Archive for the ‘Audio Engineering’ Category

iPhone Apps for Professional Audio Engineers

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

From games to networking to organization tools, the number of apps available for the iPhone are almost endless and grow exponentially every year. The majority of apps have been fitted for enthusiasts, however, recently there’s been a rise in iPhone apps for professional audio engineers. These apps vary in price, from the free with advertising, to the eye-opening expensive. These apps make the everyday jobs of recording, editing, and exporting easier for audio engineers.

The three most abundant types of Pro-Audio iPhone apps are field recorders, portable digital audio workstations and remote controls.

Field Recorders

Many audio recorders apps lack the features found in traditional field recorders. However some have recently become available on the market that allow the engineer to conveniently capture a professional quality recording without having to purchase a separate device. Here are just a few:

  • Hindenburg Field Recorder
  • RODE Rec
  • iSLR Field Recorder

Portable Workstations

Utilizing the iPhone’s built-in audio interface, these apps are in essence simplified digital audio workstations used to record or program multi-track song ideas. The tracks can then be exported to a computer for later editing. They include:

  • Cleartune Chromatic Tuner
  • ioMetrics GigBaby!
  • Novation Automap 3
  • Sonoma Wire Works FourTrack
  • Thezi Studio Metronome TS

Remote Control Apps

These apps allow Pro-Audio engineers to control digital audio workstations (DAWs) or other hardware devices from the iPhone. They are specific to the DAWs in use, and have the ability to control the various virtual knobs, fader and buttons. Some of the more popular are:

  • Far Out Labs ProRemote
  • Hexler TouchOSC
  • Steinberg Cubase iC

Tell us what you think!

Which Pro-Audio iPhone apps have you used and which can you not live without?

Interested in becoming an audio engineer? Learn more about Cogswell’s Digital Audio Technology bachelor degree programs at http://www.cogswell.edu/programs/digital-audio-technology.php

Sound Design: An Ear for Detail

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Crash, Bang, Boom, – Snap, Crackle, Pop – Slam, Bam, Shazam – Not only are these onomatopoetic, but also harmonic gold to sound designers and editors alike. Sounds often make or break video content, and knowing what works takes more than just a keen ear for detail. Sound designers combine the art and science of sound to create the perfect fit for television, film, and video game content.

Editor vs. Designer

Recently, the lines between a sound director and that of a sound editor have been blurred. The major difference being that a sound director is a glorified editor of sorts. A sound editor is responsible for the existing sound – i.e. editing of the dialogue syncing, and removal of extraneous background noise.

On larger budget productions a sound designer is brought in to not only oversee the work of the sound editors, but is also responsible for crafting new sounds – i.e. laser gun fights, cars exploding, tornado wind storms, etc.  Sound designers are also responsible for creating the overall emotional atmosphere of the scene. What sound additions/subtractions would create more tension, suspense, or comedy?

Job Description

Sound designers tend to work long hours with strict deadlines. Depending on a production’s budget, sound designers may start their work months in advance of filming. There is a large level of strategy and organization required in order to conceptualize the production in its entirety. A sound designer must forecast and plan out what sounds he or she will have to create, verses what can be shot organically.

A vast technical knowledge is required in order to digitally create, mix, edit, and distort sound. Sound effects are then layered into the production along with dialogue and music. On the flip side, a vast creative knowledge is also required for designers to fashion new sounds where one had not yet existed. Designers get innovative, and use everyday objects to create new sounds – i.e. crunching cellophane to imitate a fire crackling, or flexing a large sheet of aluminum to replicate thunder.

Sound design is a highly competitive area, and jobs are based on experience. Education is vital to develop an ear for detail. Interested in a career in sound editing or design? Check out Cogswell’s Digital Audio Technology program to develop and fine tune your skills!

Audio Fills Us With a Sense of Time and Place

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

As you listen to the sound of wind in the trees, the gentle burble of a nearby stream or the chirp of birds, you might physically be sitting in your living room but mentally you are far away. In this beautifully written article in Gamasutra by Sound Designer Damian Kastbauer, you are given the opportunity to take a look at his vision of the future of interactive audio experiences.

