The Awkward Shootout: XY vs MS

At Funcom we have access to a few microphones that cover our general recording needs. I’m putting some of them to the test to see what options and combinations can be used in the field. I chose two locations that have distinct tones to try and capture the microphones characteristics. Why awkward? Well it’s not the usually suspects when it comes to shootouts specifically MS. Let’s have a listen!


Location 1 – Recorded off of Ste-Catherine street west, between Bishop and Mackay Street. (Google Maps)
0:00 XY – RØDE NT4
1:02 MS  – RØDE NTG3 (mid) AKG 414 (side)


Location 2 – Recorded in the Funcom office at 1440 Ste-Catherine street west (Google Maps)
0:00 XY – RØDE NT4
1:02 MS  – RØDE NTG3 (mid) AKG 414 (side)

Conclusion: One of the reasons people use MS recording technique is because of the wide stereo image. These examples also show how narrow the NT4 is, small compromise for a portable stereo solution. I also really like the frequency response of the MS kit, nice full and round. Let me know if you put together an uncommon MS kit would love to hear it!

24 Hour Day Cycles

FieldThe concept of recording and using proper day periods within a video game world has always attracted me. By proper I mean capturing a locations actual 24 hour cycle, as opposed to recreating typical soundscapes in post. It’s a concept that’s not always feasible because a) the time required to record and b) library material not always containing same locations at different times of day.

Roomtone is roomtone no matter what time. You may choose to add occluded traffic if in a city apartment, but generally you can build it in post-production. When it comes to forests, jungles, cities, mountains, etc the time of day influences the tone and believability. Mostly through wild life, insects, wind intensity and distant sounds.

This past weekend I decided to test out this concept. I grabbed some gear and hiked outside a small village near Quebec city called St-Antoine-De-Tilly (about 2h30 drive from Montreal). I recorded in four different locations at four different times of day: 5AM, 11AM, 5PM, 11PM. This allowed to build a small library of forest sounds throughout a 24h cycle. An interesting analogy is the way my voice timber changed throughout the day while slating location and time… similar to the way the environment did!

Now that I have my sounds recorded and edited let’s see how we can put these sounds to use in some game audio! Excerpts below.

Specs:
Stereo 24bit / 96KHz
Fostex FR2
Rode NT4

Creating a Creature: 3 Samples… 2 Tricks… 1 Warcry!

Creating A CreatureWhile editing the 9th floor drones recording, I realized they had a distinct  tonal element… nearly a vocal-like below and I wanted to use the sound as inspiration to quickly create a creature warcry.

Ingredients:
– 1x Human vocal
– 1x Horse whine from The Recordists soundcloud Crazy Horse sample (thanks for hooking it up!)
– 1x Mechanical drone (stereo)

[Special note] Melodyne was used to pitch match the three elements. A trick I discovered that works well to help mesh multiple vocal sounds together. And a snapshot using iZotopes x-noise was taken from the vocal tracks and applied against the drone as a type of inverse equalization. Here are the samples from raw to final mix:

Unedited Samples

Edited Samples

Pitch Shifted Samples

Full Mix

Do you have any tricks for creature vocal? Feel free to share in the comments!

9th Floor Drones

Grinder – Stairwell – Recording gear9th Floor Drones

Had a chance to record an occluded mechanical grinder throughout our buildings twelve stories. One of the most interesting sounds was in the stairwell, walking up and down each floor was like adjusting the wet / dry mix.

Over 45 minutes of audio was edited using different mics and perspectives. How to turn an awful sound into library 101.  Here are some samples of the recording to download.

Specs:
Mono 24bit / 96KHz
Fostex FR2
Rode NT4, NTG3

Sounds of the Tour de l’Île de Montréal 2013

pic_tdl_bnwThis was my second Tour de l’Île (a 50 Km bike tour starting at boulevard Saint-Joseph and ending at the Olympic stadium) with my friend Mich3D. This time around I brought my Zoom H2, strapped it down to my handlebar and hit REC.

The combination of riding a fixed gear with barely any mechanisms and a good tune up the night before, allowed for little noise to be heard while biking… Putting you amidst the other cyclists! All sounds recorded while riding until 2:06, whereby a live band can be heard marking the activities awaiting along the way.

More than 25,000 cyclist showed up for this years event.

Specs:
Stereo 24bit / 48KHz
Zoom H2

#architecture #instagram #andeverythinginbetween

FederalBuilding  Airport  Catwalk

 

 

 

 

 

Game Design and Architecture are fundamentally similar. Both strive to balance design and utility with narrative and charm.

I seem to be obsessed with architecture these days and equally inspired by instagrams accessibility to great shot. I must admit though one kind of feeds the other… It all started when designing sounds for the Raid Boss monster on The Secret World.

