Thursday, September 21, 2006

Week 8

  • Practical 1 - Audio Arts - Legal Issues, Copyright & Music [1]
This week we went over clearance and copyright issues in relation to music. We were asked to examine these two issues in relation to the music for our games. Personally the opportunity to write some music for a game was one of the main reasons why I did this course, so there was absolutely no question in my mind about whether I would intend to source my music. I'm sure this is a good skill to learn if I'll ever need to do this in the future, but I'm confident enough in my abilities to deal with this when the time comes. For this game the music will all be mine. Besides my director wants original music from me anyway, and is not interested in downgrading the game by skimping on the concept of an orginal soundtrack.

Here is an updated Assets List (08-10-06)
Here you can find some of the Ambience and SFX I have so far done for the Title interface of the game.

  • Practical 2 - Creative Computing - HID [2]

  • Music Technology Forum - Workshop - Improvisation Groups! [3]
This week our group had the pleasure (or pain) of playing with Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh. I can’t quite remember everything he talked about in regards to his improvisation philosophies because I wasn’t taking notes, but I can talk about what it was like to play with the Doctor.

Despite the seemingly well-received performance, I couldn't say I felt very comfortable playing Dr. Chandrakant. There are probably many reasons for this, but I'll get to them. Before we even started, he said to us, "Just play notes and we'll have some fun". So, from the start he was limiting us to notes. Obviously he wasn't very experienced with tech instruments or at least he didn't seem very open to what tech instruments could bring. Ok I thought, he's happy to stay within his safe zone, and I'm happy to enter his world despite the limitation he placed upon us. However, I think he automatically thought that because Luke and I were playing a 'keyboard' instrument, we should play notes. It was almost as though he was relying on us play notes if he were to communicate with us in any way. I felt pressured the whole time to give him notes! Judging from his body language he wanted me to repeat his phrases and whatever else, but I wasn't confident enough to be able to pitch his notes. Then when I thought ‘stuff it’ and detached myself from the concept of 'notes, and instead dissolved into the soundscape of music tech, he seemed to mostly concentrate on Vinny. He almost seemed angry at times. Well overall it wasn't very enjoyable even if I did learn a thing or two.
  • References
    [1] Haines, Christian. 2006. Lecture on Game Audio. University of Adelaide, 12 September.
    [2] Haines, Christian. 2006. Lecture on SuperCollider. University of Adelaide, 14 September.
    [3] Sardeshmukh, Dr. Chandrakant. 2006. Presentation by Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh. University of Adelaide, 14 September.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Mid Semester Reflection

I am having a lot of trouble keeping this blog up to date (as it would seem a lot of people are). I ask myself, would I get more out of this course actually making progress and concentrating on Supercollider or Audio Arts rather than spending forever regurgitating and expressing (or forcing) my thoughts on things that a lot of the time I dont't naturally want to comment about? I understand it's a good tool for feedback, but ultimately I don’t think it has really does much for my personal learning as a student. The idea of forming this online community of techies for feedback and expression of ideas and whatever else is a great idea in theory, but in practice I barely have the time update my own blog on a weekly basis let alone putting time aside to look at other people's blogs.

Improvisation Class:
There are quite a few people who have expressed discontent with the Improvisation classes so far, but I'm not as quick to disregard it. Although the classes might seem a little awkward at times, I think it's the first step in addressing a problem I have noticed since 2nd year which is the lack of collaboration within the tech department. Sure in a classical or jazz degree you find ensembles that play together, but in Tech degree every student creates their own pieces in isolation. Even in a composition class students write their own pieces in isolation, but they get other composition students to perform them.

Impro is no doubt an experimental subject at this stage, but if it persists throughout later years I could see the concept of collaboration becoming more integral. On the other hand, do we need to collaborate in Tech? Is it really a problem that we haven't collaborated in the past? I mean I can't say that tech hasn't been working without collaboration so far. Well, it'll be interesting to see where impro class goes. I have so far also been impressed at the thought provoking feedback from Stephen so far.

Perspectives can be interesting at times, but on the few occasions it's not the readings can be very tiresome. I think we get twice the amount of readings we can actually handle in Seminar 2. We are aparently suppose to work for 3 hours per 1 contact hour. Well that's all fine by the book, but in reality it doesn’t work that way, and if it did then we'd all be 'manufactured' as the same model number with the same abilities.

I don’t have a lot to say about Seminar 1 apart from the fact that it's been a lot of fun in recent weeks. The assessment also seems to be a lot fairer than last semester in relation to the amount of units the subject is worth. I'm fortunate to be doing this particular subject, as 'narrative' can be applied to both the game sound and film sound Audio Arts classes this semester.

