Archive for the ‘Audio Engineering’ Category

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.

Considerations for Creative Audio Field Recording

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Richard Gould

Complete with field recording examples, in this article in Designing Sound, Sound Designer, Richard Gould, discusses the five creative considerations he employs when approaching field recording sessions. He says examining these considerations in light of work in progress, “have helped me consider the vast possibilities when I’m creating and capturing sounds.”

The five considerations he discusses are:

  1. Additive/Subtractive
  2. Shifting Perspective
  3. Context
  4. Technique
  5. Elemental

Gould also talks about the four developmental stages his inner-ear went to become a better field recorder:

  1. Listening for interesting sounds in relation to context
  2. Listening for interesting aspects of a sound, regardless of context
  3. Listening whilst considering the possibilities and later altering sounds to make them interesting
  4. Conceptualizing interesting sounds in my head and creating the conditions to replicate that sound

He explains his creative philosophy as follows, “I find that the more I approach field recording as an art form, with elements of improvisation and performance, the more rewarding the process becomes.”

Which of these considerations do you think will be helpful in your sound design work?

About Richard Gould

Hailing from England, Richard Gould studied sound and music in the United States at Berklee College of Music, focusing on audio for film and games. He has worked on numerous indie game and film titles in a number of capacities and loves to explore the ways in which music and sound can tell stories. Richard Co-Founded the Berklee Sound Design Network and Hexany Audio, an audio post-production company.

Rational Game Design Handbook

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

The introduction to this article in Gamasutra by Luke McMillian sets the tone for the piece. “When a sound engineer is given the task of recording a particular sound, they rely on a set of tools such as microphones and preamps to take a less than ideal input signal and ‘shape’ this input to what they desire. What we hear as consumer is the product of many hours of fine tuning and tweaking to reach the ideal outcome. Games are no different.

Their designers test and fine tune their product until they have crafted what they believe to be the most ideal player experience. The difference for a game designer is that the method of achieving this ideal player experience doesn’t come in the form of a tangible, standardized device.”

This in-depth comparison between the work of a sound designer and a game designer covers a lot of territory including using noise to stifle competition and the different types of noise used to do this – action noise, rules noise, feedback noise and model noise – and strategies for applying noise.

The piece also mentions Cogswell grad, Steve Swink, for offering “one of the best ways of thinking of games in terms of representational layers, versus mechanics. Swink does this by visualizing how Street Fighter is merely a collection of moving rectangles tied to mathematical formulae BUT represented visually in a way that provides the player with context.”

How will you use sound in your next game project?

An Interview with Sound Designer, Raymond Usher, of Grand Theft Auto

Monday, October 14th, 2013

In this in-depth interview in Designing Sound, sound designer, Raymond Usher, talks about the changes in the game projects he has seen during his career. He started out working exclusively on AAA titles but now has seen a shift toward the majority of his work coming from studios doing small mobile and Facebook games. He estimates that his company, Euphonious, handles 20 to 30 projects a year.

In the article Usher shares his thoughts on industry trends such as the rise in use of audio middleware like Fmod and Wwise, the types of projects that large game studios with in-house audio departments continue to outsource and research into the effect audio has on gameplay.

What other game audio trends to you see in the industry?

Writer and Director Pierce O’Toole Talks About Music and Inspiration

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

According to Pierce O’Toole, writer/director/producer of the web series “The Idle Quest,” music is an integral part of story development for him. In the beginning he uses it to get his creative juices flowing but once the story emerges, then the music he plays needs to match the mood of the script.

In this interview in Designing Sound, Pierce shares how he uses music to convey what he wants the film to achieve. Once production starts, music as becomes a reference point to help actors understand the scope of the performance he is looking for. He believes that capturing the right sound is as important as capturing the right visual.

At the end of the piece Pierce says, “Simply put, sound design is about transporting someone into the world of your story, letting it envelop them, and making them feel something.”

What take-away did you get from the article?

