Sunday, 1 November 2009

Clover Round Up - Conclusion

Well, it's been a little while since the last part of the Clover Round Up. I promise you that the long wait has not been due to laziness (not 100% anyway). Shortly after writing the 3rd part in the series, I received word from Binary Tweed that there was to be a NEW version of Clover being commissioned by Blitz Games Ltd and Audious was to continue with the work on sound effects.

Having received this news at the start of summer I had hoped to start work on this straight away, so I delayed the Conclusion to this round up. A few months and short trip in the middle east later, I finally received the list of required sounds and work has started on them.

So, I guess it would be rather hard to conclude this work at this point, because we havnt actually finished worked on the game yet. It's nearly there tho.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Clover Round Up - Mixing The Sounds


With the Audious Sound Design - Clover Podcast Series airing every Monday, it is now time we took a look at the third installment of the Clover Round Up.

In this part we shall discuss the mixing process used to create the complex sound effects that were identified in the previous installment. We shall continue to focus on the rock crumbling sound effect.

Lets identify the 2 parts of this sound:

The Pick Axe Strike - This is the attack of the sound
The Rock Crumbling - This is the decay of the sound.

As you heard in the example in the previous update, the Rock Crumbling sound effect was made from a number of different sound elements. Both parts are made up from more than one element. These sounds were imported into pro-tools and put into their own individual tracks as shown in the picture below.



The Pick Axe Strike was constructed from 2 different strike sound elements. One was a hammer striking a piece of wood, the other was the same hammer striking a stone. The two elements were carefully placed within the time line so that the strikes happened at the exact same moment. The two different tones would then combine to create a bigger sounding strike.

The positioning of each sound element for the Rock Crumbling part on the time line was also very important. I did not want any given moment to be over cluttered with sound, whilst another moment being empty. I also did not want to have too many attack peaks at any one time. The idea was to have a constantly rumbling decay where the rock falls apart. The use of Volume automation was great for fading in and out parts of the each sound element. This helped alot with achieving this goal.

For those who are not geared up on Sound Engineering Terminology, this is a fantastic feature in Pro-Tools that allows you to adjust levels such as Volume, Effects Mix, Left/Right Panning and many many more on the time line display. In the picture below the thick black line with the white dots on it is the automation line for volume.


Another sound was added to the mix which has not yet been mentioned. This is was a 60Hz sine wave which was trigger to play underneath the Rock Crumbling sound. The signal was placed very low in the mix because it was intended to compliment the rumbling effect.

Each part of the sound effect was mixed individually to help separate the sound as two different sound sources and then bounced down together to create the final effect.

Here you can here the sound effect as it appears in the game in this low quality sound example:

I also identified the drip sounds as another complex sound effect. However, unlike the rock crumbling sound effect, the drips were not constructed from several individually recorded sound elements. No, infact the only sound recorded for this effect was a dripping tap.

The sounds that you hear with in the game have had a number of layers of different reverb and delay effect. It was important to ensure that in this situation the reverb and delay times did not match to help to create the randomness of a large chamber or cave like atmosphere.


The next blog will bring my work on Clover to a conclusion. I'll outline some of the things that I have learnt from the project and tell a few stories of things that I got up to on the way. If you're lucky, maybe I'll even chuck in a couple more of my favourite sounds ;-)

As always, if you have any questions please leave a comment.


Monday, 8 June 2009

How to subscribe to the Audious Podcast in iTunes

The Audious Podcast - Clover Series is now live.

If you want to listen to the feed just add this url into iTunes or your podcast tracking software:

To find my Podcast in iTunes follow these steps:
* Open iTunes
* Click on the drop down menu labelled Advanced and then click on Subscribe to Podcast...
* A little box will appear asking for the Podcasts Url. Copy and paste the url above into the box and click Okay.

Alternatively, you can search for 'Audious Sound Design' in the iTunes store or click here


If you need any help setting up the subscription with your podcast tracking software, just leave a comment and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

All New Audious Podcast

Hello Peeps.

Just a quick note to say that Audious have just finished recording a new series of Audious Podcasts.

This series will come to you in 5 1-2 minute parts. Each episode will contain 1 or 2 sounds with a short discussion. The series is being run to compliment the Clover Round Series of Blogs.

We're hoping to have the first episode live at some point soon. We'll keep to posted on when its out and how to find it.

