Archive for the ‘Sound Design’ Category

Disney Turns to Digital Technology to Fuse Animated 1959 with Live-Action 2014 Maleficent

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

On May 30th Disney fans will get a first look at the live-action retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty from the point-of-view of the story’s renowned villain Maleficent, played by Angelina Jolie. Producers were posed with the challenge of sticking true to Walt Disney’s original 1959 animated version of the villainess, while introducing her in live-action to a 2014 audience that demands high-tech illusionary entertainment.

Digital art and animation teams worked to produce cartoon-like aspects while keeping the “real-life” feel. In the trailer we see Maleficent engulfed in what has been deemed by bloggers as “cartoony” green flames, harking back to the original animated signature evil powers. We also see computer-generated pixies, tree creatures, ravens and the infamous fire-breathing dragon, all adding to the live-but-animated feel.

Sound design took a different spin to create a more modern and gothic feel for the remake. The famous Disney classic “Once Upon a Dream” was recomposed as a haunting rendition by singer Lana Del Rey. The trailer also reveals the use of strategic sound bytes, mystical swoops, swishes and swacks all fashioned by digital audio designers. Dark crows and caw sounds add to the gothic haunt factor, all the while harking back to Maleficent’s original 1959 pet raven Diablo, recast as a shape shifter named Diaval in the live-action remake.

Will you be seeing this early summer blockbuster? Do you think the digital art and animation effects will be enough to allude to the original? Does Lana Del Rey’s rendition give you the creeps? Let us know in the comments!

Images Credit: Disneywikia.com

Links:

http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/File:Stand_Back_you_fools_-_Maleficent_-_kmp.PNG

http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Maleficent?file=Maleficent-%25282014%2529-54.jpg

The Sims 4: Unique Fusion of A.I. Technology and Emotion-Based Soundtrack offers Gamers New Ways to interact with their Sims

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Since 2000 The Sims has been a staple in the gaming world, setting the standard for real-life simulation.  However in recent years the various expansion packs and add-ons have confused consumers on the brand that original creator Will Wright began 14 years ago.

The Sims 4 offers new and exciting features that will remind gamers of the original game rooted in emotion. “SmartSim”, is a new feature that heightens emotions for the Sims. During gameplay, the Sims’ emotions are impacted in different ways, for example, hobbies, relationships, food, etc. Combined with new digital animation techniques and A.I. technology, the “Smart Sim” is a completely new breed of Sim.

In the past Sims never interacted with the gamer. However, by adding emotion, and a new soundtrack, the Sim can now react with the gamer through music. Soundtrack composer Ilan Eshkeri had to create scores that could take advantage of the SmartSim’s emotional capabilities and also hark back to earlier stages in the game.

“If something emotional happens… I’d try to relate all of those to a few notes or a riff or a chord sequence that appeared in one of the longer pieces of background music. For example, if character is doing something in the house or if something breaks in the house, I’d try to relate that to the music you heard when you were building the house,” Eshkeri said.

According to executive producer Rachel Franklin, the flow of the game comes together with the marriage of sound design and digital animation technology. “Ilan is known for these theatrical sweeping, wonderful compositions,” Franklin said. “It’s a way for the Sim to respond back to the player… You can really feel that in the audio. Combining that with animation technology and facial emotional overlays… things work together in a really cool way to make you feel more related to your Sim. Because ultimately you’re caring for them…the music brings your relationship really to a height.”

Cogswell College offers programs in Digital Art and Animation, Digital Audio Technology, and Game Design.  Titles like The Sims 4 wouldn’t be possible without the technological advancement of these disciplines.  – Learn more about the opportunities these programs can provide TODAY!

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/07/sims-4-composer-ilan-eshkeri

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!

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.

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?

Effective Workflow Tactics for Remote Clients and Collaborators

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Working on a remote team to complete a project is now the norm rather than the exception. In this article in Designing Sound contributed by Michael Schiciano of Skitch Studio, he shares his insights into working collaboratively and how to avoid some of the logistical challenges that can crop up.

Points covered in the article include:

  • Establishing the Vision and Scope of the Project; Whenever I had issues coming up with ideas in the middle of a project, a very likely culprit was simply not doing enough communication early enough in the project.
  • Detours and Changes; Sometimes these are messaged down from a client.  Other times they are discovered as part of the work itself.
  • Getting the Names Right; Another area you’ll want to make sure gets addressed during the middle of a production are the simpler, smaller details of effective naming conventions.
  • Making the Delivery; The final stages of a project will bring forth another wave of heavy communication, most notably focusing on the details of the submission process.

If you have collaborated on a project remotely, what did you learn in the process?

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.