Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account


Member Since 22 Feb 2006
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 04:31 PM

#4999928 Sound Editing and dubbing for games

Posted by nsmadsen on 11 November 2012 - 09:26 AM

Top of the game: ProTools 10. Should go for about 700 USD if I'm not mistaken. This is a hollywood-level solution.
But you can do wonders with Adobe Audition CS6 or Nuendo 5.5 as well, which are about half that price.

Uh... Nuendo is a great deal more than $700. You can usually pick that up for about $1,700 or so but it's MSRP is around $2,400. http://www.sweetwate...detail/Nuendo5/ Perhaps you're mistaking Pro Tools HD versions, which can go up to $20K depending on the card set up you use.

Have you done sound editing before? I'm just asking because it seems like you are about to go on this task yourself and sound design is a very specific area and requires a lot of skill and experience.

Agreed! It sounds like you've either never done audio production or had very limited experience in it. I'm all for folks learning new skills but if you're looking for high quality audio for good bang for the buck (and at a faster turn around) then I'd highly suggest two options:

1) Hire a sound guy on here. Odds are you'll find someone who would cost about the same as it would cost you to purchase the software and the gear to record your source files (if you're making these from scratch).

2) Purchase royalty free sound effects from sites like http://www.soundrangers.com/ or http://www.sounddogs.com/.

You could even do both and have someone more experienced in audio do the complex sounds while you handle the simple sounds (like a button UI click) via the a la carte method. Of course if you're looking to create a game 100% by yourself, then that's understandable (and admirable). It really depends on what your goals and intentions are with this project.

Hope that helps!


#4999441 Sound Editing and dubbing for games

Posted by nsmadsen on 09 November 2012 - 03:56 PM

Are you on PC or a Mac? Do you want the "best" or are you looking for cheap? Are you looking to edit one audio file at a time or wanting to build multi-layered sounds? Do you want these sounds to be organic and realistic or are you wanting more specialized sound design?

#4998965 Rates: A Habit of Underpricing

Posted by nsmadsen on 08 November 2012 - 12:32 PM

First off, thanks for the kind words on my work! Appreciate it!

There is no set, standard rate across the entire industry but there are norms or trends. I've heard the "common" rate for exclusive rights can be as high as $1,000 - $1,250 per minute of music composed. I've even heard as high as $2,500. But for "normal" indie budgets this can quickly exceed what's realistic. So you have to focus on the average price point of the end product. A typical iPhone app isn't going to have the same price point as a PS3 title. This is why it gets tricky when discussing standard rates... plus, to my knowledge there's no mass email or publication going out to (non-union) composers saying "okay, now X is the new set rate." At least not yet.

It's hard to say what the average indie game producer(s) can pay these days because that label encompasses a much larger range of folks and projects. Before the app store and such, most indie game producers were smaller, non-major companies that still had a decent amount of dough. These days an indie game producer could be a programmer in a basement who pays the $100 dev fee to Apple and uploads his game.

in short - I've charged more than $600/min and I've charged a whole lot less. Many of the factors already discussed in this thread would explain why. Posted Image

Here's the contact page if you still need to speak to someone directly on staff about the Marketplace: http://www.gamedev.n...ut/contact.html

#4998103 ***READ THIS FIRST YO!*** Forum rules

Posted by nsmadsen on 06 November 2012 - 11:13 AM

Far be it from the newbie to suggest this, but as the Music and Sound forum is almost half locked classified ads, perhaps something stricter would help? Or perhaps just deleting the post and sending the user a private message to save space?

Your opinions and feedback are always welcomed! I'm choosing to keep them on the board because:

- some potential posters can read these closed posts and see that it's not the right spot. I do have some PM chats with posters when they have specific questions but leave the closed post public so others can (hopefully) see how the forum is moderated.
- there's still not enough traffic to really warrant keeping the board even more clean. Once traffic increases, I'll adapt my approach. But as such, I think we have plenty of space right now.

Thanks for your input!


#4997021 ***READ THIS FIRST YO!*** Forum rules

Posted by nsmadsen on 03 November 2012 - 06:05 PM

Done and done.

#4995897 Non Disclosure Agreement

Posted by nsmadsen on 31 October 2012 - 11:49 AM

Guys - I don't mind this discussion as it's still on topic. So no worries about being off topic, because you're not. Posted Image

First of all, nobody forces you to make all your content public. Just say "hey, I'm making this <short description> game, contact me if you're interested", you don't need an nda to do that.

