Hours 15 – 17: South Common Ambience

Tonight I ventured out to the south common, a large grassland in my city, Lincoln. I’m recording at the moment for Taphobos, and part of the game is set outside, in a graveyard, so I’m trying to capture as much ambience as I can to weave together in the game. I decided to head up to catch the sunset, and brought a recorder with me to capture some ambience. The space is big, but not huge; it is also surrounded by roads unfortunately, and it was roughly 5 when I arrived at my recording position, meaning the roads were at their busiest. Nevertheless, I settled down and began recording.

As it was a relatively long walk (and because the 633 was booked by someone else tonight), I decided to use the Zoom H4n with the Rode NT4 stereo mic. This was no massive deal, as the H4n still records in 96k and has two XLR inputs that I could link to take a stereo file of the recording.I brought a little tabletop mic stand to put the Rode on, and just used the Zoom’s Rycote to keep out any wind. The recordings were, well, okay. I think I’m particularly critical, but I found the pre-amps very noisy – noisier than i’d expected. The 633 isn’t exactly perfect – but it is a clear step above the Zoom in terms of the signal-to-noise ratio. But hey, the Zoom is a fraction of the price. Anyway.

I did capture a fair amount of traffic noise, but I did also get some really lovely ambience, particularly birdsong. I was sat just in front of a large woodland area, and I recorded a large amount of multiple birds singing, and the echo through the space. There were a number of different voices – and I’ll definitely use a lot of the birdsong when i’m constructing the ambience in Taphobos. In future i’d love to try and get up there and catch the sunrise – as i’m aware the birdsong is particularly beautiful then. Maybe something for a later post.
I found the mic to be particularly sensitive, which was very interesting at points. I could clearly hear peoples voices and movements from 50+ meters away, and I occasionally heard voices from people I couldn’t see around me (which was very weird).

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet, and end with a sample of the recordings. As usual, minimal processing, and just edited to show a a very short excerpt of what I captured.

 

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with more.

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

 

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Hours 15 – 17: South Common Ambience

Hours 14 – 15: Four Lazer Shots

Hello again! Today I decided to have a go at making a few different lazer sounds, to replace the standard lazer gun sound that comes with the UE4 FPS template. I built the sounds in FL Studio, using a number of previous recordings. synthesis and a lot of processing. I implemented two of the sounds with FMOD, and the other two directly into UE4 with the sound cue tools. I switched out the sounds with blueprint, attaching the playsound command to the existing framework for spawning the little yellow balls. I could alternatively have used a left click event and attached a playsound node to that.

As I said, the sounds were mainly built from synthesis and various recordings. I used library recordings of guns and explosions as the basis for the majority of the sounds, as well as random recordings of my own that fitted the sound (eg. a ps2 servo, metal hammer impacts and glass smashing, to name a few), layer with various elements of synthesis. I kept the synth patches relatively simple, merely automating the pitch to create the ‘zap’ lazer sound. I used a load of processing to make the sounds punchy and interesting, including various distortion and saturation plugins, flanger and bitcrushing, as well as reverb and delay in places.

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2gun

These screenshots show my workflow in FL, including the different variations of the sounds and a few examples of the plugins I used to process them with. I’m a big fan of glitch for messing with sounds, Winkl is a cool distortion plugin and NI Driver is great for making stuff sound manic and crazy. I think it’s meant to be some kind of bitcrushing/distortion thing, but I really like it as it always seems to produce varied results.
I bounced each iteration separately, but given the situation of doing something like this again, i’d break the sounds down into separate elements and combine them with variations when implementing. However this exercise was more to explore the sound design element, than complex implementation.

Below is a video and walkthrough of how I implemented the sounds and hooked them up in UE4. It was the first time i’d implemented into an engine with FMOD and I was amazed at how easy it was to set up and get going (and the live update feature is the BEST).

