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Steven Simmons
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Plan!!!! Today I’m going to plan the production of the sound effects I’m going to make for my point and click, flash adventure game I’m making for my other assignment. To do this I need to consider the things that I have already looked at in the previous two weeks: The psychology behind sound in games, where it is used to in games most effectively and the technical side to editing sound. The rules for my game that will also affect the sounds that I can produce are that it must contain anything explicit, hatful or obscene and therefore be suitable for all ages. That it must be produced in flash, meaning that the sounds must be compatible with flash and that it must not exceed 20MB in size, meaning that I must choose the file type, bit depth and sample rate accordingly to allow for all my sounds to fit in. it must all also be my original work. So the mission is to identify what sound effects I want and how I’m going to get them. Here we go: • The sound of something bouncing of things– This is for the very beginning of my game as part of the introduction when a piece of scrunched up paper hits a bin and then hits the hero. Because it’s at the beginning these sounds need to set the tone of the game, fun, cartoon superhero themed hobo. Although it is paper and it wont make much sound, I’m going to use uncharacteristic sounds like you’d expect in a cartoon. I will record metal on metal, high pitched pinging sounds from a bell. Experimenting with where I put the mike like inside the bell or even on it. • Un-Scrunching paper sound - The paper that will be opened to reveal a news article. I can experiment with different thicknesses of paper to get a crispier, sharper sound than what a normal news paper would sound like. Remember this is a cartoon like, over-exaggerated game. • The sound for when the hero enters the bank and gets kicked out – you don’t see any of the struggling that happens when our hero gets thrown out of the bank so the sounds must tell the story. I could pay a really smelly crazy man that thinks he’s a superhero to run into a bank and record what happens but unfortunately I don’t know anyone of threat description that will be willing to help and I don’t think I have enough time to what for it to happen naturally so I’m going to record someone going into a room and banging some things around. • The three hobo boxes – These are going to use sound as part of puzzle so they must have there own original sound. For this I will record a kind of moaning grunt and then edit it to create three different pitched versions for the 3 different boxes • The opening of the mad scientists skip/lab – This is supposed to be an epic, revealing part of the story so a lot of time, and possibly space, should be put into making this one sound good. I’ll need an air being released sound to simulate hydraulics; I can release the air from a tyre to achieve this. I’ll need the sound of rusty joints that you might find on a rarely opened secrete, medal door. I could record a garage door opening and some rusty metal sounds from an old bike. • The sound of a fan – These next few sounds are needed to act as positive feedback to the player letting them know that they have clicked on an item that will help them. For example in a part of my game you will be required to turn on a fan. I will need to record the sound of a fan starting. I could make it more interesting by recording it when it is moving from left to right. • The sound of a plate being placed – I’ll just record the sound of a plate being placed. In my game it is being placed on the bar of a pub which would be made of wood so I will need to record it being placed on wood to get the right sound. I also should record it in the same acoustic environment as the fan as they will be in the same room in the game and I don’t want one sounding like it’s in the middle of a hanger and the other like it’s in a cupboard. • The sound of a horse race on TV – To achieve this I will watch a race on mute and record myself, or most likely somebody else, commentating on it. For the rumbling horses in the background I will record a few people softly banging their fists on a table. • Beep for a button – over exaggerated of course. I’ll just make the sound vocally and edit it to perfection later. • Some sort of sweeping sound for when you pick up items – Also made vocally and edited later if needed. • Rat sound – Also made vocally and edited later if needed. • Slipping person sound – I could use a sliding whistle followed by some sort of thud, created by using a huge bag hitting the floor. • (From level that may be scraped) cat, dog, birds and bush rustling - I will simply record a cat, dog, birds and bush. I will rustle the bush. • Scanning sound for gun- I will record my scanner . . . when it’s scanning and maybe add some vocal “pewing” to make it more interesting and high tech. • Door opening – To make doors more interesting and enhance the comical, cartoon, upbeat feel I’m going to have a sound effect for each door that represents what is going to be inside it. There are only 3 doors in my gamer so this shouldn’t be too hard. The bank will make a caching sound. I can use an old type writer to get this sound. The pub will have a “last orders” bell sound. I can use a bell for this and for the secrete bank office door where the alien banker is I can use the alien sound that I make for its voice later. • Screwdriver screwing – for this I want to experiment with either squeaking or cranking sounds. I could get weird squeaking sounds by rubbing dry sprouts together and cranking sounds form various different tools. • Alien shield going down and up – I will record this vocally. • Alien sound – I will record this vocally. Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2011 at Steven Simmons's blog
Sound Design and Production Audio environment Sound can be reproduced in different ways to create different audio environments. There are two main methods of reproducing sound, monophonic and stereophonic. Monophonic means that the sound only has one channel. This means that the sound is recorded using a single microphone or the sound from multiple microphones have been combined to create one output signal. The most common use of monophonic sound today is the recording, reproduction or broadcasting of speech as stereophonic sound is not required and a mono signal is often stronger. Stereophonic sound is a much more popular way of working with sound because it allows two channels to be used to create the illusion of a 3D audio environment. Left and right speakers are used and when synchronised correctly sound can appear to come from anywhere between them. There are lots of examples of effects created using stereo sound and a set of headphones. Here is a link to you tube video where someone has used the sound editing tools in Little Big Planet to create a level were sounds can seem to be coming from certain objects: It doesn’t just stop at two channels. Surround sound systems can contain multiple channels and speakers placed in front, either side and behind placed specifically and phased correctly to create a whole sound field to work with. In the case of the cinema sound can be made to