The concept of what makes something colossal actually feel massive. Visually you think shadows and lighting. A big building will create huge shadows, a long corridor will have a vanishing point. The audio representation of size is usually created with reverb, delays and frequency response. For this monster I found myself using a lot of tricks to fool the ear, using harmonics and attenuating other sounds for clarity. With a battle containing 10 players you’re competing with a lot of sounds! All that to say I started using architecture as inspiration.

Soundscapes, SPL and Standards

Was talking with a workmate earlier about environment sounds and why urban planners don’t spend more time designing our cities soundscapes. Perhaps stricter laws need to be enforced for SPL (sound pressure level) outdoors and not just in the workplace. A quick look at the Canadian laws regarding SPL: Levels of Sound – Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, Part VII.

And from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: “Sound is what we hear. Noise is unwanted sound. The difference between sound and noise depends upon the listener and the circumstances.” Great quote!!

If you have an interest in the affects of SPL in the workplace, education establishments and cities check out Julian Treasure’s TED talk below on encouraging designers to focus more on SOOOUND.

Who Are We Catering To?

* This was first published on CreatingSound.com and was edited by Ariel Gross

controller

I had the opportunity to attend GDC this year and to meet some of the people behind the games I play and consider references. I got to pick at their brains and get details about their approach.

One thing they all shared was the need to push the boundaries, refine the processes, or further advance their toolsets. The conversations usually involved a technical challenge, followed by some sort of solution. Some of the solutions were temporary while others were more permanent. The process of constant iteration and improving the pipelines was to achieve the goal of creating a better product and to create a more immersive experience. But to the end user, what does that all mean?

What happens under the hood is a mystery. Even between departments it is sometimes difficult to fully understand what’s going on. Of course, players might understand the concepts of reverb, asset variations, and interactive music, but what really matters to them is what it sounds like.

That’s why some games just work. It’s because they’re designed for the player. They’re not created to be played exclusively by other developers and lost in a jargon of technical approaches. They’re intuitive. They’re challenging, but easy to understand, making the player’s progress fun. That comparison can be seen everywhere, and a good (but extreme) example is architectural functionalism. The core concept is this: Does the design serve it’s purpose?

Who do you design for? The designing process involves me thinking about the player. How will he or she interact, or interpret what they hear; is it clear? There is a part of me that also thinks of how my colleagues will hear it. To create something my peers can enjoy and analyze often helps push the product even further. However, when taken too literally, this can lead to the demise of the design.

When we think next-gen, we think more versatile tools, a more dynamic mix, more variations, more access to gameplay elements. Well, maybe, and I assume this list won’t harm the experience, but what truly makes a great sounding game for the player? I wish I had the answer. Hell, what it sounds like to me depends on so much, time of day, my mood, the listening environment… I don’t think there is just one answer, but i’ll throw one out there and see how it sticks.

Transparency. We prototype, design, and master, constantly refining our toolsets, all while compromising to fit within our technical limitations. All of that just to make things work, but the real challenge is in making it seamless, unnoticeable… as in nobody noticed it. This brings me back to the title question: Who are we catering to? Let’s not forget that.

Tutorial: How to Configure Schoeps Double MS Plug-In in Cubase and Nuendo

I decided to write a quick guide to help you get set up with Schoeps Double MS Tool plug-in in Cubase and Nuendo. The only guide I found was in German and our ol’ pal Google provided me with a confusing translation. However thanks to my German friend Daniel, “Front: Nach ganz link” became “Front: To the far left” and not “Front: link to the whole”. Let’s get started!

Download and install the Double MS Tool for VST Windows/Mac here.

1) Launch Nuendo or Cubase
2) Create an empty Project
3) Add three mono audio tracks in the project
(to keep things simple name the tracks as front, side, rear)
4) Import the files into the appropriate tracks
5) Add a Group 5.1 track and route the Group track to your 5.1 output (if you don’t have a 5.1 output create one from the VST Connections or F4)
6) Route the mono tracks to the 5.1 group and configure the individual channels
as follows (also refer to the images below):
Front: To the far left
Side: To the far right
Rear: Center
7) Insert the Schoeps Double-M / S Tool BF plug-in in the 5.1 group track.
8) Now test out your configuration. Schoeps provides audio samples of outdoor ambiences, concert recordings and a couple test signals. Check them out here.  A good starting point is the Double M/S Test signal: sine bursts reproduced clockwise between 0° and 360°.
9) Enjoy

Channel Configuration
Channel Configuration

*** For Double MS recording tips and techniques make sure to check out these blogs:

Rene Coronado – Quad and Dual MS Technique

Tim Nielsen – MS Recording via DesigningSound

Brian Gilbert – Double MS Technique

Hauptmikrofon – Berlin Ambience Techniques

Schoeps – Double MS Plug-In Overview