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Back To The Grind

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Back To The Grind…you don’t know it yet, but the title is actually a terrible, awful pun.

2019 you’re pretty interesting so far. I took two weeks holiday from the bar I work in after christmas was over, finished a bunch of projects, started a bunch of projects, quit the bar job, spent a week with my Nan and started a new job.

That’s right…I quit the bar. I was really struggling with working evenings and finally I have a somewhat stable schedule. Thich means I can concentrate way more on game audio. I’m very excited. The new job isn’t perfect by any means, it’s unfortunately not a games industry job. I now work in an independent coffee shop, (get it? Grind, Coffee Grind? I know… hilarious!). So I’ve gone from late nights to early mornings, but it’s so, so good.

There’s some days I FINISH work at 12:30pm. I was starting work at 12:00pm at the bar. I can’t even begin to tell you how strange this feels haha. Now I have the whole day to work on sound design, job hunting, secret projects. It’s a pretty good deal. Although I suspect I’m about to become the most caffeinated human to ever exist.

So lot’s to do, loads in the pipeline, I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been making.

Don’t be a stranger!

P.S. I’m doing a lot of writing outside of the blog, in order to keep up and basically just write better quality posts,this blog will be posting every other Monday.

Failure

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Failure

Let’s talk about failure. It sucks. Sometimes you just really want that win and you don’t get it. There’s one thing you have to remember and it’s something my Dad says to me, “it only takes one”.

There’s nothing truer than that. So, the past two weeks I was going through an interview process for a really cool job. Full disclosure; it wasn’t for game audio. It was for something else I believe I have strong skills in, Project management. The reason I was going for this is? It would be an opportunity to really push myself and allow me to learn skills I could transfer over to game audio. Not to mention the environment would be much more suited than my current job. I’m never going to stop pursuing game audio, this would have just been another step along the way.

The Application

I went through the usual process, saw a job posting online and thought it looks really interesting so I applied. Before I knew it, I got a reply asking me to take a personality test. Which Immediately did. Then after more good news, the phone interview.

I prepared for this phone interview so, so much. I needed this job to work out. The phone interview started off really well, then I felt like I made some stumbles in explaining myself and my project management skills. I, however, had hoped I’d get through to the next stage, I really feel like I interview much better in person. Over the phone sometimes nerves can get the better of me, especially when I feel the pressure of really wanting this job to work out.

The Morning Of.

I open my emails and see I have a reply. I open the email. It’s the dread “thank you, but no”.

It was like a gut punch. I got ready and headed out to a coffee shop in central London. here I am, writing this very blog post. Failure sucks, but you have to work hard to reframe what failure is.

Failure is the best lesson you can ever have. I know where I went wrong in that interview. I need to work on my weaknesses. it’s the only way to improve. Remembering that “it only takes one” is the key. This didn’t work out, but maybe the next one will?

So with that, I’m going to work on my weaknesses and turn them into strengths. I’m not giving up and applying for these jobs or on game audio. Whatever your dream job is, you shouldn’t give up either. Embrace failure, it’s your friend.

Feedback

This is the best thing about failure in an interview context, you can ask for feedback. Whenever I apply for something and fail I always send them an email asking politely for feedback. Now understand, they will not all apply. I’ve sent a lot of emails asking for this and hardly ever got a reply. In this case, I got one.

I failed exactly at the point I thought I did, elaborating on past projects that I’d worked on and not structuring my answers properly. This is something I do actually try and work on. In this case, nerves got the better of me. Sometimes I find it hard with certain subjects to verbally structure answers in a way that properly conveys the important information accurately.

now that being said, am I going to make a huge effort to correct this going forward? HELL YES I AM. I know exactly how to fix it too, but I’ll save that for another time.

While you are here, if someone actually gives you feedback, THANK THEM. Read that again. They took the time that most don’t and gave you a helping hand. Don’t argue back, Don’t get mad. Thank them, take the feedback and work on improving for next time.

Inspiration

So, I wanted to end this post with a quote from Thomas Edison on failure. But I found so many good quotes from him about failure, I’m going to finish with a few of them, as well as one from another person. 

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.” Thomas Edison

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas Edison

“There’s a way to do it better. Find it.” Thomas Edison

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Thomas Edison

“I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” Thomas Edison

“It only takes one” My Dad

Black Friday: A Christmas Story.

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Black Friday, Fabfilter and Luck

Oh Black Friday, you cruel mistress. As I’m sure we all know by the ridiculous amounts of emails we got, the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Whatever you wanna call it Wednesday sales just went by and are now done with *opens inbox*… I just got another email about a sale *sigh*. This time of year there’s an obscene amount of bargains to be had and temptations to resist. No, you don’t REALLY need that new plugin, or maybe you do?