Have fun and catchya laters :)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Clover Round Up - Creating the Sounds

Whilst Clover is slowly working its way through the peer reviewing process I bring you the second part of the Clover Round Up.

In this part we shall cover the creation of some of the source sounds before they are built into the final effect.












Lets start by indentifying some of the basic sounds which were used in Clover:

Door Unlock
Newspaper
Footsteps
Seaside

I call the above 'basic' sounds because they were generally recorded and mixed in one layer. That means they were made with a single building block before mixing.

The 'Door Unlock' was simply a recording of a door being unlocked. For the 'Newspaper', I went out and bought a copy of The Times and rustled a few pages infront of the microphone. For the seaside, if you have read my previous blog (clicky) you would know that I took a nice cold January trip to the beach.

All of the above sounds were recorded using the same source as to what the sound itself was representing with in the game.

However, the footsteps were slightly different. Recording the sound of real footsteps did not work too well in this case. The result was not punchy enough. Instead I found close micing some fingernail tapping on hard and soft surfaces gave me the result I was looking for.

On a side note, this technique is certainly not universal for footstep recording. Due to the cartoonish nature in the artistic design of the game I felt that this was best.


Now lets discuss some of the more complex sounds that can be heard in Clover:

Bow and Arrow
Rock Crumbling
Waterfall
Drips

These sounds are 'complex' because they were not taken from a singular sound source, but rather constructed from a number of different sources. The drips used a slightly different technique of construction during the mixing and post-production stage, which will be discussed in the next update.

Since the bow and arrow was touched on in a previous blog (clicky), we shall take a closer look at the construction of the 'Rock Crumbling' sound effect.

I used a number of materials to make this sound which can be seen in this photograph.
The big rocks were used to represent larger rocks, the pegs were used to create smaller crumbling stones, the sand papers was used to create a gravel effect and the wooden slab was used as a hard surface.

In addition to these materials, a hammer was used to make an impact sound.

In this audio sample you can hear each of individual layers which were recorded. These are all just small samples of the each recording.



In the next blog update I will discuss the mixing and post-production process of creating these sounds. This will include how the sounds in the audio clip above were constructed to create the sound used with in the game.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions in regards to this blog.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Clover Round Up. - My Role, My Gear

As you know, for the past couple of months I've been slaving away on the sound track for Binary Tweed's Xbox Community Live Game Clover.  So with the release of the game approaching quickly I think its only fair for me to write a series of short blogs about my role in the creation the game, the obsticles that I came up against and most of all what I have learnt from the project.

The blog will be written in 4 parts and (hopefully)  be published in full over the next few weeks.  The 4 parts will be as follow's: 

1) My Role, My Gear.    This will outline what I was asked to do, and what I ended up doing, and will give a brief over view on what I had to work with.

2) Creating the Sounds.   This will discuss the actual recording process and talk about some of the sound sources that I used.  (Expect sound samples here :D)

3) Mixing the Sounds.   This will discuss how I used the power of digital editing software to mix the sounds to create new sounds.  (Expect more Samples)

4)  The Conclusion.  This will round up what I've done, and discuss what I have learnt.  I will also
 try and answer any of the questions that I have been asked upto this point, and I do encourage you to ask questions :)

As with all of my blogs, I don't intend to go into too much depth about how things were done.  I like to keep things easy reading for those who know nothing about the subject, and I don't really want to bore the professionals with things that they already know.  Now thats over with, on with the first part.


Part 1: My Role, My Gear

Okay, lets start at the very beginning.  Last year I whilst working at a Studio in London I had to opportunity to hook up with an old school buddy called Deej (Daniel Jones).  Having not properly seen each other for years we had discussed what we had been upto and what we were looking to do in the future.  Deej had brought up the subject of Microsoft XNA Games Studio, which was something I had read about in the past, but wasn't 'geeky' enough to start coding out a fun game.  A few months later, I gave Deej a call to see if he was planning on attending Reading Festival and mentioned that he now had a bit more freetime and planned to start work on straight away on a game.  Being the salesman I am straight away jumped in and said "Well if you need any sound effects, you know where to come".  A few months down the line, once the game was starting to get somewhere, Deej knew exactly where to come. 

I was asked to provide spot and ambience sound effects.  The music for the game was to be created by another old school friend of ours (and former band mate) Chris Chillingworth.  I think the guys had the right idea from the start with the music, however I certainly contributed my opinion where I saw fit and the end result I think it turned out to be really good.  Deej and Mr Chilli were also down to provide the vocal effects for character jumps and talking etc.  These vocals were then sent to me to try and clean them up and mix them so that they fell behind the music.

