Where? Company – Sol Trader
When? Date – Officially started 19/01/2016
What? Project – Sol Trader Game
Why? What I hope to achieve from today – an understanding of what is expected of me over the coming few months.
Who? Team members worked with today – Chris (Team & Project Leader)
Activity undertaken – Download and run beta version of game to confirm I can run it. Play game. Leave feedback on forum.
- approach: be granted access to beta forum area by Chris, download, run/play and leave feedback.
- method: n/a
- technique: n/a
- result: found that background music plays through(lasting around 2-3mins) then stopped for 5 minutes or more – not noticeable to begin with but eventually clicking and making the player feel like there was something missing.
- issues along the way: no written confirmation of work.
- solves: Sent a agreement of work over for him to fill in and send back.
- evaluate/conclude/reflect: The communication progress was smooth because I was direct and so was Chris in return. I felt it would have gone better if I had a solid plan of work or the template of work which Chris had asked for.
DURATION- 4 hours setting up accounts, checking beta version, communicating.
When? Date: 20/01/2016
Why? What I hope to achieve from today? – Sound design for Sol Trader Game
Who? Team members worked with today? Chris
Activity undertaken: taken sounds provided by downloading the beta version and developed them in accordance with what had been asked from me by Chris.
- approach: taken original sounds and developed them.
- method: using original content tried to make them meet requirements.
- technique: Effects inc; EQ, Layering, Granular Synthesis and Sampling.
- result: a softer select sound and developed engine sound
- issues along the way: no material to work from or audio design sheet to work to.
- solves: contact Chris to find out where I can find audio content and what he wanted from me.
- evaluate/conclude/reflect: if i had a template of work it would have made work flow a bit more fluid. I felt the brief time taken on the sounds resulted in some good work and look forward to developing further over the next few days.
MESSAGE TO SEND: I have only used audio content supplied with the game and further treated, developed and manipulated. No external samples have been used, is there any licensing required in this case? I will continue to either use the supplied content and develop sounds from scratch removing any licensing issues (I think). SENT 21/01/2016-10:30am
DURATION- 7pm-11pm 4 hours, sound design and implementation.
21st Jan 9:45am
After implementing modified sounds, I came to realise lack of clarity in comparison to other unchanged sounds, so will continue working on them today, along with engine sound.
After implementing the sound again the app crashed and produced an error:
and error report:
Process: sol 
Path: /Applications/Sol Trader.app/Contents/MacOS/./sol
Version: 0.0.1 (0.0.1)
Code Type: X86-64 (Native)
Parent Process: bash 
Responsible: bash 
User ID: 501
Date/Time: 2016-01-21 09:54:17.945 +0000
OS Version: Mac OS X 10.10.5 (14F1509)
Report Version: 11
Anonymous UUID: 7175C9BE-9F4D-C3E8-5B63-5AEC7EC304F4
THE REST IS IN A SEPARATE DOCUMENT…
Continued communications with Chris to return completed agreement document as we have now officially started working together.
After sending modified sounds to Chris, he gave feedback summing up that he wanted brand new sounds and not old material to be developed or remade. Chris said he wanted some sounds along the lines of RJD2 bleeps from Starwars and to use a content file names “bleeps01” as a reference point.
So I began to generate new synthesised sounds from scratch using only sine waves for beeps and using a range of effects – resampled – and effect change – resample – effect change and layer – resample etc. techniques such as : using a effect with tail/decay(reverb/delay/other) and recording the tail and layering that over/uner the original. I found that this technique worked well as layered sounds did not stray too far from each other giving consistency through different stages and bounces.
I developed a Scroll sound and intend to start work on the select sound before going to work at 2pm (12:44pm)
DURATION – 4 hours
Friday 22-01-2016 – 9pm 12pm 3 Hours – Work on engine sounds using automation for a gate/sidechain effect on the high layer to give the impression of mechanical movement within the engine a.k.a traveling. this was unsuccessful as it sounded far too synthetic and controlled/produced by a human. i also tried using a gate sidechain between low rumble and high layer which was far more effective. after flipping the gate and increasing the floor, the high layer had a subtle fluttering effect in correlation to the low layer transients. I feel that since I have been asked to create new material I should move away from this and begin looking into spectral and granular synthesis methods/techniques. Some options for this are Max for Live and Reaktor.
