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David Sonnenschein Special: Exploring Aesthetics, Pt. 2

Posted by on May 26, 2011 | 2 comments

This is part 2 of the conversation David and I had about aesthetics. Part 1 can be found here.

Designing Sound: So, we’ve been talking about ways to identify and develop your own personal aesthetic. I’m just wondering, do you feel it’s important to track changes in your personal style over the years? Is it beneficial to consider how your aesthetic has changed over the course of your career?

David: It’s been an interesting observation. I’ve made intentional changes from being a classical musician, to one that can improvise. That’s one of the major changes, stylistically, for me. But more than just style, it’s been a way of training my ear/finger coordination as a musician, not just eye/finger coordination. While being a very strong sight-reader and classical musician, that shift opened me up stylistically to many things that would have been “wrong” as a classical musician. It allowed things to come in as not “wrong or right,” but interesting…and an exploration of different ways to make sounds with the same kind of instrument. That was one tracking that I did.

The other went beyond even the Western ear, and was listening to other cultures. Listening to the speech of other cultures, their musical scales…getting used to the micro-tonal scales of India and Bali…the use of “beat frequencies” in Balinese music that helps induce the trance in their dance and masked dramas. Those things influenced me and influenced my styles. I’m noticing that I may come full circle and come back to explorations and styles, and they now have a richer contribution to what I can do. (more…)

David Sonnenschein Special: Exploring Aesthetics, Pt. 1

Posted by on May 24, 2011 | 1 comment

David and I sat down for another interview, this time to talk about aesthetics and personal style. We tried to focus on a discussion of one’s personal stylistic approach in the contexts of self-development and collaboration. It was a long and interesting discussion, so I’m going to break this up into two posts. Here’s part 1 of the transcript…

Designing Sound: I wanted to take the opportunity to talk with you this month about aesthetics: developing a personal style, and meshing that style with other peoples’ in a collaborative project. I thought you could bring into scope some interesting perspective for our readers, since you have experience as a sound designer, a producer, a director and a writer.

David Sonnenschein: It’s really a very specific role that most sound designers take in a project, where they’re serving a bigger vision than their own personal aesthetic. How does that work so that you can collaborate well, so that you can get the jobs and so that you can have some room for creativity? I’d also like to touch a bit on the idea of “free reign” and where you might be able to find those open grounds for exploration. (more…)

Scott Morton on Combat Audio for “Star Wars: The Old Republic”

Posted by on May 24, 2011 | 0 comments

New article at the official website of “Star Wars: The Old Republic”, featuring sound designer Scott Morton.

Hi, my name’s Scott Morton, and I’m one of the audio designers who helps create the soundscape for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. I spend half my time coming up with new sounds for different parts of the game (explosions!), and the other half conceptualizing technical approaches for getting sound and music playing in the game engine. The art of sound design can sometimes be a little mysterious; audio is always a supporting element and tends to be secondary to visuals in the player’s mind. Yet audio’s importance in helping craft the aesthetic feel of a player’s actions and experiences shouldn’t be underestimated.

Continue reading…

Via @soundesignblog

Interview – Greg Hill at Track Time Audio

Posted by on May 23, 2011 | 1 comment

Realtime vehicle audio simulation is one of the trickiest implementation challenges and definitely has the most moving parts. While most agree on the complexity and necessity for special handling when it comes to vehicle sound, the approaches can vary widely. From recording techniques to tools and implementation, Track Time Audio has been providing a resource for enthusiasts interested in the sound of fast cars and has been exposing some of the tricks behind making them sound good in realtime.

The current interview with Greg Hill from Soundwave Concepts includes some great insights into the process and passion involved with taking sound from the track and getting them in the game.

Track Time Audio Interview: Greg Hill


MPR Top Score – “an in-depth listen to video game music and talks with the people who make it”

Posted by on May 23, 2011 | 0 comments

The line between music and sound can sometimes be incredibly thin, and so I think it is worth noting the recently launched Minnesota Public Radio series of interviews with video game music composers that exposes some of the process and insight behind the scenes presented in tersely edited podcast format. The series provides some great background on game music in general as well as, in the case of the Jason Graves (DeadSpace 2) Interview, the implementation side of thing:

“What makes the music so great in any game, is the implementation….and having it be as interactive as possible. Especially with horror it’s really important that you have the music come in, start and stop, make you jump, make it suspenseful and on the edge of your seat. The timing has to be just right.”

Other additions to the series include the folks from Double Fine talking about the classically leaning Stacking, and Inon Zur and Dragon Age 2.

Minneapolis Public Radio: Top Score with Emily Reese


New Sound Lab Releases Chorus Echo 501 and Pacific Ocean Libraries

Posted by on May 23, 2011 | 0 comments

New Sound Lab has released two new sfx packages:

Chorus Echo 501 ($25)

The classic 1980’s era Roland Chorus Echo RE 501 captured in 24bit 192khz HD format.

