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Rodney Gates Special: Learning to Listen: Using Sounds out of Context

Posted by on Apr 14, 2011 | 2 comments

[Written by Rodney Gates for Designing Sound]

The Blank “Page”

As we sit at our desks each day, creating new sounds for a game, it’s important to think outside the box when it comes to choosing your source material from which to design from.

Most of the sounds you hear in games or film are usually not a single recording edited and dropped into place to represent the things you are looking at. They are complex sounds that are arrived at through careful design and mixing and are usually comprised of elements that you might not expect.

Take a laser blast for example. Since none of them truly exist, we can use our creative license and create them from all sorts of source material, and no two Sound Designers will do it the same way.

Ben Burtt used recordings he made of a suspension cable struck with a hammer as the basis for the blasters in Star Wars. Others may use synth elements blended with existing real-world weapons recordings to arrive at their sound, often times run through a Doppler plug-in or using similar pitch-shifting effects. Even Formula 1 car bys can be pitched way up, creating an almost ricochet-type element that can become part of the sound. In my case, pitched-up ricochets themselves can be used, as I did for my original demo.


Arrowhead Audio, New SFX Library by Fred Pearson, “Squelch, Squish and Splat” Pack Available

Posted by on Apr 14, 2011 | 1 comment

Fred Pearson has launched Arrowhead Audio, a new independent SFX company focused on producing royalty-free small sample packs for sound editors/designers with really affordable prices.

The company has been launched along with a new library called “Squelch, Squish and Splat“, a sfx package loaded with 455 samples at 96kHz/24-Bit. Some of the items used are: Grapefruits, Tomatoes, Oranges, Potato Mashers, Vacuum Pipes and Fruit Bowls.


  • Lite – 100 samples | 16-Bit/44.1kHz | approx. $4
  • Full - 220 samples | 24-Bit/48kHz | approx. $7
  • Max – 455 samples | 24-Bit/96kHz | approx. $10

This is what Fred said about the process of making this library:

I had to decide what kind of sound effects I wanted to record and sell, and how to achieve this. The first pack I thought of was “Squelch, Squish and Splat”. This was because it was easy to get hold of the materials to create these sounds (which turned out to be tomatoes, grapefruits, baked beans and fruit cocktail amongst other things). I ended up recording the entire pack in roughly two hours of getting messy (with good friend Matt Meachem) with a Rode NTG-2, Rode NT-5, Audix D6 and AT 4050  through an Octopre which was recording into Pro Tools. The recording process was good fun and consisted of setting up the mic (with protective gauze) and leaving it rolling whilst we made sounds in the live room.

The editing process took a lot longer however. Matt and myself spent several days editing, cross-fading and normalizing all the sounds until we had got through the full two hour file. Throughout the process we found that the NTG-2 sounded the best, it had the flattest sound in regard to frequency with the least amount of proximity effect out of all the mics. It was also the quietest (best signal to noise ratio) which was one of our main reasons for choosing it consistently.

Find out more on his blog.

Arrowhead Audio on Twitter

Independent SFX Libraries

Box of Toys, New Website Dedicated Explore Canada’s Post Production Audio Industry

Posted by on Apr 14, 2011 | 3 comments

Niall Collins and John-Paul Borchardt have recently launched Box of Toys, a new blog dedicated to explore the audio post industry on Canada, but also sharing a useful news, videos, articles, and all kind of general content.

Box of Toys is a platform to broadcast new, exciting and nerdy audio related news to you, the surfer! From video interviews with today’s top Canadian post audio professionals to blogs about the technology that will shape the future of sound editing, Box of Toys’ mission is to showcase Canada’s post production audio industry. The site was formed by two post production audio editors and re-recording mixers working out of Toronto Ontario, Canada. Niall Collins and John-Paul Borchardt have been working in the film industry since 2007 and have already earned a reputation for quality and professionalism.

There are already some great posts, including a really nice profile on foley artist Andy Malcolm, who is also owner at Footsteps Studios, Uxbridge. Take a look:

More stuff of the Box:

A Conversation with Morgan Freeman

MOS: Location Sound Horrors That Bleed Through to Post

Sound: The Rodney Dangerfield of Film Production

Here, there or everywhere?

Box of Toys on Twitter

Mechanical Morphs, Foley FX, Animal Planet Sounds; New Libraries by The Hollywood Edge

Posted by on Apr 14, 2011 | 0 comments

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The Hollywood Edge is showcasing three new SFX libraries at NAMM, including the following titles:

Mechanical Morphs

A must have for sci-fi and fantasy sound design. A library of 1372 sound effects recorded and mastered at 96kHz/24/Bit by two talented sound designers: Jim Stout and Richard Devine. Includes a lot of different sounds, such as gears, machines, mechanical devices, an all kind of toys and rare sources. All included into 10 CDs and two DVDs

Hollywood Foley FX

More than 1600 foley sound effects provided by Soundelux. Will be available soon as a collection of seven CDs and two DVDs.

