So, Chuck Russom Special has come to the end. Many thanks to Chuck for sharing his fantastic stuff with the community and thanks to the readers who participated in the month. Here’re the answers to his questions:
Wow, the month of April just flew by! I want to thank Designing Sound for hosting me this month. I also want to thank the readers for putting up with my ramblings! I have really enjoyed putting together all of these features and reading all the comments. If you enjoyed my recording posts and want to hear more, follow my blog. If you want to keep up with my ramblings, you can find me on Twitter.
Designing Sound Reader: With regards to designing weapons for shooter games, do you consider the ethical aspects of your work? Where do you stand on such issues?
Chuck Russom: The games that I work on are usually created for adults. The games are often violent, but I have no problem with adults playing whatever type of game that they choose. I don’t feel most of the games are for kids. It is up to parents to keep an eye on what their kids are playing and decide what entertainment is not appropriate for them. As for the debate about if the game industry markets mature games to kids, or if it should be illegal for retailers to sell to kids, I don’t really care to be involved in the debate as I don’t know the answers.
When I work on games based on actual events (Call of Duty, etc) I do think about how we are representing the sacrifices of the the soldiers who fought in those conflicts. And yeah, maybe the games areexploitive to a point. Personally, from being involved in those projects, I’ve learned a lot of history that I might not have learned otherwise. Its always my hope that at least someone playing one of these games is interested enough to go out and learn the true history behind these events.
I work on a lot of games that are filled with guns. Over the years, through experimentation, screwing up, listening to movies/games with great guns sounds, and tips from other sounds designers, I’ve been able to create a process that works well for me. The biggest influence on my gun sound design has not come in the studio, but on the gun range. I’ve shot a lot of guns. I’ve also been around a lot of guns while they were being fired. Hands-on education is really the best way to learn something. So, if you really want to improve your gun sound design, find a way to get out on a range where you can fire some guns off. The feel of a gun’s shockwave through your body as you fire it, the sore shoulder you have the day after shooting, the payoff of destroying a watermelon with a blast from a shotgun, these are some of the lasting lessons that you will learn.
Sadly, the Chuck Russom Special is coming to the end. Here’s the last interview we made, this time talking about “Quantum of Solace” (the video game), where Chuck was the Audio Lead.
Designing Sound: So ,how do you get hired on Treyarch and how do you get involved with Quantum of Solace?
Chuck Russom: I am a huge, life-long fan of the Bond franchise. I even have a poster from You Only Live Twice (Sean Connery era Bond Film) hanging in my dining room. I had always wanted to work on a project set in that world. When Activision picked up the Bond game license a few years back, I started looking into which studio would be doing the games. Everything sort of fell into place and worked out perfectly.
Treyarch was doing the first game. They were based in LA and looking for an Audio Director. Through a friend, I was able to get my resume into Activision and then into Treyarch. They invited me in to interview and I basically told them that I was a Bond nut and I must work on the game. I guess it worked, because they hired me on.
One of the readers asked if I could give some tips on how to process library sounds and what to do when you can’t record your own source. It is a common misconception that sound teams that work on films, AAA game titles, or teams that do a lot of sound recording do not use commercial sound libraries. The fact is, no matter how large the budget, or how much time you have to record sounds for a project, there will always be sounds that you are not able to record on your own. Commercial sound libraries are a valuable and necessary tool for all sound designers and sound editors. The problem with commercial libraries is that they have been over-used and include easily recognizable sounds.
The key to using commercial libraries is to use them creatively. Any school-aged kid can look through a catalog, find a sound, and place it into a scene. Using libraries creatively means using the sounds you find in a library as sources to build your own sound creations. When I’m auditioning sounds in my library, whether they come from a commercial source or a recording of my own, I am not looking for finished sounds. Instead, I am looking for layers to create my own sound. I’m looking for the building blocks of the sound I need to create.