sound like it comes from anywhere in the room, the star wars films were the first to use this effectively making the audience feel like they were in the space battles and the ships were flying above and amongst them. Special speakers called subwoofers are even used to produce sounds on the lower boundaries of human hearing capabilities and create vibrations that you can actually feel. Audio limitations of game platforms Game platforms have huge influence in the sound design and production for video games. When games were first starting to be developed the sound was very limited by: • Memory – Sound files take up a lot of space and the size of sound files increase along with the quality. This is why the sound quality of old games is much more limited than newer ones. Storage devices for video games like cartridges, CD’s, DVD’s and Blue Ray have increased in memory size as the new generations of platforms are created. For example the first 7inch floppy disks used for early PC games like ping pong could only store around 100k. Floppy disks grew in memory and shrank in size like most memory storage devices, reaching 1.4M. SNES cartages didn’t reach more than 1M in size. The original game boy game cartridges only stored 256 KB to 8 MB. The generation of CD reading consoles had up to 700k to play with. PlayStation2 read DVD’s that could hold up to 4.7G on single sided, single layered disks. The Game Cube used a unique storage medium; they used optical disks that stored around 1.5G. Today modern consoles are reading blu ray disks that store up to 25G single layers but with the introduction of downloadable games using things like steam the size of games are only limited by the size of the buyer’s hard drive and the speed or capabilities of their internet connection. 8inch 100k Floppy Disk NES Cartridge 250G Hard Drive • Sound Cards - The sound cards determined how many different voices or channels can be processed and outputted. The older soundcards used for games also didn’t have enough power to process sound files with high bit depths or sample rates. For example the Magnavox Odyssey was only capable of 1 channel monophonic outputs but now the Xbox360 supports 48 kHz 16-bit audio, 256 channel surround sound output. • Audio output systems – This is also affected by the sound card. The old game consoles were only capable of outputting mono sound and therefore only used single speakers but advances in sound technology brought stereo and now surround sound systems can be used for our games. Audio recording systems There is analogue recording and digital recording. The analogue recording technique used to make records used the displacement of a microphone diagrams sensitive to the changes in atmospheric pressure that sound produces and created a geographic representation of that movement on the record surface. Another analogue recording technique was magnetic tape which created readable magnetic footprints representing the electrical signals created by the sounds on the surface of the magnetic sensitive tape. Digital recording means that the sound will be converted from an analogue sound wave to a numeric value, in the case of our computers a binary value. There are two main things that affect the quality of digitally recorded sounds, the sample rate and the bit depth. These are very similar to the frames per second that movies are recorded and the bit depth of a photo. - Sample rate The sample rate is similar to the frames per second of a video. Instead of referring to the amount of images that are taken per second the sample fate refers to the amount of “snapshots” of audio are taken per second. In the same way that the more pictures per second a movie is recorded the more accurate and more flowing it will look, the more samples of audio taken per second will make the sound more accurate and flowing. The sample rate directly affects the size of the sound data. Low sample rates are used in things like telephones were high quality is not needed and the amount of digital information needs to be kept to a minimum to allow for easier transportation. Sample rates below 44.1k start to noticeably deteriorate in quality to human ears because of the “nyquist frequency” formula that indicates that the sample rate must be double the desired range. Human hearing range is approximately 20khz. - Bit depth Bit depth is similar to the resolution of a photograph. It refers to the amount of bits you have to capture an audio. The amount of bits effect dynamic range, the more bits, the more possible levels, the more accurate the recording will be. The bit is the basis of how a computer works; it is either a 1 or a 0. If you have a bit depth of 8 it means you have 8 slots that can be either 1 or 0 allowing 256 different combinations (levels) to work with. Every time you add a bit depth it doubles the amount of levels. This also means that the Bit depth, along with the sample rate, directly affects the size of the file so you must balance quality with space. Most sound recording, particularly in the case of music is now done digitally and it’s not just a case of playing into a single microphone anymore. To achieve stereo or surround sound capabilities sound is recorded using multiple microphones strategically positioned around the source. Whole studios have been built to accommodate different recording atmospheres to get a desired effect. Sound file formats There are hundreds of different sound file formats, most are specific to audio editing software but here are some of the common ones along with there advantages and/or disadvantages: • .mp3 – mp3 was developed by the Moving Pictures Experts Group. These files were made to encourage music downloads, they are compressed to a tenth the size of .WAV or .AIF files but still maintain the quality of a CD. The type of compression they use however is lossy. This means that every time it is compresses or saved then it losses a bit of its quality. They are widely supported by most music players and software. • .wav – Wav stands for “Waveform Audio File Format” it was developed by Microsoft and therefore is most commonly found on windows based computers rather than Mac’s. This file format uses no compression and allows the saving of different sample and bit rates. • .aif – AIF stands for “audio interchange file format” this is apples response to the .wav file format. It does everything a .wav file format can do and is basically used to store CD audio. They use a sampling rate of 44.1khs and 16 bit depth like a CD. • .flac – flac stands for “Free Lossless Audio Codec File”. This file format uses lossless compression meaning that you won’t loose any sound quality if you save in as this file but it will still be compressed. Flac is also just as widely supported as mp3 when it comes to music players and software compatibility. Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2011 at Steven Simmons's blog
Sound in Video Games The purposes of sound in video games There are many reasons that sound is added to games and most games use it for at least one of the following: • Help Define Theme – Sound is used in video games to help define themes. For example... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2011 at Steven Simmons's blog
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Mar 20, 2011