Asbjoern Andersen


Working in game audio requires you to stay updated on an ever-growing stream of new development tools, workflows and platforms - and over the past years, the School of Video Game Audio (SoVGA) has helped 100s of students do exactly that.

SoVGA offers online courses in Wwise, FMOD Studio, Unreal, Unity and Pure Data - and as it celebrates its 7th birthday, we decided to get in touch with founder Leonard Paul to hear how the site, game audio and the community has evolved over the years - and what lies ahead:


Interview by Asbjoern Andersen, images courtesy of Leonard Paul
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Hi Leonard, please introduce yourself, the School of Video Game Audio – and the courses you’re offering:

Hi! My name is Leonard Paul and I’m the Director of the School of Video Game Audio. I’ve been working with game audio since the mid-90s and teaching game audio since 2001. I’m fortunate to have Viviana Caro help with feedback for student assignments. She has worked in game audio since 2011, is a Senior Sound Artist at Electronic Arts, and has taught audio for many years.

The focus of the School of Video Game Audio is to help our students improve their game audio skills by creating a demo reel using Wwise, FMOD Studio, Unreal, Unity or Pure Data. This year we’ve added new course add-ons in sound design, coding, dialogue and adaptive music. The coding add-on has been quite popular since it gives students the chance to use basic code to integrate Wwise or FMOD Studio into Unity or Unreal. Add-ons also allow us to spread out into more subjects like composing chiptunes, implementing dynamic dialogue and learning how to do sound design for magic effects.

We run new courses every two months and students can spend more time in a course if they need to as life can be unpredictable. Once the demo reel is done we often help out students with their resumes, cover letters, and other business topics. We work with a wide range of students but most come to us with a strong audio background who are looking to transition into game audio, however, we’re finding an increasing number of students who already have years of experience in game audio are joining us to add new skills in a certain area such as coding.

 
How did the idea for the School of Video Game Audio come about in the first place?

I like working with a diverse range of students and I’m really glad that we’ve been able to have students from over 55 countries join us so far.

After teaching at other institutions for around a decade, I found that I wanted to have a more direct connection with my students. Being able to teach students online allows a depth of mentorship that I found more difficult when teaching in a live classroom environment. I like working with a diverse range of students and I’m really glad that we’ve been able to have students from over 55 countries join us so far.

We really focus on a personalized experience to help our students through detailed feedback and critique on their creative work such as sound design and music.

We’ve been lucky to start our school at a time when technologies like YouTube, PayPal, Moodle, and Google Docs allow us to create a direct and modern approach to learning. There’s a lot of online courses available so we really focus on a personalized experience to help our students through detailed feedback and critique on their creative work such as sound design and music.

With the school I can combine my interests in teaching, coding, and audio together and meet amazing people from all around the world. Being independent can be difficult but it also allows us to put students first. Not all of the work done at the school is fun but we do all we can to give the students the knowledge and skills they’re looking for in game audio!

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Destruction & Impact Debris – Ambisonic Play Track 110+ sounds included, 17 mins total $75

    Get all sorts of ambisonic debris recordings in this release from Spheric Collection – perfect for earthquakes, landslides, explosions and beyond. Debris is the material you will need for a house and gallery collapsing. From very small stone and dust to large rocks, this collection is a good set of mineral sounds – covering everything from impacts, continuous falling debris, rocks poured from various heights, light and heavy falling debris sounds, a number of falling rock sounds, to rocky explosions and blasts, glass sounds and more. Always immersive all sounds are ambisonic recordings.

    About Ambisonics:
    This is an Ambisonics sound effects library - and by using the free SoundField SurroundZone 2 plugin you can convert the B-format files into your preferred format (stereo, 5.0, 5.1, 6.0, 6.1, 7.0 or 7.1 surround). Note: The library also contains ready-made stereo mixdowns for your convenience.
    Add to cart
  • Drones & Moods Affright Play Track 208 sounds included, 45 mins total $30 $15

    Affright” is a collection of 208 sounds (Wav, 24 Bit / 48 kHz) aimed to induce tension, fear and urgency in horror productions.