Sound has the ability to put us in a specific time and place associated with that sound. In the article he says, “I remain lost in thought as the sound of rushing water catches my memory. My mind is transported to a sunny day from my past. A reunion has brought family members together…”

The piece is an introduction to his Oxford Handbook of Interactive Audio (due 2014) in which he imagines the ability to synthesize the long-ago sounds of earth circa 2012 and the technology it took to get to this point. “It was during this time in simulation technology that our industry was just beginning to iron out inconsistencies inherent within the burgeoning field of procedural audio, synthesis, and the advanced manipulation of dynamic sound: baby steps toward the expansive fully realized simulation I’m testing today.”

Can you think of a time that sound has taken you to a different time and place?

Sound Designing for the Video Game Tearaway

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Fascinating commentary by Kenny Young, Head of Audio at Media Molecule, gives you an inside look at the joys and challenges of designing sound from the bottom up for a video game in this article in Designing Sound. He discusses his work on Tearaway and offers several opinions about creating the audio for video games in general. For instance:

“Those of us who work in games have a massive advantage over those who work in traditional linear media – even if audio tends to be brought in later than other disciplines, the constant iteration and flux of a game during development provides opportunities for audio to influence the project.”

“If there is one thing that is missing in the early stage of a game’s development it is well-defined and reliable context, even more so when developing a new intellectual property from scratch… There is a leap of faith required whereby you need to let go of creating anything coherent and embrace your inner incompetent audio designer – kiss goodbye to doing any work that chimes on multiple levels. It’s like being a beginner all over again, only more painful because you have the curse of knowing what it feels like to do good work.

“Sounds thrown at a prototype by a programmer are not going to develop and improve over time which prevents a more sophisticated audio aesthetic from emerging.”

The article includes samples of work throughout to demonstrate the techniques used or solutions developed. He also talks at length about the decisions that went into creating what seemed like a simple idea – give players the chance to touch the record to make the music stop, scratch the record to scratch the music and have fun doing so – but it wasn’t as simple as it sounded.

After reading the piece do you agree/disagree with any of his ideas?

The Engineering Behind Making Cool Sounds on Your Guitar

Monday, January 27th, 2014

At Cogswell students are given the flexibility to weave personal interests into class projects as long as they are relevant. Engineering student, Edward Aslanian, turned his passion for guitar and playing around with creating different sounds into an interest in engineering.

For one of his final class presentations, he explored how analog delay impacts the sounds produced by his guitar. This short video gives you an overview of his presentation and findings.

Programming the Video Game “Wizard’s Prison”

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Video game creation has a lot of moving parts and the need for people with specialized skill sets – producers, game designers, artists, animators, programmers and sound designers. At Cogswell College we offer specialized degree programs in each of these areas and bring teams of students together to work on projects.

Our Game Studio project-based class spent a semester building a video game. The result was Wizard’s Prison – a retro shoot-em-up PC game where you play as the evil wizard and escape the dreadful prison.

Recent grad, Kaleb Grace who was a Digital Audio Technology major, was the programmer on the team. In this short video he talks about how sound impacts the player’s experience and the types of programming challenges he faced to achieve the results the team wanted.

Kaleb also just released an album, “Monocle Man Original & Arranged Soundtrack” from other projects he worked on while at Cogswell. Click here to learn more about our Digital Audio Technology Program.

Panel Discussion on Tips for Being a Successful Game Audio Contractor

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Interested in getting into the Game Audio field? This video in GameSause from the Casual Connect Conference offers an in-depth look at the business by four industry panelists and moderator, Aaron Walz.

Aaron Walz owns Walz Music & Sound. He recently scored the top-ranking Facebook adventure, Ravenwood Fair and has received several awards for his audio work including “Best Game” at the Independent Game Festival and Game Tunnel’s “Best Sound” as well as being nominated for “Best Game Audio” by GDC Online.

Panelists include:

  • Rich Vreeland (also known as Disasterpeace), an award-winning freelance composer and sound designer based in Berkeley, CA, with a focus in producing and directing dynamic sound treatments for games.
  • Barry Dowsett who created original audio content for an array of cool projects for developers and publishers such as Activision, Popcap, Electronic Arts, THQ/Dreamworks, F9, Eidos, Gree, Playdom, Griptonite, Microsoft Game Studios, iWin, Disney Interactive, Google and many more.
  • Dren McDonald is an experienced game audio composer, sound designer and audio director with over 30 shipped titles.
  • Nick Thomas began his career as lead Engineer/Mixer for Sony Music artists, including Destiny’s Child, Celine Dion, Carlos Santana, Jessica Simpson, Michael Jackson and Ricky Martin. In 2003, Nick joined with Kane Minkus to open SomaTone Interactive and has spent the last 10 years producing the highest quality audio and art content for Gaming.

