Published on July 26th, 2011 | by PSE
3 Keys to Success for Interactive Sound Design and Mobile Sound Effects
Interactive and mobile technology is paving the way for the future, both in terms of how information is consumed, and how the products that we use to consume information are produced. And in order to make cutting edge apps, whether it’s for iPad, iPhone, Android, or one of the various tablet devices that will soon be part of our world, you’re going to need cutting edge sound effects.
Enter our heroes, the oft-revered, award-winning sound design solution wizards known only as the Soundrangers. Soundrangers co-founders Kevin Tone and Barry Dowsett have provided sound design and sound effects solutions for a some of the biggest media companies on the planet (hey there, Google, Microsoft, and Disney!). You can already buy the Soundrangers Sound Effects Library from the Pro Sound Effects store.
So now, from the horses’ mouths to your rss feed, here is a list of the three keys to consider when designing and using mobile sound effects for use in interactive sound design.
1. Loopable sound effects are a must.
One of the things that makes the Soundrangers Library a lot different from others is that they have built the sounds to fit the requirements of a game audio or interactive media developer. And what that means is that they have sharp looping files. So, for instance, if you’re building a racing game and you need the sound of a race car engine looping, they’ve have gone out and recorded a race car. And they recorded the engine in a manner that would allow users to loop it correctly – so all you need to do is drop it into your build and it’ll loop seamlessly.
The thought process: If you know you’re going to have to have five different engine loops of a particular car, you have to go out and record it for the car and know that you’re going to have to pull five loops out of it. So, you better make sure that whoever’s stepping on the accelerator holds it steady so it’s not wavering around because once you go back and loop it, it will be nearly impossible to loop it without hearing the other engines wavering back and forth. It’s a lot of work.
2. Have several variations of the same sound effect.
These days if you use the same story line over and over and over and over, it gets really repetitive. So, one of the things you have to do from an implementation standpoint is you have to have multiple variations of that sound. So, it sounds like the same sound, but it’s been altered timing-wise and pitch-wise and it’s just the little slight adjustments that are made across different variations really make it come to life. So, you can have five sword clangs that all kind of sound the same, but each and every one is slightly different. It just sounds more realistic.
3. Sound effects designed for interactive media can be applied to ANY media.
Whenever Soundrangers are creating new content for the library, whether it’s out doing field recording, or in the studio doing foley or sound design, they approach it with an “interactive design aesthetic.” They always make sure to record enough source material to make quality and consistent variations of each sound. Instead of just trying to capture that one perfect take of something, they don’t stop until they have enough to choose from for a nice batch of sounds. So when they get back to the studio they have plenty of material to create multiple variations. Having multiple variations of sounds is something that can be very useful when doing sound design for games or interactive media. In traditional sound libraries it’s tough to find matching ‘sets’ of sounds that can be randomized by a game engine and sound natural.
Something Soundrangers has found over the years is that interactive media is a much stricter environment for sound than most other forms of media. So by creating sounds to work in video games and interactive applications, they will also work in traditional, linear media, whereas it’s not always the case that sounds developed for traditional media will work in games. Another example – in a film you will usually hear a sound once then it’s gone. But in a game you might get stuck on a level and hear a particular sound 20 times, so it needs to be right. You may not notice the distracting background sounds, noise or something that unnaturally jumps out at you when hear a sound effect once, but after 20th time it may start to bug you. That’s one reason a sound developed for interactive media will work well in all media whereas a sound that might work in a film won’t necessarily work in a game.
Want to hear more? Download the FREE Guide to Interactive Sound Design and Mobile Sound Effects, which includes a PDF Guide plus .wav files of 80 FREE sound effects from the Soundrangers Library!
Click for more information on the Soundrangers Sound Effects Hard Drive Library.
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