Categories Menu

Posted by on Jun 5, 2016 | 1 comment

Sunday Sound Though 23 – Training the Audience?

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

I was watching Indie Game: The Movie on Thursday for the first time (yeah, I’m a little late on seeing it), and something Edmund McMillen, developer of Super Meat Boy, said caught my attention. He was talking about designing levels to train the player in the game’s mechanics. In particular, he was expressing the importance of giving the player the opportunity to discover the mechanics for themselves. He argued that throwing text up on a screen to explain it would be less effective, because most people would probably ignore or skip it. If they were forced to figure it out for themselves though, it would ensure they remember the mechanic while also giving them a sense of accomplishment.

This got me wondering. A few years ago, I wrote a two part article about semiotics and language as they relate to sound design. McMillen’s comments made me wonder…

Can we train our audience to understand the language we build in each project, so that we can affect them at levels above the sub-conscious? Can we do it in a way so that they are actively engaged in the discovery of meanings? How would that have to be structured, and how much buy in would we need from the film director or game designer to pull that off?

Read More

Posted by on Jun 3, 2016 | 0 comments

Playing with the Boundary: An Interview with Eduardo Ortiz Frau

Eduardo Ortiz Frau is a freelance game audio designer based in Austin, TX. He has worked in audio and music production for over ten years and has been working in sound design for games since 2011. He’s worked on titles like The Stanley ParableApotheon, and Neverending Nightmares. Eduardo Oritz Frau was kind enough to answer some of our questions about his work including his experiment in representing himself as a company as opposed to an individual sound artist.

Eduardo-Ortiz-Frau-Portrait-21 (1)

Eduardo Ortiz Frau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designing Sound: How did you get into sound?

Eduardo Ortiz Frau: Like many other sound designers, I came into this profession because of my love for music. Music was all I used to think about when I was younger. I was in bands, I studied audio engineering and classical composition, worked in recording studios, etc. Eventually, I got burned out on the music industry. I wasn’t feeling inspired by it anymore and I was also struggling to make a living within it. So I ditched it, moved to Austin, TX and started exploring other ways I could employ my audio skills. That led me to discover the video game industry and, specifically, the world of indie games. I had no idea what was going on with indie games before this time, but needless to say, I was completely enthralled by what seemed to me like THE up and coming medium to work with. So I focused all my energy and resources into breaking into the industry.

Read More

Posted by on May 30, 2016 | 0 comments

Sunday Sound Thought 22 – Descartes and Sound

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

Descartes is the philosopher who shared the idea, “Je pense, donc je suis.”

Cogito ergo sum…I think, therefore I am.

The idea that proof of one’s existence is verified by the simple fact of self-awareness. Taking that idea to heavy extremes can lead to the concept of Solipsism, which I’ve touched on before in relation to sound. I don’t intend to go fall into the Solipsism trap today; rather, I plan to contradict that extreme idea. Sound can serve as proof that there exists object outside of ourselves.

I talked about the physical nature of sound early on in this series. So, if sound is the result of a physical interaction and has physical effects on other objects in its environment, then the fact that an object can be a component in the creation of sound proves that the object exists in the physical realm.

Seems like pointless philosophy on the surface, but if you can apply this idea to a character’s experience of the world…maybe it will do something interesting in the story.

Read More

Posted by on May 22, 2016 | 1 comment

Sunday Sound Thought 21 – Visibility Problem…Still

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

I’m trying to remember on which podcast I heard it this week [ed. I’ve been searching, but to no avail], but there was a news story about Emeka Ogboh and his reconstruction of Lagos soundscapes as art installations in which, I believe it was a curator somewhere, talked about him as if he was the only artist in the world working exclusively with sound…”without some sort of visual component.” Please understand, this is in no way a critique of Ogboh or his work. I’m happy that his art is out there and getting the attention it deserves. It was just a reminder of how overlooked sound is within the arts community. If you want a more visible example, just look at the Tony Awards brouhaha from 2014, which is still being felt today.

I can quickly pull up examples on Google from prominent news sources. I could event point to Audium in San Francisco; which, despite its success, is still a rather underground art experience. Why do I define it as successful? Well it hosts two performances a week (many of which sell out), and does so from it’s own permanent installation on Bush St. near the border of Nob Hill and The Tenderloin…a space which it has occupied since 1965!

That curator pissed me off. Yes it’s her job to find the next big thing and promote it as a way to bring patrons into galleries and museums, but it’s also her job to put that work into the context of the broader art community. This comment is demeaning in two ways. She belittled the work of all those other sound artists out there, of whom she is apparently ignorant. She also belittled the work of Ogboh by not explaining why his work is important within that broader field of sound art.

It’s easy to be important when no one else is doing it, and far more impressive when a work has genuine value in a wider community. Sound work still has a visibility issue, so Ogboh needs to be celebrated for his success and thanked for the attention it brings to our craft. Well done, sir!

Read More

Posted by on May 15, 2016 | 0 comments

Sunday Sound Thought 20 – Pulling Focus

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

A few weeks ago, I talked about the idea of a sonic version of the “visual zoom.” This past week, I had the realization that there’s a sonic analogue to another camera trick…pulling focus. Quite simply, it’s pulling a fuzzy picture into focus using the lens (or maybe taking it out of focus). Depending on the budget, the camera department on some projects will have a single person dedicated to “pulling focus.”

I can think of two key ways we can emulate this in sound, though there arguably are probably more.

The first is with reverb. Think of the a wide open and very reverberant space, with a single speaker blasting out a spoken announcement. Depending on you location in that space, the reflections may make it impossible to actually interpret what is being said. If you move closer to the source…giving yourself a more distinct time separation between the source and reflections…you’re likely going to have an easier time comprehending what’s being said. The sound is more in focus.

The second way is by applying atypical recording techniques with your microphones, especially with those that have a less-than-flat frequency response as you move off axis. The shift from off-axis to on can increase the clarity of the sound you’re recording. Additionally, you may be adjusting its position to the source in a way that alters the timing of the sound’s arrival at the capsule…adding doppler shift to that change spectrum! Don’t think that’s an interesting sound design technique? Someone people might disagree with you. Watch one application demonstrated here.

 

Read More