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’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.
-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.Read More