Ambience is the blurring of designed emotion and reality, evoked through your subconscious.
The ability to create a parallel reality without questioning the origin or intention is a unique opportunity. As sound designers, we’re sonic architects with the ability to shape whatever emotion we chose. For game audio it is no longer a technical limitation, but a creative leap.
An ambience transition test… the concept is capturing a location without context. In post, conduct the emotion through processed elements and slowly introduce the locations actual sound. The equivalent to fading from black & white to color.
Stereo 24bit / 96KHz
Recorded in Lachine (Google Maps)
The 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.
Stereo 24bit / 96KHz
Grinder – Stairwell – Recording gear
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.
Mono 24bit / 96KHz
Rode NT4, NTG3
This 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.
Stereo 24bit / 48KHz
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.