Sat 23-01-2016 – 8pm – 11pm 3 hours
continued work on engine sound design using spectral and granular synthesis. I hope to achieve a good understanding of these synthesis techniques over the coming weeks. Also I would like to have reached a level of production that is a good basis for meeting the requirements for the engine sound.
Sunday 24th Jan 2016 – 9pm – 12pm 3 hours
After a final check of sounds for Select and Scroll, I attempted to implement them for review and revisions. The game crashed again after a few steps into initial setup. The sounds were much more suited in dynamics and texture. The feedback back from the client after submissions and further communication provided a foreseeable end game/goal. The sounds worked and seemed natural within the context of the game. I feel I could have accomplished this level of work if I had a audio design document to work from but having some original audio content provided a good starting reference point to work from. I feel the communications between me and Chris have been comfortable, professional and productive. I have learnt to tailor my project approaches to client requirements. e.g. improve my time management skills and set reasonable/achievable/realistic goals (time and content).
Monday 8th Feb 10am
Contact on sunday about moving forward with more sounds and further revisions. Been set 3 additional tasks for completion; Location Ambiences, Character Voices/Grunts, and indistinctive radio chatter. I responded with a self set deadline for finishing previous set tasks (Engine and GUI sounds) and having some works in progress for revision and submission by the end of the week (12th Feb). I plan on recording myself and other for the VO in the studios (FE and HE) and at home with mics such as Rode NT1A, Neumann TLM 103, AT2050, Se2200a, and AKG c212. Using mic techniques such as hanging the mic upside down for maximum vocalist movement and freedom for holding scripts or characteristic movement. Using pop shield and frequence deflector and a sound treated studio I wll attempted to capture dead, clean, and sonically sound high quality material for post production to suite required game environments. Once material is captured I intend to begin post production using audio effects chains to achieve desired effect relevant to game environment e.g. voice over the comms radio would sound thin and tinny achieved by EQ(low cut and mid boost) other effects. Ambiences I can record myself and layer with others from paid for sample packs and other recordings e.g.
big fish audio sample packs.
TIME TAKEN: sound design and research into material collection 10-1:30 = 3.5 hours
Friday 12th Feb – 9pm – 1am = 4 hours
Began working on location ambiences (2 weeks later, oops). So after checking certain licensing issues with Chris I cannot use the Big Fish Audio sample packs. The license states if its used commercially it has to be used in a compositional sense and this is not what I wanted to use them for. I discovered when looking for samples (on freesound) there are icons next to each sample and sample pack that indicate (intellectual property rights a.k.a.???) can i use it freely?
and Public Domain are the two most common (on freesound anyway). I have included a description of the licensing act document and a summary document that explains what these mean.
Once I was informed about what I could use and what I could not use I began using samples rather than attempting to create EVERYTHING from scratch (synthesis) so moving away from the unreal sound and moving towards the hyperreal sounds.
I started with looking for background chatter samples and Location Ambiences on freesound such as Bar Ambience and Office Ambience. I didn’t want to just source an ambience bed sample, treat it, loop it and submit it(kinda feels like cheating A LOT) So I began trying to build an environment with associated sounds of that environment. e.g Office has; chairs, tables, phones, printers, talking, phone sounds being picked up and put down, doors opening and closing etc. So by sourcing THESE sound and layering them in a fashion that was repetitive but not TOO representative (on top of an office ambience bed) I began to build a “busy office atmosphere” as required and stated in the task set.
I feel I made a good effort on this and have a 1st draft ready for submission. Next time I will look at the task set regularly in order to avoid any mistakes/misjudgements etc. I might try an analogue post it style approach of keeping track of tasks when working on them.
