As sound designers, our jobs usually entail creating a vivid sonic world to accompany a narrative. But often, the nature of the worlds we are creating presents some unique challenges; there’s no doubt this was the case on ABZÛ, an upcoming underwater exploration game from Giant Squid Studios.
In a recent blog post, Giant Squid’s sound designer Steve Green delves into their approach to creating the sonic elements that would accompany and enhance this underwater world, with some special attention to how the audio would help create the narrative experience the team was looking for. Head over to the blog to read more!
While it has been out for a while now, I finally got my hands on a review copy of Dehumaniser from Krotos LTD. Dehumaniser has gotten a good bit of buzz in the professional sound design community and rightly so. It is a rock-solid solution for quick and easy monster voices. Dehumaniser is “a software standalone vocal processor that allows the production of creature / monster sounds, efficiently in real time. It is designed to produce studio–quality sounds by using multiple layers of sound manipulation techniques simultaneously. Connect a microphone to your sound interface or even use your computer’s built-in microphone and create astonishing creature sounds in seconds, using your voice.”
The TL;DR version of this review is: Dehumaniser its pretty fantastic and you should probably get it. The speed and quality you get is definitely worth £199. What you make with Dehumaniser you might not use alone, but as a layer in an overall creature/monster vocalization. That said; it is certainly possible to only work in Dehumaniser and get exactly what you want for a vocalization. To do so you will have to dig a bit into the Advanced Mode and take advantage of the Animal Convolution, Pitch Shifting, Dual Plug-ins and many of the other 8 processing channels.
With growing computing power over the last decade, convolution plugins have become commonplace. Some of the most common ones include Audio Ease Altiverb, Logic’s Space Designer, Avid TL Space, Waves IR-1 and McDsp Revolver. They are usually packaged with large and useful libraries of impulse responses (more on what all this means below), but what makes them really powerful is the fact that it is quite easy to record and use your own impulse responses. This not only helps ‘personalise’ your mixes, but is extremely useful in post-production and in the design of new sounds.
Each of the above mentioned plugins need slightly different techniques for creating a custom library of impulse responses. This article is a description of the general concepts behind recording good impulse responses and should be easily adaptable to any convolution/de-convolution tool.
What is convolution?
Convolution is the process where a single sample of a sound is multiplied by every sample of another sound. It is different from the plain multiplication of two sounds where a single sample of the first sound is multiplied by the corresponding single sample of a second sound.
Curtis Roads (The Computer Music Tutorial) describes convolution as:
Convolution of two audio signals is equivalent to filtering the spectrum of one sound by the spectrum of another sound. Convolution of spectra means that each point in the discrete frequency spectrum of input a is convolved with every point in the spectrum b.
In the run-up to this month’s reverb theme, former contributor Damian Kastbauer suggested we re-run this article he put together discussing the game Crackdown for XBOX. The article may be two years old, but the content remains undeniably relevant. Never one to ignore good suggestions, here we are…
One area that has been gaining ground since the early days of EAX on the PC platform, and more recently it’s omnipresence in audio middleware toolsets, is Reverb. With the ability to enhance the sounds playing back in the game with reverberant information from the surrounding space, you can effectively communicate to the player a truer approximation of “being there” and help to further immerse them in the game world. While we often take Reverb for granted in our everyday life as something that helps us position ourselves in a space (the cavernous echo of an airport, the openness of a forest), it is something that is continually giving us feedback on our surroundings, and thus a critical part of the way we experience the world.
Audiokinetik has announced a new partnership with Audio Ease. Altiverb IR packages on Wwise.
Audiokinetic Inc. and Audio Ease B.V. announce a partnership where Audiokinetic will distribute award winning Altiverb Impulse Response packages for the Wwise convolution reverb plug-in. The first package will be available before the end of this year and will contain 49 impulse responses mostly oriented for the reproduction of outdoor environments. Reproducing outdoor environments is probably one of the most difficult tasks for sound designers today and this package arrives at the right moment for professionals seeking quality and realism in their games.
“At the design phase of our convolution reverb, we set a very challenging goal that we could have the best technology from the post-production world running in games, said Simon Ashby, VP Products at Audiokinetic. Given that our convolution reverb operates with high performance and that we proudly partner with Audio Ease, which is certainly the most respected player in this field, I think we can say that we have achieved our goal”.
“Convolution reverb approaches the real world so much better than synthetic reverb that it had no trouble taking over Hollywood film sound. I hope this set of movie post-pro Altiverb IR’s will help convolution reverb do the same in game sound, added Arjen van der Schoot, Co-owner of Audio Ease. We had been waiting for the right opportunity to start applying our IR’s in real time in games. When Audiokinetic came along, we did not hesitate. I believe we have chosen to partner with a company as devoted to impressive sounding audio as we are.”
Audiokinetik | Audio Ease