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Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 | 2 comments

Should It Make A Sound?

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Guest Contribution by Rob Bridgett

For the past 14 years I’ve been a proponent of sound as a deeply integral part of the video game development process, getting audio involved earlier, allowing it to become a part of decision making and concepting, allowing sound’s early presence, excitement and enthusiasm to influence the other disciplines involved in the collaborative sport of video game development.

Recently, you may have noticed a trend towards narrowing down the focus of what we consider to be multi-disciplinary game development, there are small team, minimal, retro, and almost inevitably towards audio-only games. At the Game Developer’s Conference Nicky Birch of Somethin’ Else’s spoke about their audio-only games (such as Papa Sangre) as did Brian Schmidt on a similar theme in 2013). These are games in which the player has little or no visual input or stimulus, but relies entirely on spatialized audio cues.

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Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 | 6 comments

Review: Game Audio Culture by Rob Bridgett

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Review by Karen Collins

Game Audio Culture” isn’t a book, so much as a manifesto. Dragging sound design (perhaps somewhat reluctantly) from out of the darkened underground studios and out into the open, Bridgett proposes that it’s time that sound designers started to be more collaborative with the rest of the game team. Bridgett boldly states that we’re in a “post-sound design era… no longer obsessed with the ‘neglected’ art” of the soundtrack. Sound designers can’t play the victim anymore: sound is getting the respect it deserves, and the next stage is to become a key collaborator on projects. Suggesting that fully one third of the sound designer’s skill set should be social skills, Bridgett sees the audio director as playing a much more important role in the future than in the past. Bridgett dubs this new art “social sound design”.

With that premise in mind, “Game Audio Culture” maps out just how Bridgett envisages the future role of the sound designer to play out. How does game audio influence collaborative practice? Where does design come into the mix, and how does that change under the idea of social sonic practice? How should scheduling change to accommodate a more social, collaborative space? How do you plan your budgets? What role does audio play in QA, and how does audio bring in feedback from its team and its players? These are just some of the questions Bridgett seeks to answer.

For the game sound designer, this book offers practical tips on how to turn your workplace into a more collaborative, holistic world, in which sound plays an important part. It best serves as a how-to guide on being an audio director, in a world where many of the triple-A titles have teams of people working on audio that need to be coordinated and managed. Most game audio directors find themselves in that role through promotion and experience, but without any formal training available. Bridgett fills the gap in knowledge by providing useful tips and tricks that will benefit even the most experienced designers and audio directors. For the rest of us, he gives us much to think about in terms of our practice.

For the academic or scholar studying game audio, the book is particularly useful in its description of process, and will help anyone to understand the many different skills required to undertake sound design for games today. Especially interesting are the more meandering thought pieces that round out the book: self-described “utopian” considerations of where game audio is heading, what the future holds for sound design, and two interviews that read like thoughtful, in-depth discussion between two sound designers, kicking back over a beer and reflecting on their jobs.

Finally, I would suggest that game designers themselves pick up this book, to understand what the sound team is doing and to incorporate some of these tips in bringing the sound team on board early. In short, there’s something in “Game Audio Culture” for everyone: it’s one of those books that is worth reading multiple times, as a reminder of how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go.

Special thanks to Karen Collins for contributing this review. You can find Karen on gamessound.com

You can purchase Game Audio Culture online here.

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Posted by on Sep 30, 2013 | 0 comments

SFX Independence – September 2013

In comparison to the swathe of releases and sales through the summer months, September has been an altogether quieter affair on the SFX library front. The following libraries are all available to purchase/sample now.

SONIC SALUTE – Car Doors: Exteriors – Open and Close

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Sonic Salute’s new library requires little explanation. ‘Car Doors: Exteriors – Open and Close’ is a collection of almost 80 (mono) files of scrapheap-bound car doors opening and closing. It’s available now for $15.
Further information is available on their website.

 

RABBIT EARS AUDIO – REA013 Bridgett Tones

 

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Rabbit Ears Audio have collaborated with game audio specialist Rob Bridgett to launch two new libraries under the Bridgett Tones moniker. REA013.1 Room Tones is a collection of interior ambiences, whilst the companion REA013.2 Air Tones provides a mixture of exterior ambiences. Bridgett Tones is available as a 16bit / 24KHz library pack for $50, or $25.00 for each pack.
For more information on Bridgett Tones or to purchase a copy, visit the website.
 