    You will find looped percussive elements (clocks, metals, hits, alarms, musical elements and more at 75 bpm), designed rhythmic elements (75 bpm) and fx (atmospheric elements, reverses, noises, risers, drops).

    If you are a musician who wants to define the building blocks of an intense horror track or maybe you are a sound designer who needs to create a musical moment in a scene from a sound design perspective, this library can help you to achieve those things.

    Metals, vinyl noises, voices, ukuleles, flutes, guitars and clocks were used to create this intense pack of 164 loops and 44 Fx.

    Check the main demo!! It was created very quickly using only the sounds of the pack with NO ADDED EFFECTS, only mixing the levels of the sounds and shows you the intensity of what you can create with this library!!

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569707999
    Add to cart
  • Hum, Buzz & Glitches Vintage Film Tech Effects Play Track 206 sounds included, 5 mins total $120 $99

    Vintage Film Tech Effects features Slate claps, Beeps, Bloops, Film leader tone, Static, 2 Pops, digital dropouts, record player noise and much more. We’ve collected these vintage sounds from old Hollywood dailies reels, and film stock. 206 tracks that recreate the sound of the lost art of classic Film, TV and radio production.

    18 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569016799
    Add to cart
  • City Life Transit: Japan Play Track 40 sounds included, 2.75 hrs mins total $30 $15

    Looking for authentic ambient sounds of Japanese transportation? Look no further! Field recordist and composer Ryan Ayers travelled to Japan in April of 2019 and captured this wonderful collection. His journey took him from Osaka to Tokyo to Fukuoka and all points in-between. Travel aboard the trains of the JR, the famous Shinkansen, the Hanyu Ferry and more! Explore the train platforms and station terminals of Osaka. Get lost in the Kansai International Airport. There is a subway noodle shop as well as specialty food markets. Authentic walla and natural activity give this collection the ear candy necessary to be an integral part of great soundscapes.

    This is a purely recorded sound pack. Nothing is synthetic or layered here. What you hear is exactly what was captured on location. We edited and mastered the files to bring out the best parts of the recordings. Most of the recordings have been ready-made into loops for ease of use. As always, we have embedded the files with detailed metadata for easy database searches.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569967199
    Add to cart
  • Foley Wooden Ship Ambiences Play Track 50 sounds included, 85 mins total $149.99 $99.99

    Ahoy Mateys! Step aboard the finest sailing ship sound effects library in the land.

    Whether you’re working on an exciting Pirates of the Caribbean style video game or a relaxing sea-faring romance, the hours of exceptional background loops and additional cutting edge ship sounds contained within this sound pack will set your project on a course to excellence!

    EXPLORE AN ENTIRE SHIP

    Whether your adventure takes place in the MAIN DECK, CABIN, BELOW DECK, atop the CROWS NEST, in a MEDIEVAL PORT, or on a DISTANT SHIP in the HIGH SEAS we’ve got you covered! Each ambience contains MULTIPLE VARIATIONS, ALL WEATHER CONDITIONS, and MULTIPLE INTENSITIES to cover each and every part of the ship, on the rough and calm seas, this sound effects library is perfect for every situation you need.

    A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER

    Our expert team of sound designers have meticulously crafted each ambience into CONTINUOUS, NON-REPETITIVE, DRAG AND DROP-READY LOOPS that will serve as perfect background audio for your game, film, animation, live event, or even as relaxing background audio! We have even included FULL and SIMPLIFIED MIXES, ISOLATED WEATHER, OCEAN and WOOD CRACKING versions, SHORT and LONG non-repetitive variants, and numerous other options for your convenience!

    TREASURE APLENTY

    With FREE UPDATES, FOREVER! and FREE BONUS AMBIENCES: MEDIEVAL PORT and isolated, SEA, SAILS and FLAG FLAPPING, Ship’s BELL RINGING, WEATHER and WOOD CRACKING SOUNDS, all supplied in industry standard Hi-Rez WAV and Hi-Quality MP3 formats, there’s no better time to set sail on the high seas with this ONE OF A KIND sound pack!

