Last of us

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Last of us

  1. 1. Audio: Composition and Sound Design The job of any musician brought in onto a video game project is to convey the emotion the director is trying to portray within a scene, not only this but it also adds and extra layer of depth and atmosphere to the game, a wide variety of instruments are used within The Last of Us, Gustavo experimented with many instruments he had never played before in order to get the right tone for the game. The composer works hard on each different track, a track is never complete. What a lot of composers do when working with video games is use sounds that sound like they belong in the environment, Gustavo has done this a few times, listening to his soundtrack I can hear sounds of what appears to be windows creaking, or someone moaning in the distance, this adds an extra layer of complexity to the music and makes the game just that much better by adding more thought into the dynamics of your song. What a lot of composers do nowadays is use a combination of electronically generated music and traditional music, the electronic music is good for adding tension and atmosphere to a track as the sound can be easily controlled and manipulated and changed, Gustavo has used this a fair amount in his work for The Last of Us. He uses Electronically generated music along side traditional instruments particularly on sadder moments within the game, again that added atmosphere from electronic music works well here. Itʼs also good he does not go for completely electronic music for this project, the fact that it takes place is a post apocalyptic world does not good hand in hand with electronic music, the traditional instruments allow him to convey emotion very well, for example when playing a guitar you can hear when he lets go of a note, or when he slides to the next note, it sounds real and emotional. Working with the composer are the Sound Designers, there job is to take the music and put it into the game and make it sound natural, they are also responsible for all the ambient and foley sound within the game. Their job is a hard one as they must be creative in the way that they think, in order to get the right sound they must layer different sounds together a lot of the time, in The Last of Us the Sound Designers had some samples from a women doing some screeching sounds, and overlaid them with the sound of clicking which they made from using their tongues, then they cut them up and overlaid them slightly to create a very unique and realistic sounds. One thing which is vital the Sound Designers must not do for this project which most people working with audio do is compress the audio, this basically means compressing the audio right down bringing down the high volume areas and bringing up the low volume areas until theyʼre about the same volume, then push the tune to max volume so itʼs not peaking. This is common practice in the audio industry today but it would ruin the music for a game like this, compressing the audio lowers the dynamics of the songs, something which Gustavo has been careful to have a lot of, itʼd ruin the tension and the atmosphere by compressing the audio. Getting the foley sound for a video game is not easy, this is where a great deal of the Sound Designers creativity comes into play, thereʼs a lot of sounds which you canʼt just go out and record and you need to creatively think of what could sound like that, of course there are sounds you can just go out and record, such as the sounds of water, or frogs to build up atmosphere and the scene which was used in The Last of Us. As a Sound Designer once you have the foley you then have to EQ the sound to remove unwanted frequencies, and then get it suitable for being in the game, itʼs a lot of hard work.

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