Guest Contribution by Michael Theiler of Kpow Audio
We always knew The Banner Saga was going to be something special. First contact with the guys behind it was so positive and just easy. Our meetings and emails hit all the rights notes creatively so much so we just knew it was going to be an exhilarating ride. We weren’t wrong. Working on a project with such rich creativity and depth behind it, paired with the encouragement and trust the team showed, buoyed us, and heightened our commitment to the project.
There were a few key areas we concentrated on when it came to the sound design of The Banner Saga. We wanted to pay particular attention to the ambiences of the locations in the game – to make them real and evocative and never distract the player from the game. We wanted to make sure the banner, which is always with you but changes in length depending on how the player is progressing, had gravitas and importance without overwhelming the player. Likewise for the scenes where travelling by cart is depicted, the cart sounds were incredibly important as they were the sounds of the population traversing vast distances, fleeing from a dark force. We needed the fighting sounds to be gritty and real, and for their special abilities to have a different sound to them. We wanted the fighters to feel like they were pulling their strength and concentration for their actions from an internal well of ancient power. Finally we wanted the UI to not draw too much attention to itself, to feel solid and real but distinct from the other in-game sounds.
Guest Contribution by: Michael Theiler
The creation of sound is a very specific area of production requiring unique skills that can take time to learn through practise. Some people like myself take part in University courses to help get the skills and knowledge required to perform to the exacting standards required of the industry. I have a Masters Degree in Sound Design. I learnt many important skills and work practices and industry requirements doing that Masters, and it stood me in good stead entering the industry. But this industry is constantly evolving and there are many methods and techniques to achieve results on the varied productions in which we are involved. Finding ways to further yourself and your skills becomes very important.
Last year I attended a workshop presented by Stephan Schütze of Sound Librarian on sound effects recording, It was enlightening to witness how much knowledge and experience can be shared in just one day if an experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic communicator takes you through their world. I am fairly experienced when it comes to recording sound effects, as it is a passion of mine, but I still learnt a number of things that had not occurred to me previously, many of which I went on to implement in my work. So this year, when I found out Sound Librarian was planning to do it again, I immediately signed up to lend a hand.
Michael Theiler has posted a new article on Gamasutra in response to Rob Bridgett’s “After Sound Design”
I have been buoyed recently due to some excellent writings by Ariel Gross and Rob Bridgett talking about game development, and also by my own sense of belonging in the world of games. We are at such an exciting and interesting point in history as it relates to games, and there are practices and stylistic methodologies that deserve some discussion.
I mention Rob Bridgett, as he recently published a blog post about the changing role of the sound department in games. He sees sound department’s role as “principle collaborator to not just the overall project, but artistically, technically, socially and politically in the development of company culture”. This statement is one that rings true, particularly now. I think most game devs will recognise this, and game development companies the world over, if they are not already doing it, will soon be recognising the people in audio departments willing to put up their hand to fill these roles.
It’s been a great month here on Designing Sound! We took a gamble in November with the new monthly features format, and it’s been paying off in spectacular fashion. This site would not be so special without the support and contributions of the community it serves. A hearty round of thanks goes out to this month’s guests:
Tomorrow begins plug-in month. That’s a little vague, I know, but the full description of how and what we’ll be exploring is on its way. If you have something you’d like to contribute, don’t hesitate to get in touch. As you may have noticed, guest contributors are in good company!
Guest contribution by Michael Theiler (Kpow Audio)
Situating an Ambience
When creating ambiences for games (this applies equally to film), I am striving to make them blend into the background and not mask any important in game sounds. For most ambiences, these are the most important qualities that I am attempting to resolve.
In order to achieve this, I need to firstly focus on the repetition and timing between audio occurrences in the sounds. This means spacing sounds, and adding and removing sound occurrences in my audio sequence. I then work on the frequencies in the sounds, using equalization to mold them into the right sound. Finally, I work on their sound propagation and the sound of the space in which they are to inhabit. These are the steps necessary to mould sound into something suitable for the space. Just adding reverb is not enough – the sound needs to be purpose built for the space’s reverberation and delay treatment.