    So what are you waiting for? Take command of this UNIQUE library and begin your journey on the high seas today!

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Huge variety of Old Wooden Ship Interior and Exterior Ambiences, All Weather Conditions and Additional Useful BONUS Sound Effects for every scene or situation.
    • Multiple variants and intensities for your convenience and additional edit options (lengths, looping versions, stingers, etc.).
    • Ready to use – requires no editing, labelling or splicing. Categorized, organized and individually labeled files for maximum use efficiency
    • All files are included in Hi-Rez WAV, High-Quality WAV and High-Quality MP3 formats
    • FREE Updates to higher versions, FOREVER!

     

    33 %
    OFF
    Ends 1568757599
    Add to cart

Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

 
Looking back at those 7 years, what have been some of the major milestones?

It’s felt like a bit of a blur, so I actually looked through the community update emails that we send out each school term (every 2 months) and picked out a few milestones for our past seven years:

2013 – Work with the Women’s Audio Mission to provide a discount their members
2014 – First annual SoVGA GDC Meetup
2015 – Pure Data course launched
2016 – 100 student reels
2017 – 50 student countries and Unreal course launched
2017 – I received my Master’s in Game Audio
2018 – Viviana becomes a Senior Sound Artist at Electronic Arts
2019 – Course add-ons launched

A breakdown of the SoVGA courses.

We’re always looking to try new things and really looking forward to seeing what’ll happen in the future.

 
How many students have passed through your courses over the years? Any results or reels you’d like to highlight in particular?

We have hundreds of students join us in the past 42 terms in nearly 200 different classes. Each term we’ve chosen an exceptional student demo reel to feature and have added them to our featured grads page. In total, we’ve had 180 reels with over 115,000 views which is a great audience for our students who are looking for work.

Screenshots from 180 demo reels.

The story of our school really comes down to a lot of individual student stories. One of my favourite recent stories is that of Frank Lubsey who recently joined Schell Games as an Audio Manager:

“The School of Video Game Audio has been a tremendous help in my career. I started my journey with the school years ago as a complete beginner looking to break into the field, and now I will be starting as an Audio Manager for Schell Games. In this role, I’ll be managing the audio development process and development schedules across various projects in addition to creating audio assets. I have made each transition from hobbyist, to freelancer, and now in-house game audio professional with Leonard’s mentorship and guidance. The School of Video Game Audio has given me confidence, capability, and support throughout my journey. If you are seriously thinking about a career in game audio, I highly recommend the School of Video Game Audio.”

Frank Lubsey

We try our best to support each student on their own unique career path in game audio and we learn a lot along the way too!

 
What have been the biggest changes in game audio since you started out – and how have your courses evolved over the years to reflect those changes?

A huge change for our industry happened in 2014 when FMOD Studio and Wwise became free for use on indie games. Not only did this allow more studios to use FMOD and Wwise but I believe that lowering the barrier to entry also helps to encourage more diversity as well. It’s great to see audio middleware being used more frequently in game jams and it’s helped to raise the overall audio quality in games.

Video Thumbnail

Phill Aeolony’s Wwise Demo Reel + playlist of more SoVGA student reels

Since we’re small it allows us to change our courses quickly to both add and remove material to best help our students. I see a large part of my role as someone who removes obstacles and answers questions. I spend a lot of time coding projects each term to make sure that they work so students can spend their time learning instead of getting stuck with technical issues that can be difficult to figure out on your own. I also listen a lot to my students and enjoy updating the courses in response to their feedback.

 
What are your thoughts on the current state of game audio, in terms of middleware, tools and techniques, the community and overall trends?

As far as the current state of things on the technical side, I hope that procedural audio continues makes its way into games along with spatialization techniques to improve the audio experience. I think that making accessible and interesting tools for audio designers is really important so all the advances in audio middleware with granulation, spatial audio, synthesis and effects are great to see.

SoVGA Twitter banner.

I helped out as a moderator for the GameDev World conference this year and it gave me a glimpse into the world of games that we don’t necessarily hear about in the English language media. I’m really fascinated by the potential of games and hope that our students can help contribute to new gaming experiences. The game audio community is really supportive and I’m glad to be a part of it.

