Big thanks to Jesse James Allen, Audio Director at EA Sports Tiburon, for his presentation “Top 10 Game Audio Mistakes” to our Advanced Interactive Audio class. His presentation is “Top 10 Game Audio Mistakes”. Highlights include “Audio is a one person job”, “Audio is easy to integrate”, and “Video Game Sound Cliches”.
February 9, 2012 | Chris Latham
January 10, 2012 | Chris Latham
We had an interview with the Design3 team at GDC ’11. Here’s the video’s description:
Both emerging from a background in the modding world, Alex Quick and Chris Latham are two of the handful of people working on the UDK-fueled multiplayer game “Depth.” In this impromptu interview, we get the inside scoop on the sharks vs. humans battle, the “angry text” method of project management, and, of course, why video game design and development is best described as “cheese.”
January 2, 2012 | Tom TodiaNo slides are available.
I recently spent a week recording a large variety of military weapons alongside a really talented audio developer and friend, Watson Wu. (www.watsonwu.com) Watson has contracted Engine Audio to assist him in the past, and we are always excited to get another oppurtunity to do so. This time around, Watson also hired his good friend Aaron Marks giving me yet another oppurtunity to network and learn.
Aaron Marks is the author of several game audio books and has worked as a content developer in the field for nearly two decades. I really enjoyed working with Aaron and very much appreciated the humor and experience he brought to a challenging week of work. http://www.onyourmarkmusic.com/
First, I would like to say that just as important as all of the recording gear and techniques used on a major project is the people with whom you work. All great developers have their own history and experiences, so be sure to soak up as much knowledge your counterparts can offer. Remember that it is often easier to speak than it is to listen. When you are in company such as Watson and Aaron, please make sure you are doing more of the latter.
The main reason for me writing this article is to offer you some of what I learned from these veterans. These are a series of reminders that I have given myself, because they can often fall behind our concerns of dynamic range, sample rates and other choices. Unfortunately, there are things that I can’t discuss about this recording session, which brings me to my first point.
1. Thou shall be extra careful with your client’s information!
Clients spend a great deal of money bringing audio contractors into a project. It can often be difficult for your client to convince an in house producer to spend this money in the first place. The privacy of your client is paramount, and breaking their trust most likely will mean the end of them as your client. Be sure you understand the parameters of your Non Disclosure Agreement and follow them. Remember that communication is key, and staying on the same page with your client will make them feel more comfortable with you professionally. Do not play games with this one! (Excuse my pun)
2. Thou shall have multiple copies of your blank documents!
You need to carefully document recorded files, and you need your client to have a copy for their own notes. There are usually no printers out in the field so keep multiple copies of everything. Watson is also the master of the P-Touch and I learned that having sticker labels pre-printed could really help you keep your sanity. Remember that there is no such thing as over prepared.
3. Thou shall slate everything!
Things move fast when you are in the field. Proper documentation is essential, but nothing is safer than slating the take and situation directly into the recording. You should have a slate microphone set up for convenient printing to tape, and be sure to use the same naming as you have on your printed document. I.E. “Glock model 17_Full Mag Eject”.
4. Thou shall listen and watch very closely!
You have to constantly monitor the audio output of your system. Field recorders have meters on them so make sure you put them to good use. We rarely work without the limiters engaged, and the ones found in Sound Devices gear are fast! Do not assume that the initial sound of your set up hasn’t somehow changed, let your ears and eyes be the judge. Sometimes microphones move, cables become loose, and channels can go bad during recording. Be obsessive compulsive with your work, but don’t let yourself get in the way of a strong fast pace. It is not enough to simply say you demand excellence: you must prove it with constant diligence and attention to detail.
5. Thou shall keep people in good spirits!
One of the things I learned from this trip was that a director should keep everyone well fed and caffeinated. The people around you will be ready for hard work with a full belly and there favorite Starbucks in hand. I appreciated Watson’s honest concern that I was well supplied and comfortable at all times.
6. Thou shall Remain Calm!
Things can and will go wrong, just get comfortable with this concept. Great engineers and producers remain calm and solve problems calmly when amateurs are running around with their hair on fire. Creative skills are always important, but these less tangible qualities are what will keep you employed.
I really look forward to working with both these great Audio Jedi’s again, and I have one parting message for the young audio enthusiasts out there.
Keep recording, and show off your work! That is of course if you want people to know your name, and what you are all about.
