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Game Audio Podcast #10 – Reference & Mix Level Standards

Posted by on Aug 22, 2011 | 2 comments

Reference & Mix Levels across different media can vary wildly. Even within a subset of media such as film or television it can be hard to get consensus amongst professionals regarding standardization, not to mention the education of such standards. If you celebrated Dynamic Range Day this past march, you know that there are many ways to think about and approach mixing music. Not to mention the jump in volume we all experience when transitioning from our favorite television shows to commercials.

While the debate rages on across every industry that is fighting to be heard in the living room, video games are now an additional component that is drawing a sharp focus. As an audio team or director working with a constantly shifting fully interactive sound environment, how should we be approaching this space so as to attempt to equalize across different media types that may be played back from a single device? In a discipline that is often compared to film which almost always includes music, are there processes in place in other industries that we can take and apply to our growing ability to affect these kinds of aesthetic changes and mix decisions?

The latest installment of the Game Audio Podcast rounds up with a group of people far more versed on the subject than myself. Bob Katz has been a champion of dynamic range and standards in the recording industry for over 30 years and brings a wealth of knowledge and history to the conversation. Additionally, Tom Hays is a game audio veteran who has recently been spreading word of standardization at various conferences and shares some his experiences and findings that are unique to games. Finally, Shaun Farley of Dynamic interference brings the broadcast angle and, as a avid gamer, helps to bridge the gap between worlds with his insightful perspective. Anton and I do our best to hold our own amongst these three and hope that you can find something in the discussion that resonates.

So please join us for:

Game Audio Podcast #10 – Reference & Mix Level Standards


-Shaun Farley – Dynamic Interference

-Tom Hays – Technicolor Interactive

-Bob Katz – Digital Domain

The Sound of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Posted by on Aug 19, 2011 | 1 comment

Acting as a foundation with an origin story for a new film series, Director Rupert Wyatt takes the audience on the science fiction summer hit, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The stunning visual effects produced by Weta Digital for the apes are complimented by the wide range of sounds recorded and edited for the film.

Leading the sound team is supervising sound editor and sound designer Chuck Michael and co-supervisor John Larsen with the talents of first assistant sound editor Smokey Cloud and sound re-recording mixers Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett.

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SoundWorks Collection

The Sound of ‘Cowboys & Aliens’

Posted by on Aug 19, 2011 | 2 comments

Mix Magazine has published a detailed article on the sound of Jon Favreau’s recent film, ‘Cowboys & Aliens‘. It features interviews with Favreau’s long time re-recording mixer/sound designer Chris Boyes, supervising sound editor Frank Eulner, sound designer David Farmer, composer Harry Gregson-Williams, music editor Meri Gavin and score engineer/mixer Malcolm Luker.

I was about 20 seconds into the first preview for the film last fall when it dawned on me that Cowboys & Aliens must have been really fun to work on sound-wise, and indeed, interviews conducted during the final mix in mid-June with supervising sound editor Frank Eulner, FX sound designer/mixer Christopher Boyes and sound designer Dave Farmer confirmed my suspicions. As Boyes puts it, “For both Frank and me, it was a gas because one thing about this film is it honors the Western tradition, and you are very much in a Western film when it opens and whenever we’re being cowboys in the West. We’re very true to the desert and the town. But then it’s this whole other thing, too.”

Neither Boyes nor Eulner had a pure Western under his belt (Boyes came close with the wonderful animated Rango earlier this year), but each brought extensive experience in different genres to this film—including work on the two Iron Man movies together. Multiple Oscar-winner Boyes’ CV lists the blockbusters Tron: LegacyAvatarThe Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean series, and King Kongamong many others; while Eulner’s resumé includes such films asHellboySaving Private RyanThe VillageBlue VelvetBackdraft andMars Attacks! For Cowboys & Aliens, sound designer Farmer worked exclusively on the alien side, creating creature vocalizations and some alien crafts and weapon sounds. He is particularly well-known for his imaginative creature voices, having worked on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King KongRed Riding Hood and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, as well as videogames in the God of War series,BioShock 2 and many others.

Continue reading here.

Sound Scavengers Entries and Discussion

Posted by on Aug 17, 2011 | 8 comments

We’re winding down on the judging, and public voting will open soon.

In the meantime, there’s been a request for a place to discuss the entries. In the past, I’ve opened posts to be dedicated to questions, answers and comments about the entries. This seems like a good time to bring that idea back; after all, I always say that I want us to use this competition to share ideas. If you don’t know what the objectives of this particular challenge were, you can check them out here.

Here are all of the entries for this challenge, feel free to leave questions and comments below:


Interview with Diego Stocco

Posted by on Aug 17, 2011 | 4 comments

FIDM Digital Arts has published a video interview of sound designer/composer Diego Stocco.

