Destiny 2 Reveal

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It has been a year now working together with the awesome team at Bungie on Destiny 2 – and wow! I am having a blast!

Here is what the amazing team at Bungie put together for their upcoming Destiny sequel. Check out the reveal teaser here:

Life is a Journey…!

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I feel privileged having lived in places like Melbourne, Byron Bay, Dortmund, Munich, Berlin, Gainesville, Irvine, Copenhagen, Denmark, Uppsala, Sweden … and now I am off to Bellevue, Washington. The Rojahn family is getting bigger, too. Whaaaaa? Yeah, we have another boy on the way, due November 2016. Crazy times! So, it definitely stays exciting in and around our lives in America… and we love every bit of it. Nope, we’re not Americans yet, well our kids are, but we struggle with the common H1B madness from time to time.

I’ve always loved to travel, see different places, study cultures, and most and formost meet new people! It lets me understand more about myself, as a human lend to this planet, and as an artist looking for a reason to be. I feel that every time I’ve visited a different place, my perception of things change. For the better in most cases. Your senses sharpen and you gain a full load of respect about the world in general. I’am very thankful about the many places I get to experience. But hey, of course adjusting to a new experience comes with challenges… But down the line, it is totally worth it.

Change initially hurts! Its uncomfortable. You’re breaking habits and eventually having to developing new ones. Personally, though, I think that this is what makes us better at being humans, because everything around us all of a sudden becomes new and feels like a fresh beginning. Engage in it, embrace it! It can only make you better at what you do. Being a dad, a husband or a friend – or a sound designer. My sound design skills are massivley growing because of change. Due to woking with new and exciting people sharing believes that you haven’t thought about. It invites you to-do-things-different ™!

If your comfort zone breaks – it seeks creativity! Fuel it by developing new techniques and try out things differently in your sound design. Try to flip your knowledge up-side-down! Become a apprentice again. Be naive. And be proud of it! Its like changing your track colors in Pro Tools, or Nuendo, to feel a little bit different within your daily work-routin. Its like, moving your sofa around in your living room from time to time for your home to feel like new. Thats a good thing. Even if its messing with your brain. It only exists to become manipulated! If you haven’t done this yet, try it out and … perhaps it works for you?!

Sound Design Outtakes from The Order 1886

Over the weekend I was able to sit back, reflect and spend time to capture the variouse sound design works straight from The Order 1886 release disc. I tried to look for the most significant audio moments that there are in the game. And because there were so many (I have to say that!!), the content was split into categories, each representing their sound key area. I also recorded myself talking about how some of the sound design and its development.

Being the only in-house sound designer representing the world of audio inside Ready At Dawn Studios, means I wear many hats, dealing with multiple responsibilities. My core duties range from being an ambassador for audio among team disciplines, sound conceptualization, sound design creation, audio direction, implementation and integration, feature design and development, mentorship, linear and interactive mixing.

When I joined Ready at Dawn for The Order 1886, I was somewhat suprised, that there already existed a solid foundation of how design felt about the different pallet and sound design for firarms! I thought to myself, what a great start! That’s always the best when design follows a vision! This enabled early brainstorming and audio conceptualization for the weapon universe during the pre-productions in 2012. Apart from designing most of the gunfire, I’ve also spend a large amount in the field recording original materials to be used for ambient, interacts and footsteps heard in the game. Because of the amazing work the art team at Ready at Dawn has created to aim for a high visual representation for the game, drove inspiration on my end and greatly influenced the audio design decisions.

Worth praising is the cinematic audio production done by our awesome publisher’s sound service group and their talented audio staff at Sony San Diego, whom I’ve had the privilege working with very closely throughout the production. Their responsibilities was recording, performing and editing foley and sound effects design (surround sound) and on-site integration and scripting support. Not to mention the extraoudenary voice and music production support, provided by the Sony Santa Monica and San Mateo (music only) offices helping with casting, direction, recording (mocap, ADR and walla), editorial and supervision.