 
Any thoughts on what’s ahead in game audio? And for people who are looking to get into game audio, any advice on things they should particularly focus on?

Leading a balanced work life is important and I do my best to help students consider options when working in games.

I find that general advice is difficult to give but I think it’s important to know what you can bring to a company when you’re looking for work. It’s not so much convincing an employer to hire you but finding the best way to present your skills so they can easily understand how you can help them. Leading a balanced work life is important and I do my best to help students consider options when working in games.

More on the future of game audio:

Want more thoughts and insights on the future of game audio? Check out our earlier interview series below:

The Future of Game Audio – with Becky Allen
The Future Of Game Audio – with Ben Minto
The Future of Game Audio – with Matthew Smith

When starting out, I think you don’t need to be too concerned with gear as it shouldn’t be a barrier in most cases. You can put together a beginner game audio rig for around $1000 for a laptop, headphones, portable recorder and audio software these days. Similar to clothing, the details of choosing your audio gear can be quite personal so I find working together with students gives the best results.

Overall, I believe that advice is more of a conversation where you get to know the person you’re giving advice to. When starting out or making a big career change, it’s often really difficult to even know what questions you should ask, like what company do I want to work for, how much should I get paid, or how do I apply to jobs. I see my role as an educator and mentor to help support each student on their own individual journey and help guide them towards a future in game audio that is both inspiring and sustainable.

 

A big thanks to Leonard Paul for sharing with us his experiences as the Director of the School of Video Game Audio! Visit the website here, and find them om Twitter here, and LinkedIn here.

 

Please share this:


 


 
 
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    Swordfighter is a robust package with sharp sounding swords, heaps of variations and all the extras you need to make a fight come alive. Build unique sword swings with various hits, swooshes, schings, different fighter vocals and impacts on various surfaces. All up there are 137 sword sounds, 93 surface impact sounds, 15 knife throwing sounds, 48 swooshes and 180 fighter vocals.

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    The library roughly is broken into two sections, raw and processed. Raw is designed for sound designers to go wild with: stretch, distort, compress, and more to your hearts content. The processed section is for designers and content creators on the go. If you’re on a tight deadline, pulling some sounds that are already going to get you close to where you need to be is imperative. These processed versions play very nicely even when not designing ice.

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Destruction & Impact Debris – Ambisonic Play Track 110+ sounds included, 17 mins total $75

    Get all sorts of ambisonic debris recordings in this release from Spheric Collection – perfect for earthquakes, landslides, explosions and beyond. Debris is the material you will need for a house and gallery collapsing. From very small stone and dust to large rocks, this collection is a good set of mineral sounds – covering everything from impacts, continuous falling debris, rocks poured from various heights, light and heavy falling debris sounds, a number of falling rock sounds, to rocky explosions and blasts, glass sounds and more. Always immersive all sounds are ambisonic recordings.

    About Ambisonics:
    This is an Ambisonics sound effects library - and by using the free SoundField SurroundZone 2 plugin you can convert the B-format files into your preferred format (stereo, 5.0, 5.1, 6.0, 6.1, 7.0 or 7.1 surround). Note: The library also contains ready-made stereo mixdowns for your convenience.
  • Drones & Moods Affright Play Track 208 sounds included, 45 mins total $30 $15

    Affright” is a collection of 208 sounds (Wav, 24 Bit / 48 kHz) aimed to induce tension, fear and urgency in horror productions.

    You will find looped percussive elements (clocks, metals, hits, alarms, musical elements and more at 75 bpm), designed rhythmic elements (75 bpm) and fx (atmospheric elements, reverses, noises, risers, drops).

    If you are a musician who wants to define the building blocks of an intense horror track or maybe you are a sound designer who needs to create a musical moment in a scene from a sound design perspective, this library can help you to achieve those things.

    Metals, vinyl noises, voices, ukuleles, flutes, guitars and clocks were used to create this intense pack of 164 loops and 44 Fx.

