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Posted by on Apr 23, 2014 | 1 comment

Audio Interviewing Audio: Tomoya Kishi and Kenneth Young

Below is an interview I conducted between Capcom’s Tomoya Kishi and Media Molecule’s Kenneth Young. I started them off with a few questions and let them go back and forth from there. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as we had putting it together.


Jack:  Please introduce yourself and tell us about your experience in audio.


Kenny: My name is Kenny Young and I’m the Head of Audio at Media Molecule, one of Sony’s first party (wholly owned) game development studios, based in Guildford, UK. I had a fairly strong musical background as a kid, but sealed my fate by doing an undergraduate degree in Music Technology at the University of Edinburgh, which turned me on to working creatively with sound before then going on to specialise a bit more by doing a masters degree in sound design down at Bournemouth Uni. I landed my first full-time job in the industry 10 years ago as a junior sound designer at Sony’s London Studio, working in their centralised audio department on a wide variety of games in different genres and on different platforms. That broad experience stood me in good stead for when I joined Media Molecule in 2007, setting up their audio department and trying my best to make LittleBigPlanet sound awesome. That involved me doing the vast majority of the sound work, some of the music, directing the composers and the creative side of the music licensing process, producing the voice localisation from the Mm side of things, not to mention being heavily involved in the design of the audio-centric UGC features of the game. That led to the inevitable sequel, and the joys of trying to juggle the managing and directing of my staff whilst remaining a hands-on sound designer and composer. Most recently, we just released Tearaway, which I wrote about in December for Designing Sound, where I supervised a team of talented sound designers and managed to keep my hand in there whilst also co-writing the original score (with Brian D’Oliveira), co-writing the voice script (with Tearaway’s creative director, Rex Crowle) and generally just trying to help the project in whatever way I could. All of which is why I’ve been on holiday for the last two months! But I’m just back in the saddle and trying to get our unannounced PS4 project into good audio shape having ignored it for a while :)

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Posted by on Feb 11, 2013 | 9 comments

Capcom Audio Director Tomoya Kishi Interview

Dragon's Dogma (c)CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Dragon’s Dogma (c)CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Japanese video game composers and musicians get a good bit of coverage and acclaim over in the West, but the people making the booms and whoosh sounds don’t seem to get much visibility.  To that end I reached out to Tomoya Kishi, who is the Audio Director and Senior Manager of Audio Design and Production at Capcom:

“Tomoya Kishi joined Capcom in 2001, beginning his career as an audio editor on the Onimusha series. In 2004, he was assigned to be the audio director for Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, a role he continued on the sequel Lost Planet 2. During this time he constructed a work flow to improve efficiency in video game audio development, and worked to forge more active collaborations with Hollywood sound studios—activities that have given birth to new ideas as well as new possibilities in the overall industry.

Tomoya Kishi

Tomoya Kishi

Tomoya’s recent work has been as audio director of Dragon’s Dogma. By utilizing the work flow developed on previous titles, as well as incorporating a number of collaborative works, the audio in Dragon’s Dogma has been one of the most interesting, challenging and inspiring projects of his career. Additionally, he has lead the development of Capcom’s original audio middleware, cooperating with professors and researchers with the aim of inventing a new technology in video game audio.

Tomoya currently is the senior manager of the audio production team at Capcom. The team consists of 60 members from various fields, including sound design, composition, engineering, programming, and audio production.”

Designing Sound: How did you get started in sound design?  What inspired you to do sound design for games?

Tomoya Kishi: It’s a bit of a long story, and a little embarrassing, but I’ve never formally studied music―I originally studied marketing at my university’s commerce department. However, I first got into music when my parents bought me a Yamaha synthesizer at age 14. I started remixing my favorite artist’s tracks and experimented with composing my own.

It was in the 90’s, right when club music like house and hip-hop was breaking out in the underground here, that I was hooked on creating breakbeats with the AKAI S01 sampler. The RAM on the AKAI S01 is fairly limited, so I played around sampling at a higher pitch, then going back and lowering it, sampling at a lower bit rate, shortening samples as much as possible―I was always trying to cram as much as possible into that limited space, never thinking that this experience would come in handy down the road.