Here is a little preview:

Check out all other videos in the demo reel section:

Demo Reel – The Order 1886

Immersion Teaser

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Below is a new project I had the pleasure to be working on. This teaser/trailer was brought to life by talented fellow Raphael Rogers, an upcoming filmmaker in LA, who really seem to understands how powerful sound can be as a narrative tool. As for most of his films, apart from direction and writing, Raphael has done most of the visual effects seen in the film himself! Make sure to check out his Vimeo profile.

The Music of The Order: 1886

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“The sound of the game is just as unique as the visuals, it has its own identity – that was very important for us from the beginning” Andrea Pessino

Watch the video for an inside look on how the music for The Order 1886 came about. Composer Jason Graves, design director Dana Jan and co-founder Andrea Pessino share their inside on the games’ musical score.

The Order 1886 – Announce Trailer

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Here are the very first impressions of the game I’ve been working on – The Order 1886 – with a stunning trailer that has officially been announced to the public during E3 at the Sony press conference in Los Angeles. The game itself is still in production but so far I can say that I am already extremely proud to be part of such an exciting and creative challenging project.

Ready at Dawn have been best known for their PSP titles: Daxter and God of War: Chains of Olympus – which have won the independent studio multiple awards in the industry. During the press conference Sony announced that The Order 1886 will be an exclusive title for the Playstation 4 and is co-produced by their Santa Monica studio.

To mention is that the footage you’ll see is being rendered in the actual engine using Ready at Dawn home-made technology.

The crew over at Gameinformer have recently visited the studio on-site, covered a feature on their November edition and talked to creative director Ru and Andrea about the history of the studio. Both are sharing insights on how this game came about, speaking with the key members of the development team.

“The Order: 1886 offers a fascinating glimpse into a past twisted by strange events that alter the course of history. Players step into the shoes of a knight who is part of an ancient order sworn to protect humanity from the threat of monstrous half-breed creatures. Ready At Dawn’s fascinating fiction for its new franchise draws inspiration from ancient mythology and legend combined with actual historical figures; the result is a story we can’t wait to experience in full. This fiction is buttressed by an action-packed shooting mechanic fueled by awesome and unusual weapons, like a rifle that can spew blasts of lightning. The Order’s incredible visuals and technology speak to what we can all look forward to in the games designed from the ground up to run on next-gen hardware like the PS4.” Gameinformer 2012

Can’t get enough? Want to find out more about the game? Go visit the Gameinformer website directly and check out the entire coverage on the game, introducing the main character, next-gen technology, weapons and much more…

Hitman: Absolution – Dynamic Audio

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The long awaited stealth franchise Hitman: Absolution is out!! I am extremely proud that I have been a part of this project working together with the sound department on this highly immersive 3rd person stealth adventure. The franchise came a long way and I’ve been a fan of it since day one. Although, to be able to finally work on the game still appears to be unreal! With the fifth part of the squeal, Agent 47 has more to offer then ever. You can either be all about traditional stealth gameplay or decide to equip yourself with plenty of firearms and “gun-fight” yourself to the finish lines. Overall the game is filled with suberb gameplay mechanics, next-gen graphics, beautiful lighting and a brilliantly composed environments which make it a wonderful and fun experience.

Watch the video interview with Game Director Christian Elverdam and Audio Director Bärtschi who give insight on how they approached the world of sound for the game. They talk about the deep narrative nature the game has and how its storytelling played an important role for the dialog heard in the game.

In the video interview below, Christian also talks about the focus the team invested throughout the development process of their in-house engine Glancier2, which took the studio a total of 5 years to build emphasizing efforts in the abilities they were eager to implement on Absolution.

Make sure to get your copy today for PC, Xbox or PS3.

Field Recording: Airplane (Part 2)

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For an upcoming project I was contracted to come up with a sound design solution that could help to portray a picture of a futuristic public transportation system inside a world similar to the digital high-tech movie-set in Tron: Legacy. The client was specifically interested to captivate a unique approach to develop an expressive character along with specific audio vocalization attached to all transport applications inside the world.

