Asbjoern Andersen


What's next for game audio? We got the chance to speak with Becky Allen - head of audio at PopCap/Electronic Arts, and keynote speaker at GameSoundCon - about just that. And here, she shares her insight on the current challenges, advancements, and future opportunities in the game audio industry:
Written by Jennifer Walden
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GameSoundCon is coming up quickly — Nov 7-8th in Los Angeles. The two-day conference explores tools and topics relevant to sound designing and composing for games, VR, and AR. This year’s keynote speaker is Becky Allen, head of audio at PopCap/Electronic Arts in Seattle, WA. She has over 20 years of experience in sound, composing and sound designing for companies like Microsoft, Soundelux Design Music Group, and PopCap Games —where she recently handled audio direction for Plants Vs. Zombies Heroes.

Allen doesn’t just simply work in the game audio industry. She also facilitates the expansion of the craft. Allen is a founding volunteer of the Audio Mentoring Project — a mentoring program in which game audio veterans use their extensive networks of contacts and industry experience to encourage the learning and development of less experienced members of the game audio industry.

Here, Allen shares her thoughts on GameSoundCon, as well as gives insight on current challenges, advancements, and opportunities in the game audio industry. Find out what she sees for the future of game audio.

 

What’s one advancement you’ve seen in game sound in the past year that you’re excited about?

Becky Allen has pink and blonde hair and sits in front of her workstationBecky Allen (BA): There’s a renewed focus on the importance of accurate 3D spatialization of audio through VR/AR and a lot of excitement around that. VR/AR is still the new frontier for audio and our fellow sound designers and creators are tackling new and interesting issues. I look forward to hearing their work as it advances.

Audio in VR/AR is a key and essential part to maintaining the illusion of a virtual world and if audio isn’t working well, the experience breaks. Because of this, we see more emphasis on the sound and its significance for this new platform.

 

What’s the biggest challenge for game audio at the moment? How do you see that resolved in the future? Tech wise, what would you want to see for game sound?

BA: Regardless of the size and scope, systems for delivering dynamic and captivating content are becoming more complex. The complexity of systems requires deeper understanding of scripting and at some points coding. These skills are becoming more important for a sound designer to develop.

Tech-wise, it’s the same that we have been developing for decades — more and better tools in the hands of the sound designers and composers. Our tools have made great advancements and we continue to drive these innovations through new ideas and creative desire.

GameSoundCon in Los Angeles, 7-8 November

Creatively, what would you like to see in the future for game sound?

BA: With the increased amount of data collection that we now see coming from gameplay, we are able to craft individual experiences for each player on a finer level. We can drive unique experiences for each player that is different, believable and compelling each time — much like our real-world experience. Creatively this opens up many possibilities for designers in all areas: sound design, music design, and voice.

 

You’re the first female keynote speaker at GameSoundCon. Can you tell us a little about that conference and why you would recommend it to your peers and newcomers to the industry?

BA: GameSoundCon (Nov 7 – 8, in Los Angeles) is a conference specifically for audio people. It’s a great conference to learn about new tools, share skills and knowledge, and also to network.

This is a smaller conference than GDC, which is wonderful but can be overwhelming. At this conference, you have more quality time with the participants and can really dig into deeper topics and have more substantial connections with individuals.

Also, to acknowledge your statement above, yes, I am delighted to be the first female keynote speaker and I hope the first of many.

 

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Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

How is the game sound industry preparing for/handling the VR format (workflow, tools, staff skills)?

BA: I am not currently working in VR so I do not have first-hand experience with this. However, companies are emerging with new tools, new headphones, and new ways of listening. I find it intriguing that people are finding audio acoustic programs (Masters and PhD level) with an emphasis in psychoacoustics. Some of these students coming out of school with this knowledge now have a place to apply their education where perhaps before that wasn’t quite possible.

 

What opportunities do you hope VR will offer game sound pros?

BA: With the emphasis on the immersive experience being more pronounced, there are many opportunities for sound designers, in particular, to find a footing here.

More insights on the future of game audio:

 
Want to know more about what awaits in game audio? Be sure to check out the interviews with former Rockstar North audio director Matthew Smith here, and senior audio director/sound designer Ben Minto at EA DICE here.

Beyond VR and AR, any other major trends you’re seeing?

BA: Yes, culturally I see that corporations are now discussing and developing programs addressing gender gaps and diversity. I’m really happy to see these changes happening and being addressed.

However, change happens on all levels – individual to individual, within team groups at work, etc. True change of this kind is something that has to be looked at systemically as well as based on individual effort. I hope that we will continue to address the issues through discussion, initiatives, and conference roundtables, etc., until balance is attained (yes… an idealist!).

 

For game audio pros, how do you see the landscape changing in terms of job opportunities, must-have skills, platforms to focus on etc?

BA: The deeper and more complex systems that are being developed on all platforms suggest that sound designers, or any in-house audio person, have skills in scripting and coding as it applies to implementation. Knowledge in Python scripting, XML, and C++ are helpful but not currently considered a requirement. These skills and a person’s ability to “problem solve” through technological solutions and tool building are areas for growth and ways for young designers to focus and find more opportunity.

