AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - November 20, 2019

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The PNW Section rumbled ahead with its November 2019 meeting, featuring game sound designer Stephen Brown explaining how to record an Abrams tank and more. About 38 attended (7 AES members) the presentation given at Digipen in Redmond, WA.

Stephen Brown is with 343 Industries (part of Microsoft), and is a game audio professional with over a decade of experience specializing in sound design, implementation and audio direction. Stephen has contributed to blockbuster games such as 2014 Game of the Year, Shadow of Mordor, as well as billion-dollar franchises such as Lord of the Rings, Batman, and Halo.

PNW Chair Greg Dixon welcomed guests, announced January and February meetings and had everyone attending introduce themselves. Treasurer Lawrence Schwedler then introduced Stephen.

Stephen gave a tutorial on recording sounds for games, including tips for recordists of all skill levels. He interspersed his slides with videos of gameplay and of recording the tanks. The goal here was to capture the sounds of real tanks for use in a computer game, so considerations are made for the sounds needed for gameplay. Necessary sounds would include steady runs, startup, stops, turns, shutdowns, ambience and more. A limited number of sound emitters (sources) are used for gameplay, so miking other sources may not help.

It turns out that there are a few ways to get real tanks for recording but it costs money. Stephen showed how mics are mounted on tanks, and how his team captured the sounds. He also showed gameplay analysis screens that showed gameplay sound parameters such as direction, emitters, and levels with the game in progress. Modern games now may include more realistic sound handling such as situational reverb and speed-of-sound/reflection computation.

Stephen spent a good amount of time advising on the logistics of doing such projects, including assembling your crew, figuring out your gear and needed sounds, scheduling and organizing your "shoot" for efficiency and cost, and prepping for post-production. He encouraged people to try such projects themselves. Discussions included embellishing sounds for games, and processing sounds in the game.

The evening finished with the traditional Costco cookies and water reception.

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