The sound effects discussed with the director should express and incorporate a unique design concept for motion, speed and velocity. Therefore, very untypical to the sounds of modern public transportation operating in most European cities. According to the visual excerpts of the design documentation, it seemed clear that in order to invent suitable ideas for the sound scape, I needed material that could help bring into being elegance, style, agility and futuristic technology with a unique blend in tonality.

Here are some mixed notions I made associated with the idea of how to to go about the general design conceptualization. It helps tremendously to hard print these notes with the most crucial key descriptions of a given mood or style that needs to be created.

Sci-Fi, machinery, airplanes, turbines, air, fan, engine acceleration, synthesized textures, hovering, precise, modern, slick, modern technology, elegant, sexy, easy to the ears, interesting, earconic, professional, expensive, high-end, signals, interior vs exterior.

Over the past years, I have stumbled over a variety of industrial machines, servos and hydraulic motors which I thought would give a good starting point. My intuition also let me believe that the e-trains (electronically driven) which I recorded with a D50 in America at the airport of Detroit (?) could come handy and may serve as a good natural/organic design reference. It is always a good idea to combine various sounds which contain characters of a different nature. Once these e-trains are sped up in speed or stretched in time, they sound completely different and may serve a particular key element in the concept. However, I knew that at some point I’d be ending up combining a lot of organic together with some synthesized textures.

However, I still had the drive to get something in there with a bit more edge and higher base definition, and something I could digitally modify to an extreme extend! Preferably recordings in 192kb. A fresh approach of sounds captured from the field is always a good point to start, as it occurs to be much more flexible to work with in the end! After studying the clients design documents and understanding the core mechanics for the various trains, taxis and buses found in the context of the plot, I became aware, that all their engines, which were mounted underneath these hovering objects and looked much like turbines, similar to the ones I’ve seen before on airplanes.

No doubt, that there are great amounts of commercial sample libraries available containing valuable recordings of aircraft related source material. But nothing really I found in them would benefit for the specific task given (or I may just didn’t have access to the right library). Sometimes it can be quite time consuming to find ‘just’ the right sounds in your database. It’s our job, indeed! Commonly, however, once you found it, there are no other variations of the sound available and you may find yourself being stuck in the middle of the process looking for ways to compromise. But because I was still spending time in Munich, I thought it would be a great opportunity to visit the International airport close-by for some more recordings :)

Specifically, I was looking to capture: turbine speed up/down/idle, INT and EXT room colors and other miscellaneous cockpit ambient that expresses a nice tone (whine, scream) of sounds to play with. There were no specific models of airplanes I was keen on recording specifically. I’d be happy with what ever I could get my hands on!

Generally, the sound of airplane turbines are unique and do carry its own sonic character and signature along within an broad frequency response to enable further processing after the recording.

For instance the artistic usage of turbine sounds in the sound design discipline is wide. It can be used for many other type of audio design settings, from ambient drones, high-velocity or character sweeteners. Check out the advertisement clip below which I have re-designed and if you listen carefully, you’ll notice the engine power up of the lawn mower in the beginning.

Unlike the sound of passenger airplanes and private jets, military aircraft carrier are a completely different topic – sonically. As well as security measures are much more complicated to overcome. It is therefore much harder to receive a recording permit. However, they are also on my list to record. Someday.

Honestly, it was no different in my particular case when I planed the recording session! Unfortunately, I can’t say to much about how the session become reality – but lets explain it by simply saying: I know people! ;-) It is always good to know people! Enthusiastic recordists have to have a good network of people who can help grant access to certain things. If, of course a huge production budget allows for external field recoding, it may be a little easier. But you may never know when you need to record a specific sound for a client. I once met a guy on the airplane, who was the CEO of a industrial print shop in Berlin. With huge printing machine! How cool?! I told him what I do and asked if it was possible to one day come visit the facility to record all his beautiful machines. We swapped contacts and I eventually visited him a few weeks after :)

Below are some outtakes from some recordings I did at the airport. The friendly personal guide I toured with at the time arranged a turbine test measurement location (?) inside a acoustically treated environment, which was a bit further away from the landing sides. Very good recording spot and I wished at that time I would have brought more microphones.