Sunday 14th Feb 9am – 11am = 3 hours
After realising i’d made a mistake and it was not a BUSY office ambience required I felt a bit foolish. None the less because I had done MORE than required it was simply a case of removing/reducing/re-arranging sounds to gain control of the cacophonous sound and bring it to a closer representation of the location ambience required (general “office” sound rather than a “busy office” sound)
“Office” touchup – 12pm – 1pm. (1 hour)
1pm – 3pm (2 hour)
I began work on the Bar location ambience. I started again in the same way searching for a bed of sound and again found relative related sounds to construct a sonic environment. I created my in ambience beds for the space port by using a Zoom handheld recorder and capturing different roads and traffic in town and residential areas. This provided me with a good layer/s to use in other ambiences too. My problem is that the real word sounds of vehicles do not sound like space ships. Spaceship sounds could be achieved by manipulating and effecting the sounds of vehicles e.g time stretch, transpose, frequency shift, resonators, distortions and EQ etc These are all native Ableton and Logic effects so easy to achieve. The downside is that other effects (such as NI and Waves and other purchased/for sale effects plugins) have been solely designed for the given effects rather than bundled with a DAW. Alternative to this there are free plugin available such as TAL, GRM and others that are very good quality and can help achieve the desired effect.
4pm – 5pm (1 hour)
Spaceport – used bed of engines and hums. sfx drills and general clutter sounds e.g. metal on the floor, beeps, swooshes fade in and out. Hard to find / make an effective SUBTLE mix. 1st draft only – next time play some games with spaceport and listen. research this
5pm – 6pm (1 hour)
Trading Tower – listened to sounds of stock market trading floor and tried to replicate that sense of busy chaotic cacophony of chatter, paperwork and machines clicking and bells ringing. Hard to get a feel for the sounds until seeing them in play against a visual gameplay situation. Next time maybe ask for more information on the environment and research by playing the game a bit more (I’m shooting completely blind here, not smart).
6pm – 7pm (1 hour)
Final rough touch ups and loops point check and adjustments. Bouncing and previewing before uploading with details and comments.
10pm – 11pm (1 hour)
Script for “Distinctive Radio Chatter”
Listening to a COD Black Ops example of radio chatter from youtube, wrote down some buzz words used and began building/adapting/evolving a script using the NATO phonetic alphabet and buzz words e.g
“Come in command, this is Alpha Team One, Fire Unit, Reporting location, South West 105 Longitude, 205 latitude, over” or “Bravo Team, Come in command, over” This is command, do have the target name?” “Affirmative, target’s name is a 1. John Smith, I repeat, target’s name is a 1. John Smith, First name: Juliette Oscar Hotel November Second name: Sierra Mike India Tango Hotel, Over”
COD speech 30 – 60 secs required:
- 1. ST: ellias, ellias this is Stalker 2 1, standby for report 1 dash 3, over.
- 1. EL: Stalker 2 1 , this is ellias, send your traffic, over.
- 2. ST: Line Whiskey, four zero personal, Line X-ray, 3 collars of mechanised infantry.
- 3. ST: Line Yankee 20 Bravo Tango Romeo’s 5, 2, 5, 6, 3, Niner.
- 4. ST: Line Zulu, Russian parachute infantry/russian paratroopers.
- 5. ST: Line Alpha, 1, niner, 1, 5, Zulu, Line Echo AK47’s and RPG’s, COPY, over.
- 2. EL: Yeah, Say agian Line Yankee, over.
- 6. ST: Roger, I say again. Line Yankee, Line Yankee, 2 0 bravo tango romeos, 5 2 5, 6 3 niner, copy.
- 3. EL: Solid copy, Do you have any remarks?
- 7. ST: Negative no further remarks on this side of the river.
- 4. EL: Roger, solid copy on record. Soccer, do not engage unless compromised and continue to report every 10 miles on enemy disposition. We need all the intel we can get on any grid, north of parliament. Ellias out.