Creative Computing:
Supercollider has been a love/hate ordeal ever since I started it. I think the source of my discontent has stemmed from the fact that because it's a very niche sort of programming language, I can't really find a direct relevance to where I want to go. I understand that you can't please everyone, but this is just a personal thing. From semester 1 I wrote in my blog that I want to get into game sound, and that a more suitable language for me to learn would be C++ if I were to concentrate on designing and building audio engines. It's for this reason I jump at the opportunity to read any mail that comes into the OpenAL mailing list, yet the SC mailing list has 600+ unread messages. Despite the lack of relevance which has been the cause of my unwillingness to spend enough time with the language, I find that when I do spend time with it, it can be very rewarding. I also find that learning the conventions and terminology of this language has made it a lot easier for me to pick up other languages such as OpenAL. Christian has said this from the start. Realising this for myself has given me more enthusiasm to get stuck into SuperCollider.

I still think that perhaps In 3rd year second semester it might be a good idea to be able to specialise in either Audio Arts, or Supercollider. I mean it's sort of similar to playing Jazz and Classical in a Classical degree or vice versa in a Jazz degree; trying to concentrate on both streams.

Audio Arts II Game Sound:
This has probably been one of the best subjects I've done since starting this degree. The whole process of collaborating with other people has been very exciting and inspiring. The material we have gone through in Christian's class has been mostly theoretical, but he has taught me new ways of approaching the creation and implementation of game sound, which I'm grateful for. Although I have been generally satisfied with the classes so far, there have been two classes that I can think of that could have been handled better. Last week we analysed the sound of the game Starcraft. I must admit that it's very good we've finally got around to analysing a game. From a personal perspective we were going over things I was already aware of, but it later made me wonder why Christian chose a RTS game when none of us are actually making a RTS game. It's good to study other genres, but with the limited time we have wouldn't it be better to study a game genre that some of us are actually involved with? I think an RPG would have been better as at least two of us are doing a game of this genre. The other class was maybe week 4 or 5 where all we did for the whole calss was individually explain to Christian where we were at with the game and some details of our game engine. I think this could have all been handled via individual emails as opposed to doing this in valuable class time that could have better been spent on something else.

Week 7

  • Practical 1 - Audio Arts - Production and Component Assessment [1]
Here is an overhauled and updated version of my Asset List.

Download Asset list 22-09-06

This week we talked about Production and Implementation. I didn't seem to take many notes for some reason, so I can't really remember what we went through. For the second half of the lesson, Christian loaded up Starcraft on his Mac. We analysed the start-up cinematic, and a mission from in-game. Nothing new for me, maybe look at one of the other second year blogs for further details. All I can say is that Starcraft is a pretty basic game from an audio perspective compared to the latest games of today, so in this light, it's probably a good first game to start analysing without overwhelming the class with a more complex game. Like many of the previous weekly tasks for this subject, I found the terminology used to describe what we had to do a little confusing. In my search for game references to help me with my forest environment ambience, I loaded up and analysed "Fable" for the Xbox. I found it very interesting to play the game with an analytical hat on. The environment forest ambience of the game seemed very rich to me, but after some close listening, I noticed how it was cleverly put together.

- Constant running river sound
- One off (seemingly random) splashes
- Distant water sound and white noise (heard from a distance to give the area depth)
- Slight delays were applied to the water sounds to make the river sound bigger and more expansive.

- Constant bird ambience
- individual bird sounds with different levels of reverb to simulate their distance from the PC. Also to give a sense of depth to the environment.

PC Footsteps:
- different sounding per material walked on
- Also higher pitched when running faster and lower pitched when running slower

Impressed with the audio for Fable, I have somewhat modelled my own audio on this game.

Here are some test examples of what I've done so far

Title Ambience - Download
Button Down SFX 1 - Download
Button Down SFX 2- Download

  • Practical 2 - Creative Computing - HID [2]

  • Music Technology Forum - Workshop - Improvisation Groups! [3]
This week we were introduced to saxophonist Derek Pascoe, who is currently doing his Master’s in improvisation.

With the aim of ‘unlearning’ his previous jazz education, for the last three years he has been developing his own personal improvisation style based on intuitive playing.

As part of his improvisation development he performs a daily ritual where he reads phrases from a book of teachings from the Dali Lama, and tries to draw intuitive inspiration from these readings.

He introduced the class to a number of different improvisation techniques that we might be able to make use of, and then demonstrated them by improvising with one of our improvisation groups.

For the first improvisation session, the audience was invited to participate. I used my voice and made some low and high sounds. It was a very liberating experience, and I’m glad I made the most out of the experience.

During the second jam, he used the techniques of 'for and against'. Derek himself played against Henry. I thought the jam sounded ok at the time, but once it finished, Derek gave some valuable feedback which subsequently seemed to make the remaining jams sound a lot better.

The next jam he used the technique of "me and my shadow", which was to follow what someone else is doing. This presented an interesting dimension of structure. I especially like the sound of Henry’s bass sliding as he tried to mimic Derek’s sax playing.

The final improvisation combined a number of different techniques, but also a number of different popular tunes. His reasoning for playing pop tunes in amongst the rest of the playing was to alert people and heighten their listening skills.

