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Blog: Blog2
  • Writer's pictureRyan van Eerde

My Sound Design Process So Far

After I worked out the sound assets list with the animators I began working on creating the sounds that could be implemented into the game. For the most part I used sounds from sample libraries and manipulated them to produce the sounds I wanted.

I started with some basic footsteps that represent the different ground textures throughout the environment, which are, grass, wet, metal/wood, dirt, and a generic foot step sound. I found audio clips that I liked of each ground texture and took 6-8 short samples of the best sounds to be randomly triggered in the game creating a more realistic walking sound. I made sure that all of the samples taken from the audio clips sounded relatively different but not so different that they would sound out of place with another. I also edited the samples so the sound is played at the very beginning of the clips so when they are synced up in the game engine they play at exactly the right time to not create any time variations that would detract from the players immersion.

I then found a couple of audio clips to represent the characters clothing which was just sounds of flags and tarps rustling that I cut up to make the samples that I thought sounded the closest to clothes.

Clips of the different footsteps and clothing sounds in Pro Tools.

After that I began working on the environment sounds but seeing as I have a few of them I won't be discussing the creation of all of them.

One of the main ambient sounds in the environment would be the wind. I wanted it to have its own character and tone to make the environment sound dark and eerie even without music, I used a bunch of different sounds all blended together to produce this effect. I will be referring to the clips in the image below to help explain my process.

Different samples used to create my wind sound.

Firstly I found a nice and even rumbling wind sample (Wind Sound 3) with a lot of low end energy to act as a base for me to artistically add other samples on top to create my desired sound. The good thing about this wind sample is that it doesn't fluctuate much making it perfect for a basic background tone for my sound design, I joined 3 instances of the sample together to produce 1 longer sample giving me a larger sound to work with.

I then got a calm wind sample that fluctuates and swells a bit more to add some movement to the base sound. I placed this sample in a few different spots over 2 tracks that I panned slightly left and right to produce a nice stereo effect (Wind Sound 5 and 6). I also reversed the sound of the 2nd track (Wind Sound 6) to make it sound different from the first one producing a more diverse and dynamic sound.

After that I began putting in some howling wind sounds to make the whole thing come alive (Wind Sounds 1, 2 and 4). These took me a long time to get right and make them sound natural but the effect they have on the overall character of the wind sound was well worth it. I used one howling wind sample for all of them but manipulated it in different ways to make multiple sounds, to do this I used pitch shifting, time stretching, and reversing.

The first clip in Wind Sound 1 was produced by putting a reversed sample at the beginning of a normal one to make the body of the sound longer producing a big wind gust effect, see image below.

The last clip in Wind Sound 2 was produced by pitch shifting the sample down 3 semitones and time stretching it to become 80% longer which again was used to create a big wind gust effect but for it to be different that the first one, see image below.

Once I was happy with the balance and placement of the sounds I recorded them down to a single audio track that could be looped in the game. As I was listening to how the finished wind sound looped I wasn't particularly happy with how it transition from start to finish so I made a copy of the clip, reversed it then stuck them together. This meant that the end transition into the end and the start would transition to the start which seemed to flow a bit better and made a longer more diverse wind sound design, see image below.

The finished wind sound designs.

Another one of the big sound designs in the project is the roaring ocean waves. This one was a little easier than the wind sound but was still tricky to create the dark character that I wanted, again I will be referring to the clips in the image below.

Different samples used to create my roaring ocean sound.

I found a great sounding fast running river clip (Waves 2) to act as my base sound just like I did for my wind audio. This clip was so good that I could have used it as is in the game but that's not really what I'm about and I know I could make it sound even better. Like the base wind clip this river sound didn't fluctuate or change making it perfect to layer other sounds with it to produce the end result I wanted. I then added a pink noise track (Waves 1) with a high pass filter up to 140Hz to produce more high end sizzle in the base track, I didn't blend in too much just enough to give it some character.

I then blended in a large size waves track (Waves 3) that had a lot of dynamics and swells to help produce a bit of movement to the sound I had already. The sound was still too flat for what I wanted so I decided to add in other water splash sounds to make the end result even more dynamic. To do this I used 2 different samples, a large splash sound (Waves 4) and a water swish sound spread onto 2 tracks (Waves 5 and 6) that are panned slightly left and right. From here I experimented with the placement of the samples and through trial and error came up with a sound that flowed the best for me. I didn't mix these track in too high with the with the base sound as I wanted to produce subtle changes in sound and dynamics as not to distract the player from the in game environment.

On these last 4 tracks (Waves 3, 4, 5, and 6) I used a high pass filter to remove a lot of the low end frequencies as not to make the overall sound too muddy and bass heavy, See image below.

EQ used on tracks 3, 4, 5, and 6.

I wanted all of the low end rumble to come from the fast running river sample (Waves 2). This again like the pink noise track (Waves 1) only adds to the high end sizzle of the ocean sound. When I was happy with the sound of everything and the balance was good I recorded it down to one track that could be looped (Ocean Waves).

I basically used these processes for all of the sound designs that I produced, I either cut up and edit samples like I did with the footsteps or I blend multiple sounds together like the wind and ocean sounds. It really is very interesting what can be created by using the processes I have discussed, be it the simple layering of sounds or modifying them with pitch shifting, reversing, and time stretching to create something completely different from the original. All that is left for me to do now is implement them into the game level and record/produce my own Zombie sounds, which should be interesting.

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