Animal Planet Sounds, Vol. 1

Over 750 sounds on four CDs and a DVD. The files were recorded initially for several TV programs. The list includes birds, horses, leopard, monkeys, rhinoceros, sea lions, penguins and many species more.

These three libraries are being presented at NAB 2011 and will be available soon.

AudioMedia: The Sound of “Submarine”

Posted by on Apr 13, 2011 | 1 comment

The April’s issue of AudioMedia is available on-line and includes an article on the sound of “Submarine“. Paul Mac talks with the crew behind the sound the film, including re-recording mixer Nigel Heath, sound mixer Martin Beresford, sound engineer and music mixer Jake Jackson and director Richard Ayoade.

“The director wouldn’t say to the actors, ‘walk four and half paces, stop for three and a half seconds, and look, and then remember your lover, close your eyes slightly’. He’ll tell the emotional story and the actors interpret it.” – Nigel Heath

Continue reading…

Rodney Gates Special: Getting the Gig – A Guide to Becoming a Video Game Sound Designer

Posted by on Apr 12, 2011 | 23 comments

[Written by Rodney Gates for Designing Sound]

Rodney Gates, Mike Niederquell, Ian Mika – Civil War re-enactment trip in Vista, CA

Everyone has a story on how they started working in games, and they can be as varied as the day is long. Many start in Quality Assurance positions (game testing), or Customer Service (in the case of Sony Online). Some get internships, and some get hired on as a junior sound designer attached to a team right away.

What I’d like to focus on is what you can do to set yourself apart and impress Audio Directors and Leads out there to get that first gig.

So, is it all luck and the state of the economy that determine your fate? Not necessarily. There is a lot you can do to prepare yourself to gain recognition in a stack of demos and resume submissions.

Tip 1 – Don’t Be Lazy

This is by far the most important tip I can give you. If you’re like me at all, then you will feel and demonstrate passion about this kind of work.

Even before I worked in games, I had a portable laptop-based recording rig with a good mic and windscreen, as well as mic pre, compressor and Event LAYLA audio interface for my desktop PC, with Alesis Monitor One speakers. I was serious about breaking in, so I had put together this small studio setup to do so.

If you truly want to get into this field and succeed, you cannot do so passively. The pool of game audio personnel in this industry is actually quite small, and opportunities aren’t nearly as profuse as they are for game & level designers, artists, animators, programmers and even production roles. Audio positions are much harder to come by, even worse with a poor economy, and many are filled via word-of-mouth recommendation from ‘Someone A’ who knows ‘Someone B’ to be an excellent, talented person who’s great to work with.

Also, Audio teams are usually one of the smallest departments in a studio, yet are responsible for much more than many of the other individual disciplines within a game team; an entire half of the game experience.

You will need to be motivated to prepare yourself and pursue a job in this field, and keep it up once you’re in.


Behind the Art: Pelayo Gutierrez

Posted by on Apr 11, 2011 | 3 comments

[Behind the Art is a special section of Designing Sound created with the goal of studying the artistic and creative aspects of sound design, featuring several interviews dedicated to explore the minds and creative approaches of professional sound designers from all sides of the world, with the goal of expand our creative worlds and learn what others do in order to tell stories with sound.]

If we want to talk about the art of fine film soundtrack and its aesthetics, there’s one man everyone needs to know: Pelayo Gutiérrez, a master of film sound in Spain with more than 120 titles on his backs, for which he has got three Goya awards (and three nominations). He has worked on films by directors like Pedro Almodovar, Bollain, among many others, and currently runs La Bocina post audio facility with two other partners.

I personally admire his work so much (Recommended: “Chico & Rita“,”Te Doy Mis Ojos“,”Lo que sé de Lola“, “After“). He’s a true director of sound who likes to get deeply into the smallest detail of the scene in order to enhance the story and create a rich soundscape. He combines the qualities of a prolific professional with a special vision and unique way to live his profession.

Designing Sound: Could you talk us about your philosophy as sound editor/designer?

Pelayo Gutiérrez: It is very interesting. One essential thing that I think is the backbone for any film that I do: the production sound. If I don’t have a clean production sound is difficult to create the atmosphere because they do not hear great in harmony. Then this is the first battle that I have, especially in this country, where sometimes a hard time doing ADR for certain sequences because we work with many directors that put all the production sound dialog in the film, they don’t believe that you can get much more from the actor in the dub, etc.

