Are you interested in sound design? What about sound design Sony Playstation? Senior Sound Designer Marc Farly is coming to Cogswell College to share his experiences and background, then open the floor to give students a chance to have their real world questions answered. Don’t miss it!
Archive for the ‘Game Audio’ Category
It was a video game enthusiast’s paradise. Screens and consoles decked every wall of (nearly) every room of the two story Old Mint building in San Francisco, all displaying demos of games to be released within the next year. There was a crowd gathered around each display, each person eager to get a chance at playing the game. I was attending with a few other friends from Cogswell, whose brains I could audibly hear exploding as they took in scenery and games around them.
The turnout of indie game developers was amazing. Day of the Devs was hosted by Double Fine, so they had a room full of their own soon-to-be-released games such as Costume Quest 2 and even a remastered version of Grim Fandango, but the rest of the building was filled with small studio games like Night In The Woods and Knight Squad (my personal favorites), Classroom Aquatic, Push Me Pull You, Spy Party, Ikarus, and Please Don’t, Spacedog. A few of the games were played with an Oculus Rift headset. There was even a swag shop full of t-shirts and books related to the games. Outside in the courtyard was a bar and a stage where live DJ’s played music, and games were actively played on a large screen by their developers.
It was enough to make any self-declared nerd hyperventilate. Being as there were a thousand in attendance, the excitement in the air was palpable. Within the first ten minutes, I was thrown a controller and fighting in an arena with five or six other well-seasoned game players. My first thought was along the line of panic, as I was sure I was going to get my butt kicked by people who definitely played more often than I did, but by the first game I was hooked and throwing other players to their deaths.
In the game Classroom Aquatic, one player wore Oculus Rift headgear and was plunged into an underwater school for dolphins. The character they played was a student diver who hadn’t studied for a test. As a result, the player is forced to cheat off of the neighboring students in the room. The trick was to avoid being caught by the teacher. The game effectively gave the player knots in their stomach, and was especially nerve-wracking when players were caught and scolded by the teacher.
Day of the Devs was amazing for one huge reason; EVERYONE there was in love with games, whether they were fans or developers. As a result, there was a feeling of common purpose and enthusiasm. We were all there for the same thing, and it was exciting to be in a place where people from inside the industry and out of it mixed together in a gaming paradise.
During the course of the evening, we got to talk to Double Fine creators, several other indie game makers, and even managed some networking with other people in the game industry! It was absolutely a beneficial experience, and it made the prospect of graduation and getting to work in the industry more tangible. I’m looking forward to next year with Day of the Devs!
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?
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!
Listen in as Cogswell students Sean Langhi, the Engineering & Design Lead and Bugi Kaigwa, Art Lead for the Prairie Rainbow project, share their excitement about the work they are doing in the Game Studio. Access the video here for a sneak peek into a game development team at Cogswell.
Prairie Rainbow develops board games and teacher and parent guides to help students learn math. The Rainbow Math Models are designed to engage tactile learners who need to build a physical model, image learners who need to create a representation of a mental model, and language learners who need to hear, read, or write a number model. This Game Studio project is taking the company’s board game concept and turning it into a unity-based action puzzle game for mobile devices that will not only support the different learning methods but will add another dimension to the user’s experience.
“One goal of our Game program is to offer students real-world learning opportunities,” said Jerome Solomon, Director of Cogswell’s Game Design & Development degree program. “This partnership gives students the chance to not only design a math learning game but to test the prototype in local schools.”
Under the supervision of faculty and industry advisors, Cogswell’s comprehensive project-based learning focus gives students the chance to work on teams that mirror real game development teams of artists, engineers, animators, game designers, audio specialists, and management. Our unique system of Studio classes offers students the opportunity to experience the entire production pipeline from concept through shipping in the process of delivering a professional-quality product.
Cogswell hosted 28 jammers from January 24 to 26 during Global Game Jam 2014. Here’s a recap of what happened over that 48 hour period. We hope you will take a few minutes to check out the games our teams developed.
- We were one of 487 jam sites around the world with 23,452 participants making video games.
- At Cogswell, we made 7 games/playable prototypes. We made more than the folks at Stanford!!!!
- We had a mix of people ranging from Cogswell students to Google engineers.
3 largest single jam sites in the world:
- Tel Aviv, Israel = 485
- Curitiba, Brazil = 410
- Giza, Egypt = 400
Many thanks to the Cogswell faculty and staff and the Global Game Jam 2014 volunteer organizers who made this experience possible!
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?
Cogswell College is pleased to once again serve as a host site for the Global Game Jam. The College’s involvement with the annual event began with the first sponsored Game Jam in 2009.
DATE: January 24 – 26, 2014
TIME: 6:00PM on Friday and wrapping up at 3:00PM on Sunday
PLACE: Cogswell College, 1175 Bordeaux Dr, Sunnyvale, CA 94089
COST: $10 students (with college email address); $20 Cogswell Alumni and $40 general public
INCLUDED with registration: Pizza on Friday evening, continental breakfast on Saturday and Sunday and snacks and coffee throughout the weekend.
The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the world’s largest game jam event taking place around the world at physical locations. Think of it as a hackathon focused on game development. It is the growth of an idea that in today’s heavily connected world, we could come together, be creative, share experiences and express ourselves in a multitude of ways using video games – it is very universal.
REGISTER now for an action-packed weekend of game development and networking!
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.
- 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?
At Cogswell College we focus on learning by doing. While we don’t ignore the theory and principles behind a process, we don’t feel the learning is complete until you’ve actually undertaken a project and put the new skills to use.
The Fall Semester ‘Project Management’ class had to break up into teams and then develop promotional materials that would introduce people to one of Cogswell’s majors. The goal of the mid-term project’s assignment was for the collateral developed to interest people in becoming students at Cogswell. In order to successfully complete the project, students had to organize, assign tasks, set up a timetable, deliver the project and then evaluate their results.
“I wanted the finished piece to show the pride they take in their education, why they are excited about what they are doing and what they are about as students,” said Albert Chen, faculty for the class. “The assignment definitely reinforced the skills they learned during the class.”
This short video highlighting Cogswell’s Digital Media Management degree program and its Game Design & Business Modeling major was completed in two weeks by a team of six students. The students who worked on the project are: Vincent Velo, Andrew Traxler, Eric Tran, Frank Maddox, Oleksandra Keehl and Halsey Herms.
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:
- Shifting Perspective
Gould also talks about the four developmental stages his inner-ear went to become a better field recorder:
- Listening for interesting sounds in relation to context
- Listening for interesting aspects of a sound, regardless of context
- Listening whilst considering the possibilities and later altering sounds to make them interesting
- 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.