Another great recording trick is to point the the microphone (preferably stereo) at the source and move it 90° from left to right with different speeds to give a feel of movement and the typical ‘whoosh’ effect.

Have you ever wondered how a jets landing flaps sound like? Certainly, you’ll never be able to hear them from the outside whilst seated inside the airplane anyways ;) But to give you a better picture of how they sound like, here is an example. This particular unit was from a much smaller jet, though, a private one! The ones VIPs get carried on to fly to crazy parties.

Btw, in case you have missed Airplane Part 1, make sure to check it out if you’re interested in reading more about the recordings of over-head fly-bys.

 

Berlinal Fever!

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Astonishingly fast another year has passed and the Berlinale makes its legendary rounds in the city of love – Berlin. Selected movies get screened created by the top filmmakers from around the world!  Events that could be compared to the games industry world be GDC, or other  ‘trade-shows’ like E3, to share knowledge with like-minded individuals and check out the latest in game  development, or in this case: discuss new movies! Festivals (or meet and greed events in general) serve as a great inspiration to observe cross-multicultural aesthetics in the scale for global entertainment and the many facades of story telling.

During the show the city is on fire and a lot of great events take place spread in the heart and soul of Berlin. In 12 Cinemas, international film productions are being screened, competing against each other to be awarded with the golden bear (the bear is the symbol and trademark of Berlin). The cultural thoughts and genres of films being shown varies. Personally, I just love to go to movies which I haven’t heard a word about prior to my visits. It excited me to see something totally unexpected and something untypical to my taste buds. Unlike the Amazon.com marketing campaign that tries to force you into buying a book similar to the one you are reading currently – I absolutely dislike that feature! ;) I usually try to go every year, whenever I happen to be in Berlin during holidays or a project based visit.

The jury’s decisions is somewhat artsy. Most films should encompass a critical viewpoint on contemporary or historical events with political, ethical or social aspects. Because film art can be a tool to change a persons opinion or serve as an eye opener to another, somewhat forgotten or even new world. As much as I love the genre of historical, drama, action or steep art house movies, the Berlinale offer a wide assortment of productions – from short to documentary. There is something for everyone!  As for sound, it is fascinated how far we’ve come but uncertain on how long this road will take us. There is improvement with each year we pass and people (I believe) have started to appreciate sound more and more to include as an element of their story writing.

To get to know the work of sound design colleges from other countries demonstrating their work, is refreshing!  For instance, the Berlinale talent campus serves a as social and educational platform but also enables people to network, catch up with old friends or meet a bunch of new folks. You’ll end up having the most interesting conversations with directors, producers, production designers and cable boys.

The Programm:

If you make it out sometimes to the festival, make sure to drop me a line. If I am in Berlin at that time, I am more then happy to meet up for the legendary Berlin traditional Currywurst! :)

Field Recording: Animals. Pigs

Pointing a Microphone at the Pigs

My trip back to Germany this year was packed with true recording excitement! Since I am a big fan of animal vocalization and could use a fresh set of sounds for an upcoming game project the timing seemed perfect to hit the field. Animal vocalization can be a great resource and foundation for creating emotional sound effects. They can be used for expressive textures/layers as they have good organic and tonal base. If being used wisely they can add a fair amount to the  overall quality for a specific design setting. Each animal sound represents a unique and different tonal quality, as well as the content of dynamic diversity that can be produced is wide! Processed or unprocessed. Simply to just make use of them as to establish a rhythm or inspiration for later removal (like a placeholder) can help speed up decision making in the design process.

