Chanel Summers - Game Auditory Spaces - SIC2012

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Chanel Summers, Co-Founder, Syndicate 17 …

Chanel Summers, Co-Founder, Syndicate 17

Searching for Meaning & Art in Game Auditory Spaces

Game audio has come a long way when measured by quality and advancements in technology, but still trails other art forms when it comes to artistic expression. Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. However, the emergence of advanced audio technology in less skilled hands is often the enemy of artistic value, as it provides so much freedom to over-produce and over-implement sound in games. Given such infinite flexibility, how can game creators begin to make better and more memorable sound by using less, being cleverer, viewing the acoustic environment as a musical composition, and having a better understanding of the principles of cinematic sound design?

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  • Game audio has evolved greatly over the past 10 years when measured by quality and advancements in technology. It has evolved from sound chip generated blips and bleeps with simple musical melodies to three-dimensional SFX with epic scores at sample rates comparable to film sound and a giant trend towards recording live large orchestras. There are also high quality sound libraries and synthesis tools, as well as amazing orchestral and instrumental samples or virtual instruments with tons of articulations modeled. You have surround sound — 5.1, 7.1, and even 9.1. And there are game-specific audio tools, technologies, and techniques that can be used to advance the aesthetic expression of audio: dynamic, real-time mixing, real-time DSP parameter control, adaptive & variable audio, and procedural audio.\n\nIn the past, the view of game audio was as a backdrop to the game’s visuals. However, more recent advances in game audio demonstrates that sound is no longer a subtle component of the game experience. In fact, sound is one of the key factors for total player immersion.\n \nBut there are also a lot of things that haven’t changed! Unfortunately, there prevails an attitude among game designers and producers that sound’s job is to work miracles quickly and cheaply at the the end of production with little or no collaboration in the creative process up to that point. \n\nAnd we are still just scratching the surface artistically with all the tools and technologies out there. We really need to take into consideration the artistic and aesthetic challenges in using these technologies and techniques. Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. \n
  • Game audio has evolved greatly over the past 10 years when measured by quality and advancements in technology. It has evolved from sound chip generated blips and bleeps with simple musical melodies to three-dimensional SFX with epic scores at sample rates comparable to film sound and a giant trend towards recording live large orchestras. There are also high quality sound libraries and synthesis tools, as well as amazing orchestral and instrumental samples or virtual instruments with tons of articulations modeled. You have surround sound — 5.1, 7.1, and even 9.1. And there are game-specific audio tools, technologies, and techniques that can be used to advance the aesthetic expression of audio: dynamic, real-time mixing, real-time DSP parameter control, adaptive & variable audio, and procedural audio.\n\nIn the past, the view of game audio was as a backdrop to the game’s visuals. However, more recent advances in game audio demonstrates that sound is no longer a subtle component of the game experience. In fact, sound is one of the key factors for total player immersion.\n \nBut there are also a lot of things that haven’t changed! Unfortunately, there prevails an attitude among game designers and producers that sound’s job is to work miracles quickly and cheaply at the the end of production with little or no collaboration in the creative process up to that point. \n\nAnd we are still just scratching the surface artistically with all the tools and technologies out there. We really need to take into consideration the artistic and aesthetic challenges in using these technologies and techniques. Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. \n
  • Game audio has evolved greatly over the past 10 years when measured by quality and advancements in technology. It has evolved from sound chip generated blips and bleeps with simple musical melodies to three-dimensional SFX with epic scores at sample rates comparable to film sound and a giant trend towards recording live large orchestras. There are also high quality sound libraries and synthesis tools, as well as amazing orchestral and instrumental samples or virtual instruments with tons of articulations modeled. You have surround sound — 5.1, 7.1, and even 9.1. And there are game-specific audio tools, technologies, and techniques that can be used to advance the aesthetic expression of audio: dynamic, real-time mixing, real-time DSP parameter control, adaptive & variable audio, and procedural audio.\n\nIn the past, the view of game audio was as a backdrop to the game’s visuals. However, more recent advances in game audio demonstrates that sound is no longer a subtle component of the game experience. In fact, sound is one of the key factors for total player immersion.\n \nBut there are also a lot of things that haven’t changed! Unfortunately, there prevails an attitude among game designers and producers that sound’s job is to work miracles quickly and cheaply at the the end of production with little or no collaboration in the creative process up to that point. \n\nAnd we are still just scratching the surface artistically with all the tools and technologies out there. We really need to take into consideration the artistic and aesthetic challenges in using these technologies and techniques. Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. \n