Luckily I’ve managed to convince many directors to make the actors do ADR, and especially to have this concept of going to the set and already record the dialog in a later stage. Of course that also depends on the actor. I have many excuses to convince a director and tell him how interesting is to do ADR that can coexist with the dialog and live for the film. not direct sound off and live for the film. Because what I do is put myself first for the film and then find is best for it.

Some time ago, there’s one interesting thing happening to me. I see the film as a whole, and the more I work on it, remains a global issue. In other words, there is a separate sequence, it’s all about harmony, about dynamics, which of course depends on the film we are doing. I built little by little, but the final point is when I have everything harmonized, armed in a central scheme.

You always start from a base, read the script and you get the idea. And then there are meetings with the director, who sets one thing or another. But with that basic structure, you can enter every day in the film. That’s why if you come and tell me if I do the sound of a film in 5 weeks, I say can’t, simply because it’s not enough time to get into the film, to dream about the film. I dream about movies. Some nights it takes me to sleep because I start thinking about how I can create an atmosphere and how to keep the film growing.


Looking for Bloggers!

Posted by on Apr 8, 2011 | 11 comments

One year ago Designing Sound was a site with around 7k of visitors each month. Today the numbers are almost at 50k. While this amount is not the reason why I run this project, it means one thing: the online community has grown.

Many things have started to happen around us, each day I find more and more information, and there’s more people interested to share their ideas. Since I also have ideas for new sections, new ways to share more stuff, and also want to open the site more, I’ve concluded that this adventure would be better if more people work with me on it, not only because I don’t have time for expanding the content by myself. It’s simply because I think that Designing Sound would be highly benefited if more minds contribute on it.

And what do you get? I’ll be honest. Besides my passion, there is a “hidden” reason for all of this: I’m not agree with the model of formal education and I feel this as a mission. Think about this as an antenna created for letting us share knowledge together, in a free way, as I think it should be.

I don’t want to go deep on this because it’s more a personal opinion. I just want you to consider that there’s no money behind anything here. We’re just friends sharing cool things and learning from each other, so, the offer is not a “paid job”, at least with money. This is more like an adventure. I can tell you, what this project has given to me is not comparable with anything.

It’s about sharing your own ideas to lots of people that loves sound as you do. It’s about meeting really inspiring persons, learning new tricks, changing tour vision each day. It’s just about expanding your own mind in so many ways.

If that sounds cool for you and you think you can commit to dedicate a daily amount of time on this project, let’s send me an e-mail to miguel[at]designingsound[dot]org with only these things on the message:

  • Your name + an “about me” (Whatever you want to tell me about yourself) + What you do with sound (Doesn’t matter how professionally it is or how experienced you’re)
  • Why are you interested on being blogger here?
  • Tell me in 10 words what is sound design for you.
  • Let’s say that a sound designer you admire is in front of you. You can only make 3 questions. What would you ask to that person?

I’m not interested to judge if your point is good or bad. That would not make sense for me. Just make me want to include you in this project. That’s all.

I’m planning to choose two or three persons initially, but could be more. We’ll see depending on the amount of submissions. I look forward to your messages! Deadline is Apr 15.

Blastwave FX Releases Sonopedia 2.0

Posted by on Apr 7, 2011 | 0 comments

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Blastwave FX has announced the release of Sonopedia 2.0, a new version of this huge library, loaded with more than 30.000 sounds, including both designed sounds and also a lot of source/production elements for your sound design.

SONOPEDIA 2.0 is a 300 GB sound effects encyclopedia that comes pre-installed on a premium Glyph hard drive. SONOPEDIA 2.0 also includes a sound effects Search Engine and continues to grow with Free Sound Effects Updates, making for a Comprehensive Lifetime Sound Design Solution.

Every sound in SONOPEDIA 2.0 was pristinely recorded and mastered at 24/96 with multi-format delivery as 24/96, 24/48, and 16/44.1 broadcast .WAV files, as well as mp3 reference files. SONOPEDIA 2.0 is cataloged with rich embedded metadata that provides instant, accurate search results on any system and is compatible with Pro Tools, Soundminer, NetMix, iTunes, and other popular sound library search engines. All SONOPEDIA 2.0 sound effects are descriptively named and intuitively categorized for easy browsing.

New features in v2.0

  • 10,000 New Sound Effects!
  • Over 400 5.1 Surround Sound Effects
  • Sound Effects Loops!
  • More variety in takes (Distance, Velocity, Duration)
  • The only General HD Sound Effects Library to include a suite of Production Elements
  • A new category: Textures – featuring sound effects design elements!

Sonopedia 2.0 is available now at $3.999.

Useful links: Blastwave FX on Twitter | Facebook | Making of Sonopedia 2.0 | Package and Features