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Rodney Gates Special: Exclusive Interview

Posted by on Apr 6, 2011 | 5 comments

As usual, below is an interview with this month’s guest, Rodney Gates.

Designing Sound: How did you get started and How has been the evolution of your career since then?

Rodney Gates: In 1996 I attended the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, Arizona. At the time, the focus of the school was on audio / music production with a little bit of post and live sound thrown in, but nothing in the way of video game audio really existed back then.

I interned at a large recording studio in Manhattan for a brief time before realizing that it wasn’t for me. I didn’t wish to slug it out getting coffee for people and eventually serving as an assistant engineer for something like 5-10 years until finally “making it”, so with no other real options at the time, I left it behind and returned to my day job for a while, always thinking about what niche in audio could turn it around for me.

After years of playing Commodore 64, early PC, and pre-Playstation console games, I never, ever imagined that game sound design could actually be a career choice until popping the discs for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault into my PC, back in 2002.

Never before had I played a game that felt so richly-detailed in it’s soundscape and musical soundtrack. Though I’m sure they were out there, none really featured WWII, which was such a hot topic at the time with shows like Saving Private Ryan and the miniseries Band of Brothers around.

I was just awe-struck; it was then when the bug bit me. I needed to get into this industry.

I purchased my first SFX collection, Hollywood Edge’s “The Edge Edition”, a 4-disc library of general effects, to kick off my demo. Then I picked up a used stereo AT-825 on eBay with a Rycote windscreen, bought a Sound Devices USBPre and with my old crash-happy Dell laptop, went out into the world to record what I needed for three, 2-minute, audio-only “stories” that I used as the main portion of my demo reel. One story was science-fiction, one a jungle adventure, and one a monologue of a sniper preparing to take out a high-profile target.

This became a lot of fun, and took about a year to get everything I needed (while working full-time). Any sound effects I didn’t have or couldn’t be designed with my one library had to be recorded, so I planned field sessions like road trips to remote places in Arizona for ambience, or borrowing a friend’s hunting rifle to record all of the mechanical functionality in my clothes closet, etc. I remember one scene I was working on required multiple cars to pull up in the rain, let out passengers, then drive away, but since we didn’t get much rain in Phoenix, I had to get crafty with a 5-gallon bucket of water. A friend poured it slowly off of a 6 ft. brick fence onto the concrete below, which I later edited into the scene to mimic the sound of tires driving through rain-drenched streets.

These fits of creativity were necessary when faced with limited resources, possibly how Ben Burtt  might have felt when working on the first Star Wars film in the 70’s (although there’s no comparison between his brilliance and me). They definitely are some of the most precious memories I have.


Poll: How do You Like Your Sound Effects? Multiple Takes in One File or Separate?

Posted by on Apr 6, 2011 | 17 comments

I came across a discussion about sound effects distribution on Game Audio Forum (from last year) and Gearslutz (recent). The question is… which way you like to get your sound effects: multiple takes in one file or each take separate into individual files?

The only goal with this is to help sound effects makers to know which way his customers like the most, so they can improve their formats and releases with options that can fit all kind of tastes. If you want to collaborate, feel free to visit the mentioned discussions or just pick your option here.

In my opinion, I’d say that multiple takes in one single file is faster and much better for finding sounds that were recorded with the same perspective, performance, tools, etc. Also, I’m a big fan of Soundminer’s VSTrack, so having the file with multiple takes makes easier the process of making variations of a sound. But well, each person has a different workflow, and that’s why is so important to hear what do you think about this.

Via @idaho_recordist, @timprebble

New Audiokinetic Forums, Wwise 2011.1 Available with iOS/3DS Support and Improvements

Posted by on Apr 5, 2011 | 0 comments

Audiokinetic has released Wwise 2011.1, loaded with new features and enhancements:

  • Now supports Apple iOS and Nintendo 3DS
  • Enhanced Voice Limiting System
  • Solo & Mute buttons (in the Mixing Desk, Property Editor, Schematic View, Soundcaster, Music Segment editor, etc)
  • Convolution Reverb EQ
  • New List View that streamlines daily operations including searching, validating and editing a list of objects with batch processing support
  • Notes, Attenuation ShareSets, Positioning and new object types have been added to the Multi-Editor.
  • The severity of SoundBank log messages can now be modified to allow more control over the code returned when using the Wwise command line application.
  • New Event Action: Set Game Parameter
  • Runtime Authoring

Also, they’ve created a new forum section on his site, where anyone can sign up and share ideas.