  • Game audio has evolved greatly over the past 10 years when measured by quality and advancements in technology. It has evolved from sound chip generated blips and bleeps with simple musical melodies to three-dimensional SFX with epic scores at sample rates comparable to film sound and a giant trend towards recording live large orchestras. There are also high quality sound libraries and synthesis tools, as well as amazing orchestral and instrumental samples or virtual instruments with tons of articulations modeled. You have surround sound — 5.1, 7.1, and even 9.1. And there are game-specific audio tools, technologies, and techniques that can be used to advance the aesthetic expression of audio: dynamic, real-time mixing, real-time DSP parameter control, adaptive & variable audio, and procedural audio.\n\nIn the past, the view of game audio was as a backdrop to the game’s visuals. However, more recent advances in game audio demonstrates that sound is no longer a subtle component of the game experience. In fact, sound is one of the key factors for total player immersion.\n \nBut there are also a lot of things that haven’t changed! Unfortunately, there prevails an attitude among game designers and producers that sound’s job is to work miracles quickly and cheaply at the the end of production with little or no collaboration in the creative process up to that point. \n\nAnd we are still just scratching the surface artistically with all the tools and technologies out there. We really need to take into consideration the artistic and aesthetic challenges in using these technologies and techniques. Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. \n
  • Game audio has evolved greatly over the past 10 years when measured by quality and advancements in technology. It has evolved from sound chip generated blips and bleeps with simple musical melodies to three-dimensional SFX with epic scores at sample rates comparable to film sound and a giant trend towards recording live large orchestras. There are also high quality sound libraries and synthesis tools, as well as amazing orchestral and instrumental samples or virtual instruments with tons of articulations modeled. You have surround sound — 5.1, 7.1, and even 9.1. And there are game-specific audio tools, technologies, and techniques that can be used to advance the aesthetic expression of audio: dynamic, real-time mixing, real-time DSP parameter control, adaptive & variable audio, and procedural audio.\n\nIn the past, the view of game audio was as a backdrop to the game’s visuals. However, more recent advances in game audio demonstrates that sound is no longer a subtle component of the game experience. In fact, sound is one of the key factors for total player immersion.\n \nBut there are also a lot of things that haven’t changed! Unfortunately, there prevails an attitude among game designers and producers that sound’s job is to work miracles quickly and cheaply at the the end of production with little or no collaboration in the creative process up to that point. \n\nAnd we are still just scratching the surface artistically with all the tools and technologies out there. We really need to take into consideration the artistic and aesthetic challenges in using these technologies and techniques. Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. \n
  • Game audio has evolved greatly over the past 10 years when measured by quality and advancements in technology. It has evolved from sound chip generated blips and bleeps with simple musical melodies to three-dimensional SFX with epic scores at sample rates comparable to film sound and a giant trend towards recording live large orchestras. There are also high quality sound libraries and synthesis tools, as well as amazing orchestral and instrumental samples or virtual instruments with tons of articulations modeled. You have surround sound — 5.1, 7.1, and even 9.1. And there are game-specific audio tools, technologies, and techniques that can be used to advance the aesthetic expression of audio: dynamic, real-time mixing, real-time DSP parameter control, adaptive & variable audio, and procedural audio.\n\nIn the past, the view of game audio was as a backdrop to the game’s visuals. However, more recent advances in game audio demonstrates that sound is no longer a subtle component of the game experience. In fact, sound is one of the key factors for total player immersion.\n \nBut there are also a lot of things that haven’t changed! Unfortunately, there prevails an attitude among game designers and producers that sound’s job is to work miracles quickly and cheaply at the the end of production with little or no collaboration in the creative process up to that point. \n\nAnd we are still just scratching the surface artistically with all the tools and technologies out there. We really need to take into consideration the artistic and aesthetic challenges in using these technologies and techniques. Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. \n