In college, I DJ’d at clubs, put on shows, and self-published my own album. At that time big beat was in, so artists like Fatboy Slim were hot.

Around this time I ran into someone from Capcom at a club and first learned about sound effects. It turned out they were working on the sounds for Street Fighter. I was job hunting and wanted to work in sound, so with their encouragement I dove into this world.

Whew, so that is quite a bit of back-story―basically, I started sound design when I entered Capcom at age 22. Luckily, I was used to most of the equipment involved; I just had to learn Pro Tools, and put my sampling and sound-mixing sense to work. In the end, it was less that I was inspired and more that my career just happened to start with game sound design.


Lost Planet

-What software do you use for sound design?  Any favorite plugins and workflows? 

In general I stick to Pro Tools, and considering the total recall I don’t use an outboard. I like to keep things simple and stay away from physical controllers so I just control everything using a trackball. The plug-ins I use most are McDSP, FilterBank and CompressorBank, Waves, Pitch ’n Time, Duy EverPack, Pultec EQ and Comp, and finally Altiverb. Conceptually, Altiverb is about sampling acoustic spaces, so for someone who is into sampling as much as me it was love at first sight. I use it for a lot of different things: voice effects, to add a little something to the digital track to make it more organic, and so on. I also get a lot of use out of Pitch ’n Time. I love Pultec for how it dirties up sounds with heavy compression, so I use it to spice things up or to create nuances in footsteps. I like plug-ins that allow you to twist sounds a little with dirty effects while maintaining the original, organic texture.

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2010 | 3 comments

Exclusive Interview With Tom Smurdon, Audio Director of "Dark Void"

Dark Void is a new sci-fi adventure game from CAPCOM for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. The story is about a cargo pilot called William Augustus Grey who crashes into the Bermuda Triangle and is teleported to a parallel universe. With the help of other survivor humans and Nikola Tesla, Willian have to go back to the earth, but first fighting with all kind of creatures on the Void.

Here is an interview I had with Tom Smurdon, Audio director of Dark Void.

Designing Sound: Hi Tom, please give us an introduction of your career and how was your start with sound design.

Tom Smurdon: Hi! When I was younger I learned to play guitar, but I was always playing more with the effects. I loved plugging pedals into pedals and more pedals to see what kind of noises I could make. Then I got a 4-track and knew that’s what I wanted to do. I ended up going to Full Sail to become a recording engineer. I interned and then became a second engineer at Bad Animals in Seattle. This was in the early 90’s and I got to work with some great bands Soundgarden, Deftones, Staind, Pigeonhed, Presidents of the USA, and the Foo Fighters. I also worked with some great producers and engineers. There is a lot of downtime when you assist on a record and during mixing the bands get so bored.

Luckily right around this time the playstation came out. If I wasn’t in the studio I was home glued to that thing. All the bands had them too. The music industry was changing and I bought my first daw, PARIS. I started freelancing more and doing some sound design work then. I ended up working for an online education company as their audio guy. I would edit dialog all day and sound design the flash animations that went with the lectures.

DS: How did you get involved with the games industry? and how with Dark Void?

TS: My wife was still working at Bad Animals and she would record voice talent for videogames. She was working on a game called Voodoo Vince for the Xbox. One of the guys asked her if she knew of any sound designers that worked freelance and bam, I got my first videogame! I still have no idea how I talked my way into that job.

After that game, I got a job working for Omni Audio. I worked on sooo many games with those guys over 6 years. I have sounds in over 22 shipped titles. We did all of the Guild Wars games; I think I am personally responsible for over 300 different sets of monster sounds in that series alone. Worked on Halo 2, the Sims, Vanguard, Rise of Legends and on and on. Omni is a great group and they will do entire games or just get pulled in at the last minute for emergency sounds when teams run out of time.

Airtight Games was looking for an audio team and they hired Omni. I became the audio lead on Dark Void and then when the project ended, I stayed on as Airtight’s audio director.

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