During the Q&A session at the end, I found it interesting that his idea of a successful jam was one that completely captures and involves the audience.
  • References
    [1] Haines, Christian. 2006. Lecture on Game Audio. University of Adelaide, 5 September.
    [2] Haines, Christian. 2006. Lecture on SuperCollider. University of Adelaide, 7 September.
    [3] Pascoe, Derek. 2006. Presentation by Derek Pasco. University of Adelaide, 7 September.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Week 6

  • Practical 1 - Audio Arts - Roles, Process & Planning [1]
I have converted my asset list to an excel file. As I receive further information about the game, and as I figure out more intuitive ways of representing this information, expect the format of the spreadsheet to change.

Download - Asset list 18-09-06

This week we talked about dependencies which are basically tasks that need to be finished before other tasks can begin. In other words, I can't start working on 'B' until 'A' is finished. For example, I can't start working on the weapon SFX until I know what sort of weapons we'll be using. Well like a lot of audio assets, I can start working on them, but I will run the risk of not knowing if they'll be useful or not until the final word has gone through. Screenshots, game footage, reference sketches, and whatever else that may aid me in creating the audio experience can be useful, but there are no set minimum requirements. I guess I'm ready to start when I feel I have a solid enough idea of where I'm going. Fortunately my group and Director Adam Dobson have been very good at providing me material. Adam has so far got me working on the title screen ambience and interface button SFX. The title screen will have a looping movie of animated scene from the game world, and my job will be to add corresponding ambience and music to this backdrop. In the foreground will be title interface the player will need to navigate through to start the game. This interface will need a number of sound effects for the buttons.

Our group also has a forum now where we discuss and post everything related to the development of Manadon. This forum can be accessed here

  • Practical 2 - Creative Computing - HID [2]
  • Music Technology Forum - Presentation - Presentations by Poppi Doser, Joshua Schulz, Albert Webster, and Tyrell Blackburn. [3]
Poppi Doser - Various AV

Poppi presented some of her hip hop/musique concrete AV projects. I was very impressed by her work and It's it's a pitty she dosn't present as much as she creates. It's nice to see her improve year by year though. I particularaly liked her 'early rap' (as she calls it) piece.

Joshua Schulz - "*MUSIC CONCRETE PIECE*"

I really liked this piece. It sounded very processed, but well sculptured. I thought Joshua's use of panning was one of the best executed this whole year. My only critism is that through the thick soundscape, there was little room for silence. I felt very engulfed with tension, but the music provided me with little 'release'.

Albert Webster – "BAND RECORDING"

Albert presented us with an ear opening extravaganza. For his presentation he presented one of the tracks he recorded for a Jazz band here at the Uni. I was very impressed with the clarity and seperation of the instruments and the overal mix sounded very professional. I think I'd feel very safe to have Albert record my own band if I had one. The solo instruments tended to be louder than the other instruments which is normal, but personally I would have probably turned them down by a couple of decibels.

Myself – Some game audio for Sillhouette Studios

I'd just like to reiterate to everyone reading this that the music I presented was far from complete. In fact to show some 'unfinished work' was my intention as I wanted to draw the audience deeper into the creation process, although perhaps I should have talked about that more. William made some good suggestions. Firstly he said that I should have showed the movie of "Mysitic Past" (the RPG (Role Playing Game)) that that gave me. It's a good idea in one way, but when I think about it I'd rather not present it as they used my music for this particular movie without my permission, and so it dosn't fit very well from a film point of view. Had they asked me I would have written specifically for the movie, but anyway, moving along. Secondly William suggested I show them the open Cubase session of the pieces I played. That's a great idea, and I probably could have done it on one of the G5's from the mac lab, but I wouldn't be able to play it in real-time unless I brought my own computer in, and without a car, the viability of this is almost 'nil'. Lastly he suggested I show the images as a slidshow within OSX. A good idea, and one that I shall employ if I were given a similar opportunity in the future.
  • Music Technology Forum - Workshop - Improvisation Groups!
This week out group seemed more detatched than last week, but we are getting quicker at setup times. Seb made a good comment to me that he thinks the groups are too big. I think he's right, and this probalby has a lot to do with the obstacles we are encountering. I groups of 3 or 4 would work much better. Aside from this I think the imprisation group needs some 'structure', because so far it's been unlike the chaotic excursions of sound I have attended in the past. Perhaps week by week rules can slowly be added and altered until we come to something that is refined, but still improvised

For example,
We must all create the soundscape to a randomly chosen film or video game played in real-time every week. We can each be assigned roles such as sound design, music, ambience, dialogue, etc.. From there we improvise the audio experience of the film or video game.

Silence must be employed by certain people at certain times

Only certain frequency ranges or tempered notes are allowed to be expressed at given points along the timeline of our improvisation.

... etc etc...

It’s still improvisation, but within rules. The concept of improvisation through rules sounds like something much more fulfilling to me than just making choatic sound. Chaotic sound can be good, but this avenue appeals to me more at this stage in my life.
  • References
    [1] Haines, Christian. 2006. Lecture on Game Audio. University of Adelaide, 29 August.
    [2] Haines, Christian. 2006. Lecture on SuperCollider. University of Adelaide, 31 August.
    [3] Doser, Poppi. Schulz, Joshua. Webster, Albert. Blackburn, Tyrell. 2006. Student Presentations. University of Adelaide, 31 August.