January 1, 2011 | Chris Latham
We want to take this opportunity to spotlight some of the folks we have worked with in 2010. The end of the year is a time to reflect on what you were grateful for. These are some of the relationships that Engine Audio is truly thankful for!
Each project required its own unique approach, and delivered its own set of rewards. Thanks to everyone, and we hope to hear from you in 2011!
My Tiny Planets is a Flash based virtual universe filled with educational games and information for children. The Tiny Planets universe is a popular childrens cartoon in the United Kingdom. Engine Audio worked with ZeeGee Games to develop some of the audio for the Tiny Planets online experience.
In June 2010 we released one of the first air drumming iPhone apps out to the world called ShakeABeat. The app utilizes the accelerometer of the iPhone to trigger collections of loops and samples in time.
with Watson Wu
We had the pleasure of accompanying one of the best field recordists in the industry while recording crowd ambiences during the UF vs LSU game. The sound of recording 90,000+ screaming fans is deafening! It was obvious to us that Watson was a pro with a field recording kit, and it was great to work with and learn from the best.
Engine Audio has joined the team behind the new underwater UDK game called “Depth:Aquatic Stealth”. This game is being developed by the same group that produced the wildly successful Unreal Tournament MOD “Killing Floor”. The combination of unique game play and top notch art work has made Aquatic Stealth a beautiful and terrifying canvas. We are enjoying bringing that same impact to its sound track.
October 16, 2010 | Chris Latham
On October 9, 2010 the University of Florida Gators met the Louisiana State University Tigers to battle it out in “The Swamp” (the nickname for the Gators home stadium). We were there, armed with our field rigs, to capture the powerful stadium ambiance. Engine Audio worked for Watson Wu to provide an extra recording rig and assistance during the session. Watson Wu is a composer, sound designer and an expert field recordist who has worked with many different game publishers and developers on capturing sounds for their games including Need for Speed, Operation Flashpoint, and Transformers: War for Cybertron. He was contracted by EA Sports to record crowd ambiances for the upcoming NCAA title, and luckily he invited us to join him.
So we packed up our gear and headed 2 hours North to Gainesville, FL. “Tail-Gators” had overtaken the streets of Gainesville, and it was obvious that this crowd was something to be reckoned with. Legend has it that the population of Gainesville more than doubles on game day. We found a few spaces to park and we met up with Watson and his friend Shawn. We quickly unpacked and assembled our arsenal of recording equipment. Although it was to be a mostly peaceful day, it felt a bit like preparing for battle.
Watson Wu’s setup:
Holophone recording L/R-LS/RS
Chris Latham’s setup:
Crown Sass-P stereo microphone
Sound Devices 722
Tom Todia’s Setup:
Carrying extra batteries, cables, and wire ties, we beganmoving in the direction of the noise. We hiked with our gear in hand through the crowd to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Watson retrieved the press passes he had secured for us, and we made our way down to the field.
We positioned ourselves on the sidelines directly behind all the broadcast cameras. When those cameras are on the move, they don’t stop for anyone! With boom poles extended, we raised our microphones. We captured a large variety excited cheers from the roaring crowds. We began recording at kickoff, continued to the final buzzer.
The end of the game was very exciting with the Gator fans expecting a win. However, with only 11 seconds left, LSU scored a touchdown to win the game. The crowd erupted in boos and disbelief, but then became very quiet. The battle was over, and all of the disappointed Gator fans filed out.
Some observations for recording big crowds:
1.Face the mic away from the band.
Watson suggested that we have our Mics faced away for the school bands. Although they are always present in the recordings (their kind of loud), you don’t need them to drown out the crowd noise.
2. 90,000+ can get LOUD!!
Come armed with mic pads for your equipment. Make sure you are prepared with ear plugs or wear your cans.
3. Watch out for those fans!
As their team starts to win or lose fans (probably under the influence of alcohol) can get rowdy and express their anger verbally. We had some excited fans yell obscenities that should have never made it into the recording. Watson provided large cards with information on what we were doing there at the game, to give to anyone that approached us. It gave us a way to silently explain our gear and mission while recording. A really professional idea Watson!
4. Change position.
Listening back to the recordings I noticed there were about 5-10 different voices you could make out in the foreground against a wash of thousands of fans farther back. Searching for the right position on the field will make sure you don’t end up with one very annoying fan all the way through the recording.
Much thanks to Watson Wu! For more information from Watson check out his Facebook Page