Cover image by Mirko Tobias Schaefer (flic.kr/p/5vBCdn). Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
What is the essence of sound design?
It is widely accepted that individuals who are visually impaired develop the ability to hear heightened detail and extract deeper levels of information through their other senses, in which hearing/sound is a large part.
For many of us, the sounds we regularly design are for the distinct purpose of supporting, and enhancing the context of (often moving) images within a larger media project such as a film, or a video game.
This month, Designing Sound would like to take away any potential (visual or otherwise) “crutches” that we lean on when designing sounds and consider what sound design is at its core, in its purest form, and without any visual aids to help (or distract) us. This a month to reflect on, and explore the depth, and meaning, of “pure” sound design.
As always, we here at Designing Sound encourage our community (and yes, that means you) to contribute an article for this month’s theme, or any sound design related topic that may be on your mind. Your contributions, and added perspectives are a large part of what keeps this site vibrant and fresh. So please, keep reading, thinking, and writing about sound design, and anytime you would like to contribute, just contact doron [@] this website. Thank you for being a part of our community.
In an appropriately seasonal blog post over at A Sound Effect, Asbjoern speaks to Saro Sahihi of SoundBits, a boutique SFX library and sound design company. Saro, who has released some excellent gore SFX libraries, goes in-depth on how to achieve some truly squishy, wrenching, and disgusting gore sounds for all your horror needs. He even touches on some other horror mainstays, like how to achieve a good jump-scare sound, or crafting dark ambiences.
Head over to A Sound Effect to check out the whole article!
Considering the newest Plants vs. Zombies 2 release has the word “mixtape” in the name, there was never any doubt that music would play a big role in the game’s experience. And as anyone who closely follows PopCap Games and their audio obsession, they’re not a company that does something halfway when it comes to sound or music. That’s why its a real treat that PvZ2 Neon Mixtape Tour audio lead Damian Kastbauer sat down with EA to discuss in depth how the team approached the variety of musical styles that appear in the new release. As always, the PopCap audio team has gone to great lengths to make a fun and immersive audio experience within the game, so be sure not to miss how they did it!
In addition, Damian has included some examples on his Vine page of some of the beat-syncing in action, both sounds-to-beat sync and animations on-the-beat.
Oh The Variables
When you consider the variables in play when dealing with audio, it amazes me that we’re able to create anything that sounds even half-decent to someone else.
- How the authorship software processes audio
- Digital-to-analog conversion quality
- Unbalanced monitors / headphones
- The acoustic space
- Monitor placement
- Mix position
- Your ears
- Your brain
There’s a common joke among game audio artists and designers: if you ask any number of sound designers what genre they’d most like to work on, the odds are good they’ll all say “horror”, twice. It’s no surprise it’s such a common answer, either; horror games offer designers some of the most interesting and diverse sound design opportunities one can come across. There’s no doubt that Frictional Games’s upcoming title SOMA fits this mold as well, evidenced by a fantastic blog post on Frictional’s website by the game’s audio director, Samuel Justice.
In the post, Sam discusses the approach he and the rest of the team took towards defining the distinct above- and underwater worlds of this eagerly-anticipated horror title. Sam goes into extensive detail on the techniques they used, both in the game’s engine and in content creation, to achieve a unique sonic identity for the game. Check out the post here, and also take a look at Sam’s other online home over at Sweet Justice, which features another great blog chock full of good info.