Posts Tagged ‘Sound Design’

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!

Sound Design for Trailers

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Bryan Jerden who has worked on prominent movie trailers such as Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, Harry Potter, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Inception, among many others shares his knowledge in this interview in Sound Design.

According to Jerden, “trailers have become a distinct form of media and really have come quite a long way. Today we have itunes, youtube, websites dedicated to video game trailers, venues like Comicon and E3 and they are all packed with trailers and featurettes and I am constantly amazed on how many hits some trailers get on the web. There are just so many avenues for viewers now. No longer are the days when trailers are just shoved in front of a movie at a low level and mixed in stereo (although that still happens) but with all the other places to experience trailers in full volume, it is no wonder that they have taken on a whole new life.”

Read the full interview here.

A Little Razzle Dazzle for Independence High School

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Cogswell College at Independence High SchoolOn Friday, November 16, 2012, a small contingent from Cogswell College visited the campus of Independence High School in San Jose to offer interactive presentations that highlighted our Audio Production and 3D Modeling majors.

Tony Dias, a faculty member in our Digital Audio Technology degree program and Matt Bard, a student in our Digital Art and Animation degree program, lead the demonstrations. Paula Cruz, Community Outreach Specialist for Cogswell, facilitated the event.

Throughout the day the group provided 7 demonstrations for more than 1,000 students. The audio side of the presentation featured the magic of sound synthesis and the flexibility it gives sound designers. Tony provided samples of digitally created sound and then let the students experiment. Matt demonstrated the power of Zbrush and Maya, software programs widely used in the digital arts industry to bring characters and environments to life through color and texture and to animate characters.

Tony, as an alumnus of Independence High, also offered advice to the students including:

  • Attend college or other professional training
  • Learn how to learn and develop good problem-solving skills
  • Be persistent and learn from failure
  • Network with both your peers and other groups
  • Plan your career and follow your passion

Thanks Tony and Matt for spreading the word about Cogswell’s amazing learning environment!