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.
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. (more…)
Photo by Gustavo Veríssimo, used under a Creative Commons license. Click to view source.
…and the fear of it. Some worry about it more than others, but we all face it sooner or later. There are varying degrees of failure, and then there’s the old line that helps to put things in a relevant light:
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” [Stephen McCranie…according to Google]
Failure is a part of development and growth. It’s unavoidable, and not necessarily something to fear. So this month, we’re going to try to bring a little perspective to this idea of failure.
For instance, it’s also not necessarily career related. After all, the sound Ben Burtt used to bring a little character to the Millenium Falcon failing to to go into light speed was an inertia starter failing to turn over. Failing devices can sound amazing! So we’re not necessarily going to be all philosophical this month.
It should be an interesting exploration…or maybe we’ll screw it all up. As Adam Savage always says on Mythbusters, “Failure is always an option.” ;)
We here at Designing Sound ALWAYS encourage contributions from the community. If you have a story, thought or technique you’d like to share, let us know. Contribute to this month’s theme if suits you, maybe next month’s topic (when we’re going to focus on the business side of sound design), or go completely off-topic. Anything is fair game! Contact shaun [@] this website to get the ball rolling!
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…
DS: 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… (more…)
Once again our friends at the Tonebenders podcast have delivered a great episode! This month, they spoke to Mad Mad Fury Road vehicle recordist Oliver Machin about his work on the movie. Head to their site to take a listen, or catch them on iTunes and Stitcher.
image by wgbieber, click limage to view source
Guest Post by Kate Finan
The studio owner skimmed my resume and nodded several times. He glanced up at me, back down at the resume, and then carefully set it back on his desk.
“Your credentials are great. The chair of the Sound Recording Department recommended you very highly, and we have a close relationship with him. So, we will hire you… We will hire you, but you won’t last. We will make sure of that.”
He paused, and I waited for an explanation.
“We don’t hire women. Studio policy,” he stated matter-of-factly.
As many of our readers know, sound design is frequently overlooked when people start talking in-depth about media production. It’s no surprise, then, that we here at Designing Sound get pretty excited when we find out someone is taking a closer look at an element of the craft. In that spirit, we wanted to bring your attention to a Kickstarter for Actors of Sound: A Foley Art Documentary. This film by director Lalo Molina and his team (listed on the KS page) seeks to bring attention to the human and performance elements of foley, as well as the fantastic artists who do it, but they need your help to produce the movie. Head over to the KS page and check it out, but do it soon; at the time of posting, there’s only 16 days left!
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:
In a new entry of their continuing series of film sound profiles, the fine people of SoundWorks Collection feature a discussion with Tomorrowland‘s sound designer, Kyrsten Mate, and re-recording mixer, Gary Rydstrom about their work on the recently-released movie. You can hear their discussion here.
Guest Contribution by Chris Burgess
There are two points to this article. The first is, if you see something you want to do, get out there and make it happen. The second, being that when an opportunity presents itself to you, be aware enough of your surroundings to scoop it up (and then record some awesome sounds). What follows is an account of my attempt to record dry ice on various metals. What I learned and the mistakes I made in case others wish to repeat this session for their own use.
In a recent blog post over at Boom Box Post, company co-owner Kate Finan discusses here recent experiments — and successes — in using contact microphones for underwater recording. It’s a great examination of some of the alternatives available for the (sometimes expensive) commercially available hydrophones on the market.