Cogswell College: A Microcosm of Silicon Valley

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

While many regions around the world have access to talented artists and engineers, groundbreaking marketers, infusions of capital and excellent universities – what is it that makes Silicon Valley so special and difficult to reproduce elsewhere?

It’s not in the water but it does seem to be in the air we breathe. We operate differently in the Silicon Valley and have a very different mindset about how to do business. Words often used to describe this unique area include: entrepreneurial, passionate, future-focused, collaborative, high-energy, innovative, creative, techy, team-oriented and willingness to take a chance.

In an article published in the Washington Post, author Victor Hwang, identifies a key element that is often overlooked. Other regions “focus primarily on its ingredients — its obvious assets, like venture capital, skilled workers and universities. What they have largely ignored is its recipe — the social interactions that turn those ingredients into vibrant companies.”

He goes on to state, “arguably, the most important factor in its success has been the formation of a unique culture — one that allows people with diverse skills, who often don’t know each other, to mix and match: collaborating and trusting in ways that people in other cultures don’t. It is not simply creative destruction, as many observers say. More importantly, it is a process of creative reassembly, as people join forces on temporary projects and then recirculate and recombine for other projects later.”

Cogswell College, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, is a true microcosm of Silicon Valley. Within our walls a true collaborative spirit exists. Students, faculty, alumni and external ventures dive into projects and work together to give them life thus gaining valuable collaboration and teamwork competencies. The groups formed bring a diversity of talents, skills, life experiences and perspectives to the task at hand plus an eagerness to learn and desire to create something extraordinary.

Visitors to our campus respond to the natural curiosity and energy permeating Cogswell’s classrooms and labs as teams tackle whatever challenge is in front of them. Whether you are a student in our Undergraduate program or Master’s program Cogswell encourages its students to create, innovate and apply what they have learned in a project-based curriculum that focuses on delivering market-ready products. Students learn to work on teams that mirror real development teams consisting of artists, animators, audio experts and project managers – with software engineering at its core.

With the ability to assemble multidisciplinary teams from within its programs of study, Cogswell College is uniquely positioned to deliver market-ready projects to partner companies and organizations. A sampling of projects we have collaborated on include:

  • Interactive Logo Designs – Cogswell’s Sound Design class developed new logo treatments for Cogswell (seen at the end of the video posted below) and for two different external partner organizations.
  • Interactive Book – Using the latest industry-standard technology, students are working under faculty guidance to create an artistically stunning interactive book (or whatever text Thomas approves).
  • Mobile game – Prairie Rainbow develops table top games to help younger students learn math concepts. Cogswell students are developing a mobile game version of the company’s Rainbow Squares learning tool.

Cogswell also encourages it students to develop their own projects through and supports their efforts. Original student development projects include: game development, operating student store, 3D printing and audio theater projects.

One of the things that sets Silicon Valley apart from other tech development centers, is the sharing of ideas and expertise. Few days go by without an opportunity to attend meetups, salons, hackathons, live/work houses, clubs and industry-specific events. Most have an open door policy – if you are interested in whatever the topic, stop by to learn and network. There is an accessibility to successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley unavailable in other tech regions largely fostered by the area’s culture of sharing knowledge with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

At Cogswell College we bring all the pieces together in one place. Our students have the opportunity to collaborate with other students who possess a diverse range of skills and interests on projects, they have access to Silicon Valley thought leaders and a long history of innovation and cutting-edge education. Cogswell College truly is a microcosm of Silicon Valley.

Check out this video to learn more about how Cogswell mirrors the Silicon Valley ecosystem.

Interesting Interactive Audio Project

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

As a species, people are a curious lot. We like to play with stuff and the first thing many of us do when confronted with something to touch or knobs to turn is – well, touch and try to figure out what those knobs do.

Stephanie McCarty and Andrew Siu created this intriguing interactive audio gadget. They put it together using Arduino Boards, Wave Shields, IR Sensors and Servo Motors.

Watch the video and let us know what you think?