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Member Since 25 Jul 2002
Offline Last Active Dec 18 2014 04:02 PM

#5193491 How do you learn to compose different genres?

Posted by GroovyOne on 18 November 2014 - 01:12 PM

I usually try to start with the right sound.


If I can make the mix and instruments sound the right way, I find that the music becomes more fluid and easier to pick out that starting musical thread. 


I do a lot of active listening by studying musical and mixing idiosyncracies that make up a particular style of the pieces I use as reference. I also play around a lot with different styles.


It's a time investment - the more you do this, the easier it becomes.

#5192129 Platform Specific Loudness Standards?

Posted by GroovyOne on 10 November 2014 - 02:41 PM

The talk in the industry is developers adopting the EBU-1770 set of standards as a general rule for console / pc games.


http://designingsound.org/2013/02/loudness-in-game-audio is a great article about this topic.


However, I've found that mixing for a game is really dependant upon the game. A lot of handheld titles have to stand up to players playing them without headphones - so that can affect frequency choices and mix volumes of sounds. 



#5191429 "Breaking into" the industry - questions

Posted by GroovyOne on 05 November 2014 - 05:03 PM


Basically to be blunt, you need to discover what makes your music yours.
I think this is incredibly overrated. Alan Menken composes a whole lot of pastiche, but there is still a level to his compositions and understanding of drama that sets him worlds apart from most contemporary composers. If you look at success stories of composers, it usually comes down to contacts or simply luck. It's easy to think finding your own unique style will help you stand out from the crowd. It sounds plausible. But if you consider tens of thousands of composers all trying to stand out with their own unique style, standing out with your own style isn't very probable.



Perhaps so,  I'm only speaking from personal experience and 11 years of discussions at GDC what audio directors are looking for from composers. As an audio director myself who hires and manages composers when the team sits down to review composer demos we find there is a lot of generic sounding music out there.  Then speaking as a freelance composer too, this is where I get majority of my work from, standing out as having a very strong musical identity it has allowed me to work as a composer in the game industry for over 10 years and hired by industry leaders to help brand their launch titles.


Working with indie / casual developers has a lot more flexibility and is more about who you know these days as far as finding and holding down work. 





That said, honing your craft is very important, and your style will evolve naturally with you through your techniques and even the "mistakes" that you do. But I don't believe in finding your own style for the sake of finding your own style; if you do that, you will only limit yourself to this style.


That is true, honing your craft is very important and is one of the tools of developing your style. Setting yourself apart by developing your orchestration, mixing and musical idiosyncracies in whatever genre you play with is something you should strive for and this is what I refer to as finding your own style. It's a long explorative process.




I had always thought I could take most any style/genre, and with some research, make a passable imitation of it for a client.


If a client came to me asking for something I'm not good or experienced in, like hip hop/rap, then I'd refer them to someone who I feel could match their needs. One of the biggest mistakes I see young(er) composers make is try to write/produce every single kind of style/genre out there. Know your limits. Continue to keep learning and stretching yes, but realize and captalize on your strengths.



Nathan is right there, I am also pretty broad in my repetoire, but when it comes to something I feel can be written better by another composer who is more adept then it is professionally ethical to refer. As you stretch and learn and practice various styles, you can learn to produce them and give them your own sound. I mean this is what music production is all about in the commercial world.

#5191287 "Breaking into" the industry - questions

Posted by GroovyOne on 05 November 2014 - 03:44 AM

Hi Vincent,


Your work is well constructed musically, but orchestrally and identifiably weak. Basically to be blunt, you need to discover what makes your music yours. This is where I was over 10 years ago, and I dove into myself and tried to figure out what would make my music stand out from the crowd. The problem these days is a lot of people have access to good music software, equipment and libraries. So it's easy to make music. The problem is making your music stick out and grab someone who is looking for a composer to give their game identity.


This being said, your music would totally fit in the casual market. Your production values and sonic / stylistic pallette could be honed more for larger commercial projects.


What I ended up doing when I hit this limit with my own skills was to concentate heavily on one genre of music and really pick it apart so I could recreate it in my own style. 


Yes, it is hard to find a project, but you could also find game play video and re-score various games with your music as an example. It's a humbling experience to say the least. What games do you like to play? Perhaps pick one to try to score. Start small, try writing a title and background track for an existing iOS game or something.


Also, I'd suggest finding some local indie game developers and try to find a project to get involved on. Like you said, there's nothing like a real project to get the creative juices flowing.

#5125490 Distorted sounds on phone speakers

Posted by GroovyOne on 21 January 2014 - 03:40 PM

You're learning one of the things that you'll need to figure out working on handheld devices. How to sound design and mix for small speakers.


EQing non-functional frequencies out like you're doing is a good start.


Choice of the timbre of a sound and how it reacts on a small speaker is also another design decision. How to make low sounds sound low without those bottom frequencies to give feedback.


Controlling your individual sfx and music dynamics is important too.


Mixing - sounds mix differently on a small speaker so your mixing out of your monitors won't work unless you know what you're looking for in the mix. Best choice is to transfer your sounds and a fake mix onto the device and adjust as necessary.

