June’s Sound Design Challenge is now open:
After a short break, the Sound Design Challenge is back. There’s a saying that goes, “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.” When we hear something interesting we’re to ask ourselves, “How was that made?” Obviously, the easiest way to get an answer to that, is to ask someone who knows how it’s done. That isn’t necessarily the best route though. It’s often more fulfilling, in more ways than one, to sit down and at least try to figure it out on your own. That’s why, this time around, your challenge is to reproduce a sound effect from The Matrix. I’ve also got another wonderful sound effects pack, provided by Rene Coronado, for a prize this month.
I published an article on IR reverb and deconvolution comparisons on my blog. Quite a few people found it useful and Miguel thought it would a good idea to share it with the rest of the community who aren’t on Twitter. If you aren’t on Twitter, join now! The sound community is nothing short of fabulous.
After my previous post on recording and mangling IRs, I decided to find a way to use the sweep I recorded for Altiverb in other convolution reverb plugins. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to compare the sound of these plugins and listen to how differently they deconvolve sweeps. The list of plugins include:
This is not a comparison of their features but of how each one of them sound.
The Altiverb sweep generator produces a sweep with a start and end beep (which it uses for identification). Since most other deconvolution tools don’t recognize these beeps, I created two versions of the sweep – one with the beeps and one without and normalized them to -0.3dBFS. The recorded sweep at the venue also included broadband noise and AC hum, which Altiverb’s processor did a good job of neglecting. The other plugins weren’t as good and included the noise along with the impulse. To make the comparison easier I used some amount of noise reduction on both versions of the recorded sweep.
1. AudioEase Altiverb:
AudioEase’s IR Pre-Processor needs to be used to deconvolve a sweep that is usable in Altiverb. The process is very simple – select a folder with the recorded sweep (make sure they are stereo-split SDII files), an output folder (your Altiverb preset folder), an input description file (in this case, “Sweeps, not to be equalized”) and hit “Process”. Re-scan your IR directory in Altiverb and it should show up.
Here’s what the sweep recorded at the venue for Altiverb sounded like (with beeps, noise reduction and normalization). Make sure you aren’t monitoring too loud:
Continue reading and listening here.
June’s issue of AudioMedia magazine features an interview with sound designer John Kassab for his work on “The Lost Thing”. You can read it here.
You can also check an interview I had with John some months ago and also a great video from SoundWorks Collection.
BOOM Library has released Cinematic Trailers, a huge package with over 2000 sound effects, including all kind of whooshes, impacts, rises, stingers, and more. As usual, BOOM offers two different packs:
This huge 2 DVD collection contains unique recordings of all sorts movement, impact and rising sounds. We recorded a live orchestra for rises, had a big taiko drum band for ear-busting percussions and then smashed, collided, destroyed and set fire to all kinds of great sounding things.
All of the recordings are delivered in 96 kHz, 24-bit, giving you the best quality for heavy editing, pitching, and fx processing while keeping a top notch level of clarity and precision. To provide you with the fastest and easiest workflow possible all files contain extensive metadata. Use this library as a stand-alone or combine it with the first cinematic release “CINEMATIC METAL” to have even more flexibility.
René Coronado has recently published a fantastic three-part article on gun recording, including details on pre-production, reports of the sessions, how was the editing/tagging process and more.
So a little while back I packed up the mics and headed out west to record some gunfire with my friends. Not because I had a project that required it or anything, but just because they have lots of guns and I have lots of mics. Also, weapon recording is one of those techniques that requires experience and iteration, so any opportunity to do this type of recording is to be seized upon.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Matt Piersall from Gl33k Game Audio churns some creative butter and comes up with a host of hot tips for kickstarting your pre-production on the way to ramping up your production cycle. From sonic concepting to audio slaying, there are some great idea’s in there to help begin the process of building the palette for your next project.
The following items are things that I have found useful for the concepting phase of audio development. Many of you have most likely already discovered or do similar things in some way, shape, or form (especially in house folks. A lot of this effort is to help audio drive the design of the game and be considered as a more effective feedback tool than many designers inherently consider it.
Read on for more keen insights: Pre-Production for an Audio Team
Also be sure to check out Matt in Audio Implementation Greats #10: Made for the Metronome
Many of you already know what the “Ultimate” word means in the sfx world… More fun from The Recordist! This time the turn is for chains, featured in the new Ultimate Chain library, which includes 670 different sounds presented on 160 files recorded at 24-Bit 96kHz in WAV format.
Included in this collection are a wide variety of performances with large heavy chains, medium chains, small chains, load binders, dumpster chains and much more.
