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Posted by on Feb 27, 2010 | 7 comments

Charles Deenen Special: Reader Questions

Here are the answers to the questions you made to Charles Deenen. Even if you don’t made any question to him, you could find really great infromation related to different topics.

(some questions are combined and/or edited down)


Designing Sound Readers: 1a. Every single company I look at, and every website I go to always says the same thing; “Applicants must have at least 3 years experience in the field of Sound Design” and leads me to my question: How are you meant to “start” a career in Sound Design when every single place you look tells you that 3 years experience is needed. How did the people who work for these companies get their first job without the 3 years? I mean you can’t have 3 years experience. . . if every job (even your first) needs 3 years experience to actually get into!
Any advice for someone like me who is seemingly staring into a black hole of nothingness.

1b. I understand I could do freelance work. How would I go about becoming a recognized freelancer though? How do you become freelance? Is there an organisation that you become a member of that allows people looking for small Sound Design jobs to select you from a catalogue?

1c. I’m very intensely serious about becoming a sound designer, I’m working with an indie dev. team, and am paying a very healthy sum of money to attend an audio production school. When I get out of this school, how do you suggest I start looking for my first professional gig? doing sound design for commercials, or even cell phone GUIs, or just any gig that will pay me to make sound. Are there any like, job boards just for sound designers?

Charles Deenen: You’re asking the holy grail of questions :) The first question I think is “how is my work going to get noticed and liked enough for me to get hired”. My advice stems from how I hire new freelancers. This might be very different from other people though.

Often I’ll look for videos on youtube, vimeo and other places for new and exciting ways that people have used sound. Usually they’re easy to find, especially if people have commented about the use of sound. Then I’ll contact them and see if they’re open for a test or some small freelance work.

Another way I hire freelancers is when they send me some work to look at it, without being pushy. After several times, something might catch my eye and will keep it in the back of my mind for a future project. Don’t be pushed off though by the “3 year experience” phrase. The work will speak for yourself. If your work rocks, the developer or post-house would be crazy not to hire you. Tools and processes can be taught, but talent is hard to brew.

Sadly, human resources will indeed filter your resume by the experience, so find new and creative ways to get the Audio Director/Lead to look at your work. Maybe even have them give you a specific task to do, so you can show off your work when given direction. This will show how you interpret direction. If time is critical, I have to admit I usually will go back to proven sources and/or word of mouth recommendations.

A catalog of sound-designers? I don’t know of any website or book that would be a catalog of sound designers. There are some organizations like the MPSE and unions that could maybe assist with this. Sounds like a great idea for somebody to make a site with demo-reels from sound designers. Would save a lot of hassle trying to find the right person.

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Posted by on Feb 26, 2010 | 17 comments

Charles Deenen Special: 100 Whooshes in 2 Minutes


Every sound designer has to make new whooshes in record time. Whenever I’m stuck in that position I’ve always tried to come up with some quick automated ways. A long time ago I made a template that allows me to quickly make new whooshes, and on top of it it’s incredibly fun to “operate” since you get to actually orchestra the whooshes in realtime. I’m still using this template on some material in these days. On top of it, throw virtually any sound at it, bit of protools knowledge, and you’re set. It works best if you have a control surface (C24, Procontrol, D-command, Control 8 etc.) so you can throw the faders.

disclaimer: The first time you set this up, it’ll take you approx 45-60 minutes. Every consecutive use will only take you a few minutes.


  • Create 10-20 tracks with continuously edited sounds for about 4-5 minutes. Place a sound, and use the “duplicate” command plenty of times :)
  • Include sounds with specific characters you want (i.e Growls, distortion, tones etc.)
  • Include single-shot sounds like hits, explosions etc. as well as tonal sounds. These will create the peak-points.

The following video-clip will solo each track to show what types of sounds I’ve picked. Notice there are several types of tonal ranges, flanged sounds etc. Track “Hit1” and “Hit2” are typical “punch” hits.