Agreed. Too often teams/managers get excited or to eager to fill out documents instead of taking time to evaluate potential audio vendors with vague info. The initial evaluation should be focused on if my audio content/talents fit your needs, am I available and do the numbers work out for both parties. More specific, sensitive info can be shared later, once a vendor is selected and on board.

- Of course the nda is mainly about that person then revealing all of the content. Fortunately, our brains are quite capable of evaluating whom we can trust. If the other one is someone trustworthy, you can simply ask them to please not reveal anything and they most likely won't. If on the other hand the other one is someone out to screw you, they will do so with or without an nda, there's always a way.

Hmmm, not so much. Without an NDA it makes it harder to show a clear case of violating trust. For example if I over hear someone in a public place talking about a cool game project and I blog about this new, neat idea - have I violated that person's trust? I say no because the discussion was held in public, without any documentation and no shared expectation of privacy. Just asking someone to keep a secret often doesn't pan out and is poor business.

- The above is even more true considering that an nda is nothing but a piece of paper with a little bit of ink applied if you're not willing or able to enforce it. If someone actually breaks the nda, it will cost time, energy and money to actually hold them accountable for that. Even if you are willing to move time and energy from the gamedevelopment to the courtroom, being an indie-team, you most likely won't have the funding to pay a lawyer.

Could be but just because funds or available interest/time may be low, are you actually advocating indie projects simply ignore the common business practices and standards? That hardly seems appropriate. I agree with your first point regarding the timing but I disagree with your later points.

- "But what if someone steals my idea?". That is certainly the most-asked question in this context. And even though it's been said countless times, let's repeat once again: ideas are cheap. They're a dime a dozen and anyone working in gamedevelopment has more ideas in their head than they'll ever be able to produce. What makes a good game is the execution, not the initial idea. The only reason someone in indie would prefer to steal your idea instead of working together or making one of his own, is that they don't have any. But if that is the case, they'll hardly be capable of making that idea into a game any better or faster than you.

True, implementation is what maters but surely even you can agree having all of the legal documents in hand can make it much easier to prove malice/copying/cheating happened. Also the stronger the case, the easier it is to settle and not end up going to court in the first place. I'm not a lawyer but I've heard the amount/type of damages that can be sought change with what kind of documentation and set up is in place.

- The other main reason for NDAs is marketing. The trick with mystery-marketing however is that, while no one knows what the answer is, everyone knows that there is a 'mystery' (in this case, the content). The big industry can pull that off pretty easily, they can just push content into the media until everybody is sure to have heard about that at some point. Indie teams on the other hand do not have the budget for that and mainly rely on word of mouth advertisement, and it's just really hard to get people to say "I've seen this cool upcoming game. I've never heard of the guys who make it and I don't really know what it's about, but you should definitely check it out." Maybe there are examples where it worked and it would be great to hear of them, but most of the time, indie-gaming is still too small and at least I wouldn't know of any cases where that really worked on a large scale.

Wrong. An NDA is a mutually binding agreement where we can evaluate and "audition" each other. For example the NDAs that I sign state that I'll not release sensitive info on the company and it's project and they'll not release my info such as rates, test pieces I may have provided or other nonpublic materials I provided so they could help evalute me. Every NDA I've signed remained private and I never once say the company use my NDA as marketing. In fact for months and months no public discussion whatsoever took place. It wasn't until the project reached a certain maturity that marketing started putting out teasers and such - and that was related to marketing and PR not NDAs.

- Methods and standards have evolved in game design and continue to do so, but in it's core, it is a creative process. And like any creative process, it relies heavily on the dynamic within the team and the motivation of the individual members (even if money keeps them working, motivation is what produces quality). NDAs damage these dynamics by introducing yourself with two basic premises: Even though you might make a 180°-turn from outside the team to inside, the very first connection between the team members on which anything else is built will be distrust. Secondly, even before the new guy is joining, you define an unhealthy hierarchy: You are the boss and you alone decide the rules under which one might work with you. While I certainly don't say there shouldn't be any hierarchy at all, the role of the team leader should be a supporting one, not the bad boss that want's to control everything.

