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AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - February 28, 2012

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Summary

The PNW Section's February 2012 meeting featured game sound designer Peter "pdx" Drescher describing programming Android game audio with two methods, the "middleware" FMOD (from Firelight Technologies) and the Android Java environment. He also described his techniques for making musically appropriate sounds. About 11 AES members and 19 non-members attended the talk, given at the Art Institute of Seattle, with many AIS students present.

Peter was an Audio Director at Microsoft, after the acquisition of Danger, Inc. (developers of the T-Mobile Sidekick smartphone), where he was a principal sound designer producing Audio UIs, ringtones, and soundtracks for downloadable games. His presentation was partially based on one given at the AES 131st Convention.

Using a test game of vector pinball, Peter described making the sounds and music using FMOD or Java, comparing the pros and cons of the two environments. He felt FMOD was good for sophisticated interactive soundtracks, very data-driven, and cross platform. Some cons were code complexity/bugginess, and latency. Android's Java has the advantages of being "free", more CPU efficient, and likely to work on future Android releases. Negatives included limitations on interactivity, less data driven, and not as portable to other platforms.

After a snack break, a doorprize AIS T-Shirt courtesy of AIS was won by Nathan Hasbargen

Resuming, Peter next spoke about using FMOD to make sound effects fit to the game music, even with key changes. He showed his game called "LandSeaAir" and demonstrated his "secret Yanni technique," (named for the New Age musician) where musical bonus sounds are played to fit with background music, even when the music changes key. This was managed using FMOD music system callbacks to track the key modulations, then generating melodies accordingly. To produce this effect requires the sound designer to work closely with the programmer, or even better, an audio guy who can code.

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