Archive for the ‘Audio Production’ Category

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!

Sound Design Student Brings Animated Clip to Life

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Sound Design student, Maya Rybold, left her culinary arts dreams for Cogswell’s Digital Audio Technology degree program. We asked Maya to talk about her creative process while adding sound to an animated clip for a class project. Watch the video below for a peek into what it takes to bring an animated clip from the movie ‘Ratatouille’ to life with the implementation of music and sound effects.

Have a comment or question for Maya? Submit responses below.

Get Your BEAT On in the Electronic Music Competition

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Cogswell Digital Audio Technology student, Daniel McFarren, has put together a unique final portfolio project – a competition designed to spotlight the very best electronic musicians in the Bay Area. The final field will consist of five artists who will complete challenges to inspire creativity and innovation.

From on-the-spot creation of interesting loops to full-on song production, to live performance in front of a club audience, artists will have the chance to prove themselves as worthy beatmakers. A panel of leading industry judges will put the artists to the test, critique their work and scrutinize their style. The ultimate champion will have the chance to headline at a Bay Area club event.

When asked, why this particular project instead of something else, McFarren replied,

“There is this vast population of talented musician/DJs, just waiting for their chance to get up on stage and show everyone in that club the cool stuff they figured out through many sleepless nights in front of a laptop, hunched over a MIDI controller. The creativity of these artists came from the disparity between their musical inspiration and the lack of of technological resources available to them. It is, in fact, the non-optimal conditions of music composition that drive the creativity that fuels the evolution of Electronic Music. This, I believe, is why we are seeing such a flourish of unique EM music from ‘bedroom producers,’ who scrimp and save the meager income from their day job to get he very basic tools needed to make the music that drives them. With the help of my good friend and Co-Creator for the show, John Buell, we have made an attempt at translating this evolutionary drive into the form of a competition, where those artists who have that creative spark get the chance to be noticed, and possibly jump up on stage next to that headliner that helped inspire them in the first place.”

Submissions must be in by March 3 and interviews will be held during the week of March 9 at Motiv Nightclub in Santa Cruz to select the five competitors.

For additional information and submission details, visit BEAT.

Backstage Lists Six Great Digital Art Schools

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Student team working in Studio E where they are creating a short animation based on a story along with an interactive book version for mobile platforms to deepen the reader’s experience and further immerse them in the story.

An article in Backstage advises actors that developing their ability to create content is a must.  Cogswell College is one of the 6 schools the publication recommends.

With Cogswell’s focus on collaboration and project-based learning, plus strong programs in animation, audio and digital media management, the College is a great fit for performance artists wanting to build their content creation toolkit.

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?

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.

A Glass Symphony Through the Eyes of Google Glass

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

If you have ever wondered what the musical world might look like from a different perspective, this pair of videos gives you the chance to view two different musical performances through Google Glass.

The two videos in this piece in Create Digital Music let you see music through the eyes of first a performer and then a conductor. In “Glass through Glass,” you hear a beautiful, ethereal ensemble of wine glasses resonating in harmony by Alexander Chen. In the second video you see Cornell conductor and professor, Cynthia Turner, using Google Glass as a point-of-view camera.

Did either of these videos make you feel more like you were part of the action?

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.