April’s Featured Sound Designer: Rodney Gates

Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 | 6 comments

It’s always a pleasure to announce a new guest on Designing Sound. During this month, Rodney Gates will be sharing with us a lot of his experiences in the world of sound design and audio direction for video games.


“I became interested in sound and music at a young age, making cassette tapes on my Yorx stereo with a crude electret-condenser microphone with old needle-drop sound effects on LP added in, telling crazy stories in this fashion, at the age of 13 in the sizzling-hot summers of Phoenix, AZ.

The teen years naturally led to an interest in the electric guitar, and after getting my first one at 15, I proceeded to learn every single Metallica song I could, with my brother on drums. I never went the band route though, like my brother did, but instead saved my money working in food service and wholesale printing to get a Tascam Portastudio 4-track cassette-based recorder. I remember vividly the moment I soloed a guitar part over a previously-recorded rhythm track and played it back. It was then I was hugely bitten by the recording bug.

This led to a class at Phoenix College, which opened me up a little to audio engineering. I ended up buying a lot of equipment I didn’t thoroughly understand, which included a Yamaha ProMix 01 digital mixer, an original Alesis ADAT, and a Tascam DAT recorder, plus a couple of mics. I remember buying Cakewalk 3 on a single floppy disk for $300 to use with my Alesis QuadraSynth and a Compaq PC running Windows 3.1 back in 1995, sequencing all kinds of crazy tunes, while recording guitars, bass and drum machines all by my lonesome.


The Recordist Releases Ultimate Glass SFX Library (Q&A Included)

Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 | 1 comment

Frank Bry has released another of his great “Ultimate” collections, this time including a huge amount of glass recordings.

Presenting Ultimate Glass Sound Effects Library. 736 glass sound effects recorded at 24-Bit 96kHz. Sounds included but not limited to: Windows, Mirrors, Bottles, Vases, Jars, Dishes, Wine Glasses, Drinking Glasses, Light Bulbs, Ornaments and Computer Screens.

Not only is there the usual smashing and breaking of glass, there are many sounds made by glass that are perfect for video game and film sound design. Pitch, bend, warp and process to your hearts delight.

Over a year in the making and dozens of location recording sessions, this is the Ultimate Glass Collection.

Gear used: Sound Devices 702 – Fostex FR-2 – Sanken CSS-5 – Sennheiser MKH-416 – Audio Technica AT-835ST – Sony PCM-D1

Ultimate Glass – $100 | 96kHz 24-Bit WAV | 736 files | metadata ready | PDF List

Bonus: TV Screen Goes Bada Boom

And here’s a Q&A with Frank, talking about the making of this fantastic collection:


Dolby Video Interviews: Gary Rydstrom, Tom Myers, Jeff Haboush, Erik Aadahl

Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 | 0 comments

YouTube Preview Image

Dolby has published a series of video interviews on his YouTube channel, featuring interesting talks with Gary Rydstrom, Tom Myers, Jeff Haboush, Erik Aadahl. I’ve published the videos on Designing Sound TV:

Vía: @usoproject/ and @StephenSldanha

Sound Collectors Club – New Membership System and April’s Theme Announced

Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 | 1 comment

Michael Maroussas has announced new changes in the Sound Collectors Club, along with this month’s theme: echo space.

We can now keep our collections of sounds online permanently  so that they can continue to grow indefinitely, so I hope you’ll agree with me that it was well worth the wait.

Please have a thorough read through of the amended How to Upload your Sounds to the Club and Legal pages in the menu at the top of the page.  Also, the summary in my last post may help bring you up to speed on the changes too. Essentially, everything’s the same except for a couple of important things:

  1. You will need to make a small payment to get membership to the Club for the year so that you can get access to the sounds.
  2. Vocal idents within all submitted recordings are now compulsory.

Right, now for the much more fun bit;  April’s theme.  Our latest winner who gets to choose a theme is Angel Perez Grandi, who has contributed some stunning Argentinian field recordings over the past few months.  In his words:

My suggestion for a future set would be “natural echo spaces”, that is, spaces or sounds with inherent (natural) reverb. Diffused, decay, blurry background activity are words that pop to my mind. From canyons to temples to claustrophobic spaces as long as we get a strong sense of space. The resonance can be forced but not created through processing – a loud bang inside a tank would qualify too for example.