Above is 1 minute of the original script from COD black ops (original being I listened to it and attempted to decipher it onto paper)
Recording 11pm – 12:30am (1 + half hours)
Using Zoom handheld and Yoga DM-330B Dynamic Microphone in my room, minor noise pollution from next door, minimal electrical sonic presence.
1st record parts ST and then record part EL . Next time pay for sample packs or get an appropriate VO actor and set up a recording session in the studios using higher quality equipment in treated studios environment, allowing for a much more clean, result. The cleaner and clearer the result, the more flexibility is available in post productions. e.g. if i record my voice in a church it will have tail and reverb and removing this from the recording is near impossible. If I record in a professional studio environment then I can choose to add a reverb of a church space or any other space instead.
Also recorded others reciting material; Josh doing ST parts of COD script, Osh doing EL parts of COD script, Kate doing female parts (greetings, affirmatives and negatives) and Osh for an alternative male doing make parts (greetings, affirmatives and negatives)
Monday 15th Feb : 7:30pm – 9:30pm (2 hours)- “Indistinctive Radio Chatter” task.
Using the vocals recorded last night I could begin layering them with white noise and radio beeps sounds to create a realistic radio chatter sonic experience. By using an operator in Ableton I could quickly and easily create a pure white noise instrument. This could then be captured using two different methods.
The first is the resample function, available on any Audio track I/O section. This method works well if you want to capture live manipulation in real time or multiple sounds including effects. The resample function essentially captures anything you hear and parameter properties changed while recording. This can be useful for adding a HUMAN feel to automation and material, bearing in mind the resample tracks content will be recorded audio and instruments within the recording cannot be changed and properties cannot be manipulated.
The other (freezing) works well when working with MIDI instruments, allowing quick and easy conversion from MIDI data to Audio material (or in logic “Bounce In Place” function). This will take a “picture” of the audio and its characteristics (including effects) and allow you to drag the MIDI clip onto an Audio track allowing further manipulation in audio format. This method is good for reducing CPU power/footprint providing you know you have finished your work with certain MIDI instruments and are happy to delete the instrument, freeing up CPU and real estate on with the DAW display.
9:30pm – 10:30pm (1 hour) – write up
10:30pm – 11pm (half hour)
Post production – vocal recordings preparation. Top and Tail vocals for “Male and Female Grunts” task. Treating and organising recorded material in order to refine the best quality samples.
VO (and general for this project) file naming hierarchy example:
Currently I have male and female recordings of; greetings, affirmatives and negatives(and remember the ball ache it is to professionally develop and organise recorded material).
I will proceed to top & tail the recorded
Sunday 22nd Feb 5 hours 10am – 3pm working on feedback and finalising content for further revisions or implementation. – adding background chatter for L.A. – balancing levels – adding panning for spatialisation for bar and office.
Also began to bounce out VO material but this is not yet finished. (this is a short entry because I forgot to do the write up directly after)
Sat 2nd March – Recording child vocals. 1 hour – 12pm – 1pm
Continued work on the voice over task.
This was a session I set up and invited a friend to come in with their female child. I set up a microphone to record and capture the female vocals voice over material. I asked Ruby (voice actor) to try and put expression on the scripted lines in relation to the title e.g greetings, negatives etc. I also made a point of asking Ruby to leave a small pause between each line in order to have clear separation for post production.
Sunday 13th March – Work on Engine Humm sound – 4 hours – Ship hum (background power hum, electrical sounds, switches and controls being pressed, engine throbbing etc
I began by trying to synthesis an engine sound from scratch and layering it with a downloaded sample from freesound. I was later informed by Chris parsons that a sample website of game sound samples was available and he could purchase samples if needed. I found some good engine sounds and sent him the link with the attached licenses agreements for use. The Agreement stated that the material could only be used in a non musical manner. I wanted to use my own synthesis sounds alongside the sample downloaded as it would give the sound more texture and my own sonic signature. This worked after several tests and re visits. My synesthetic sound was too far from the sample material and sonically conflicted. This lead me to begin A/B comparing the sounds and sculpting the sound to fit with one another. By altering EQ and other effects I could blend the sounds together in a way that was not too obvious there was more that one sound source.