“Do you have an idea in the first place? You’re imagination is the most important plugin you have, ’cause without that you can’t do anything. You can have the most expensive gear in the world…but if you don’t know what you want to do, it’s worthless.”

Watch, listen and be inspired!

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Also, Diego has released a new album, ‘The Broken Suite’. Listen/download here.

Tim Nielsen Special: On the Art of Economy

Posted by on Aug 16, 2011 | 17 comments

[Written by Tim Nielsen]

I want to write a series of relatively small ‘thought for the day’ type articles on a variety of topics. In the first, I want to expand on something that came up in the introductory interview, when I said that my main advice to people entering into their careers should learn when to stop.

One of the things that I love and admire, not only in sound, but in filmmaking and art in general, is economy. And I do not economics. but by economy, I mean simply:

“To achieve the maximum effect for the minimum effort.”

My favorite example of that statement is found in the movie Harold and Maude. I’m going to spoil something, so if you haven’t seen the film, you might want to skip the rest of this paragraph. There is a shot in that movie, I haven’t counted the frames, but I’d be shocked if it was longer than 20 or 30 frames total, that is the best example I’ve ever found. Harold and Maude are sitting near a garbage dump, and she’s describing how glorious seagulls are. There is an insert shot, so short that most people miss it, to Maude’s arm, where you can make out what appears to be a tattoo. A number. And when you realize what the shot is, a concentration camp tattoo, and you understand that Maude survived the concentration camps, the entire movie changes. What was a wacky story of an eccentric old weirdo becomes something a whole lot more powerful. Suddenly Maude makes sense. In one shot, she goes from crazy old lady to concentration camp survivor, and her actions, her very being, suddenly explained.

But for something so powerful, something so important, Hal Ashby made the decision to keep the shot on frame for such a short duration that many people miss it. I can’t think of a director today who would have taken one of the most important pieces of information for truly understanding the film, and letting most viewers miss it. Hal Ashby was an editor before he became a director. And he must have somehow known the exact length of the insert that a percentage of the people would get it, and a percentage wouldn’t. Regardless, the insert itself is such a great reminder in general of how much can be done with so little. One little shot, a second or so in length, can change your entire experience watching this film. I’ve seen the film at least a dozen times. It’s certainly in my top ten of favorite films, and Hal Ashby one of my favorite directors.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Seemingly a children’s book written by an adult, it’s really a book written by a child for adults who have lost their way. I had never read it as a child, a good friend gave me a copy while at USC film school, along with the Graham Greene novel The Power and the Glory, and Graham Greene was also a master of economy, and quickly became one of my favorite authors. But Saint-Exupéry also wrote one of the most beautiful books every written, Wind Sand and Stars, about his time spent in the desert after his plane crashed. And in addition to those two brilliant books, he’s also the author of one of my favorite quotes, and really the idea behind this post:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

I wish I had found that quote, and understood it, long ago in my career. So to all of you starting out, memorize those words.

In sound, what I’ve found after years of editing, is that after I’ve completely cut a scene, after I believe I’ve added everything that’s needed, I’m able now to go back and delete about half of what I’ve cut. In every case, the result is a much more defined track.


Interview with Hrishikesh Dani

Posted by on Aug 13, 2011 | 1 comment

Since Designing Sound is now the home of the Sound Design Challenge, I thought it only appropriate that the winner’s interviews be posted here as well. Here’s the interview with Hrishikesh Dani, winner of April’s challenge – SDC009: The Game Audio Challenge…

Designing Sound: So, why don’t you give us a little description of who you are, what you do and how you got into sound work.

Hrishikesh Dani: In the late 90s, the arrival of an acoustic guitar at home opened my ears for music. After having developed a taste for wide range of music genres, I started digging more on the engineering and technological aspects of music production. While pursuing a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering at the University of Mumbai, I focused on topics such as DSP and Electronic Circuit Design. This provided me an opportunity to do some circuit bending and building analogue processors for my electric guitar as my final year projects.

After graduation in 2007, I started working as an Assistant Sound Engineer at a post-production studio called Bandwagon Studios in Mumbai. Even though it was exhausting, I was lucky to assist two studio rooms at the same time as I got to learn Pro Tools on Mac and Nuendo on Windows. Later on, I worked as a Studio Audio Engineer for Globe Recording Studio, where I got an opportunity to supervise the studio construction and record/edit localization IVRs. After a few months, I got a splendid opportunity to work as a Sound Designer in the promo department at UTV Television Networks, Mumbai. I got good experience working in a steep deadlines environment as I was designing sound for five UTV television channels. (more…)