Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
nsmadsen

Starting your career as a composer-sound designer (FAQ and answers)

58 posts in this topic

You're in Denver? So am I! We should have coffee and talk shop.

Thanks for your input and support of this post.

Cheers,

Nathan
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Indeed! I just moved my studio into the giant red castle at 30th/Vallejo. Can't miss it from anywhere downtown. looking forward to meeting

cheers,
Ben
www.noisebuffet.com
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hahah, I forgot, I know both of you--I should've introduced you two or something, hahaha.

Nathan, you should come to the Colorado IGDA Chapter meetings sometimes.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Temporarily removed for reasons I'll explain in a bit. Trust me on this. :)

[Edited by - nsmadsen on November 14, 2008 11:12:13 PM]
-1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Edit: Temporarily removed for reasons I'll explain in a bit. Trust me on this. :)

[Edited by - nsmadsen on November 14, 2008 11:39:44 PM]
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here's a good follow up question:

Quote:
I checked your demoreel. Generally, it is around -6db, and its sound quality and loudness dont decrease at stereo system. Did you use hardware to get the sound for that or other processing methods? Recently, I have this problem... even though my songs mixes are good, mastering is a hassle.


Hey,

I worked on each song at different times, then when I wanted to create a new, updated demo reel I put all of the songs in one session. Then I checked the balance from tune to tune making sure nothing was too drastically different volume-wise. Then I selected the segments I wanted to feature, cued up the cross fades and presto!

Mixing can be tricky but I don't rely too much on plug-ins for that. I find too many folks simply use various plug-ins (or presets of plug-ins) instead of using the most important tool: your ears. I just listen on a variety of speaker set ups and really try to make the sound as clear as possible.

Thanks!

Nathan

[Edited by - nsmadsen on October 14, 2008 7:26:41 AM]
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:

I would like to ask during what conditions the game industry guys are listening to the reels? Are they sitting by the computer with small nasty speakers, or in a conference room with a nice speaker system?


This is a great question!

Unfortunately the listener usually has way too much power over what the audio set up is like. So you can never really ensure a perfect listening session 100% of the time. Even with nice speakers and a quiet room, some folks may choose to have the sub turned to 11 which would effectively change the overall mix and delivery of your audio.

Some of this you have to just accept since almost every stereo system available today has some kind of EQ interface set up. Some of this you can prepare for. When I'm creating new audio I listen to it on a variety of set ups. The initial set up I use is my studio one. This is the highest quality in a nice, quiet room. I have the EQ set to normal and speakers set up correctly. Here's where the creation happens and this is where you need to have the highest quality speakers and equipment you can afford. From there I test the audio on:

*my iPod

*my laptop

*my car

*other stereo systems

*other computers

Testing on other computers is especially vital if you're making video game content. The trick to all of this is two fold:

1) Realize that each set up is going to change your sound somewhat. Nearly nothing sounds as pristine and good on laptop speakers vs. studio monitors. They just don't. Laptop speakers are generally too narrow in output and quality.

2) Instead of trying to make the audio sound perfect on each and every device you test, try to reach a good average. Understand how each system is going to limit certain things about your audio output, and focus on what is maintained. Try to make your audio sound decent to good on crappy set ups and very good on high quality set ups.

After testing on a bunch of set ups, make any changes that are needed and then put it out there.

As far as how folks are listening in the game industry: it varies greatly. When I was back at FUNimation, we were listening on mid-range speakers attached to a computer. They were decent speakers and got the job done. If it was specifically an audio based demo, we'd sometimes go into my office and use my equipment to listen. Sometimes not. In my current job, I listen to all audio-based portfolios in my studio. From there, I select the ones that I feel make the cut and then pass them off to my management for further review. From there some use headphones, others use conference rooms set ups. It just varies person to person and day to day.

Finally, I believe that good musical writing or good sound design creation will come out even on bad speaker set ups. Is the sound somewhat inhibited? Sure. But if you have a great demo reel that has variety and solid content- that will show through. Another thing to consider: if someone has their stereo set up all messed up, then they're hearing ALL of their audio output that way. Maybe they prefer nothing but bass. Maybe they like hearing only the highs and none of the mids or lows. :) Rest assured, none of the audio folks I've known or work with are like this. Now other depts (like HR, art or programming) are another story sometimes!

