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GAME SOUND PRODUCTION


for itself was something we embraced.”


That said the game does


feature a great deal of critically acclaimed original music. And it’s not every day that folk music turns up in a videogame… Young: “Rex drew a lot of influence from his Cornwall upbringing, so there’s a heavy folk-culture influence. Tearaway’s papery world is formed from stories – the notion of storytelling in an aural tradition has an analogue in folk music. My favourite music-writing collaboration moments working with composer Brian D’Oliveira were when I’d


completely analogue- electronic, passing through folk-infused break-beat and dubstep, renaissance-hop, and ambient mash-ups of earlier tracks along the way – quite a ride!


GAME AUDIO TECH “Working with Vita wasn’t much different to working on a PS3 actually – you’ve got 16 channels of streaming audio supported ‘for free’ in hardware which places it miles ahead of any other handheld gaming device,” continues Young. “We had two-stem interactive music, a couple of ambient streams plus separate streams for cut-


“Generally you consider it a win to have your game audio work even mentioned in passing in reviews, but people have gone out of their way to call out both the sound and music of Tearaway.”


Kenny Young, Media Molecule


create variations on a tune he’d written, and then he’d build on top of those. This idea of a tune changing over time, having different versions interpreted by different players and performed in different styles in different cultures is a phenomenon you can see in folk music; it resonates with the game’s attempt to encourage players to customise their experience in order to tell their own version of the story. There’s also a naïve quality to the game’s hand-made papercraft visual aesthetic which finds a brilliant parallel in the hand- made soundtrack – folk music is the perfect fit. It doesn’t have to be slick (though it often is these days) – for me it’s about great tunes, dancing, honest emotions, and stories about life. What could be better?” Though the game starts


out fairly folky and traditional, over time it becomes deconstructed and surreal as the messenger gets closer towards leaving the paper world and reaching the player in the real world. By the end the music has gone


www.audiomedia.com


scene audio, dialogue, and gibberish – with room to spare for special-cases – and we had around 26MB RAM for sound – not bad!” FMOD Designer facilitated configuration and management of all sounds while level assets such as ambiences, music, spot- sounds, VO, cut-scene audio, and gibberish were all implemented by the audio team using the proprietary Tearaway level editor. By the end of the project there was a powerful workflow in place. “I’m really happy that sound and music are as much a part of the experience as any other element. That’s the goal, right? And people have responded to this – generally you consider it a win to have your game audio work even mentioned in passing in reviews, but people have gone out of their way to call out both the sound and music of Tearaway. Eurogamer actually opened its review by mentioning how important the audio is. Wow. I think I might wake up at some point...!” www.mediamolecule.com


TIME AND TALENT


“Unusually, I was involved pretty much from the beginning – three years ago – when it was just six people working on early concepts, prototypes, and tech. This was a totally new experience for me as normally audio gets involved when the game is defined – but I was able to help invent this world, a new IP, from scratch. Matt Willis handled audio coding duties, and joined the project about six to nine months in, when we had something playable. The sound/music content was primarily put together in the last 12 months of the project when we’d honed the audio direction and developed the audio features in the game engine. “Audio is always up against it, but the chaotic way that Media Molecule works makes things even more, how should I put this, ‘interesting’ for audio – the only way to achieve the high standards people expect from our games is by having a crack team of audio ninjas at my disposal. It’s taken a long time to put together the right team – Ed Hargrave (audio designer, Media Molecule) and Todd Baker (contractor) were a pleasure to work with and brought an amazing attention to detail to the game’s sounds, ambiences, and their implementation. “A sympathetic production department that understands the audio department’s needs is absolutely central to everything we


Kenny Young


do. Siobhan Reddy, our studio director and head of production, makes sure I’m kept up to date, informed, and involved with all the latest goings-on in the project. Games are made by teams, and great teams have a great production department behind them.”


KENNY YOUNG’S GEAR LIST


Kenny Young explains: “Central to my approach is a ready-to-go recording setup – a mic is always plugged in, ready for when inspiration strikes. There was an awful lot of bespoke sound required for Tearaway and getting fresh material is always preferable to a library, even if it is proprietary. This is something I provide for everyone on my team and encourage them to use – each edit suite has an AKG C414 workhorse mic and a couple of Clearsonic Sorber baffles to further improve acoustics. “Everyone has the same setup – an RME


Fireface 800 with Nuendo, a pretty rock solid standard in PC land. Meanwhile, Ed and Todd were more comfortable with Vegas. I do all my sound effects editing in Sound Forge (an extreme experiment I embarked on when I joined Media Molecule that I’ve stuck with because I find the lack of options and single track editing forces me to be more ruthless, focused, and productive!) and made the jump to version 11, which has been fairly smooth so far. “Brian and I needed to be able to swap


sessions, so he invested in Nuendo and I invested in some of his plug-ins (Altiverb, and the FabFilter stuff, both of which are great). This all worked surprisingly well considering he was on Mac and I was on PC. “We make all of our promo videos in-


house, and the Atomos Ninja HDMI capture January 2014 29


box was a really handy way of moving the capture setup from desk to desk.”


Gear list


• AKG C414 XLS mic • Neumann U87 mic • Universal Audio LA-610 MkII channel strip


• RME Fireface 800 • Genelec 8030 monitors with 7050B sub • beyerdynamic DT250 headphones • Gefen HDMI audio convertor • Nuendo 5.5 (haven’t made the jump to 6 yet – will do now the project has finished!)


• Sony Sound Forge 11 • CDN Netmix SFX Databse • Waves plug-ins • FabFilter plug-ins • Audioease Altiverb and Speakerphone plug-ins


• iZotope Vinyl and RX Advanced • Ohm Force plug-ins • Camel Audio plug-ins • XILS-lab plug-ins • XLN Audio Addictive Drums • NI Kontakt (almost all the acoustic instruments were live, apart from the tuba – don’t tell anyone!)


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