The chains were pulled through hooks, dragged on many types of surfaces and objects, hit, dropped, squeaked, and whipped around. Other props were used to enhance the chain actions like 55 gallon oil drums, old wood stoves, 1 inch think steel plates, well cover, wood deck, pipes, concrete block debris and many others. A large portion of this library was recorded with the Sennheiser MKH-8040ST with it’s extended high frequency range. Designing with the sounds from this microphone at lower pitches can create some amazing heavy chain effects for your work.
Ultimate Chain is available now at $75. Sound list and details here.
Also, I talked with Frank about this new release. Here’s what he tell us:
Designing Sound: What inspired you to create this library?
Frank Bry: I love designing sounds with metal of any kind. When I first started to record at 24/96 back in 2006 one of the first sessions was chains in a huge barn. I have recorded many chains in the past but this time around I really noticed how awesomely bright and bitting chains can be, not to mention extremely loud. Chains of all sizes make all kinds of noises, from subtle clinks to huge clanks. I have needed chain source in the past for many of the games I’ve worked on so I figured it was about time to make a collection that at the least covered what I have needed. During the recording process I started to realize that it can be much bigger and better, so I kept on going until I had what I thought was a good set of sounds with enough variety. I wanted to include some ratchets and pulley chains but I could not find a place that would let me in for a session at this time. Ultimate Chain 2 will focus on those.
An insightful piece up on the deep-dive developer centric AltDevBlogADay covering the various perceptions and mis-conceptions regarding the role of audio programmers in the games industry. Dig in for some clarifications of terminologies and forward thinking imaginings:
New game designs based on audio analysis, sound effects generated at runtime with procedural audio, perceptual voice management, spectrally-informed mixing, audio shaders, content-aware audio tools: these are only a few examples of what an audio programmer could be working on and which is almost totally absent from our games and pipelines today.
AltDevBlogADay: Putting the audio back in “audio programmer” by Nicolas Fournel
While you’re there, why not explore the rest of the AltDevBlogADay Audio Posts
Also of interest:
Nicolas Fournel’s GDC 2011 Presentation – Procedural Audio Challenges & Opportunities
It may be premature for me to turn the focus of the series towards the future, as we find ourselves deep in the throes of the current generation console development, but I think by now those of us submerged in creating ever-expanding soundscapes for games at times suffer under the burden of our limitations. Of course, it isn’t all bad, given a set of constraints and creatively overcoming them can be as satisfying as coloring outside the lines.
I can’t help but feel a little Sci-Fi on occasion when I see some of the interesting work being done academically or within the DIY community. The explosion of information and accessibility to resources seems to enable those with a mind, and the time, to do so with a bottomless well of potential that, when focused, can provide the maker with something to substantiate their creative vision. Whether it’s the current craze for Kinect hacking, a modular code bending instrument, or simple pleasures of circuit bending, there are communities of people working together to unlock the inherent ability of our modern lifestyle devices. That’s not to say that every hack comes with a purpose, for some the joy is in the deconstruction, destruction, or the creation of something new.
One technique that keeps showing up in game audio is the pairing of an available game engine with a alternative audio engine not generally associated with game audio. Whether it’s the work of Leonard J. Paul using OSC (Open Sound Control) as a bridge between HL2 Source or more recently with Unity, Arjen Schut and his experiments with HL2 and Max/MSP, or this months featured Audio Implementation Greats spotlight: Graham Gatheral, I can’t help but see the resourcefulness of a few brave hearts boldly moving forward to fill a gap in the current functionality of today’s game audio engines.
Frank Bry has released Rifle Actions HD, a new library of gun foley, including 398 sounds (66 files) recorded at 96kHz/24-Bit. Here’s what Frank says about it:
Presenting Guns: Rifle Actions HD, the first in a series of gun foley action sound effects libraries. Included are 6 rifles, old and new: PTR-91 Semi-automatic Rifle (based on the Heckler & Koch G3/HK91), Remington 700 .30-06 Bolt Action Rifle, Ruger 223 Range Rifle, Ruger M77 Bolt Action Rifle, Winchester Model 1892 Lever Action Rifle (very old) and a vintage Winchester 43 Bolt Action Rifle which once belonged to my Grandfather and now is in the custody of my Nephew Kyle.
I have worked on a few games that have required some crazy gun foley. I made the best of using CD libraries but always had to try and gather my own source when needed. When I began recording at 24/96 some years ago I started recording a brand new custom collection of gun actions. This collection contains the standard actions plus some other things I’ve needed in my video game sound design work. As many of you know, some warfare and futuristic shooter games usually need some “over the top” gun foley. I hope you can find uses for these sounds in your creations as stand alone sounds or in conjunction with the other amazing boutique gun libraries available.
Rifle Actions HD is available at $35. More info here.