Thanks to Brad Dyck for contributing this interview.
For the past two decades, Electronic Arts’ FIFA franchise has been the most successful selling sports video game series of all time and Audio Director Jeff Macpherson has been overseeing the sound of the games since 2006.
Creating a smooth, realistic commentary system along with dynamic, exciting crowds is no small feat and I recently spoke at length with him about just how this is accomplished. Join us below as we discuss the challenges and satisfaction that comes with designing audio for a world class sports title.
THE TEMPORAL SHIFT
BD: How long have you been Audio Director for FIFA?
JM: I’ve been on FIFA since 2001 so it’s been 12 years since I’ve been on FIFA and Audio Director for about 6 years, about half that time.
BD: What were you doing when you first started?
JM: When I very first started, I had moved to Vancouver for post production gigs or anything in media because there was always lots back then, movies, TV and games. Games were my number one choice so I really pounded the pavement to get into game studios because I had no experience. My first job was in QA, I did it for a little while and then I was a junior sound designer/audio artist on FIFA when I got grabbed by the guy who I kept bugging every day. I was given a shot to do that and then ended up owning the commentary side of things because the guy who was doing that left. I just got thrown into it and just started going through there and just worked my way up.
BD: How has the technology changed since you started doing it?
JM: Aw man, like crazy. I know it’s an old cliché but man it changes fast. And I’m not just talking about the consoles. The changes in the consoles are not the biggest changes, it’s more the behind the scene stuff. I’m moving offices right now and I was in that edit suite for 11 years so there’s all sorts of stuff in there from throughout the years. I’ve got all these DAT tapes with all this source on it, then an old DAT player and zip drives with SCSI cables – all this stuff for just getting the amount of data that audio needs. Moving it around from machine to machine used to be a real undertaking.
Now we just use a Fast Spec service, Dropbox or anything and boom, you got 10GB and it’s in a studio in London within an hour and it’s back in your hands in no time. There’s no physical media being used, there’s no SCSI cables, there’s no mismatch between Macs and PCs. Back then we were all using ProTools on Macs and just operating on a network alone you’d be grabbing files and destroying resource forks if you remember what those are from old Mac stuff. All of a sudden your files wouldn’t work properly because they just happen to touch a PC network in transit. Things like that were crazy and nowadays it’s just like, out of the box surround sound, HDMI cable, HDTV, wireless controllers, everything’s on a network, everything’s fast, everything’s big, good to go, the work environment is just sped up like crazy.