Dolby Atmos Game Audio Tutorial Asbjoern Andersen


Curious how you can make use of Dolby Atmos and object audio in your game? Black Edge Sound Studios created an in-depth production series for Dolby Interactive on how you can make it happen - and here, Nick Dixon talks you through the content contained in this series, and how it can answer some of the big questions developers still have on how to employ this technology in their games:
Words & videos by Nick Dixon
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As spatial sound becomes the new standard for interactive audio, our need as a professional industry to develop audio production solutions, skills and experience using this format is more essential than ever. For sound teams looking to compete at the top level of audio production in video games, spatial sound using Dolby Atmos is now a core ingredient to success. Dolby have always been at the forefront of developing new audio technologies that go on to be adopted as mainstream professional standards and they continue to be the leading technology provider for spatial sound in games, film and streaming based media.

Dolby have now released a production series to support interactive developers as they move towards an object based audio production environment that features the latest in spatial sound technology. This series features 3 episodes and an Unreal Engine 4 showcase environment using object based audio. Dolby have collaborated with Black Edge Sound Studios, an audio outsource service provider working with Dolby technologies, to produce this series.

I am a sound designer and audio director at Black Edge Sound Studios, and I’ll be demonstrating the steps needed to convert your existing pipeline into a 7.1.4 object based audio mix. Over the course of my career as a sound designer I’ve gained experience working in multiple AAA studio based game audio pipelines. This series aims to provide solutions to a number of common challenges faced by interactive teams using object audio for the first time in an existing project. New production approaches and techniques are also discussed in the series which covers a number of options sound designers have to generate a spatial audio design and what file formats can be used to deliver spatially active content in your sound mix.

 

Part 1 – Dolby Atmos in the Box

In this first episode, I will take users through the setup process required to integrate Dolby Atmos for Headphones in your team working practices and daily activities, which is the first essential step to integrating Dolby Atmos object based audio into your production environment. I also cover basic concepts of the Dolby Atmos format and how using Dolby Atmos for Headphones can improve your team’s productivity, creativity and quality of output.



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Part 2 – 3D Audio Production

In the second installment of this Dolby production series on Atmos for interactive development, I detail the different production approaches used to create a Dolby Atmos object based mix. Episode 2 breaks down the components of a 3D audio mix looking at positioning techniques and bed mix file formats that can be employed in a spatial sound design.

Ambience and backgrounds design for Dolby Atmos is one specific area where sound designers agree there are more significant creative and technical challenges in the content creation process when compared to other surround sound formats that use 2D playback systems. We can simplify this process by breaking down these challenges and providing detailed solutions on how to design 3D ambience mixes using mixed source content recorded in 2D formats then assembled as a design aesthetic for a specific location, theme or game feature. I’ll also compare these results against 2D stereo ambience mixes and discuss why using stereo files may not be an optimal design approach for surround and spatial formats such as Dolby Atmos.

Episode 2 also features visual diagrams on surround sound and 3D audio mixing. My team and I will demonstrate Unreal Engine working with Wwise using object based audio which is passed through the Dolby Atmos for Headphones encoder for monitoring. This configuration and the production approaches discussed can be adopted by developers looking to upgrade their sound design pipeline to use 3D object based audio. Whether you have a live production build or you are still in the early development phase, this episode will provide 3D audio solutions for your creative team to consider and gives a solid production framework to base your spatial sound design around.



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Part 3 – Interactive Audio

In the third and final installment of this Dolby production series, I’ll focus on interactive mixing using the Dolby Atmos format and how this can improve scaling for different playback systems and user configurations. We’ll talk briefly with Alexander Fielding, re-recording mixer, about how Dolby Atmos mixes translate from headphones to speaker systems. Alex and I will also discuss the difference between Dolby Atmos for home entertainment compared to theatrical Dolby Atmos and why video game sound mixes should be designed for the Dolby Atmos home entertainment standard. You can take a quick tour of the Dolby certified mix facilities at Creative Outpost, this is the flagship sound studio where Black Edge complete their final mixing for productions using the Dolby Atmos Home Entertainment standard.



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A big thanks to Nick Dixon for the insights! Learn more about Dolby Atmos here, Black Edge Sound Studios here, and discover some of the studio’s sound effects libraries here.

 

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