Photo: Leonard Paul
This article is a guest contribution by Leonard Paul, president of the School of Video Game Audio. He has worked on over twenty AAA and indie games such as ‘Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2,’ ‘NHL11,’ ‘Vessel’ and ‘Retro City Rampage’ as a technical sound designer and composer, and he has also composed for documentaries like ‘The Corporation’ and the upcoming ‘Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound.’ You can visit his School of Video Game Audio website or can follow him at @SchoolGameAudio.
Ready for the plunge? Or maybe just a toe first? There has never been a better time to “dive” into audio coding, but instead of jumping in and hoping to swim right away, we’re just going to get our feet wet with this first article in the series.
This article is a gentle introduction to the fun world of game audio programming using C++ with FMOD Studio under OS X. You might be familiar with audio middleware implementation, or even complex effects chains and intricate modular synthesizer patches, but the thought of C++ code can still seem a bit daunting. It can be hard to figure out where to start with game audio coding, especially since the software and technology changes every few years. But just like learning a new language, even a few phrases can have amazing outcomes. C++ is currently the language used in many games, and the tools to learn how to code have never been more accessible. Each tool used in this article is entirely free to download and use, and with FMOD Studio being free for commercial indie releases, the skills you learn here can be used directly when working on games. It definitely isn’t necessary to know how to code when working in game audio, but it’s a lot more fun when you understand how a game plays back your sounds, and it can help you learn how to have more creative control. Now let’s get to it!
Audiofile Engineering recently unveiled Triumph, not just an update to Wave Editor (with lots of new features) but rebuilt ground up to take full advantage of the latest features in OS X. I’ve been giving it a test run and will be sharing my thoughts in the form of a review shortly. Stay tuned for it because it will also include a big Audiofile Engineering app giveaway (including Triumph)!
While I take Triumph on a test drive, I thought it would be great to interview Matthew Foust, co-founder and operations manager at Audiofile Engineering, to find out more about the innovation that drives company.
DS: Tell us about the background of Audiofile Engineering. How and when did it all begin?
MF: It was, for all intents and purposes, an accident. Ev (Olcott) and I had been playing music together in Minneapolis for a while. We decided to open a studio together around 2000 and did a lot of recording of bands and writing/sound design for Hollywood (mostly movie trailers and cartoons). Ev had been coding since grade school. I had been working in IT doing architecture and scalable systems. Obviously, we’re both eggheads and Apple lovers.
Long story longer, our DAW of choice was MOTU Digital Performer which was the first to make the leap to Mac OS X. We updated our main DAW to Mac OS X and realized that, although our DAW was Mac OS X-compatible, nothing else was. Ev had tons and tons of samples that we needed to process and we had been using an old app called Alchemy that withered away. Thus we developed, for our own purposes, Sample Manager. Well, the lightbulb went on that other people might be interested in this. The businessperson in me realized that a) the studio business was going to going start contracting in a serious way and b) there was a vacuum of audio tools designed and built for Mac OS X. Audiofile Engineering was born.
DS: You’ve got quite a roster of applications – both for OSX and iOS. All of them have gorgeous designs and great functionality built in. It seems like a lot of time and effort is spent not just replicating functionality but also reinventing the wheel?
MF: Exactly. Our goal is always to rethink the way humans can and should interact with audio and music-making software. I think FiRe is a great example of that. We could have easily published a dime-a-dozen voice recorder app when the iOS App Store launched, but it wouldn’t have been interesting. We worked on FiRe for over a year because we wanted to replace a hand-held field recorder. That said, it had to take advantage of what these amazing devices could do that a field recorder couldn’t. It also had to do what other audio apps at the time weren’t doing. That’s why the real-time waveform view and SoundCloud integration were so important and worth waiting for.
I recently sat down and played with the OS X version of Quiztones the other day and had a blast. A bit of background on the app from the Audiofile Engineering site:
Quiztones is a frequency ear trainer for amateur and professional audio engineers, producers, and musicians.
Quiztones uses tones and frequency-altered noise and musical loops (including source material from your own music library) to train your ears and help develop more acute listening and frequency recognition skills.