#5076714 Is it the Warrior, or their Weapon?

Posted by GroovyOne on 10 July 2013 - 03:46 PM

I've been composing for almost 3 decades!, hell, I'm still learning new stuff almost every day. That's what being creative is, figuring out how to make your craft as best you can. The more you do, the more you learn. 


 All the areas you can improve on if you're not progressing in any other one area for some reason is.


1. Melodically

2. Harmonically

3. Tonally 

4. Texture

5. Style

6. Programming

7. Orchestration

8. Mixing

9. Mastering

10. Implementation

11. Musical Analysis

12. Mimicking 

13. Remixing

14. Recording

15. Directing

16. Performing


It's a little like an RPG game, you need to level up all your musical skills to obtain "Epic Composer" title.


I've made music with not very professional sounding sounds to begin with, but knowing how to polish them up to sound good and use them in a mix will instantly increase your quality meta score.


I recently used really old instrument samples taken from all sorts of old equipment back in the day of  SNES, N64, Dreamcast but preformed quite a bit of sound design and mastering on them to make them sound shiny and modern to give the game a retro throwback but with better production.

#5071157 Sound Efx Designer - new to forums

Posted by GroovyOne on 19 June 2013 - 09:53 AM

1st Video - FPS

. Gun sounds don't match the environment - I hear gun handling sounds at 48sec recorded in a room but being used outside - my immersion is removed. Better to record your sounds under the cover of a heavy duvet, or in a closet lined with pillows and blankets to get a more dry sound.

. Felt the gun sounds lacked guts, they're not bad, but could be a lot better - a little more bottom end and definition. The first one felt more like a starter pistol - guns need to sound satisfying to use.

. Monsters - yeah these things can be difficult to get right - concentrate more on the sound design of the monsters, layer snarls, wet mouth sounds together with growls to create these. Single sounds feel fake and don't provoke any sort of fear. Sound is your instrument to convey emotion. Part of the satisfaction of killing a monster is how scary it sounds and the death throes after its had its killing blow.

. Ambiance felt lacking of emotion it could have conveyed fear or anxiety more with more spot fx and tone.


2nd Video - Fantasy

. The music set the mood nicely, though it wasn't highly memorable, more attention to melody would be nice.

. It's hard to showcase sound design and music together if the music level is louder, in this example I felt like the music was the main focus. Try changing your mixing so the music supports the scene rather than dominates it.

. Sounds themselves were suitable but didn't shine in any particular way. I liked the sound design on the electricity shimmers at the beginning and the shimmer of the girl turning to dust at the end.


Hope this helps.

#5064364 Creating SFX

Posted by GroovyOne on 23 May 2013 - 11:24 PM

Think of microphones like camera lenses.

Answer is yes and depends on the level and quality of your production and your audio skills.

Good general microphone that isn't too expensive second hand could be something like a Sennheiser MkH-416 which can be found for $450 - $600 - they are fairly directional so good for focusing on directly what is in front of the mic cutting out side noise like a telephoto lens. We've used this particular mic for doing a lot of voice over where the room changes where you're recording. They usually require recording equipment or a external sound card that can provide power.

Microphones can be grouped into large and small diaphragm (size of pickup on the microphone) - larger usually are used for Voice as they capture all the tones and harmonics of a voice up close.

You can research what other people have bought when starting out recording their own sounds. Building a microphone kit takes time and practice. It's sometimes cheaper to rent one for a specific task rather than own a whole lot of them.

Most people start off with a portable recorder like a Zoom H4n or a Sony PCM-D50 with a wind shield and hand held pistol grip / windjammer kit (like the ones sold by Rycote). Usually require a quiet room, or some sort of noise blocking setup as they are general use. I've recorded sfx in a closet padded with a feather duvet and pillows to create a quiet space. I've recorded voice over for games this way too.

#5059940 When does the failure end?

Posted by GroovyOne on 07 May 2013 - 02:37 AM

The problem these days is that every man and his dog wants to work in games. So many new faces flood the job market every day. Sound is one of the smaller areas of game development and one sound designer may work on multiple titles. Not only are you competing against other people trying to break into games both fresh, and from other industries like film, but experienced people within the industry from studio closures, and people striking out to freelance.


There will always be failure but dedication and patience, improving your marketability by getting works experience like you are doing on indie projects is a very important step.


Even experienced professionals miss out on jobs. There's a certain demand and an oversupply so you're not going to land every job you apply for. Learning implementation tools like wwise and fmod will help your marketability as well as scripting knowledge, and anything else you could possibly learn about the audio side of games.


Luckily there's this little revolution right now called indie dev and casual titles which is booming. May not all be paid work, but new games are being made every day so there's always the chance to get on a project and learn.

#4925597 is my composer good?

Posted by GroovyOne on 27 March 2012 - 03:02 AM

his is my current composers youtube. I think that he is good but i need to see what you think.

Ask the question in a different way - for your project is his music suitable and does it fit well with what you're trying to convey to the player?