See if you are smart about it, you can really take advantage of these sales. They may mostly be a nightmare but used correctly, you can become more powerful than you ever imagined…no wait, that’s the dark side of the force. Used correctly and with some planning and the occasional bit of luck, you pick up some awesome tools for an amazing price.

Planning

There’s a suite of plugins that I’ve wanted for about 1 1/2 years now. I came across them when browsing plugins online, I was curious about 3rd party plugins, seeing what was out there beyond the Logic Pro X and Pro Tools stock selection. What grabbed my attention was a gorgeous looking EQ, it looked like the Logic Pro X EQ, but a little more advanced. Now I’m firmly in camp ‘don’t need to break the bank on equipment/plugins’. The stock Logic Pro X selection, for example, are great and they do an awesome job.

Sometimes, those little extras can go a long way. When I saw ProQ 2 EQ by Fabfilter, I knew I had to get it. After seeing the Fabfilter EQ and then looking into their other plugins, I knew it was the suite I wanted to work with. I’m a very visual person and if a program isn’t visually pleasing, I can find it difficult to work with, these all looked gorgeous.

A few other reasons cemented my reasoning for wanting to work with these plugins. While at a few studios, I noticed the supervising sound designer was using Fabfilter. Then pushing this even further, I heard nothing but praise about Fabfilter Volcano, which I highly recommend looking into. 

That was that I needed them. 

So I did research, I checked out if Fabfilter does any Black Friday type deals. I then discovered they do, around wintertime they offer a 25% discount on all of their products. So I waited for the email… and finally, it came.

Now I’m proud to say I bought the Fabfilter FX bundle. Did it get better after that? it did.

Hidden Extras

Something I wasn’t expecting was that on Fabfilter Youtube they have amazing tutorials. This was another huge factor in me wanting the FX bundle. Fab filter explains their plugins so well. I want to get more in-depth knowledge of my tools and this afforded me the perfect opportunity. Another advantage to using 3rd party plugins is that you can use them in most DAWs, so you don’t have to constantly relearn Plugins if you switch over to an unfamiliar DAW.

Bonus

As if I couldn’t love Fabfilter more, soon after I bought the FX bundle, they released ProQ 3. I was actually a little sad…i’d missed out on a brand new product by days. Fabfilter did not let me down, however, approaching the release date I got an email offering my ProQ 3 for FREE since I had just bought the FX bundle and they have a grace period between new purchases and new releases.

Fabfilter, you have thoroughly impressed me for a long time and I have not been disappointed after finally buying your products, I can’t wait to dive in and make them apart of my workflow.

A little Luck

Sometimes sales just have the right deal for you, something you haven’t been thought about. Let me rewind this a bit.

I was browsing the game audio slack channel, ran by the AWESOME Matthew Marteinsson. Some fellow sound designers were talking about transient designers and I honestly, had no idea what it was. I quickly realized having one at my disposal would be a great addition to my sound design arsenal. So I did some research, but they were a little out of my price range.

And this is where luck comes in. Plugin Boutique had a ridiculous deal in which you buy ANYTHING and receive a copy of izotope Elements for FREE. I’d seen this deal forever, I had no idea what elements even was. So, I looked it up randomly, and low and behold, it’s a plugin in not only worth about £120 – It also has a transient designer included. Did I take advantage of this? HELL YES.

So, being on a budget, I searched Plugin Boutique for a plugin that I wanted. I wanted something cheap enough to get this deal, but I also didn’t want to buy something I wasn’t going to use. Then I came across a multi-fx by Glitch Machines called Convex. Glitch Machines is another company I’ve had my eye on for ages, their stuff sounds so good. Conves was heavily discounted to £4 or something.

So I picked up Izotope Elements and Glitchmachines Convex, worth about £160; for £4. That’s a ridiculous deal.

Be Smart

So, these sales aren’t as devilish as they seem. What I would strongly advise is research products that you want well in advance. If you can afford to pay the full price, do it, support those hardworking women and men than create these amazing tools. However if you can’t afford full price, and there’s no shame in that, I certainly can’t right now, make a game plan for these sales. Make a list of things you want, make a budget and keep an eye out for your chosen tools to go on sale. Then also with a little luck thrown in, you might come across a deal that won’t break the bank that includes some tools that you haven’t even thought of too. most importantly don’t go crazy on them, be smart.