Sunday 27th March 2 hours – continued work on the engine sound for location ambience.
I continued to work on the engine location ambience material. After submitting a version, Chris came back with some feedback in order for me to continue developing the sound. He wanted more of a warm sound. I also began by creating a lift off sound and landing sound but this was not necessary.
Chris “Thanks – good stuff. I don’t need the take off sounds – just the loop with a bit more detail would be good. Thanks!”
Chris “Also a slightly warmer deep hum would be good – thanks!”
Sunday 3rd April 1 hour – recording child VO.
I arranged to go to Devon to visit my sister and her 4 children aged 4 – 14 years. She has 3 daughters and one son. I used a zoom recorder with headphones to monitor the levels and to capture the children voice actors. I set up in the room furthest away from any noise and commotion in order to capture the clearest material. I asked the voice actors to put expression in the scripted lines and to take a pause between each line.
Monday 4th April – 3 hours – preparing material for treatment and export.
I began topping, tailing, splitting, consolidating, renaming and organising the captured material. I used Ableton Live to chop up the individual lines of the script. Because I had the voice actors perform the content of each section as a whole take, I had 4 files for each person e.g. female child 1 greeting, parting, affirmatives and negatives. With 2 takes for each section I ended up with 8 audio files of each person, each contain between 5 -10 individual scripted lines. E.g. female child 1 greetings take 1 contained; hello, hello there, hi, hi there, greetings sir etc.
Once all the individual parts had been split up it, it was a case of appropriately naming each one. This naming session is just for my own benefit as I would bounce the final version with asset style titles later.
Take “female child greetings take 1 hello” for example. For my own benefit I labeled this “AlyxHello1”, Alyx being the name of the voice actor, hello being the scripted line and 1 for the relevant take. For the final bounce title I would name these assets as so: SolTrader_VO_Greetings_FemaleChild1_Hello1
Monday 11th April – 1 hour – recording second female voice over.
I set up a recording session and invited some students at dBs music to come in and do some voice acting. The session ran in the studios at the Bristol FE centre. Using a treated room, AT2050 mic, pop shield and reflection filter I was able to capture clear material. As before I asked the voice actors to put expression in the scripted lines and to pause briefly between each line. With every voice actor recording session I also asked them to perform each scripted section twice for variation and safety.
Sunday 17th April – continue to prepare vocal material for export – Female 2 and finish of child voice overs.
Sun 24th april – 5-8pm = 3 hours
Preparing VO for bounce and managing project files and bounces.
Forgot to solo when bouncing so had to go over and redo all bounces.
Forgot to name accordingly so had to go over a re bounce all file again.
As I get to the end, I Know and am aware that not all of my work has been completed in a consistent manner.
I have used different recording techniques and equipment throughout.
For Child vocals I used a hand recorder – HN5 in a attic space room in Devon
For Female 2 I used an AT2050 condenser mic with a reflection filter in the FE studios in Bristol
For Male 1 & 2 and Female 1 I used an AKG 212 in my room at home.
I also did not EQ the Child VO meaning there is a lot of unnecessary low end.
I also EQ’s the first submissions – bring out certain frequencies and cleaning up the overall mix.
26/04/2016 – finish vocal work – 1 Hour
I finished up the vocal work for the project. Simply finishing the bounces, naming and organising the files ready for submission to the client. I had to bounce out the last bits of the Female 2 Vo parts. Supplied videos to show process. On request I also uploaded Male 2 Negatives as I had missed them out from the last selection of uploads.
There is still one last bit of work on an location ambience for the spaceship. Chris has asked for a low end humm to be included along with some additional textural characteristics. I have set a deadline for the end of the week as this shouldn’t take very long. Chris has expressed the low priority of this task and is fairly happy with the submitted material anyway.
I spoke to Chris today (29th April) to confirm the work is finished and if any extra work comes up over the summer then I can continue to provide material for his game.