Interesting take but, again, I find fault with your logic. First off ANY job requires you agree not to share company secrets. This applies to jobs in and outside of the game dev industry. Secondly every single job I've taken on had a boss. Zero jobs have hired me on without at least one person to report to, who holds me accountable. Also having a clear hierarchy can help creativity instead of hurting it. I've been on teams where there wasn't a defined vision and there was weak leadership. That project ended up missing deadlines, lacked a coherent vision and morale fell drastically. This didn't help creativity, it hinder and blocked it. Folks often do best when there is a clear vision, a defined leader (or leaders) and a set standard.

While there might not be many that are higly opposed against ndas in indie-teams, the simple fact that they have to make quite an effort to only view the most basic content of the game and thus even consider joining the project is a huge inconvenience for many people when looking for a team. The result is that quite a few of them simply won't and stick with a project that tell's them what they're up to from the beginning instead, resulting in fewer that are even contacting you. Those that do contact you are then likely to contact the other teams with ndas as well, resulting in them having lot's of options which project to join. All in all, it will result in you having a much harder time finding members than you would have had otherwise.

I've never experienced this as both and employee or a freelancer.

- As Katz already said, this will also take away the exchange with other developers and the community. While many might do well enough without input from other developers, a quick glance at the gamedesign forum shows that most of the people that ask for advice there get tons of ideas they wouldn't have ever thought about on their own. Even more important might be that this doesn't apply to design-questions only, but also to tech-questions. So especially if someone on the team is inexperienced or trying out something new, they won't be able to ask "I'm trying to <do this>, how do I accomplish that?", making work much harder for them and lowering the quality of the product.

There are many interviews, articles and guides (often as post mortems) that show the good, bad and ugly behind a project's development. The only trick is they're often after the game is out... which makes sense because during development the team is too busy and still figuring stuff out. Also there are many ways to discuss problems and their solutions without violating NDA. I do it all of the time on here. It could just be me but I do not find NDAs a hinderence or harmful factor to the industry. In fact, I would encourage more people to behave like professionals so we have fewer clients expeceting free-yet-Hollywood-quality audio for their games. It would also help deter people stealing audio work or flaking out on their committments to the folks they hire for their indie projects.

- Finally, a game idea evolves and changes heavily during production. While it's always good to have a design document, an nda requires you to have a very detailed one so that as many of your ideas as possible are covered by the nda, and then reinforces the notion that those ideas are "worth protecting". This leads to a very static design process, where many deferring roads remain unexplored and lots of potential goes unused.

I'm not sure what NDAs you're signing or talking about but every NDA I've signed had a blacket clause that covered project X as well as a time frame. That allowed the game (and it's design) to change as needed.



#4995554 Non Disclosure Agreement

Posted by nsmadsen on 30 October 2012 - 02:13 PM

What Moritz said. It's because the client needs to be able to serve you papers if you ever broke the NDA or any other contract you had with him. You cannot serve a PO box, for example, so on all of my contracts I have my clients list their full address, no PO boxes accepted, and I provide mine as well. You should also take note of any localization clauses. For example I have a contract that states if any legal issues should pop up then the state of California's laws and policies regarding such matters would be followed, regardless that I'm not in that state.

#4994128 Rates: A Habit of Underpricing

Posted by nsmadsen on 26 October 2012 - 07:11 AM

Yep. Unfortunately some folks don't do much research before jumping in and trying to hire freelancers. Perhaps this guy felt he was offering 25X what iTunes charges for a song and is confusing the whole licensing for use vs. licensing for listening element.

#4994117 Rates: A Habit of Underpricing

Posted by nsmadsen on 26 October 2012 - 06:19 AM

What qualities in a composer (and their music), can lead to an acceptable rate of music as high as $600/ per minute, and what aspects of a composer and their ability would lead you to persuade a composer to possibly lower their prices? Or is it all based on personal preference and what developer is willing to negotiate and work with you?

I wanted to address this point specifically.

Charles Deenen, the audio director for EA Blackbox for a good long while, once said that he'd gladly pay tens of thousands of dollars more to have a guy he knows and trusts do the job over someone he doesn't. Consider the client's task list, especially the large ones, and you'll quickly realize most of these folks want to hire someone they know will deliver on time, on budget and on the mark. If one of these top tier guys has to spend time going back and forth with a composer, it takes time away from other tasks. It might even make them miss their own deadlines if they have to invest too much time and attention on someone not getting the job done.