I hope that helps!

Nathan
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:

How do current video games support 5.1 surround sound?


It really depends on the audio engine being used. Open AL simulated 5.1 surround sound but all assets created for it (at least with the project I was on) was in either mono or stereo. Mono was used for objects that would be rendered in 3D while stereo was used for assets that wouldn't be rendered in 3D (like music and certain other assets).

Other audio engines, like Fmod and Miles, do support 5.1 surround mixing.

Quote:

How do you mix in 5.1 surround sound for a video game?


Okay, so how do I mix in 5.1 surround?

It's pretty close to mixing in stereo with a few exceptions.

You create five tracks and position them to where you have a center, left front, right front, left rear and right rear. This can be done several ways. Most DAWs will have some kind of interface set up to allow you to set each track up. Reference this picture of a 7.1 pan interface in Sonar 4.



Here's Logic 8's version:



Here's a plug-in available for Pro Tools:



All of these basically let you do the same thing: set up where you want your speakers to be with regard to your track's panning and other parameters. From there you need to have:

1) a 5.1 surround sound speaker system hooked up to your DAW (or 7.1 if you're going that route)

2) Have each speaker an equal distance from where you'll be testing the audio. True, most home stereo systems are not set up this way, but for mixing purposes we want to have equal distance from each speaker. This way we can really tell when we pan a bullet swish from track to track adding a cool whip around effect. A side not about these speakers: have them all be the same brand and quality. It would actually hurt your efforts if you had a mixture of high quality and low quality speakers in your surround set up. How can you trust that all 5 parts are truly representing your audio? You can't. Fortunately this isn't too much of an issue since most surround systems have options that can fit almost any budget.

3) Once the set up is in place, you'll do your mixing as you would normally. Bumping up sections that are too soft, lowering other sections that loud and panning effectively from speaker (or track) to track. This may take some time depending on your project. While you're creating your content make sure your set up is always set within normal parameters. You never want to create audio on a system that has custom settings (sub woofer turned up really hot, all of the highs turned down) because then the audio will sound odd or not as you intended on other set ups. Remember, the customer has plenty of power over your audio as is (with all of the EQ settings built into stereos these days) and they also have the ability to total screw up the physical placement of the speakers too. Don't add to that by creating content on a stereo with parameters you prefer.

Perfect real life example: I had a friend come by and show me his laser SFX he'd been working on. He was really pumped. He played them for me and was horrified! They had virtually no bass to them and the end result was very tinny and hollow.

"They sound better and more deep on my system!"

I asked him if he was using a sub woofer and he was. Turns out it was cranked up really hot and he thought he was creating audio that had some serious punch and depth to it. He wasn't- his system was simulating that for him. He went back, turned down the sub woofer, made the needed changes and then his laser sounds were great! Remember this!

4) From there you'll bounce out each channel by itself and then load it into your engine or playback format. This can vary depending on what media you're working for or what audio engine you're using so I'll not go into specifics here.

5) Once the audio is in-game or on the DVD in the right format spend some time testing it on various surround sound set ups: high range, mid range and low range. Also try several different rooms. You'll probably not be able to make it sound perfect on every set up or environment but work for a great audio experience overall. See if you like how everything works. If not, go back and fix what went wrong. Rinse. Repeat. :)

I hope that helps!

Nathan
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
John- I've had 11 operations on my ears from age 2 up until age 11 (or whatever age you are in 5th grade). This was because I was born three months premature and the eustation tubes in my ears were under developed. The doctors had to keep putting tubes in my ears to stretch out the eustation tubes. This caused both ears to have a good deal of scar tissue and as a result I do not hear a certain range of frequencies. I honestly cannot remember what that range is, but I've been able to do just fine with my hearing condition. I was able to graduate with a bachelors in music and then a masters in music as well.

I don't know how badly affected you are, so I cannot guarantee that you'll be fine. However, don't lose faith and as long as you can create good audio- you have a fighting chance!!!