Variation of Lib sounds put on several tracks. “Bara” track contains sounds by maestro Dave Farmer.

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Posted by on Feb 25, 2010 | 13 comments

Charles Deenen Special: Car Recording Guide



The following article contains small excerpts of the 65 page “Need for Speed” Car Recording Guidebook, published internally at Electronic Arts, written by Charles Deenen.


Car sounds are some of the most inspiring and entertaining sounds to record. Like a human voice, each car has a signature sound, with the driver being the actor.
Recording these machines should be simple right? You call a buddy with a cool car, grab a microphone and recorder, go find a spot somewhere and hit record. Many folks have had great luck doing it this way, but when deadlines, ownership and budgets are at stake, you can’t risk shooting from the hip. The following pages are a random sampling of some the book and mainly cover the setup phase. Thanks to the many folks who originally contributed their thoughts, pictures and feedback to the full book. The recording setup procedure is mostly for gaming, but will help any person setting up car (or any vehicle) recordings.

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Posted by on Feb 23, 2010 | 8 comments

Charles Deenen Special: "Need For Speed" [Exclusive Interview]


For years, Charles Deenen has been the audio director of the Need for Speed Franchise. I had a nice talk with him commenting about some aspects of the audio of the award winning franchise. Let’s read:


Designing Sound: First of all, tell us something about your passion for cars, and what you enjoy most about working on Need For Speed Games?

Charles Deenen: As a kid I played a lot with toy cars, build lego race-tracks and liked anything associated with speed. In the netherlands you can’t start your education for a drivers license until you’re 18. Before I started that, I got my speed-kick out of BMX biking, competing and doing jumps too high for my own health (the hole in my tongue is witness of that :) Oddly enough I’d always told my family I wasn’t ever going to drive a car. I’d seen one burn down during younger years, and was afraid I’d get burned alive in a crash. But hey, that fear didn’t last long, and I obtained my drivers license quickly and have always driven with a lead-foot.

Before “Need for Speed”, I’d never worked on a “big” racing game. Previously I’d worked on some C64 and SNES racing titles, but in those days sound was a low priority in a racing game. Heck, we were happy enough it made some tolerable sound.

On the Need for Speed franchise I’ve always enjoyed the people I work with the most. Without a team driving each other to excel, you don’t get industry leading results. We’re blessed to have that team in place. The execs at EA understand what great audio brings to a title and support the development of it. The other aspect I enjoy is the constant drive to find new and better ways to give the user a true car racing experience. This includes the plethora of cars we have to record (and sometimes get to drive :) which is always a really fun but exhausting time during the dev-cycle of a title. Having worked for many years on slower RPG style games, the racing genre changes up the pace nicely by introducing constant action.

DS: How has the evolution of the franchise been? What are the main improvements on the game since the first version?

CD: Need for Speed has been around for over 16 years(!!), and the very first version was 1994’s “need for speed” on the 3DO, with audio by Allistair Hirst. A lot has changed since then, but the platforms are so different, it’s hard to compare what the main improvements are. The previous games always have sounded great for the platform limits. The new consoles have allowed expansion of the realism of the sound, and provide a more engaging and believable soundscape. New playback techniques got introduced during 2004 on NFS Underground 2. Air distortion, split engines and environment integration were introduced in 2007. We’re now working on something that will bring it to another level by making the car come alive, which I’m very exciting about. No other game has done this yet. When this gets released it’ll be another few years hopefully before the competition will catch up.

(Sound by EA Media Works)

DS: How is the relationship of the sound team with the rest of the developers of NFS? How is the importance given to the sound of the games?

CD: The development team and NFS management realizes that Audio is a critical part of a racing game, and supports it. The audio artists and audio programmers are among the development team, and interact daily with the rest of the team. In other words, there’s no real separation between “sound team” and “dev team”. Everybody is part of the whole team.

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