Of course, this is for top tier projects and more "indie" projects don't have the same level of expectation and stress (usually!!!Posted Image). Remember so much more goes into being a successful, sought after audio dude than just making good audio. A short list would be:

- understand current tech tricks/limitations (really helpful when talking with other depts)
- be an excellent communicator (especially for interacting with those who know little to nothing about music but have to sign off on content)
- be able to hit deadlines without fail
- be a pleasure to work with
- be a solid networker

If you're freelancing then you can also add:

- finding work
- read/write and negoitate contracts
- accounting (creating invoices, collecting monies owed, budgeting for your personal and business needs, etc)
- develop sound business/marketing plans to grow your business

Too often some just focus on if the music is good enough and forget all of the rest. Best of luck to you!


#4994114 Rates: A Habit of Underpricing

Posted by nsmadsen on 26 October 2012 - 06:11 AM

I literally just had an email conversation about this very topic! This person's email asked how much to charge and my answer is below:

You've asked a pretty tough question because so much goes into it, which I'll try to explain below:

- Part of it relies on how much cash the client has to pay. It doesn't make much sense to charge them $500,000 if they can only spend $1,000.

- Part of it relies on how much money you need to make right now. If this is your side gig and you're not relying on this money to pay bills and feed yourself, then you have more flexibility. Take a look at your personal and business finances and scope out how much you'd need to make all of your needs as well as some of your wants. (After all... nobody wants to just scrape by!)

- Another factor is credentials, as you get more stature you can charge more.

- The terms presented are another element. For example a client needing music tomorrow is going to pay more than another client not needing music for 3 months from now. What kind of rights are required? Do they require live musicians or are virtual ones okay?

- Finally what you can charge and still feel good about the situation. You never want to end up working in a situation where you feel like you're being ripped off. Trust me, I've been in those and your inspiration, motivation and energy take a direct hit.

There is no set figure. Reality check: the client is usually trying to figure out what's the lowest figure you're willing to work for and you're trying to figure out what's the highest rate they'd be willing to pay. It can be an interesting game of cat and mouse sometimes. What I do each year is establish my "normal" rates based on what I *think* the market will handle. From there I treat each client as a individual case with it's own unique situation and needs. There's a real balance because you don't want to come off super desperate but you do want to come off as accommodating. Having said all of that, you'll find clients that will want unrealistic or unreasonable terms and it's more than okay to simply say no. It's alright to politely refuse and walk away.

Perfect example, I had a client that wanted a 3 minute song, at exclusive rights, within 4 days and wanted to pay me $25 for it. When I refused he upped the offer to $35. I explained to him, politely, that the rate he was willing to pay was drastically below what I could afford to take on at the time and wished him the best of luck on his project.
Starting out can be hard but don't let your desire for projects and need for cash make you sign on to situations that make you feel uncomfortable or negative.

Hope that helps,


#4992940 Recommended VST/Sample Library

Posted by nsmadsen on 22 October 2012 - 05:17 PM

I've used quite a bit of the EW stuff in the past and found PLAY to be pretty stable on the Mac. The only issue I've had is typing while loading up a session and accidentally deleting whatever instrument was picked. This is because, unlike other samplers, PLAY jumps to the front when loading a patch and recognizes any keystrokes if you're typing. Highly annoying.

But crashing and stability issues almost never happen for me with PLAY. Getting multiple libraries is often not possible so you'd most likely have to do it one or two at a time but I agree with the other posts, each brings something good to the table.

#4991781 Cattle Calls

Posted by nsmadsen on 19 October 2012 - 08:09 AM

Hey everyone,

Here are a few helpful (hopefully!!) tips regarding cattle calls, but first let's make sure everyone understands what a cattle call is: It's when a project offers up an open ended invitation to have everyone compose for their project and then they pick the selection(s) they like. There are more cons than pros, in my opinion and I'll briefly outline them all below:

The pros:

- you can get your music placed in the game, although it could be a long shot.

- you can potentially get heard by new clients and create a new working relationship.

The cons:

- it puts all of the work/effort on the composer/sound designer.

- it strips out the negoitation process, instead you have to sign on to their terms regardless if they're reasonable or not.

- the odds are you'll be creating work that will not be used. This is especially true if it's a higher tier project as music libraries literally have thousands of cues they can submit. It's very easy to get lost in the shuffle.

- it perpetuates the notion that a composer/sound designer's time isn't worth anything, only the content.

- it removes any collaboration between the client and the audio provider. Instead the client just browses through the files and picks what they want. Personally, I love game development because of the team effort across all disciplines.