The widely used foundation where animal sound sources melt into the sound design process are for instance creature effects. An overly used animal source are pigs, lions (wildcats) bears, dogs, everything with grunts, growls, snarls, barks sniffs, breaths etc. Some may disagree and find it boring as it has been overly used – which I partly agree with. But they are emotional and powerful and if they suit the context of whats needed within a current setting… so why not simply use them? One can always approach the process differently in terms of modern modulation dsp (pitch), audio resolution (196khz), kyma, microphone selection or positioning and so on. I think that there are many ways to still come up with interesting modification techniques that affect your sounds. However, I’ve seen/heard some very good human performances on creatures (including my self). It does greatly relay on motif and context of the sound subject and the direction of sound aesthetic required. It’s like composing a musical score, finding its core instrumentation to harmonically blend together a range of instruments. Ideally, each project should have a unique approach to the overall design decisions. Although, I agree that in some cases this can be time consuming and possibly require a financial backup.

In the movie “I am Legend”, sound supervisor Skip Leyvsy hired a Hollywood based voice artists, who apart from being a composer also performs creature vocalization. In this case, the movie’s enemies were once real human characters transforming into zombies. Hiring a specialist and keeping true human aesthetics alive  turned out to be a great way to go. However, there are many ways of accomplishing the right effect, such as to combine animal layers with that of a humans.

Here is a re-design I did after I’ve seen the trailer of the new novel Nocturnal by Scott Sigler on Vimeo. Lots of pigs and human recordings used in there to shape the idea of the various creatures in his world. Check it out!

Animal sessions ain’t easy! Would you agree? I think that every recordists would compliment on it (or fisherman). It can be really hard and even disappointing to get the very best results out of such a field trip. Not only does a good recording depend on the species itself, but also: climate, season, time of the day or environmental influences that may determine the outcome of your data.

Before hitting the field it’s advised to look up sound related references ahead  of time (i.e YouTube.com), to get a better idea of what to target and to expect! :) Low-fi audio is enough to get the picture! Also research on species can help to find out the animal’s most active day circles, eating habits or routines, combined with studying common body language and other unique behaviors. On the long run, a shotgun mic can get heavy, so be sure to save your muscle energy for the very right moment. You can chat up with institutions and ask for specifics on animals and their prime moments. Usually, they are comfortable to share! One time I was in need of wolf howls and a nice lady at Schorfheide Wild Park in Brandenburg shared some good insight with me when it’s best to visit.

I have tried to record at Zoos, parks and commercial wildlife territories, on boats (whale watching) and in the wild. Certainly, material can always be filtered or processed and make up for cool sounds, often times non-related to your initial expectation which get refereed as: Accidents! Although, you can’t relay on them all the time. Best is to stick with what you aimed for. Sounds that got stuck in your head.

However, I don’t recommend city zoos or anything that its located in a city polluted with a constant low-rumble, airplane pass-bys or loud screaming school classes. Although, the lows you can always cut depending on the animal source frequency range. You can also try to go early at the last hour of their opening times. A good timing is around mid-week in the winter, when local birds (the ones stealing the food of the exhibits) or insects become less audible overall. In general, bird houses or birds can be quite okay. However, I think by now, I could actually assemble a whole tourist-kids crowd library from collected content over the years ;)

My general experience with zoo visits around the world have been mixed. Wouldn’t it be funny to claim, that I found zoo crowds in Europe  to be much quieter compared to … the US?! Anyways… Lets blame it on the animals :)

This bison below, I recorded at a great Wildlife Park in Poing a small town close to Munich. They have extremely quiet terrains with an interesting and wide range of wild and native European animals. If park keeper tend to treat their animals respectfully (lots of open space with hygienic overall treatment) their animals will most likely perform great, simply by nature law. Especially the pairing seasons can be quite exciting. If you don’t find time to go out into the field to capture unique source material, sound libraries can do the job as well. I highly recommend the Creatures Library from the team over at BOOM with their vast collection of inspiring material based off all kinds of vocalization. The packages includes a fairly wide range of usable production asset.

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