More info at Sound Collectors Club

Rabbit Ears Audio Releases Military Vehicles SFX Library (Q&A Included)

Posted by on Apr 1, 2011 | 1 comment

Rabbit Ears Audio has released its fifth library, called Military Vehicles, a huge collection of seven sfx packs, featuring recordings of the following military vehicles:

  • M5A1 Stuart Tank: In service WWII and Korean War. Engine: 2x Cadillac Flathead V8.
  • M60A3 Combat Tank: In service 1961–1997. Engine: Continental V-12
  • M41A2 Walker Bulldog Tank: In service 1951-1970s. Engine: Continental AOS-895-3.
  • M106A1 Mortar Carrier: In service 1960s-1980s. Engine: 212 hp Diesel.
  • M4A2E8 Sherman Tank: In service 1942–1955. Engine Diesel GM 6046 (2×6-71 inline).
  • M42A1 Duster Tank: In service 1953-1963. Engine: 6-cylinder air cooled gasoline.
  • M75 Armored Personnel Carrier: In service Korean War. Engine: 6-cylinder AO-895-2.

All those vehicles where recorded by Michael Raphael and Rob Nokes of at the Fort Snelling Military Museum in Minnesota.

The gear used – Exterior: Schoeps MS pair, Neumann RSM 191; Onboard: Sanken CUB 01 (multiple), Sennheiser 835S(multiple), Crown PZM; Recorders: Sound Devices 744T and Deva 5,

Military Vehicles is available now at Rabbit Ears Audio. The tanks are being sold individually at $95. There’s a complete collection priced at $499  and packed with over 30GB of sounds.

Now let’s read an interview I had with Michael and Rob, who talked about the making of this huge library.


50% Discount on TONSTURM Breaking Glass SFX Library

Posted by on Apr 1, 2011 | 0 comments

TONSTURM has announced the No April Fool´s Offer, a great opportunity to get over 500 glass break recordings at just 25€ (during one week only and starting today).

Just for one week we sell our Breaking Glass SFX Pack with a 50% discount!

This is no April Fool! Go and grab this huge and inspiring soundpack containing 100 sound files with over 500 different glass sound effects.

Breaking Glass covers huge windscreen cracks, crispy tension creaks, and impact sounds from over 4 square meter shopwindow glasses …and a lot more!

Specs: 24 Bit 192kHz / over 500 Sounds / 1,79GB when unrar´d / MS and decoded (LR) versions

Gear used: 2 x Sound Devices 702, Schoeps CCM41 + CCM8 Combination, Sennheiser MKH30 + MKH40 Combination and C-Ducer Tape Microphone (only for the windscreen recordings).

More info at TONSTURM

Waves Sound Design Competition: Finalists and Winner

Posted by on Apr 1, 2011 | 0 comments

Waves has published the results of the sound design competition where Designing Sound collaborated. The winner is Toby Hulse, who did a fantastic job on the video. Take a look:

Congratulations, Toby!!!

You can read a detailed description of Toby’s process and use of the plugins/sounds here.

Judges’ comments about the video:

Charles Deenen: “Oh, nice! The sounds provided were not over-processed, but enough so they nicely fit within the story. Sound was complimentary to the experience, and pulled me in. Well done.”

David Farmer: “Grabbed me first time through—rocked. Solidly put together and nice weaving of elements. Very tasteful. I liked this from start to finish. The process on the zoom to the mirror is great, and focuses the listener’s attention. Excellent execution of the “story,” and I felt guided through the piece.”

Scott Gershin: “I like the way you designed each section, the choices you made, and the way you contoured and designed the sound to work emotionally with the visuals. Nice pacing, well executed, on the debris field, not too sharp. I like the final touch—tasty. Excellent job.”

Tom Ozanich: “Good story telling, good flow, great sounds, well done all around. Each section had its own sound/feel, yet it all flowed well into each other.”

Top 10 Finalists

  1. Toby Hulse
  2. James M. Wearing
  3. Josh Osiris
  4. Ryan Thompson
  5. Ariel Echarren
  6. John Morgan
  7. Alexander Pugh
  8. Brett Hinton
  9. Jeremy Rogers
  10. John Loranger

More info at Waves