Friday, 28 November 2008

Tone Generation

matrixsynth has posted a series of links to a series of .mp3's detailing the history of electronic music from around the globe.
There are 12 in total.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Pro-Audio videos

wire to the ear has put together a little round-up of 5 websites that offer online videos geared towards the audio industry.

keyboard mag
EQ mag
inside home recording

These are probably worth checking on a regular basis as they often have some very interesting videos.

Dead Space - Sound Design

original sound version has a good interview with the Audio Director repsonsible for the new Dead Space game. In the interview he discusses the approach his team took when designing the audio (sound design/effects and music) for the game.

He talks about how the original idea form the outset was to use the sound design to establish the mood of the game and not to have separate music and sound design tracks. He wanted the whole thing to be combined into a single unit that they could use as a textural device to support the ingame action and drama.

One of the most interesting things discussed is the use of "fear emitters"; these are attached to objects and enemies within the game and the players proximity to and the numebr of these emitters was used to control parameters of the audio. This meant that, just like in Horror movies, the audio team could produce a soundtrack that "builds up to the boo" and heighten the sense of suspense within the game. The musical soundtrack was also controlled by these "fear emitters" which allows the audio system to mix, in real time, the 4 stereo layered streams based on the level of fear at any given moment.
The team also created sounds that have no real source and are just there to make you look behind you and to scare you!


Following on from this article music4games has a brief artcile written by EA's Audio Director Don Veca which looks at the music within Dead Space. He touches on things covered in the previous article and exaplains a few more things as well.
"Linear media allows the composer the luxury of knowing precisely what is going to happen; for example, the film dictates when and how long – exactly – a musical build-up will take. This is not the case, however, for interactive media where the video game player determines how the scene plays out.

To build a run-time system to interactively simulate this linear technique, we had to stop thinking like musicians and start thinking like programmers:

1. The music builds because things are getting scarier;
2. Things are scarier because there is more fear;
3. Fear is caused by eminent danger;
4. Certain objects in the world are (seemingly) dangerous.
5. Ergo, find a way to attach a sense of danger (fear) to various objects in the game world.

It occurred to us that our games already had the ability to emit point-source effects such as sound and light, so all we needed was a way to emit fear. This was the birth of the Dead Space Fear Emitter, which is simply a first-class game object that designers can place in the world or attach to other objects, most notably, the enemy alien creatures"

There is also a pretty good summary of the process involved in creating the music for the game.
The composer originally produced the 'traditional' type of ingame music but the game's creators wanted something that produced more of a texture and was not so obviously melodic, so in a method similar to temp tracks within the film industry the game's creators took sections fo music from horror movies and put these to the game to test their engine. The composer then took these themes and wrote new parts which were more improvisational and tetural in nature.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Modulations - Book

I've just finished reading this book - Modulations: A history of electronic music; throbbing words on sound.
It's a collection of discussions on various genres of electronic music collated and edited by Peter Shapiro.
- Pioneers
- Krautrock
- Disco & Post Punk
- House
- Hip-Hop
- Techno
- Jungle
- Ambient
- Downtempo
- Technology

Each section covers the genre in great detail and discusses the main players and some of the key releases.

One of the reviews on the back of the book pretty much sums the book up:
"A primer for the uninitiated and comprehensive history for the obsessive."

Heartily recommended!

Monday, 17 November 2008

spring reverb

audio cookbook has posted a short sample of an experiment they conducted using just an old amplifier with a built in spring reverb.
All they did was turn up the gain and knock the amp about a little bit.

It produces some pretty cool 'industrial' sounds that could be used as sound effects in a number of different projects - but would sound good in a sound for film project.
Obviously if you're using a borrowed amp then be a little careful about how much you bang it about.

click to hear the mp3

creating a background drone sound

audiotuts has a tutorial on designing an ambient/background drone sound suitable for use in a film's soundtrack - especially if you're working on a sci-fi or horror style film.
It involves taking a constant 'musical' sound such as a flute note and then combining this with modulation based effects, pitch shifting and some convolution reverb (the key here is the source sample of your convolution, the tutorial uses a growl sound).

Worth a quick look.

Sharing audio files across different DAW's

Electronic Musician has an article describing how to ensure that you can confidently share audio files on different DAW systems when working on a project collaboratively.
The article focuses on using Digital Performer to import the files, but the principles are the same for any DAW - you just need to find the correct menu/commands.

Basically, you have 2 main options.
1. you can create files which all start at 00:00:00 even if there's no audio all the way through using some form of "merge" command (DP parlance).
2. you can record your files using a format like Broadcast Wave which automatically timestamps your files with their start and end points. when these are imported into your DAW you can then simply instruct the software to align the files with their correct start times.

Markers in Logic

Here's a little video via audiotuts showing how to set up Markers within Logic.

Logic Pro: Markers from Elizabeth A. on Vimeo.

Tempo Tracks in Cubase 4

Audiotuts has a nice little tutorial on using hitpoints and marker tracks within Cubase 4 to create a changing tempo track. This is useful as it allows you to set up a tempo track that goes through multiple tempo changes over the course of a project. The use of hitpoints means you can 'sync up' these tempo changes to an existing piece of audio.
Could be useful for setting up a project for sound for film in which you would be likely to have varying tempos within your project.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Brief interview with Ben Burtt

pixar planet has a brief Q&A session with Ben Burtt, the sound designer on Wall-E.

In it he discusseshow he goes about creating voices for creatures and robots. He explains that voices are one of the hardest sounds to create as they have to be both intelligible and realistic for the creature/machine that's producing the sound. He finds that sounds that contain a human element and an electronic element work best.
He likens this to the creation of "ordinary" sounds for sci-fi films. He says that when you're trying to create the sound for a futuristic object that doesn't actually exist then it often pays to try and use a real-world sound as the basis as this will enable people to connect with the sound and make it more believable.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Visual Synthesis

via matrixsynth.

Here's a really good video that takes you through the basic waveforms available on a synth using both audio and visual media. It's useful as you get to see and hear the differences in the harmonic content of the waveforms. The video also gives a brief overview of the effect of filtering on the audio spectrum.

Visual Synthesis 1 from GM on Vimeo.