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Posted by on Feb 11, 2013 | 9 comments

Capcom Audio Director Tomoya Kishi Interview

Dragon's Dogma (c)CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Dragon’s Dogma (c)CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Japanese video game composers and musicians get a good bit of coverage and acclaim over in the West, but the people making the booms and whoosh sounds don’t seem to get much visibility.  To that end I reached out to Tomoya Kishi, who is the Audio Director and Senior Manager of Audio Design and Production at Capcom:

“Tomoya Kishi joined Capcom in 2001, beginning his career as an audio editor on the Onimusha series. In 2004, he was assigned to be the audio director for Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, a role he continued on the sequel Lost Planet 2. During this time he constructed a work flow to improve efficiency in video game audio development, and worked to forge more active collaborations with Hollywood sound studios—activities that have given birth to new ideas as well as new possibilities in the overall industry.

Tomoya Kishi

Tomoya Kishi

Tomoya’s recent work has been as audio director of Dragon’s Dogma. By utilizing the work flow developed on previous titles, as well as incorporating a number of collaborative works, the audio in Dragon’s Dogma has been one of the most interesting, challenging and inspiring projects of his career. Additionally, he has lead the development of Capcom’s original audio middleware, cooperating with professors and researchers with the aim of inventing a new technology in video game audio.

Tomoya currently is the senior manager of the audio production team at Capcom. The team consists of 60 members from various fields, including sound design, composition, engineering, programming, and audio production.”

Designing Sound: How did you get started in sound design?  What inspired you to do sound design for games?

Tomoya Kishi: It’s a bit of a long story, and a little embarrassing, but I’ve never formally studied music―I originally studied marketing at my university’s commerce department. However, I first got into music when my parents bought me a Yamaha synthesizer at age 14. I started remixing my favorite artist’s tracks and experimented with composing my own.

It was in the 90’s, right when club music like house and hip-hop was breaking out in the underground here, that I was hooked on creating breakbeats with the AKAI S01 sampler. The RAM on the AKAI S01 is fairly limited, so I played around sampling at a higher pitch, then going back and lowering it, sampling at a lower bit rate, shortening samples as much as possible―I was always trying to cram as much as possible into that limited space, never thinking that this experience would come in handy down the road.

In college, I DJ’d at clubs, put on shows, and self-published my own album. At that time big beat was in, so artists like Fatboy Slim were hot.

Around this time I ran into someone from Capcom at a club and first learned about sound effects. It turned out they were working on the sounds for Street Fighter. I was job hunting and wanted to work in sound, so with their encouragement I dove into this world.

Whew, so that is quite a bit of back-story―basically, I started sound design when I entered Capcom at age 22. Luckily, I was used to most of the equipment involved; I just had to learn Pro Tools, and put my sampling and sound-mixing sense to work. In the end, it was less that I was inspired and more that my career just happened to start with game sound design.

Lost Planet  (c)CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Lost Planet
(c)CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

-What software do you use for sound design?  Any favorite plugins and workflows? 

In general I stick to Pro Tools, and considering the total recall I don’t use an outboard. I like to keep things simple and stay away from physical controllers so I just control everything using a trackball. The plug-ins I use most are McDSP, FilterBank and CompressorBank, Waves, Pitch ’n Time, Duy EverPack, Pultec EQ and Comp, and finally Altiverb. Conceptually, Altiverb is about sampling acoustic spaces, so for someone who is into sampling as much as me it was love at first sight. I use it for a lot of different things: voice effects, to add a little something to the digital track to make it more organic, and so on. I also get a lot of use out of Pitch ’n Time. I love Pultec for how it dirties up sounds with heavy compression, so I use it to spice things up or to create nuances in footsteps. I like plug-ins that allow you to twist sounds a little with dirty effects while maintaining the original, organic texture.

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Posted by on Dec 13, 2012 | 0 comments

Rewind…Audio Implementation Greats #3: Crackdown – Realtime Worlds

In the run-up to this month’s reverb theme, former contributor Damian Kastbauer suggested we re-run this article he put together discussing the game Crackdown for XBOX. The article may be two years old, but the content remains undeniably relevant. Never one to ignore good suggestions, here we are…

Crackdown

One area that has been gaining ground since the early days of EAX on the PC platform, and more recently it’s omnipresence in audio middleware toolsets, is Reverb. With the ability to enhance the sounds playing back in the game with reverberant information from the surrounding space, you can effectively communicate to the player a truer approximation of “being there” and help to further immerse them in the game world. While we often take Reverb for granted in our everyday life as something that helps us position ourselves in a space (the cavernous echo of an airport, the openness of a forest), it is something that is continually giving us feedback on our surroundings, and thus a critical part of the way we experience the world.