So anyway, Deej e-mailed me a list of sounds that he thought would fit into the game with a short description of what they may be used for with in the game.  I should note now, that in the past I have had an image, an animation or a video clip to work with when creating soundtracks. This is the first time I have had to use my imagination 100% as to the image that I working with. 

On such a small budget project, I was unfortunately struck down with only having access to my bedroom studio to work in.  Luckily, a good friend of mine Danny Jefferies allowed me to borrow his laptop for a couple outside recording sessions, such as the Sea Shore Waves (see previous blog).  Other than that I had to work with what I could either make myself or use online libraries.  The free libraries where possible, but there was a few cases where I had to splash out and pay for some effects (this reminds me,  Deej you still owe my £20 for these).  Most of these effects were not too much of an issue, but in the case of Tropical Birds there was no way I would be able to record in my bedroom, and Deej was quite unwilling to cough up the dough so I could go to the Caribbean to record my own.

Just for the record, my home studio is made up of an Digi-Design MBox 2, running Pro-Tools 7 on a battered up noisy old PC.  Im using a Rode NT2-A Microphone, certainly not the best mic for the job but I think its done quite well considering.

This I believe brings the first blog in this series to an end.  Next I'll be moving on to some of the recording sessions, and discuss what I used as sound sources.  This should be a fun one.  Please feel free to comment and ask questions along the way.




Thursday, 5 February 2009

Just a quick note.

Heya, not much of an update today.  I just wanted to say that we got a mention on the Binary Tweed blog a couple of days ago, as a bit of feed back from the sound effects that I sent off. 

Click here to read the entry.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Clover Update.

Heya guys.

I have been busy working away on Clover for Binary Tweed (see last blog), for the past few weeks and have been having a great deal of fun doing so. When I finished University all I wanted to do was work making sound effects for computer games, and this happens to be my first assignment. As you can imagine I am very excited about this project, and I am not the only one. The game itself has been receiving alot of online press. You just need to search google to see that - Click Here

Anyway, onto the sounds that I have been working on for the project. Last time I wrote a blog I had just spent the day on the beach recording the sound of waves. I still remember that bitterly cold day as if it were yesturday (on a side note yesturday the UK received the worst snow for 18years, see my other blog for more details Click). Since that day I have been working largely on the incidental sounds for the project. I have had to supply the sounds of door locks, knocking on doors, crumbling rocks and shaking bushes. However, I think the most fun samples to make were the ones which required the most post editing work. The arrow effects in particular are made up of a number of different recorded sounds constructively added together to create a sound effect. Here is a sample of an arrow effect I made especially for this blog (Note: This sound does not appear in the game, however a very similar one using the same technique does).


You may be able to hear the elements of what made up the sound effect are actually quite simple. See if you can try and work out what I recorded to make the sounds and if you think you can, leave us a comment saying what you think they are.

**
As a final note, I am sorry to say that I have decided to add a low level of background noise to all future sounds clips uploaded to the blog. If you ever want a clean copy of the sound please do not hesitate to contact me and we'll sort something out.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

"Oh I do like to be beside the sea side"

Hi all.  

Towards the end of 2008 I received a couple of new projects to start work on.  One, which I am going to tell you about is for a Xbox Live Community Game that is being developed by Binary Tweed.  

I have been asked to provide a number of sounds and ambiences for the project.  I do have option to access number of sound libraries from which I can download sounds from. However, being the self respecting sound recording artist that I am, I intend to record as many of these effects myself as I can.  However, since my employers where only able to donate a broken toe 
nail that they found down the back of their sofa to the cost of the flight out to the caribean to record the tropical bird ambiences, I may have to resort to using them for one or two. 

However, there are many sounds on the list which are readily available for me to record and some of which I already have in my library.  Take for example the sound of the sea shore waves.  If you don't know this already, I am from a small sea side town called Hastings on the South Coast of Great Britain.  There is plenty of water around me.  So I took a drive out to a quite spot in a small area called Winchelsea set up my gear and pressed record.  I got a good capture, the sea was calm and there were very few sea gulls around to squark and crap on my gear and being the middle of January there wasn't any screaming kids around either. 

I'll keep you up to date with how this project is going, and if you're lucky you might get a podcast out of it :D