During the video these five share their experiences working on game audio, the challenges they’ve faced and tips for advancing in the industry.

What is your biggest take-away from the discussion?

5 Questions for Hobo Audio Founder, Howard Bowler

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

He moved from the world of Rock & Roll bands to sound design. While that might seem like a strange journey, it worked well for Howard Bowler.

Following are the questions he tackles in the interview in Studio Daily.

  • What do conspiracy theories sound like? (in reference to his recent work on “Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live.”
  • What should sound-savvy viewers keep an ear out for?
  • How is sound for TV evolving?
  • What did his time in Rock & Roll teach him about sound design?

If you’re curious about his answers, read this piece in Studio Daily.

There’s an App For That – Build Your Musical Score

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Some tuplets in Opus Contra Naturam drawn in their prototype renderer.

Orchestral composers are finding that the digital age can make their life easier. Instead of painstakingly writing out each note on its respective staff – now there is an app for that. But building the app was not as straightforward as you might think. (That’s probably true with most app development).

In this Steinberg blog post by Daniel Spreadbury, he describes the process used to develop the app and challenges he and his team encountered along the way.

“When starting a new project from scratch, it’s wise to think carefully about every decision, even the deceptively simple ones. For example, there can be few things more fundamental to an application that works with music notation than how to determine the position on the staff to draw a given note. Such a simple concept actually depends on three or more factors: its sounding pitch, the prevailing clef, the instrument’s transposition, and potentially a further transposition modifier, such as an octave (ottava or 8va) line.”

While the project still needs some work before it is ready for public use – it’s a fascinating read to follow along in their development process.

Do you think this app will make creating an original score for your next film or game project easier?

Cogswell’s MediaWorks Presents its ALearn Corporate Identity Project

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Screen Shot from the ALearn Animated Logo Project

MediaWorks, a project-based, learning program in which student teams engage in audio and visual production projects for real-world clients just completed a flagship corporate identity and messaging project for the Santa Clara-based nonprofit, ALearn.

Check out the project on YouTube.

Cogswell College instructors Julius Dobos and Anthony Dias envisioned the concept and are leading the implementation of the MediaWorks program. Utilizing their industry experience, they oversee student-produced works that include animation, live action footage, sound design and original music. The program’s audio and visual production projects involve real-life client meetings, creative brief and concept generation, participation in the approval process and project and time management.

The ALearn media production, just a little over a minute long, included a newly-animated corporate logo, original music and sound design. A preliminary version of the video was previewed and well-received at ALearn’s annual fundraising dinner in October.

“The MediaWorks program is designed to immerse students in the real world process of audio and visual production,” says Anthony Dias, co-leader for the project and digital audio technology (DAT) instructor at Cogswell. “Our students sat down with the client, listened to their vision and asked them questions aimed at guiding the creative process.”

The class meeting about the project.

MediaWorks has created a shift from the college’s standard semesters-long portfolio classes—some of which can take up to 18 months for completion—to 6-8 week deadline-driven client projects where students work in teams of 12-20. Dias and Dobos, adopted this model in an effort to mimic the experience of working for a large creative agency.

“We wanted the students to feel the pressure of the project’s deadlines, just as they would if they were working in a large creative agency,” says Julius Dobos, distinguished lecturer at Cogswell and MediaWorks’ co-leader for the project  “There’s a big difference between creating sound design for movies and sound design for corporate communications, one is entertainment, the other is advertising.”

Dobos has composed movie scores for Hollywood films and admits that most of the students want to work in Hollywood or a big studio environment creating varying forms of entertainment.

Dobos continues, “Our students have the chance to utilize traditional corporate work as a stepping stone to the entertainment field, which is a lot harder to get into directly. Through MediaWorks, they will have big-name Silicon Valley companies in their portfolios that even industry professionals would envy, which presents a huge edge in the marketplace. Not only being ready to work with a major client but showing the results of having done so makes a significant difference on a job interview or when you are launching your own business.”

The goal of the MediaWorks program is to generate sufficient revenue to provide for student compensation and the ability of the audio, engineering and animation departments to make technology purchases as new industry tools become available.

Cogswell is in talks with several high-visibility Silicon Valley firms for media projects for 2014 and has begun work on a yet-to-be announced multinational corporate client project, currently under non-disclosure.

We look forward to sharing the projects with you as they become available.