    Check the main demo!! It was created very quickly using only the sounds of the pack with NO ADDED EFFECTS, only mixing the levels of the sounds and shows you the intensity of what you can create with this library!!

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569707999
  • Hum, Buzz & Glitches Vintage Film Tech Effects Play Track 206 sounds included, 5 mins total $120 $99

    Vintage Film Tech Effects features Slate claps, Beeps, Bloops, Film leader tone, Static, 2 Pops, digital dropouts, record player noise and much more. We’ve collected these vintage sounds from old Hollywood dailies reels, and film stock. 206 tracks that recreate the sound of the lost art of classic Film, TV and radio production.

    18 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569016799
  • City Life Transit: Japan Play Track 40 sounds included, 2.75 hrs mins total $30 $15

    Looking for authentic ambient sounds of Japanese transportation? Look no further! Field recordist and composer Ryan Ayers travelled to Japan in April of 2019 and captured this wonderful collection. His journey took him from Osaka to Tokyo to Fukuoka and all points in-between. Travel aboard the trains of the JR, the famous Shinkansen, the Hanyu Ferry and more! Explore the train platforms and station terminals of Osaka. Get lost in the Kansai International Airport. There is a subway noodle shop as well as specialty food markets. Authentic walla and natural activity give this collection the ear candy necessary to be an integral part of great soundscapes.

    This is a purely recorded sound pack. Nothing is synthetic or layered here. What you hear is exactly what was captured on location. We edited and mastered the files to bring out the best parts of the recordings. Most of the recordings have been ready-made into loops for ease of use. As always, we have embedded the files with detailed metadata for easy database searches.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569967199
  • Foley Wooden Ship Ambiences Play Track 50 sounds included, 85 mins total $149.99 $99.99

    Ahoy Mateys! Step aboard the finest sailing ship sound effects library in the land.

    Whether you’re working on an exciting Pirates of the Caribbean style video game or a relaxing sea-faring romance, the hours of exceptional background loops and additional cutting edge ship sounds contained within this sound pack will set your project on a course to excellence!

    EXPLORE AN ENTIRE SHIP

    Whether your adventure takes place in the MAIN DECK, CABIN, BELOW DECK, atop the CROWS NEST, in a MEDIEVAL PORT, or on a DISTANT SHIP in the HIGH SEAS we’ve got you covered! Each ambience contains MULTIPLE VARIATIONS, ALL WEATHER CONDITIONS, and MULTIPLE INTENSITIES to cover each and every part of the ship, on the rough and calm seas, this sound effects library is perfect for every situation you need.

    A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER

    Our expert team of sound designers have meticulously crafted each ambience into CONTINUOUS, NON-REPETITIVE, DRAG AND DROP-READY LOOPS that will serve as perfect background audio for your game, film, animation, live event, or even as relaxing background audio! We have even included FULL and SIMPLIFIED MIXES, ISOLATED WEATHER, OCEAN and WOOD CRACKING versions, SHORT and LONG non-repetitive variants, and numerous other options for your convenience!

    TREASURE APLENTY

    With FREE UPDATES, FOREVER! and FREE BONUS AMBIENCES: MEDIEVAL PORT and isolated, SEA, SAILS and FLAG FLAPPING, Ship’s BELL RINGING, WEATHER and WOOD CRACKING SOUNDS, all supplied in industry standard Hi-Rez WAV and Hi-Quality MP3 formats, there’s no better time to set sail on the high seas with this ONE OF A KIND sound pack!

    So what are you waiting for? Take command of this UNIQUE library and begin your journey on the high seas today!

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Huge variety of Old Wooden Ship Interior and Exterior Ambiences, All Weather Conditions and Additional Useful BONUS Sound Effects for every scene or situation.
    • Multiple variants and intensities for your convenience and additional edit options (lengths, looping versions, stingers, etc.).
    • Ready to use – requires no editing, labelling or splicing. Categorized, organized and individually labeled files for maximum use efficiency
    • All files are included in Hi-Rez WAV, High-Quality WAV and High-Quality MP3 formats
    • FREE Updates to higher versions, FOREVER!

     

    33 %
    OFF
    Ends 1568757599
 
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