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

 

Hours 14 – 15: Four Lazer Shots

Hours 11 – 14: Car Recording

Hello! I’m back again, this time with a retrospective blog post. It’s a pretty cool one, and although technically not recorded during this specified 6 months, it still used the 633 with an interesting multiple mic setup. Last semester, myself and my flatmate decided we’d record his car. It was a particularly cold night, I think in November/December time, and we just decided we want to give it a go. I grabbed the 633, three wireless lavs and a shotgun mic (my shotgun of choice, the Sennheiser MKH416) and we briefly planned what we wanted to capture. I rather naively thought I’d be able to pull a clip of driving gameplay from the web and arrange the recordings we made to fit it, but sadly I was very wrong – it turned out that the specific sound of a car accelerating, decelerating and moving through gears was such a complex thing to re-create from multiple recordings, I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Nevertheless, the actual recording session was very successful – and we captured some really cool stuff. We taped mics around the car, and recorded whilst driving. We put one lav by the exhaust, hanging out of the boot; one lav in the engine, strapped to a plastic part (so it wouldn’t get too hot) and one under the wheel arch, hanging out of the drivers’ window. I sat in the backseat while jack drove, and all three lavs fed into the 633, from which I could control the gains and record as we moved. Previous to strapping the mics on, I wrapped each of them in a blob of foam – in order to minimize the amount of wind they picked up. Despite this, we still got some heavy wind interference – especially at speed – but nothing that was too problematic.

The sound was actually surprisingly good – I think we captured the car well, and the resulting sound is definitely not terrible. We did however have a problem with the exhaust lav – it seemed to be making a cracking noise – it sounded like some kind of interference. This was a shame, a the majority of the body and low end of the sound came from that exhaust mic. The other slight problem was just that the engine wasn’t particularly loud –  the car was a small hatchback, designed to relatively quiet for urban use. The engine wasn’t roaring or purring, it was more rattly that anything else. But this was by-the-by, as it was really just an experiment and more because we actually had the opportunity to record a car.

I also hopped out and recorded some cool stuff on the shotgun mic – namely wheelspin and handbrake turns. These were both fun sounds that we wanted to capture specifically, and I had intended to use them in the video I was going to make. It was the first time i’d really experienced wheelspin or handbrake turns at this level, and as was as much scared for my life as I was impressed. Little clip below illustrating what I think can only be described as glee:

I’ll leave with a sample of the recordings we made – these are fairly raw, I balanced the levels a bit (between the 3 mics) and chopped up some interesting bits. Be aware, it’s relatively loud and the engine fluctuates massively in volume.

 

As always, thanks for reading!

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 11 – 14: Car Recording

Hours 9 – 11: Lincoln Cathedral Recording

So this morning, at the rather painful hour of 7am, I headed up to the cathedral in my city to record for a few hours. I’m working on a game at the moment called Taphobos, and it’s set in a huge church – I decided the best way to build a church ambience for the game is to capture some actual church ambience, then go from there. I contacted the cathedral, they were more than happy to let me record in the building, and suggested the early hours of a Wednesday morning as the quietest time in the church.

I used the trusty 633 and a rode NT4 as my mic, which I’ve used a number of times before. I monitored on a pair of KRK’s and recorded at 96k to SD.

When I arrived, it was still dark outside. The sun was rising as I set up my equipment, and lit the church wonderfully. I was given free reign to access all of the areas of the church – the huge main hall, the transepts and the choir stalls (I assume this is what they are called). I began in the main hall, set my mic on a stand and sat while the 633 recorded.
I quickly realized that the main ‘ambience’ of the space actually came from the heating systems around the church. They hummed and whirred, and given the huge reverberating space, the sounds melted into one-another to create a low drone. I managed to capture a number of interesting things happening in the church too – I briefly picked up both spoken and sung liturgy, as well as the ringing of the bells and some interesting movements echoing through the huge reverb.

As the sound was relatively minimal, I pushed the gains quite high to capture as much of the sound as I could. Unfortunately, this resulted in a fair amount of pre-amp noise, more than I had expected. It also meant even the slightest noise, even from a significant distance, sounded very clear and close. The mic is also a number of years old, so may well have some noise issues – the stereo XLR supplied with it cracked a bit too as I moved it around. This being said, i’m pleased with what I captured – and I think it’ll be a great building block for the ambience in the game. I’m planning on rolling off a load of top end to make more of a low, rumbling drone.

