging news emerged, with the fact that women remain under-represented in the industry accounting for around 5% of survey respondents. A PDF of the full survey results, where respondents were also invited to comment on things such as work environment and contract terms, are available form the GamesSoundCon website.

$100 off entry to GameSoundCon14 and a chance to win EastWest CCC2

GamesSoundCon and EastWest have teamed up for a sound design contest that offers multiple winners a $100 entry discount to October’s GamesSoundCon AND automatic entry into a draw to win a copy of EastWest Complete Composers Collection 2. More of a social media treasure hunt, for a chance to win contestants are asked to follow the contest link, provide an email address, and then use the power of social media to earn points that unlock the discount code and give entry into the draw. All the tasks are pretty straightforward, so don’t let that put you off!

GameSoundCon
EastWest
Game Audio Network Guild