This library features 217 sounds processed by a mint condition Chorus Echo RE-501, including metal impacts, church bells, chainsaws, voices, and water. In addition, self-oscillation sounds from the RE-501 are included. All of these sounds can be used in a wide variety of ways and work well for both sound design and music production. The combination of the 192khz high resolution sample rate and the tape saturation/warmth from the Chorus Echo make these samples sound great when pitch shifted and/or time stretched, even at extreme settings.

From a Pro Tools session, the original sounds were routed into the XLR input of the Chorus Echo where processing occurred. The Chorus Echo output was recorded DI into a Neve 1073 preamp, and an Empirical Labs Distressor with “Dist2″ setting added a little extra 2nd harmonic distortion to the signal. Subsequently, the signal was sent into a Apogee Rosetta 800 A/D converter and back into Pro Tools HD.

And Pacific Ocean ($25)

This library features recordings of the Pacific Ocean at various locations along the beach within Refugio State Park. The incoming waves collide with large rock formations, creating great wave impacts and rushing water through small channels and hollow rocks. A variety of mic placements at various distances from the ocean were used, from directly over the water to larger distances, recording ambience behind massive rock walls and inside natural beach caves. In addition, a hydrophone captured underwater currents from waves splashing into small tide pools on the rocks.

Sounds were recorded with a Sanken CSS-5 Stereo Shotgun microphone in 120 degree stereo mode and an Aquarian Audio H2A-XLR Hydrophone. The shotgun microphone was mounted in a full Rycote windshield kit and connected to a Sound Devices 702 recording at 24bit 192khz.

All sounds in this release are in mono & stereo 24bit 96khz Broadcast Wave format. Files are in a zip file, which includes a PDF with detailed metadata. Upon purchase, you will receive an email with a link to instantly download the library.

Interview with Ralph van Dijk – Radio Director

Posted by on May 23, 2011 | 1 comment

Despite being huge sound design fans, when we listen to any narrative soundtrack, our attention is naturally focused on the voice. “Dialogue is King” – plays a particularly key role when listening to radio, where you don’t have the benefit of pictures to tell the story.

I spoke to Ralph van Dijk, who is an award winning, radio commercial’s writer and director, to find out more about the techniques and considerations that go into getting that great voice performance. You can listen to his work here

Designing Sound: First of all, what got you interested in making radio commercials?

Ralph van Dijk: I reckon it was because it combined a few of the things I really enjoyed at the time when I was deciding what to do. I love music, I love writing and I like acting. I was doing all of those things to varying degrees – of awfulness. Advertising itself was interesting because it was a combination of all those things. Plus comedy. I’ve always enjoyed comedy. Radio was like a very condensed version of all those things. I could experiment with all those different areas in a very short space of time.

That’s the other great thing I love about radio, is that you can conceive and execute the idea in a matter of days. Whereas with television, back when I worked in an advertising agency, it was just so frustrating to have an idea, then to have to wait for months whilst it went through research and client changes, before you could even go anywhere near actually making it. And when you have a very short attention span, that’s not a good thing.

I guess it was also very satisfying creatively because writing radio is quite liberating. You can do whatever you want. And I felt I could do it well.


Interview with Mick Gordon

Posted by on May 21, 2011 | 1 comment

Game Career Guide has published a very inspiring and fun interview with award winning composer, sound designer and audio director Mick Gordon.

Without a doubt, one of the finest examples of uncorked enthusiasm (and unbelievable humility) is my audiophile hombre Mick Gordon who I met and worked with earlier this year on a cool game project.

He has been an audio director in the games industry for over half a decade and successfully runs his own award winning studio, Game Audio Australia, servicing most of the big boys, from EA, Sony Entertainment, THQ, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, Marvel, Ubisoft and continues to work at a fervent pace to add to this already impressive client list.

His resume reads like a treasure trove of delights, he sports a luscious mane of hair along with ass kicking tattoos and is regularly invited to speak at large game conferences such as the GDC in San Francisco earlier this year because of his unique combination of accomplishments and electric personality.

Recent commercial work on Need For Speed: Shift and the historical museum exhibition A Day in Pompeii have netted him a slew of nominations and awards. Rather deservingly I might add!

Mick’s continued enthusiasm for what he does so well, his positive demeanor, genuine character, his business sense and work horse ethic all continue to inspire me.

So how have you been mate? How is life and humidity over in Brissy treating you?

Mick Gordon: Argh! Life’s been a complete whirlwind of sound, deadlines, ones & zeros, fast cars, superheroes, demons, elemental powers, monsters and machine guns!

Sounds like you have been busy as heck since we last caught up.

MG: It has been crazy busy man, but incredibly fun nonetheless!

You know what it’s like — we tend to lock ourselves in our studios for days on end without sunlight or human contact and we start to go a little crazy!

So whenever I get the chance, I try to get out and get involved with any events that my schedule permits.

I was recently on a design portfolio panel at QUT where members of the audience showcased their game design ideas and we got to see some incredibly creative bright sparks that are going to do wonders for the future of the game industry!

Read the full interview here.