Continue Reading >>

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Posted by on Nov 21, 2012 | 1 comment

Ariel Gross Interview

This is an interview with our guest poster for November –  Ariel Gross, Audio Director of game development studio Volition Inc, which produces such PC and console  titles as the Saint’s Row and Red Faction series. Check out Ariel’s introduction post, and his blog ‘I Feel Like a Fraud and So Can You!

Can you tell us a little about how you got into audio, and your audio career in the games industry so far?

My dad brought home a Roland MT-32 in like, 1988. He wanted to hear Sierra games in all their glory, but he also liked to compose music as a hobby. So, we would play Space Quest and then crack open Cakewalk for DOS and compose little songs for fun. I’d been playing piano with him for a long time, and he’d always had a couple of synths, but I remember being blown away at the fidelity and variety of instruments on the MT-32. This is when I started fantasizing in earnest about being a professional musician of some sort. I would play some giant chords with a string patch and then bow for the applause in my head. Just one chord, then a bow. Over and over. I had a pretty good bow by the time I was 10.

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Posted by on Nov 15, 2012 | 7 comments

Room Tone = Emotional Tone: The Importance of Hearing Ambience

 
am·bi·ence
noun /ˈambēəns/
ambiances, plural; ambiences, plural

  1. The character and atmosphere of a place

                    – the relaxed ambience of the cocktail lounge is popular with guests

  1. Background noise added to a musical recording to give the impression that it was recorded live

Wherever you may be reading this article, stop whatever you are doing, and listen to your environment. What do you hear? Tempting as it may be to declare ‘nothing’, the complex cacophony of the world around you  is being combined, and fused together in your environment to create the sound of a specific location. The sound of your immediate surroundings is being pulled from all manner of sources such as electrical hums, water pipes, passing traffic, neighbours, the weather and even local wildlife. As indistinct these may be from your perspective, these sounds are still making their way, however faint, into your room, heavily filtered and being reverberated around and off your furnishings to distort them beyond recognition and delivered to your ear as a nondescript, intangible ‘room tone’. Its such a slight sound that many people simply don’t hear it. They hear ‘silence’ (Probably because they haven’t tried to make any recordings there!)

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Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 | 1 comment

Guest Poster Introduction: Ariel Gross

Editors note: This series of articles by Ariel were initially planned to be for the ‘Featured Sound Designer’, but due to recent changes to Designing Sound they will simply be posted each Wednesday over the month of November. And now, please allow Ariel Gross,  Studio Audio Director at Volition to introduce himself in his own words.


The year is 1991. Ariel Gross is 12 years old. He’s cracking open Scream Tracker for the first time with a Sound Blaster 16. He proceeds to cobble together a terrible arrangement of Spring Yard Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog. This arrangement would never see the light of day but it would set Ariel off on a certain trajectory in his life. Man, the tune to Spring Yard Zone. The little intro before it drops… So rad. The point is, game audio had always been his favorite thing and now he was emulating it. This third person stuff is kind of weird. I’m dropping it.

I got my start in the demoscene after getting pretty comfy with Scream Tracker. I was in a bunch of demo groups and tracker music groups using Stalker as an alias, the most popular probably being a group called Five Musicians. Contacts in the demoscene ended up providing me with my first contract game audio job at the ripe age of 16. I was introduced to the president of Webfoot Games through my friend RaD Man from ACiD Productions. Weird how these things line up. Never stopped doing audio for games since then. Always composing music or designing sounds for some game or another.

Things really blasted off when I joined Volition, though. That was in 2007. I had just wrapped up school at The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences. I had a bunch of indie casual games under my belt, but nothing for consoles. Unless you count handheld, because I did compose music and design sounds for Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku for Game Boy Advance. But other than that, no consoles.

Working at Volition was a whole new world, though. This was serious, big budget games. I started as an Audio Designer on Saints Row 2 and then rolled onto Red Faction: Guerrilla after that. Then I was Audio Lead on Saints Row: The Third. I must be doing something right, because now I’m Studio Audio Director at Volition and most of my colleagues seem to find me only mildly annoying 93% of the time. Don’t worry about the other 7%.

It’s crazy to be a featured sound designer among these industry titans here on Designing Sound. When I was asked, I was like, hell yeah! That sounds fun! And then I looked at the other people and I projectile vomited. I’m still projectile vomiting, even as I write this. I don’t know when I’m going to stop.

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