BOOM LIBRARY – Nature Essentials by Gordon Hempton

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Those busy folks at Boom have collaborated with Emmy award-winning acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton to lanuch ‘Nature Essentials’. This collection of is the first in a series compiled from almost three decades-worth of recordings by Hempton. ‘Nature Essentials’ is intended to provide an exhaustive range of nature’s wonderful ambiences; streams, rivers, wildlife and thunder, to name but a few. This 3GB library is available for purchase now, through Boom (€149.00) and also via Hempton’s own Quiet Planet company.


 

Quiet Planet - https://quietplanet.com/

 

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Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 | 0 comments

Interview: Rob Bridgett and Game Audio Culture

Rob Bridgett is no stranger to us here at Designing Sound. Constantly writing and engaging in community discussion; Rob has put out a new book called “Game Audio Culture“. Here are some questions Damian Kastbauer and I put together for Rob.

 

Can you tell the few Designing Sound readers who don’t know who you are a bit about your background in sound design, game development and book authoring?

Hi, i’m an audio director based in Canada. I’ve been lucky enough to work on audio for games for around 14 years. I’ve never really thought about it until you asked me this question but writing is a really important part of the audio design process for me. It helps me to understand/document what just happened and what will happen next, so i’ve been doing that for almost as long as I have been working.

 

What is your new book about?  Why did you decide to do it?

Overall, the general umbrella of the book is about how sound designers work collaboratively, but also how fundamental collaboration is to sound design. It deals with areas where sound still needs to get under the skin of design and production and some of the opportunities i’ve seen over the years that are available to do this. It feels like we are at a tipping point in terms of how the industry as a whole approaches sound, there are a lot of changes happening both in terms of how we think about and where we work with sound, and even what is considered as ‘sound work’. The book is written from my own perspective as a sound designer / audio director – and as someone who has seen both A3 and indie/mobile development and sometimes how segregated the disciplines can become – there are so many exciting opportunities right now to re-invent the way games are made – sound collaboration is right there at the centre of some amazing new innovative game experiences – Honestly, and this is the reason I wanted to write this book, I am more excited right now than I ever have been about the industry. We’ve been through a lot of changes over the last few years, and with a multi-discipline approach it feels like those changes and innovations are just the beginning – the capacity for change and innovation seem like the only constants. A lot of people have been saying this for a while, but now you can really see it happening!

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Posted by on Aug 1, 2013 | 4 comments

Acoustic Dirt

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Guest Contribution by Rob Bridgett who is (probably) the most Easterly Audio Director in North America. 47º 34′ N, 52º 41′ W. Since June, 2000 he has worked as a video game developer. 

 

DESIRABLE NOISE

There are a lot of problems in the modern world with noise, and it is interesting the effect that the aesthetic of noise has had on media such as film, game, radio & TV production. It has effected the way we tell stories and convey experiences that relate back to, and resonate with an audience about the noisy reality of our world. As August is Designing Sound’s Noise month, I thought I’d take a shot at throwing some ideas around about our relationship with noise. It is a relationship that is not quite so easily definable or resolvable, but rather an essential, ever-present textural element.

The Miriam Webster Dictionary says of noise …

a : sound; especially : one that lacks agreeable musical quality or is noticeably unpleasant

b : any sound that is undesired or interferes with one’s hearing of something

c : an unwanted signal or a disturbance (as static or a variation of voltage) in an electronic device or instrument (as radio or television); broadly : a disturbance interfering with the operation of a usually mechanical device or system

d : electromagnetic radiation (as light or radio waves) that is composed of several frequencies and that involves random changes in frequency or amplitude

e : irrelevant or meaningless data or output occurring along with desired information

For a while now I’ve been curious if there was a way of thinking about noise differently, a way that would allow us to think of it not as an undesirable artifact (definitions b and c), but instead as a technique or process that was not only desirable, but in some cases absolutely necessary. Can we perhaps start thinking of ‘noise’ as a desirable, and deliberately added impurity, whether in a sound signal, or perhaps even in the introduction of imperfections to ‘dirty up’ an otherwise pristine sound or idea (definition e comes closer to this), and in this way to re-think of NOISE as a useful creative term, rather than something technical and engineering-related.

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