Guest Contribution by Steven Klein
There are many reasons for conflicting viewpoints and misinformation on studio design / acoustics. This article will examine components contributing to the confusion along with some advice on how to avoid common pitfalls.
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary: the inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a complex natural system.)
We must first realize that science is challenged by chaos. I present the thesis that talent supersedes everything. Since this is immensely abstract and unknowable where it fits in the analysis, chaos is exposed. Talented people will work in the worst conditions and have great results. The untalented can work in the greatest environments and never produce. There is an ambivalent conclusion for what works.
The reality that great music/production can come from adverse conditions leads one away from the true objective science of acoustics and physics.
This is a guest article written by Ariel Gross, Audio Director of game development studio Volition Inc, which produces such PC and console titles as the Saint’s Row and Red Faction series. You can view Ariel’s introduction post here.
I Feel Like a Fraud and So Can You!
Every now and then I feel like a fraud. Every now and then I feel like I’m merely masquerading as a professional. Every now then I feel a little bit terrified, and then I see the look in your eyes. Wait, wait. Sorry. That last one was from a Bonnie Tyler song. But here’s the thing. The more I open up about this feeling to others, the more I realize that lots of other people feel this way, and it can be really comforting to know that we’re not alone. And actually, it might just be okay that we feel like frauds. Good, even!
How is it “okay” to be a fraud?
Well, hold your horses there, header. I never said that I am a fraud. I said that I feel like a fraud, and there’s a big difference. I’ve never claimed credit for something that I didn’t actually do. That would make me an actual fraud. If I have done that, it would have been unintentionally, and I would be mortified to find out. I would shout from the tallest mountain that there was an error.
It’s more like a sense of disbelief that I occasionally accomplish things that are actual things. To be clear, actual things are what I’ve always endeavored to do, and I believe that anyone that sets out to do actual things will likely become more capable of doing an actual thing. And that is just fine… for other people.
Game Audio Mix has posted a list of tips for optimal mixing for video games. The full list can be viewed on the Gameaudiomix website
Here are a few things that I lay awake thinking about last night, and in the hope that I may get a good night’s sleep tonight, unbothered by such thoughts, I wrote them down.
In no particular order…
1) PLAN TO MIX
Planning is good, it is healthy, it let’s other people on the team know what you are about to do AND it means you aren’t scrambling to get something unscheduled crammed into the dying light of a project. This is the most simple element, yet the easiest to forget and to get caught out by. Having some dedicated time built into the overall project schedule to sit down as close to the end of the project as possible, is the best chance you have of getting a final mix pass done on your game. Scheduling this time is simple, but requires some deft political manoeuvring, particularly if your team is not used to running things past a Beta date. Being open and up front with PM and Producer resources from as soon as you get involved on the project is the only way to get anything like this scheduled. If you are doing the mix out of house, or using contractors, this becomes more evident to the PM world, however, if you plan on doing it in-house, it can quickly become overlooked, so constant reminders to everyone on the team about the upcoming mix is usually required. We usually try to schedule a 3 week period after production Beta, called ‘Sound Beta’ in which we do nothing but a mix pass on the entire game. This isn’t plausible, or even necessary, for every game, but the amount of time you need is scalable, usually dependent on hours of game play, and complexity of game mechanics – even if you have a couple of days to set overall levels, this is more than you’d get through not planning.
Game Audio Mix
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!
Also, Diego has released a new album, ‘The Broken Suite’. Listen/download here.
To get things rolling on this month’s featured sound designer, here’s a little introductory interview with Coll Anderson.
Designing Sound: How did you first get interested in sound?
Coll Anderson: My Mother was a DJ at a country radio station in Des Moines Iowa. She did that and was a VO artist… I started hanging out at the station when she was doing her show, and then hanging at sessions… That led to playing with stuff, the record players, making mix tapes, faders… I was like 12… I mean I was a little kid playing with cutting 1/4” and stuff to make my mix tapes. Then one day I got the microphone to work… That was it. My brain just exploded. I recorded music for a while, played the drums for a while but it was always that microphone thing that illuminated so much for me. Then Allison Humenuk asked me to record sound on her thesis documentary and the two ideas, recording sound, and working on movies just came full on.