I recently came across the Frictional Games blog and have spent the last few weeks trawling through it’s archive. It provides a wealth of informaiton on game design, and in particular discussions on the point of game narrative. One particular post, 4 Layers, a narrative design approach, written by Thomas Grip, Frictional’s creative director, raised the concept of the mental model, and the impact this can have, not only on game design, but also on a players experience of a game. (more…)
Anechoic chambers aren’t necessarily “silent,” but what other image can you actually use to represent the subject. The nature of silence, like nearly every other aspect of sound, is truly a subjective idea, because true Silence…the complete absence of sound…is impossible to experience unless one has a medical condition which induces it. [If you want to get solipsistic, we don't even really have a way to confirm that THAT is an experience of Silence.] So, how do we then talk about Silence if it doesn’t exist? We focus on the the relationship between sounds that tells us something is quiet, the idea that a given source can be silent within an environment, and…of course…the subjective identification…the acknowledgement that we can experience silence, even if the world isn’t Silent.
Join us, as we take a moment of silence.
Next month’s featured theme will be “Vehicles.” Designing Sound is made special by the many volunteer contributors who come to us share their opinions and thoughts. If you’re inspired by this month’s theme or the next, or have something off-topic you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to contact: “shaun @ [this website]” …We look forward to hearing from you!
Surround (Oxford Dictionary)
- (verb) [with object] – Be all round (someone or something)
- (noun) – A thing that forms a border or edging around an object.
- (adjective) (Surrounding) – All around a particular place or thing.
Based merely on a technological approach, one might think that Surround sound is just the technique of reproducing audio signals in a particular array of speakers that distribute sound around space in order to give a three-dimensional illusion for the ears…
Surround is not visual really, is not something we can see. Surround is not just a technique of distributing sound, but the consequences of it. It’s a characteristic of sound itself, natural to the sonic phenomenon and responsible of the entire notion of the “auditory field” which is more than simply one dimension of space, but a multi-layered, multi-dimensional representation of sound.
In this article I aim to explore different experiments and perspectives toward the use of surround sound and the experiments between space and form, getting out from the image/film relationship in order to explore how sound “alone” can be enriched by the process of multichannel distribution, which has been deeply explored aesthetically, psychologically, musically, etc. (more…)
The Tonebenders Podcast has just released another “Soundbytes” mini-podcast that ties into our “Surround” theme for this month. Give it a listen, and don’t forget to subscribe to them on iTunes!
There’s been more VR content made in the past year than the last twenty combined, thanks to the emergence of the Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus and other such virtual reality (VR) devices. There’s lots of innovation happening on the visual front, including new methods of gameplay, narrative structure and visual design. The obvious question: what’s happening on the audio front?
There are discussions about audio for VR across the Internet but most of them are related to the technology behind binaural/3D positional audio. There also is lots of academic research related to auditory interfaces spanning the past couple of decades. A search on Google Scholar will lead to lots of good material worth reading. [This post is focussed on first person game like environments, where audio-visual realism and synchronisation is necessary]
Over the past two and a half years I have been involved with Two Big Ears where we’ve been developing 3Dception, a very very efficient real-time and easy to use binaural audio engine that works everywhere (you can head to the website to watch and download demos). During this period I’ve had the opportunity to design sound for about fourteen augmented and virtual reality projects including games, interfaces for the visually impaired and audio led tourism apps. My experience so far, especially when working with binaural audio, has shown that some of the ‘tricks’ we take for granted in non-VR applications don’t work as well. This article is a summary of a few things that I’ve learnt, as a designer, when dealing with such technologies.
This article is by no means exhaustive. My hope is that it can be expanded as more sound designers experiment in this area. I’ve also made a copy of this article on a wiki which I hope to update as I continue work in this area (it is on wiki to facilitate community contribution!). I’m also currently working on a short playable game t (more…)
While Designing Sound is snuggled firmly in the warm and cozy blanket of text articles; it’s not always the most convenient way to absorb information. Whenever I am walking on a hiking trail or making a long (or even short!) drive I don’t usually listen to music unless I am out of new podcast episodes! People may be aware of the podcasts we have covered and collaborated with recently but I thought it would be cool to wrap them all up into a nice little bundle for everyone!
Here’s a roundup of the sound design podcasts that I listen to regularly: (more…)
For those who don’t know you – could you give a quick overview of your career?
I was very lucky to have an early start in sound. My father, Brian Sweetman, is a 50 year film sound veteran and I was brought up going to field recording sessions and fooling around in projection rooms as a kid, so when I left school it felt natural to move into sound.
Initially, I worked with my Dad who was running his own sound business working in the Film & Television industry back in the late 80′s/early 90′s. We worked mainly on film and tape stock (as DAW’s weren’t invented!) such as 16mm, 35mm, 1/4″ and Optical, I loved the tactile aspect of the job, playing around with splicers, moviolas and steenbecks. Most of the work we did was recording sounds, film transfers and voiceovers. That’s when I really started to get interested in making sounds. (more…)
One of the main reasons to start this site back in 2008 and also one of the things that keeps me motivated to do this is the impact that some people had in my life; curiously, people who I haven’t met in person, but I’ve deeply met with my ears.
I’m talking about those sound designers who created initial routes for all of us and started to develop a truly amazing way of working with sound, by establishing the essence of this art, not just from a technical perspective but an emotional, narrative and even spiritual one. I’m so glad to make this post about about one of those sound genius, a person that I know many of us deeply admire, Alan Splet.
He had the main faculties any sound designer needs to have, as described by Splet’s widow Ann Kroeber: “attention to detail, nuance, perseverance, ability to vastly influence the mood of a scene by the choice and placement of sounds”. (more…)
Last month my friend Marc Mailand was showing me around his home studio (which is super sweet). We were discussing his surround setup and mentioned needing a surround panner and how expensive they are. I noticed the PS3 controller sitting on his desk and wondered out loud: “There has got to be some sort of DIY solution using a game joystick as a surround panner”. So when it came time to think up an article for this months topic of “Surround” I thought it would be eezy peezy to round up all of the DIY surround panners out there, only to find that it is a mythical beast! (more…)