Here are some of the interesting things I saw on the exhibit floor.
(1) Triad Orbit was showing a very cleaver clamp with 5/8” threads for putting microphones is less traditional locations. The foam inside the clamp makes it safer to crank down on pretty fixtures, plus adds gripping power to keep it from sliding. It’s called the IO-C Mounting Clamp and I need several!
(2) I like to stop by the Latch Lake booth in case they are giving away their fabulous Jam Nuts, which they were. I used both of them on a recording gig immediately following the convention. Latch Lake introduced a burley new tripod mic stand with the same boom clutch as found on their weighted base models. Want.
(3) I saw and heard the new Cliff Mics ribbon. It was impressive on a number of levels. The magnets were so massive and strong, I thought they were going to pull the hair off my face. Interestingly, the cover was made of mesh cloth rather than metal.
(4) On recommendation I took some time to check out Miktek. Apparently the late, great Oliver Orchut of TAB Funkenwerks designed most of their microphones. I was especially interested to hear the figure 8 of their multi-pattern mikes, with insanely good off axis rejection and an even transition from on to off axis. Impressive.
Did you see something at AES that belongs on this list? Let me know, won’t you?
The key thing that separates linear media production from interactive is: indeterminacy. Middleware helps us manage this difference.
Justification of middleware: (1) Puts more audio control in the hands of audio people, and (2) Simplifies work for coders.
FMOD Studio is now sample based, not frame based.
Master Audio seems ideally suited for 2D and casual games. It is Open Source. It supports all systems to which Unity can publish, including web. It has better documentation than Fabric.
My notes from Game Audio 3 Sound Design and Mix: Challenges and Solutions – Games, Film, Advertisement at 137th AES Convention 2014, Los Angeles
Presented Oct 9 by a panel of industry veterans: Charles Deenen, John Fasal, Tim Gedemer, Csaba Wagner, and Bryan Watkins.
There were many comparisons in working between game audio and film sound.
The short timelines and high quality standards seem similar for both.
Game audio folks seem less set in their ways, more collaborative with sound professionals, than people who make film trailers. This may be related to the veteran status of film trailer folks (typically 20+ years) to game audio (typically under 20 years of experience). One area of overlap: when people who are good at game trailers expand their career, there is a somewhat natural transition to film trailers.
Game audio source is typically pretty clean: studio recordings, ADR. Film source is typically noisy production audio that may need significant cleanup.
The expected playback system for a game trailer is a desktop or laptop computer, with limited frequency response, especially in the low end. Film trailers enjoy higher fidelity in movie theaters, home theaters. Also, volume measurement standards and best practices for loudness are different for theaters than the internet.
Deenan mentioned a unifying concept for his work in both film and game audio is trying to reduce source elements to cleaner, more fundamental sounds. Layers seem to combine better when they are stripped down, simplified.
Fasal showed a picture where a bike rack was attached to a car as a microphone mounting system. He also said that every car seems to need attention to where mikes are placed to get the best sounds… that there is no “tried and true” recipe. Though recording technology has changed in the last 30 years, the opportunity to listen, choose great sources, and carefully place microphones remains.
We tend to think interactive music started with video games like Frogger, but Mozart held public concerts where musicians would play a score arranged by audience participation of throwing dice (“Musikalsches Würfelspiel”). What was true then is also true now: people enjoy influencing how music is played, or interacting with proxies that cause changes in music. Interactive music is often employed to reduce listener fatigue, because people tend to spend more time in a given play pattern than listening to the same music cue in linear media.
Horizontal Sequencing: using crossfades to switch between two different streams, or rearranging the order in which different musical “chunks” are presented.
Vertical Layering: Additive, where one, some or all layers can play simultaneously and everything still works; or Interchange, where some layers are mutually exclusive.
Music Data: Individual notes/samples are available to play and a separate instruction stream (a la player piano roll) sequences how to play them. Examples include MIDI and MOD.
Generative Music, also known as Algorithmic Composition
Some random element is introduced to support indeterminancy, like rolling dice. Rules govern how likely different musical events may happen. Wind chimes are a kind of generative music system.
As powerful and compelling as these interactive music forms are, linear music continues to play an important role, often being the best solution for a given situation in a video game.
In the same way that Octave describes a ratio between two numbers, Decibel is a ratio of two numbers.
Although logarithms may seem intimidating, they do something really valuable for recordists as part of the decibel formula: they convert multiplication to addition and exponents to multiplication. Significantly vast quantities are “ranged down” using logarithms, providing a measurement that audio engineers can more readily communicate.
The decibel is useful for people concerned with intricate amplitude variations over time (recording engineers), not necessarily artists. Recordists help bridge the gap between art and technology for artists and the folks who make our recording gear. Decibel is the practical measure for those of us who’s job it is to be technically minded.