GameSoundCon, gearing up for their 10th conference, which will take place October 7-8 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, have made two recent news announcements.
Game Audio Workers Survey
First up, the results of the GamesSoundCon and Games Audio Network and Guild (GANG) joint survey that looked at working in the game audio industry are out. Whilst the results give cause for optimism with regards to general pay for composers, sound designers and audio developers, less encouraging news emerged, with the fact that women remain under-represented in the industry accounting for around 5% of survey respondents. A PDF of the full survey results, where respondents were also invited to comment on things such as work environment and contract terms, are available form the GamesSoundCon website.
$100 off entry to GameSoundCon14 and a chance to win EastWest CCC2
GamesSoundCon and EastWest have teamed up for a sound design contest that offers multiple winners a $100 entry discount to October’s GamesSoundCon AND automatic entry into a draw to win a copy of EastWest Complete Composers Collection 2. More of a social media treasure hunt, for a chance to win contestants are asked to follow the contest link, provide an email address, and then use the power of social media to earn points that unlock the discount code and give entry into the draw. All the tasks are pretty straightforward, so don’t let that put you off!
Game Audio Network Guild
Exercising listening in a public outdoor space.
Sound designers by nature have an inherent curiosity towards sound. We explore the way sounds work every time we approach a project. With each new opportunity to design a sound, we ask ourselves questions such as: What object/event produced the sound(s)? Where is the sound source located in relation to the listener, and just as importantly, how does (or how will) the sound impact an audience’s emotional state when heard?
It goes without saying that the sheer act of producing our own sonic work, and by critically listening to and dissecting the works of others (as Berrak Nil Boya explored and extrapolated on in her recent post) will inherently make us stronger and better critical listeners. Though along with these practices, it is invaluable to also step away from evaluating completed, produced works and critically listen to some alternate sound sources, and in some potentially new ways; just like exercising a muscle, the more angles you can target your critical listening “muscle”, the stronger and more well-rounded it becomes.
The question then must be, other than by evaluating an already existing game or film’s audio as it was intended, how, and what, can we listen to in order to hone our listening abilities?
This post looks to add to this conversation by offering a few exercises I’ve picked up and augmented over the years and still use to this day. Once again, just like any exercise routine, training your critical listening is an on-going responsibility for any sound designer (though vitally important early in your career, continued practice is essential to maintain a high level of critical listening fitness).
Guest Contribution by Berrak Nil Boya
As a composer, musicologist and a sound designer who is making a transition to the world of game audio for the last year or so, not only do I have a new level of respect for everyone who works as a game audio professional but I also became aware of various changes I am going through almost daily to adapt my already established skill set and mentality to fit my new chosen profession. These changes affect different aspects of my auditory world to varying degrees, but listening and specifically critical listening ended up being a new kind of challenge for me. As a musician who is used to listening critically to music and its various properties, and as a musicologist who researched film music for years, the inherent interactivity and flow of the gaming experience required a new type of listening capability from me. One that depended on me to not just pay attention to the different aspects of the soundscape, but also to rise to the challenges that were presented to me by the game to succeed as a gamer. It meant orienting my attention to the other aspects of the game; so much so that, I forgot to listen for a while and instead just heard what the soundscape consisted of. So how would it be possible for me to play a game AND critically listen to its audio aspects at the same time?
The gents with impressive facial hair over at the Beards, Cats and Indie Game Audio Podcast have glommed onto this month’s theme of “Listening”. You can check out the full episode here.
Thanks go out to Matthew Marteinsson (@mattesque) and Gordon McGladdery (@AShellInThePit) for contributing to this month’s discussion!
Guest Contribution by Stephan Schütze
Why I am not going to tell you which microphone to use
The simple answer to this statement is, because we don’t have time. The exact choice of which microphone to use for each situation of recording a vehicle is a detailed exercise and would take more pages than we have space for. Even then, there is a major flaw associated with the idea. What I hear and what sounds good to my ears may not work for you. Suggesting Brand X or a Model 2B, stuffed up the exhaust pipe of your Honda, may only serve to encourage you to spend more money than you need to. As much as we all love to buy new equipment, I think there is value in stepping beyond the tools and toys. I’m going to be more general and share a more conceptual approach to capturing good vehicle sounds.
What I will do is take you through some of the essential lessons I’ve learned when recording vehicle sounds for Sound Librarian. In creating our sound libraries, I’ve recorded motorbikes, cars, tanks, boats, airplanes, pretty much every vehicle I could get my microphones near.