Some tips:

- if you have some pre-existing music that is available for non-exclusive licensing, then it might not be a bad thing. After all many of us submit cues to placement libraries.

- ALWAYS read the terms very closely. I remember a cattle call by the WB not too long ago where the terms listed that ALL submissions would be owned by WB regardless if they were picked or not. That's really not cool. In that case, cues not selected would basically be free music for WB. In some cases "cash prizes" for selected cues may only be paid out after (or if) the project reaches a certain revenue goal. In other words there's a chance a winning cue might not even get paid if the project sells poorly.

- consider the situation. If you're up for a shot at composing the next Star Wars thing, then it could be an awesome chance! But if this is a small company that you're never heard of, then it could just be a lazy developer. Remember to always look at the terms offered and decide if the property, client and rates are worth it enough. Remember that for all of your work, time and passion, you could walk away with nothing.

The ideal situation:

In a perfect world a client would seek out several composers/sound designers who's work inspires them. This client would then chat with each potential audio dude and see if the timing, content and budget works for both sides. They'd then pick who they want to work with, draw up a contract and work begins. During production the client and audio folk(s) would work closely together to keep everything on budget, schedule as well as on the mark.

Cattle calls are not this kind of situation for all of the reasons listed above. It takes all of the work/effort and places it on the composer while putting all of the power (regarding time frame, rates paid, usage) and puts it in the hands of the client. Instead of a negoitation and a mutual understanding, the audio folks are forced into these terms if they want to take part. My advice would be to practice extreme caution when you see one of these things.

Hope that helps,


#4991413 I want to know if you think I can make it as a VG composer.

Posted by nsmadsen on 18 October 2012 - 06:54 AM

it's the networking side of it that really scares me. You know what they say. You have to know somebody that knows somebody. Any advice?

Take time to develop your craft and let it speak for itself. This comes with time and tons of hard work. When networking just be yourself, don't try to inflate your credentials or change who you are. Try to connect with people first and let the career objectives/goals/angles come secondary. In other words don't make your interactions solely about how someone should hire you. That gets boring and stale super fast. Instead talk about common interests: food, games, books, art, sports, beer, etc.

#4991409 Is my music on par?

Posted by nsmadsen on 18 October 2012 - 06:37 AM

The best way to see if your music is up to par is to do an A/B comparison. Take several tracks which you wish to emulate, which you admire and then toggle playback between the those tracks and your own.

I listened to In the Shadows theme and the pounding drum beat got really annoying after a while. I appreciate what you're going after but make it evolve a bit more. Making music is just like cooking - you don't want to use too much of one flavor or seasoning. Instead you need balance. Go through your tracks and take note of what you're offering the listener. Is it too much? Too little? Etc.

Also if you use Reason - consider investing in some refills. Many are not badly priced and can really help! That and stronger production techniques (i.e. panning, reverb, velocity and modulation editing) could really help bring more depth to your productions.

Best of luck!


#4991094 Mechlab Theme

Posted by nsmadsen on 17 October 2012 - 06:10 AM

Hey guys! Thanks for such positive feedback!

edit: is about 1:30 a pretty common length you shoot for or did it just turn out that way? Any comments on lengths of loops?

In my experience two things most often impact song length: tech limitations and budget constraints. A third factor can be context. In the case of the Mechlab Theme, I think all three played a part. Most of the time clients want to save the big, more complex cues for more meaningful parts of the game. The menu screens are often viewed as lower priority or filler. Many clients want something to fill that space, fit that mood/visual but don't want to give heavy budget and tech resources to that part of the game. They'll save that for pivotal points in the game or climatic endings/etc.

Of course it's a case by case scenario, but for mobile games often 60-90 second loops work best. Some games may have a longer cue if that was the only music for the entire game. One of the first things I discuss with clients is the overall arch of the game and how they want to spread out the music cues.

So, how do you go about composing and getting the parts into the editor? I've realized I don't have the keyboard skills to use a MIDI controller on some of the parts I write, so I score out the MIDI in a separate program (Guitar Pro) and then export it into Reason. Do you play your parts, or is there a way to edit them in the programs that you use?

I play them all in because that method feels the most organic and effective to me. Being a pianist, it's easier for me to simply play the ideas directly into the session instead of using the ol' mouse point-n-click method. If needed, I'll open up the notation or piano roll view to see what I've played while creating new layers but most of the time I just rely on my ears. Then if any editing is needed, mainly related to velocity and modulation settings, I'll do that in the piano roll view.