 

Do you have any advice for the next generation of game sound professionals? What should they be prepared for if they’re entering the industry in the next year?

BA: Immerse yourself in networking with local communities and connecting with other working professionals. You will find it a friendly and encouraging community. No need to be discouraged if you go to just one meet-up and nothing material seems to happen. Keep going and introduce yourself multiple times. The people in the industry remember when an individual continues to show up to networking events. It shows commitment and tenacity. People are prone to help individuals after they have seen you over the course of many networking events.

A big thanks to Becky Allen for all her great advice – and to Jennifer Walden for the interview!

 

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    As usual the sounds come perfectly cleaned and edited so you can instantly place them in your timeline or design new sounds with it. Of course they also got some EQ and compression treatment but weren’t further “designed”, so you have nice and flexible source material for your own productions.

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Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • An 800cc metal beast growls past you… What’s that?! It’s Flysound’s latest drop: the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer 2019 model, the sound library that is. Driven on asphalt both in an autodrome and then in city centre traffic, we’ve recorded this great bike with Neumann U 87 and Sennheiser MKH 416 mics, from all the angles you’ll need, at all the speeds you’ll want. The two-valve purr and roar has been catalogued riding, braking, accelerating, and doing cool maneuvers. If your project needs top audio for a motorbike, go on, speed into a new surprise.

  • Bundle LT Everything Bundle 2020 Play Track 5647+ sounds included, 1800+ mins total $700

    Get Lukas Tvrdon’s entire catalog in one bundle, INCLUDING ALL FUTURE RELEASES until the end of 2020!

    That means the product price will grow as new releases are added, while existing bundle owners can download the new releases at no extra cost. The basic price includes 10% discount, plus an additional active product discount.

    High quality equipment used – Sanken Co100k, Sennheiser MKH30, DPA 4007, DPA 4060, 4062, Shertler DynUni, Aquarian H2a, Ambient SoundFish MKI ASF1, Rode Soundfield NTSF1, Sony PCMD100, Telinga Dish, Sound Devices Pre6, Zoom F8, and more

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    All-around realistic and designed SFX and ambiences: underwater, science fiction, monsters, mechanical and gears, and much more!

    Libraries included in the bundle:

    SPACE DIVERS | 367 files / 1000+ individual sounds | 8.56 GB
    6 MONSTERS | 142 files | 73 MB
    BEASTIE GIRLS 192 | 989 files | 783 MB
    DIVE DEEP 2 | 53 files | 3.48 GB
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    WOODEN GEAR 192 | 215 files | 24 GB
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    WHAT’S INSIDE

    IMPACTS, BARBELLS, METAL, HITS, HAMMERS, CRUNCHES, CLEARS, IRON, BARS, SMASHES, CRASHES, BRASSES, PENDULUM, CLOCKS, STICKS, CARS, DOORS, CHAINS, COFFERS, CONTAINERS, DISTORTED, RATTLES, HATCHES, METALBOXES, BICYCLES, SWORDS, SQUEAK, ROBOTS, SWEETENERS

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    Developed in exclusive collaboration with Academy Award®-winning sound editors, Mark Mangini (Blade Runner 2049, Mad Max: Fury Road) and Richard L. Anderson (The Lion King, Edward Scissorhands), The Odyssey Collection: Vehicles (OV) brings you an unrivaled professional vehicle sound effects library to help cover your needs for any scene. Recorded with the invaluable resources of a Hollywood budget while creating the sound for hundreds of major feature films, OV features over 250 different vehicles – from sports cars and luxury SUVs to street bikes and military trucks – expertly captured from varied perspectives with methodical workups to streamline your workflow.

    What is a workup? A workup is a thorough series of recordings of the same subject from many different perspectives, angles, and distances. To ensure you have the sounds needed for any scene, a workup of a specific vehicle provides recordings of every action the vehicle performs – both interior, exterior, and at different speeds including pass bys, engine rumble, mechanical sounds, car Foley, and more.

    As the latest library in The Odyssey Collection following Odyssey Essentials (OE) and Odyssey Expanded (OX), OV presents a new approach to sound library curation – combining the comprehensive offering of a general library with the pinpoint focus of a specialty library – all while championing Odyssey’s renowned and inspiring quality, reliable breadth, intuitive organization, and cinematic character.

    “This library has been an essential tool for me my entire life, and this idea of workups and vehicle recordings is a big part of its philosophy. It makes getting the job done that much more elegant, professional, and high fidelity.” – Mark Mangini


    Which version of Odyssey Vehicles is right for you?
    In curating the Basic Version, we created a must-have pack for any sound editor by zeroing in on more than 25 of the most frequently heard vehicles in film & TV. The Full Library is an indispensable resource for serious sound editors with over 250 vehicles from Mangini & Anderson’s renowned collection.

    Basic Version
    PRICE: $199
    AUDIO FILES: 1500+ (21GB)
    VEHICLES: 25+
    WORKUPS: 20+
    SOUNDLIST: VIEW PDF

    Full Library
    PRICE: $1195
    AUDIO FILES: 12,000+ (147GB)
    VEHICLES: 250+
    WORKUPS: 125+
    SOUNDLIST: VIEW PDF

 
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