Posts Tagged ‘Game Audio’

An Interview with Nathan Brenholdt on Being a Sound Engineer for SCEA

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Nathan Brenholdt (Cogswell College class of 1996) holds a BS in Music Engineering Technology and is a Sr. Sound Designer, Sony Computer Entertainment America

1.    Company name, your job title, a brief description of your job responsibilities and how long you have worked there.

I am a Senior Sound Designer at Sony Computer Entertainment America.  I have been here for 16 years.

2.    Can you give an example of what you might do on a ‘typical’ day?

A typical day is spent planning, recording, creating, editing, implementing, and reviewing sounds for our games.

3.    Can you give an example of something that surprised you about your job when you first started?

It was many years ago, but I was most surprised that my initial title was “Multimedia Specialist”, and that I received at home a generic form letter from HR saying they received my resume, and would get back to me if any positions became available – almost 2 years after I had started working at Sony!

4.    Describe your piece of the production cycle. How does what you do move the project forward?

I generally start early in the production cycle, talking with the creative director and producers about roughly what they are looking for from sound.  Often times, they really don’t know, and can only answer some basic questions about the overall game design.  Usually the type of game and overall look of the game suggest the direction of sound.  From there, I will meet with the audio programmer to design the audio engine and naming conventions.  Our design tools often don’t cover every aspect of sound, so we need additional support for things like debug displays, additional interactive audio parameter tweakers, implementation tools, and formulas for how sound travels through the environment.  Then it’s time to put together some of the main sounds, and get feedback on the overall audio design.  And the rest of the game is usually an iteration process: creating, implementing, reviewing, and tweaking the sounds, dialog, and music.  A fast iteration time is important because of the large number of changes that are made during the development cycle.

5.    How big is the team you are part of for a typical project? What kind of interaction do you have with other team members?

The basic in-game sound effects team is often still fairly small, sometimes as few as 2 or 3 people.  But those numbers can grow quickly if the game is large, or a lot of original content is required.  And once you add dialog, music, and post-production, a lot more people become involved.  A lot of additional work will get contracted out if the people aren’t required for the full project:  Foley, dialog, post-production, music sessions, editing, testing…  The numbers might jump into the hundreds, once you credit everyone involved with the audio in some way.

6.    What projects have you worked on in the past?

I have been most involved with the franchises: Twisted Metal, Syphon Filter, SOCOM: US Navy SEALs, God of War, and Uncharted.  I did a lot of work for the SOCOM games, and really enjoyed going out with the Navy many times over the years, recording their vehicles and weapons.  But with each new game and each new hardware platform come a new set of challenges, which is fun.  Also, games aren’t like movies.  The games are extremely dynamic and you have to plan for so many possibilities with a limited set of sounds and memory.

7.    What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Being able to do something that I enjoy that stays fun, challenging, and new.

8.    What advice would you give students preparing for a career like yours?

I would learn as much as you can, especially on the math, science, and engineering side.  Combine different fields.  You’ll open a lot of doors if your artistic side comes together with computer programming, scripting, engineering, business, or production.  Create your own projects.  Get involved with groups.  Apply for internships.  Measure your work against professionals or direct competition.

9.    QUOTE about how Cogswell helped prepare you for this career?

Cogswell was a great place to combine my passions for sound, music, computers and electronics.

10.  What qualities does someone need to have to be successful in this field?

The engineering, math, scripting, and project management side can be just as important as the creative side.  It’s important to be able to communicate well and adapt to changes.  And of course be able to create high-quality sounds for games!

Today’s Game Audio has Come a Long Way Baby!

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Take a step back to 1978 and “Space Invaders” when music first began to color and create an emotional experience in games. Now fast forward to November 2012 when the “Halo 4 Original Soundtrack” debuted on the Billboard charts in America at number 50.

Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner talks about how the game audio industry has changed and why he is excited about the new opportunities. Rimbaud is an artist, musician and composer working in London who was the keynote speaker at the Audio Engineering Society’s 49th International Conference on Audio for Games.

Check out his observations in the article he wrote for PSN Europe.

What’s your favorite video game music?

Cogswell Announces New Game Audio Concentration

Friday, September 10th, 2010


Who creates the sounds you hear in a game? Who builds the programs that drive the way players and sound interact in games? Why not you?

If this is your dream, then check out the Cogswell College’s new Game Audio major. Cogswell Polytechnical College will begin accepting students in the new educational opportunity in the Fall 2010. The program has two tracks, Game Audio Production and Game Audio Programming.

The Production track lets students create audio assets that play within a game, for example the music, sound effects or dialog, add another level of sensory experience to the game play.

The Programming track is for students who wish to setup how audio assets will interact with the player in response to game play. Sounds can trigger actions the player must take or avoid or influence the player’s behavior during the game.

All Game Audio students have the opportunity to work on multi-disciplinary teams in instructor-led projects to gain direct experience in applying game audio skills. These two tracks complement the existing Audio Production and Audio Engineering tracks of the Digital Audio Technology degree program.

For more information please contact Tim Duncan, Director of Digital Audio Technology at Cogswell Polytechnical College, at

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement