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
Please share:
 

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:  
  • Foley The Hand Play Track 200+ sounds included, 28 mins total $54 incl. vat

    The Hand library gets you sounds of the hand on the body.

    Features actions such as rub, scratch, pat, catch, hit, snap, clap, slap, punch, finger, hand check, and hand release.

    Actions on the hand, the head, the face, the chest, the wrist, the arm, the back, and the shoulder.

    A great collection for close combat for example. All sound are very natural and could be easily post processed for your needs.

    Gear used:

    • Avalon VT 737
    • Tube Tech CL1B
    • MD 441 Sennheiser
    • Neuman U87
    • Sanken Co 100K

    Add to cart
  • Destruction & Impact Space Battle Artillery Play Track 600+ sounds included, 115 mins total $80.40 incl. vat

    The Red Libraries teamed up with Thibault Csukonyi and Frederic Devanlay to create this new collection called Space Battle Artillery.

    A series of sound libraries offering sounds from a the futuristic fight universe.

    This first volume, Artillery, is a series of heavy weapons designed for spaceships, vehicles, robots or on a base.

    A mix between Sci-Fi and Steam punk, suited for all types of Sci-Fi universes.

    The sound library contains:

    • 20 weapons designed with single shots and bursts (Cannons, Rocket launchers, Gun turrets, Lasers)
    • Separate components of each each weapon in the form of synchronized layers, allowing you to make up your own creations by interchanging the different layers.
    • A toolbox containing textures, servos, mechanisms, impacts and much more items.
    Crafted with Kyma, Reaktor, Synths and with Nuendo 10

    Gear used:

    Avalon VT 737 • Tube Tech CL1B • Apollo 8p • Sound device 744T • Contact Mic Barkus Berry • Sanken Co 100K
    Add to cart
  • Cars Toyota Corolla Verso 1.6 Play Track 80+ sounds included, 75 mins total $72 $60 incl. vat

    Toyota Corolla Verso 1.6 sound library features 70 high quality files recorded with multi mic setup.

    The engine was recorded in sync with cabin interior ambients, and you can expect different styles of driving. From casual driving, through accelerations up to rpm ramps and constant rpm loops for game audio.

    In addition to engine recordings, this sound effects library features exterior passes, whooshes and other road related sounds recorded in mono and stereo.

    Last but not least, there are foley recordings that covers interior and exterior perspectives of different activities like opening and closing doors, seat belt sounds, handbrake and more.

    17 %
    OFF
    Ends 1570226399
    Add to cart
  • Electricity Lamps Play Track 64 sounds included, 88 mins total $35.88 $30 incl. vat

    Lamps focuses on the buzzing/humming sound of light bulbs, lamps, fluorescent tubes, you name it… You can find a sound for any electricity driven device you can imagine.

    These sounds can be used as pure effects or as a layer in your ambiances/atmos tracks to create a buzzing hallway or even to add tension in a basement scene with a fluorescent tube.

    Low humming growls, aggressive and high pitched, glass resonant tubes, tiny filament lamp, fridge style hums,etc…
    This library contains 44 designed textures and about 20 source material files with full and detailed metadata embedded ( Soundminer, Basehead, iXML ) , all at 96kHz / 24 bits.

    16 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569880799
    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures High Desert Ambiences 4: Coyotes Play Track 34+ sounds included, 111 mins total From: $46.80

    COYOTES 1 – DESCRIPTION:
    • In High Desert Ambiences 4: Coyotes, I revisit the place where my field recording journey started: West Texas. On my drive out, a massive wildfire was burning large parts of the Davis Mountains. The day I arrived firefighters were finally able to contain the blaze, but sadly not before 22,000 acres burned. Much of the wildlife is too slow to escape, but luckily one pack of coyotes was fast enough to climb over a ridge. Normally I hear coyotes out in the plains where they love hunting jackrabbits. That night, however, I was recording from the edge of the dead fire. I was stunned to hear howling deep in the valley! The pack had run into the mountains to escape the blaze.
    • In this library, hear the angst-ridden vocals of coyotes running to escape a wildfire. Hear the howls and yips of an extremely close pack bouncing from high valley walls. Hear an echo chamber filled with the haunting howls of coyotes who has just had their home burned.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT & CARBON NEUTRAL:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!
    • Carbon offset credits were purchased to offset my field recording travel for this library.

    COYOTES 1 – KEY FEATURES:
    • Six distinct coyote choruses. Recorded closely, from about 1/4 mile.
    • Howls and yips bouncing from high valley walls
    • Regal Great Horned Owl hoots
    • Lonely crickets chirping
    • Bats: ultrasonic and audible clicks
    • Eerie ranch dog barks
    • Quiet Nature clips from the same location to use a “natural roomtones”.
    COYOTES 2- KEY FEATURES:
    New Content – Available 9/13/2019.
    • Recorded on a separate trip to the same location
    • Extended coyote choruses with no other wildlife
    • Close and distant howls from as close as a quarter mile
    • Haunting echoes
    • Lush cricket choruses with coyotes
    .
    HOW ARE COYOTES 1 AND COYOTES 2 DIFFERENT? 
    • Recorded on separate trips to the same location
    • Recorded in the spring vs. autumn
    • COyotes 1 has more pack choruses
    • Coyotes 2 has more single lonesome howls
    • MS vs. ORTF recording
    .
    TEXT MARKERS:
    • Named markers are included in each file to help find interesting events in an otherwise uniform waveform.
    • Markers are included in the Soundminer and BWAV description fields starting with the prefix “Marker Text”.
    BLOG POST:
    • Read how I captured these mournful howls in my blog post: Wildfire Coyotes.
    FILE LIST & METADATA:
    • View larger version or Download CSV
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 40+ user reviews for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files.
    GEAR USED – COYOTES 1:
    • Sennheiser MKH 50 and 30 in Mid/Side
    • Sound Devices 702
    • Rycote MS Blimp
    GEAR USED COYOTES 2:
    • Sennheiser MKH8040 pair in ORTF
    • Sound Devices 702
    • Rycote ORTF Blimp

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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  • 'Organic Lifeform Textures' by Bluezone Corporation is an inspirational sound effect library offering a selection of 99 ( 24 bit / 96 kHz / stereo ) unusual and mysterious sounds : From huge organisms to tiny insects, unexpected groans to invertebrate creatures moving through mud, this SFX library will offer you ultra high quality malleable textures for all your projects. This downloadable sample pack is very usefull for pro editors, film makers, music producers and video game sound designers.

    All sounds were recorded using various sources and processed meticulously using high-end gear. These sound effects have been layered to give you ready-to-use elements. You can easily pitch, modulate, mangle and stretch these sounds to create thousands of variations. 'Organic Lifeform Textures' has been designed to enhance science fiction, mystery, suspense and fantasy video game and scoring projects. Note: The background ambience in the demo is not part of the product but is added free of charge.

    Add to cart
  • Horror Bones & Blood – GORE Elements Play Track 800+ sounds included $46.80 incl. vat

    This library has the aim of bringing ultra high quality malleable materials for sound designers with extensive organic variations in the realm of horror/gore.

    What’s inside:
    • various impacts with hands, slap, stab, drop, stomp, slam, crush, and blood spurt
    • slimy squeezes and twists of disgusting goo and flesh
    • diverse manipulations and gnaw
    • juicy flesh squirts and filaments tension
    • bones cracking, snaps and breaks
    • blade ringing, and various whooshes
    • body chunks falling in bloodbath, spurts and spatters

    It can help the most gruesome and disgusting scene comes alive with vivid realism.

    well-focused and malleable

    Each file has a great amount a variations of the same sound.

    In the meantime, the extensive frequency range provided by the Sanken co-100k and the Sennheiser MKH-series microphones allows extreme pitch-shifting.

    Let’s express creativity by layering these sounds and pitch-shiftings with almost no limits!

    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures Zombie Voices Play Track 110 Original Sounds sounds included $35.99 $23.99 incl. vat

    Experience this huge soundbank of skin-crawling zombie sounds, expertly recorded for maximum scare factor!

    Includes 330 audio files of stomach churning Hisses, Roars, Groans, Grunts, Sequenced sounds, Throat Fluids, Breath sounds and more… All in cutting-edge cinematic horror quality and multiple WAV and MP3 formats for your convenience.

    GROW THE HORDE!

    Featuring a huge variety of situational sounds, such as Warnings, Attacks, Fearful Screams, Hurt and Deaths voice sounds, and many more. Combine them together to create your very own undead horde! OR use the included Idle and Attack zombie horde sounds, pre-made for you!

    Hurry! BUY NOW and bring your humanoid monster character to life!

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Huge variety of Roars, Groans, Hisses, Grunts, Warnings, Attacks, Sequenced sounds, Throat Fluids, Breaths, Hurt and Death sounds and more
    • Perfect vocal styles for multiple genres (Adventure, FPS, RPG, RTS Games, Casino Slots, etc.), any scene or situation
    • Ready to use – requires no editing, labelling or splicing
    • Categorized, organized and individually labelled files for maximum use efficiency
    • FREE Updates to higher versions, FOREVER!
    33 %
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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Foley The Hand Play Track 200+ sounds included, 28 mins total $54 incl. vat

    The Hand library gets you sounds of the hand on the body.

    Features actions such as rub, scratch, pat, catch, hit, snap, clap, slap, punch, finger, hand check, and hand release.

    Actions on the hand, the head, the face, the chest, the wrist, the arm, the back, and the shoulder.

    A great collection for close combat for example. All sound are very natural and could be easily post processed for your needs.

    Gear used:

    • Avalon VT 737
    • Tube Tech CL1B
    • MD 441 Sennheiser
    • Neuman U87
    • Sanken Co 100K

  • Destruction & Impact Space Battle Artillery Play Track 600+ sounds included, 115 mins total $80.40 incl. vat

    The Red Libraries teamed up with Thibault Csukonyi and Frederic Devanlay to create this new collection called Space Battle Artillery.

    A series of sound libraries offering sounds from a the futuristic fight universe.

    This first volume, Artillery, is a series of heavy weapons designed for spaceships, vehicles, robots or on a base.

    A mix between Sci-Fi and Steam punk, suited for all types of Sci-Fi universes.

    The sound library contains:

    • 20 weapons designed with single shots and bursts (Cannons, Rocket launchers, Gun turrets, Lasers)
    • Separate components of each each weapon in the form of synchronized layers, allowing you to make up your own creations by interchanging the different layers.
    • A toolbox containing textures, servos, mechanisms, impacts and much more items.
    Crafted with Kyma, Reaktor, Synths and with Nuendo 10

    Gear used:

    Avalon VT 737 • Tube Tech CL1B • Apollo 8p • Sound device 744T • Contact Mic Barkus Berry • Sanken Co 100K
  • Cars Toyota Corolla Verso 1.6 Play Track 80+ sounds included, 75 mins total $72 $60 incl. vat

    Toyota Corolla Verso 1.6 sound library features 70 high quality files recorded with multi mic setup.

    The engine was recorded in sync with cabin interior ambients, and you can expect different styles of driving. From casual driving, through accelerations up to rpm ramps and constant rpm loops for game audio.

    In addition to engine recordings, this sound effects library features exterior passes, whooshes and other road related sounds recorded in mono and stereo.

    Last but not least, there are foley recordings that covers interior and exterior perspectives of different activities like opening and closing doors, seat belt sounds, handbrake and more.

    17 %
    OFF
    Ends 1570226399
  • Electricity Lamps Play Track 64 sounds included, 88 mins total $35.88 $30 incl. vat

    Lamps focuses on the buzzing/humming sound of light bulbs, lamps, fluorescent tubes, you name it… You can find a sound for any electricity driven device you can imagine.

    These sounds can be used as pure effects or as a layer in your ambiances/atmos tracks to create a buzzing hallway or even to add tension in a basement scene with a fluorescent tube.

    Low humming growls, aggressive and high pitched, glass resonant tubes, tiny filament lamp, fridge style hums,etc…
    This library contains 44 designed textures and about 20 source material files with full and detailed metadata embedded ( Soundminer, Basehead, iXML ) , all at 96kHz / 24 bits.

    16 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569880799
  • Animals & Creatures High Desert Ambiences 4: Coyotes Play Track 34+ sounds included, 111 mins total From: $46.80

    COYOTES 1 – DESCRIPTION:
    • In High Desert Ambiences 4: Coyotes, I revisit the place where my field recording journey started: West Texas. On my drive out, a massive wildfire was burning large parts of the Davis Mountains. The day I arrived firefighters were finally able to contain the blaze, but sadly not before 22,000 acres burned. Much of the wildlife is too slow to escape, but luckily one pack of coyotes was fast enough to climb over a ridge. Normally I hear coyotes out in the plains where they love hunting jackrabbits. That night, however, I was recording from the edge of the dead fire. I was stunned to hear howling deep in the valley! The pack had run into the mountains to escape the blaze.
    • In this library, hear the angst-ridden vocals of coyotes running to escape a wildfire. Hear the howls and yips of an extremely close pack bouncing from high valley walls. Hear an echo chamber filled with the haunting howls of coyotes who has just had their home burned.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT & CARBON NEUTRAL:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!
    • Carbon offset credits were purchased to offset my field recording travel for this library.

    COYOTES 1 – KEY FEATURES:
    • Six distinct coyote choruses. Recorded closely, from about 1/4 mile.
    • Howls and yips bouncing from high valley walls
    • Regal Great Horned Owl hoots
    • Lonely crickets chirping
    • Bats: ultrasonic and audible clicks
    • Eerie ranch dog barks
    • Quiet Nature clips from the same location to use a “natural roomtones”.
    COYOTES 2- KEY FEATURES:
    New Content – Available 9/13/2019.
    • Recorded on a separate trip to the same location
    • Extended coyote choruses with no other wildlife
    • Close and distant howls from as close as a quarter mile
    • Haunting echoes
    • Lush cricket choruses with coyotes
    .
    HOW ARE COYOTES 1 AND COYOTES 2 DIFFERENT? 
    • Recorded on separate trips to the same location
    • Recorded in the spring vs. autumn
    • COyotes 1 has more pack choruses
    • Coyotes 2 has more single lonesome howls
    • MS vs. ORTF recording
    .
    TEXT MARKERS:
    • Named markers are included in each file to help find interesting events in an otherwise uniform waveform.
    • Markers are included in the Soundminer and BWAV description fields starting with the prefix “Marker Text”.
    BLOG POST:
    • Read how I captured these mournful howls in my blog post: Wildfire Coyotes.
    FILE LIST & METADATA:
    • View larger version or Download CSV
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 40+ user reviews for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files.
    GEAR USED – COYOTES 1:
    • Sennheiser MKH 50 and 30 in Mid/Side
    • Sound Devices 702
    • Rycote MS Blimp
    GEAR USED COYOTES 2:
    • Sennheiser MKH8040 pair in ORTF
    • Sound Devices 702
    • Rycote ORTF Blimp
 
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