Archive for the ‘Audio Production’ Category

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.

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.

Independence High School After School Program

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Faculty,Tony Dias, helps students with the day's lesson. Tony graduated from Independence High.

Cogswell College and Independence High School have teamed up to introduce high school students to the exciting opportunities that blending art and technology opens to them. Over the course of 10 weeks students choose either digital painting or audio desktop production for the first 5 weeks and software engineering or video game design for the final 5 weeks.

“The goal of this program is to get students excited about something they might initially think is boring,” says Abraham Chacko, executive director of admissions and facilitator for the after school program at Cogswell College. “These are kids from the Silicon Valley,” Chacko continues. “When they hear the word ‘engineering,’ they think ‘I don’t want to have a job like my parents,’ but when you mention Disney, Pixar or video games and the job opportunities associated with them, they become excited about learning programming and engineering skills.”

Faculty, Reid Winfrey, offers design tips to students on the day's lesson.

The demand for skilled engineers in the U.S. continues to grow, with engineering degree holders experiencing some of the best job prospects in the country straight out of college. Jack Aiello is a Project Lead The Way trained instructor who teaches Introduction Engineering Design at Independence High, and is coordinator of the pre-engineering program, Space Technology Engineering Academy Magnet (STEAM). He serves as the faculty facilitator for the after-school program, in partnership with Chacko and uses a project-based, individualized teaching method similar to Cogswell’s.

“The ability to connect and engage our students in Cogswell’s environment is incredible,” says Aiello. “Running a class with 25 students working in a project-based environment is more advantageous than a traditional teaching model with lectures or video presentations at the front of a classroom of 35 or more students. The hands-on computer and audio equipment, programming tools and Industry experienced instructors available at Cogswell allow our students an exciting peek into the real world of the digital creative arts. At the end of each of our two hour weekly sessions at Cogswell, the students walk away with a feeling of accomplishment and pride for what they have created. They are enthusiastic and look forward to coming back next week.  Our students are on the consumer side of the ‘Digital Divide’, many from immigrant families that use technology, social media and video games, but don’t know how to leverage the technology to create something NEW; such as designing a video game, making an animated movie, or producing their own music. ”

Learn more in this news item.

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?