Regarding the age issue: I don't know if this would keep you from being hired. I don't think it would. The main concern video game companies have is the quality of your work. The second issue they look at is your personality. They want to make sure they're hiring someone that will gel and work well with the rest of the team.

Edit: I would wager that most folks have some kind of hearing issue with today's influx of music and sounds. How many folks walk around listening to MP3 players with headphones on? Many of those are probably listening at levels that are harming their ears. How many concerts are usually WAY too loud and harmful to your ears? What about movie theaters? I would be willing to bet that most of the public has some kind of hearing damage and probably doesn't even realize it. So don't feel like you're doomed to never being an audio professional. You're not.

I hope that helps!

Thanks,

Nathan

[Edited by - nsmadsen on October 22, 2008 5:43:53 PM]
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by nsmadsen
I don't know how badly affected you are, so I cannot guarantee that you'll be fine. However, don't lose faith and as long as you can create good audio- you have a fighting chance!!!
[/i]


Everything above 7-8khz on my left channel is gone to never come back, annoying. I use some very "sophisticated" plugins to double check my stereo mixes. I appreciate what you've said. Thanks.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By the way. Great tips on how to get noticed in the business.
While networking at conferences and lectures, would you recommend to use business cards with a link to my online portfolio or rather give away cd demos for example (by CD demo I mean professionally designed sleeve with an insert)?
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's a good question. Lately I've only used business cards because it gives the person all of my info without having to carry around my demo CD. This is especially helpful at conferences where everyone is passing out demo materials. I find it best to give them a condensed resume and my business card. From there, they can find out all they need about me.

Thanks,

Nate
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When you sell your sounds or music as non-exclusive then make always sure that you set a fixed term in time. For example I sell a lot of sounds and music as library music and sound effects and I always (or the company, depends which library) sets an fixed amount of time that the music or sound can be licensed.

As soon as the license expires you can offer your music or sound as exclusive buyout if needed, but only after the license expired of course.

I had this a couple of times before that some of my sounds where requested to be bought exclusively as buyout through Sound Dogs and one time a sound was still licensed for 3 months. As soon as the license ended (3 days ago, wee ^^) the company could buy it out.
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='metorsummoner7' timestamp='1307194563' post='4819412']
What would you suggest as good digital portfolio for music?
[/quote]

What do you mean exactly? What is the best content? Or what are the best tools to make it easily accessible? I use Soundcloud to post and stream my content and choose to use samplers to show highlights as opposed to posting full songs. This serves as an introduction to my work.

Thanks,

Nate
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='nsmadsen' timestamp='1326834025' post='4903774']
[quote name='metorsummoner7' timestamp='1307194563' post='4819412']
What would you suggest as good digital portfolio for music?
[/quote]

What do you mean exactly?
[/quote]

He asked that question seven months ago. Surely he isn't still looking for people to answer it now.
-1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Feeling like digging up graves, Nate? ;)

I'm sure metosummoner7 isn't the only one asking himself this, though, so it's vaild to answer that question. I'm using SoundCloud too, you can organize your tracks in sets and you get a good feedback on how many people have listened to your music, plus they can leave comments and share the music easily.

Cheers,
Moritz
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom - I realize that but as Mortiz pointed out, others might be wondering/asking the same thing and since his post somehow went unanswered I thought later was better than never. :) Since this topic is pinned (or a sticky) I view it as a long-term resource for the forum.

Moritz - Should I play Dave Matthews' Grave Digger while responding to these old posts? :)
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='nsmadsen' timestamp='1326860360' post='4903883']
Moritz - Should I play Dave Matthews' Grave Digger while responding to these old posts? [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
[/quote]
Hehe - I was thinking of something more dramatic:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBHm17kiDuI ;)
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I forgot that I had made this post. I create pretty much instrumental and I created a few video game related tracks. Shortly after I asked that question I started using SoundCloud.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks Nathan, thats all great advice, Im glad we have people like you on this board. I've been working on the 'getting my stuff out there' part lately to good success, if you have a sec, let me know what you think of my presentation www.bradyhearn.com

Thanks again!

Brady
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0