  • Game audio has evolved greatly over the past 10 years when measured by quality and advancements in technology. It has evolved from sound chip generated blips and bleeps with simple musical melodies to three-dimensional SFX with epic scores at sample rates comparable to film sound and a giant trend towards recording live large orchestras. There are also high quality sound libraries and synthesis tools, as well as amazing orchestral and instrumental samples or virtual instruments with tons of articulations modeled. You have surround sound — 5.1, 7.1, and even 9.1. And there are game-specific audio tools, technologies, and techniques that can be used to advance the aesthetic expression of audio: dynamic, real-time mixing, real-time DSP parameter control, adaptive & variable audio, and procedural audio.\n\nIn the past, the view of game audio was as a backdrop to the game’s visuals. However, more recent advances in game audio demonstrates that sound is no longer a subtle component of the game experience. In fact, sound is one of the key factors for total player immersion.\n \nBut there are also a lot of things that haven’t changed! Unfortunately, there prevails an attitude among game designers and producers that sound’s job is to work miracles quickly and cheaply at the the end of production with little or no collaboration in the creative process up to that point. \n\nAnd we are still just scratching the surface artistically with all the tools and technologies out there. We really need to take into consideration the artistic and aesthetic challenges in using these technologies and techniques. Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. \n
  • Game audio has evolved greatly over the past 10 years when measured by quality and advancements in technology. It has evolved from sound chip generated blips and bleeps with simple musical melodies to three-dimensional SFX with epic scores at sample rates comparable to film sound and a giant trend towards recording live large orchestras. There are also high quality sound libraries and synthesis tools, as well as amazing orchestral and instrumental samples or virtual instruments with tons of articulations modeled. You have surround sound — 5.1, 7.1, and even 9.1. And there are game-specific audio tools, technologies, and techniques that can be used to advance the aesthetic expression of audio: dynamic, real-time mixing, real-time DSP parameter control, adaptive & variable audio, and procedural audio.\n\nIn the past, the view of game audio was as a backdrop to the game’s visuals. However, more recent advances in game audio demonstrates that sound is no longer a subtle component of the game experience. In fact, sound is one of the key factors for total player immersion.\n \nBut there are also a lot of things that haven’t changed! Unfortunately, there prevails an attitude among game designers and producers that sound’s job is to work miracles quickly and cheaply at the the end of production with little or no collaboration in the creative process up to that point. \n\nAnd we are still just scratching the surface artistically with all the tools and technologies out there. We really need to take into consideration the artistic and aesthetic challenges in using these technologies and techniques. Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. \n
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  • Perhaps the most famous of the Welles radio productions is the 1938 "War of the Worlds" production. At first consideration, one might think it difficult to adapt much from a news style radio broadcast to film. But it is precisely the "style" that Welles used in later films so effectively, because it was a deliberate use of errors that made "War of the Worlds" so believable. Unlike standard news casts, "War of the Worlds" had dead air, intentional mistakes in dialogue, and chaotic and confusing moments deliberately woven into the script. This gave it the "unrehearsed" feeling that made millions of Americans believe it was real, not scripted. Particularly eerie is the portion in which the news man in the field is describing how the heat ray is pointing at him, and then his line goes dead. A long silence follows. Then a studio newscaster comes on and cheerfully apologizes for some "technical difficulties that will be cleared up shortly" and then plays some soothing piano music. Its like having the pilot insist nothing is the matter on the intercom after a loud thump. Why are they trying so hard to convince us unless they're lying? They may not be aware of the danger, but we are.\n\nThe power of this exciting new medium. The wake up call came on the Halloween night of October 1938 when a brilliant young auteur by the name of Orson Welles tapped into the subconscious fears of a nation and convinced thousands of people (perhaps many more) that Martians were invading the United States.\n
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  • Learning how to edit one’s self is one of the key core concepts of aesthetic game audio design. Too often, unskilled artists try to put too much into their audio design. Working within self-imposed limits forces artists to be more creative and decisive within the sound editing process.\n
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Transcript

  • 1. Searching for Meaning & Art in Game Auditory Spaces Chanel Summers 2012 Seattle Interactive Conference
  • 2. Procedural audio Real-time effects processing 3D positional sound effects Interactivity & variability Surround sound: 5.1 and 7.1 Dynamic, real-time mixingHigh fidelity (48kHz) synthesis and playback Epic Hollywood-esque soundtracks
  • 3.  “Form follows function—that hasbeen misunderstood. Form andfunction should be one, joined ina spiritual union.”
  • 4. Thanks!chanel@syndicate17.com