Some of the raw recordings are below. Annoyingly, I couldn’t figure out a way to record two channels as one stereo WAV with the sound devices – something i’m aware you can do with the zoom H4n. As such, I had to bring two mono WAVs into my DAW, pan them hard left and right and then bounce as stereo file. This is no real problem – just takes a little extra time to process. Worth bearing in mind these samples are completely raw – no processing or editing as of yet, I just sliced up some sections where interesting things happened.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 9 – 11: Lincoln Cathedral Recording

Hours 7 – 9: Football Match

Last night I went to my first ever football match (in a stadium, at least), and I decided it’d be a fun opportunity to record some of the crowd. I was relatively unprepared and as such, only had a zoom (borrowed from my housemate) to hand to record with, but I brought it along and recorded what I could of the match. It was between the two universities in my city, and there was roughly 1500 attendees.

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My location was relatively un-ideal, being just sat among the crowd with little distance between myself and others. This worked out okay on the most part, but occasionally the mic picks up those on either side of me more clearly than the rest of the crowd. Given the opportunity again, I think i’d ask for permission to stand at the side of the pitch and bring a decent stereo mic to capture the crowd as a whole (rather than from inside of the crowd).

The recordings below are raw, straight from the zoom. I didn’t have a chance to edit it sonically before uploading, but just chopped up a few highlights to give you an idea of what I captured. Sadly due to the immense volume of the crowd, the recordings do peak a bit at when the cheering is at it’s loudest. This recording was just for fun but i’d love to  do it again with better preparation, for some kind of football/sport game.

 

Cheers for reading,

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 7 – 9: Football Match

Hours 5 – 7: #GGJ16

So this weekend was the Global Game Jam! My first Global Game Jam, although not my first game jam generally. It was a lot of fun, and I used a few of this weeks’ hours recording stuff for that. Sadly I had a bad foot this week and as such my recording hasn’t been on schedule, but i’m sure i’ll catch up with that at some point. For the meantime, I’m going to write about the jam, what I got up to and what stuff I made in the time we had.

I decided to be ambitious (and maybe stupid) this jam, and instead of pairing up with a developer, I decided to make my own game. As I have almost no experience making games, other than making the sound side of things, this was a bit of a mistake from the offset. I should really have found someone who could actually put the game together for me. But that’s by the by.

One of the diversifiers was to make an audio-only game. I saw it the night before the jam and loved the idea of it, so much so I decided to pursue it as an idea for the weekend. The concept of an audio-only game was something that i’d never really considered, and after haven given it some thought, I decided it was a challenge I loved the sound of (pun kinda intended).

The theme for the jam was ‘Ritual’ (or maybe ‘The Ritual’ different places said different things), so I decided to make my game about a detective, investigating some kind of ritualistic killing. Despite initially setting out not to just make an interactive story, it quickly became clear my best bet was to do just that – make narrated sections, with some NPC interaction, that the player would decide how to navigate through. I wrote a quick VO script (full of my best 40’s slang-isms) and my good friend Dan Berry (from the previous blog post) popped up and recorded a few lines for me. I also had some help from my fellow jammers to record a few lines.

I built all of the scenes piece by piece – the background ambiences, object interactions and the voiceover – each would have been triggered at different points depending on the players interactions. My friend Katie Tarrant wrote some seriously incredible 40s jazz tunes for the game – frankly i’m more sad the game didn’t come together because no-one got to hear those incredible tracks than because of my audio or the concept haha. seriously talented composer.

Below are just a few example clips that I recorded for the game:

 

Of course, I tweeted my progress during the event – and this sparked some fantastic interactions with people on twitter. It became clear to me that my original idea of an audio-only game being just a trivial fun concept for most gamers – is actually a reality for blind gamers. There is a blind gaming community – albeit not a large one, but there is one for sure. an enthusiastic one, for sure. I spoke at length to Brandon Cole, who is something of a vocal advocate for the blind gaming community, who gave me some fantastic tips and advice on both the game content and the challenge of making a game for the blind community. Brandon gave a fantastic talk at GDC some years back, which was a great resource during my weekend.

As a result of the game idea I explored at the jam, I have decided that i’ll pursue the idea of an audio-only game properly. Brandon expressed the blind gaming community’s desire for a really great audio-only game – expansive, complex, not patronising, solid gameplay, solid story etc. I feel like that’d be something i’d love to develop. I’m unsure of my next moves in regards to the audio-only game project, but i’m hoping they’ll come soon.

Thanks again for reading!

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 5 – 7: #GGJ16