Happy New Year! You may have noticed that I’ve been far less active on the site lately […or maybe you haven’t and I’m just a narcissist]. I’ve taken a step back from the site’s more regular content, but I wanted to challenge myself to something. I’m going to try to post a musing on sound once a week for the next year. I’ll probably fail, but I want to keep the juices flowing. Contributing to this site over the years stimulated a lot of paths of exploration for me, and I don’t want to lose that impetus. While I no longer have the time to contribute in a more dedicated way, these little bite sized musings are something I should be able to handle. This isn’t a New Year’s resolution, but the the start of a year sure makes it easy to keep track of. ;)
So here’s the first “Sunday Sound Thought”
Our hearing changes throughout our lives. That means that no matter how many times we hear something, we can always hear it in a new way. Even if you eliminate the ideas of experience and reference from the equation, there are biological changes that affect how we hear. Children’s ears have a wider frequency response than adults, but the neural structures that interpret our sonic environment don’t mature until our 20’s. Even if you fastidiously protect your hearing, presbycusis sets in and attenuates the higher frequencies in adults. And let’s face it, we can’t perfectly protect our ears.
So remember the next time you hear something you’re tired of listening to, even that mental state means that you’re hearing it a little differently.
Guest Contribution by April Tucker
Meet Yuki, one of my cats. She’s a tiny, feisty 6-year-old tabby. Earlier this year, we learned that Yuki had gone deaf after having normal hearing most of her life. She probably lost her hearing gradually, but it wasn’t obvious until one day when I was vacuuming and realized she was right by me, happily curled up and sound asleep.
There’s a learning curve to owning a deaf pet – especially a cat that’s already stubborn and sleeps in places you can’t find. Deaf pets get extremely startled if you touch them when they don’t perceive you first (through vibration, sight, or smell). Words that they responded to before (like “dinner” or “no”) suddenly have no meaning. Yuki became cautious, spending a lot of time just trying to gauge her surroundings (like the other cats who were unaware of her condition).
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.
In a recent blog post, A Sound Effect spoke to sound designers Ruslan Nesteruk and Glen Bondarenko on the techniques and tools they utilize in creating sci-fi weaponry SFX. The post delves into layering, synthesis techniques, breaking down each weapon into its constituent components, and a great deal more. If you want some insights on creating better sci-go weaponry, you owe it to yourself to head over to the post now.
Jeremy Rogers at The Sound Keeper has just come out with a great new blog post on one of the most iconic film sound effects: the Indiana Jones punch. In the post, he recreates the sound, breaking it down step by step with great example clips and a detailed tutorial video. Head over to his post to check it out!