There’s still a bunch of plugins I want to pick up I’m looking at you SoundToys),  but I’m going to wait until either next time, or a time I can afford them.

So friends, now that I’ve rambled on, keep safe, stay smart, spread some love, until next time.

A Wwise Adventure

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Wwise Interactive Music Symposium

A few weeks ago myself and a couple of friends headed over to a free event put on by Audiokinetic, all about interactive music within games using WWise. I have been preaching about Wwise to my two friends for a while now, one of them is a music composer for theatre shows and the other is also a musician, who’s learning how to code.  I’ve been to a similar event before, A few years back I went to Game Music Connect, this was a time when I was dipping my toes into the world of game audio and although I’d heard of Wwise I’d never used it. What I saw blew my mind; I had no understanding of what was really being presented, but I was hooked.

A Fresh Perspective

I certainly don’t count myself as a composer. I write music occasionally but my passions are firmly pointed at SFX. Creating soundscapes and helping to bring worlds to life through audio is what I want to be doing. That being said, I LOVE music and interactive music.  I find it fascinating what composers do with Wwise and I knew my friends would too.

Attending this event was going to be really interesting for a few reasons. I’ve been using Wwise for a while now, so unlike last time I attended, I now have a pretty strong frame of reference for what I’m being shown. I like to think this time I understood what the various presentations were showcasing. I even started gathering ideas for how I can implement similar systems from a sound design point of view. 

The other reason was my friends; seeing them react to the capabilities of Wwise from a composing perspective was awesome to be a part of. It was a great experience and they even got some face to face time with fantastically gifted composers.

It made me realize how important it is to make more of an effort to attended events. I often get caught up in my own projects, so I tend to put less of a focus on seeking these events out. I’m certainly going to change that. Not only for the change of pace but for the inspiration and inspiration these events give you.

Not to mention meeting people in the industry, getting fantastic insights and sharing a passion for game audio in one room, it’s a great atmosphere and it really gets me fired up to get back to work.

Get Out Of The House

So if I can offer any advice this week to people like me trying to break into game audio. These events are important. As is taking breaks and getting fresh air. Sometimes the stress of trying to break in becomes a bit too much. Events such as the Wwise interactive symposium are a fantastic way to not only meet new friends but, help keep you motivated in the search for your dream job. 

So with that said, I hope I see you there!

until then friends!

Twitter @Fenderbee

Project Updates

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Update

Organizing time is so important and not just for work. I’ve spent the time since my last post really trying to organize how to manage my commitments, between a full-time job, chasing the game audio job and having (a little) social time. It’s difficult for sure, but I think I’ve figured it out, so going forward I’ll be posting weekly.

I want to mostly be using this blog to update on what projects I’ve been working on, but I’ll most likely post other things too if I think they are relevant. Honestly one of my goals is to become a better writer and this blog I’m hoping will help me hone my skills for this. This for several reasons, one of them being that I want to write books, both on game audio (eventually), breaking into game audio (maybe other jobs too) and a piece of fiction that I’ve had in my head for years now.

Writing is something that I’ve always struggled with, but seeing that through a lot of hard work I got a first for my undergraduate dissertation and my post-graduate thesis. It’s important as a communication tool, not just for raising a social profile, but for most importantly, communicating within a work environment. 

So that being said, what exactly have I been doing?

The Procedural Foley Project

Well, I’m still working on my adaptive foley project. I’ve spent some time building the level / environment from scratch and I’m just about happy with it to start doing the sound design. The level it’s self is very low poly and basic, but let me tell you, it gave me even more of a huge appreciation for the work environment artists and everyone else puts into these levels. The amount of attention to detail it takes to get something like Last Of Us level quality, I can’t even imagine. To anyone reading this who are involved in level design and related fields, my preverbal hat is forever off to you all.

So, I’ve set everything up, including the blueprints that should make the system work. This week I’m going to spend creating various pickup and foley sounds for each of my chosen items that the player finds throughout the world. I’ll also be making the ambiances and then figuring out a way to manipulate some aspects based on distance. One of the things I want to implement is as the player gets further away from the sea, it becomes less audible. I may just end up using a giant attenuation cone, but I am wondering if I can manipulate that with an RTPC.

The Wwise Only Project

Another project I have which will be an ongoing one is a Wwise only project where I am setting up various events / RTPC’s etc. to control theoretical gameplay. I say theoretically because I’m doing this based on real-life AAA projects. I came across a similar project online and inspired to do my own version. First I started with Anthem, like the project I found online. The reason I decided to also start with an  Anthem Wwise project was that Anthem has such rich landscapes and environments to work with. To get my head around using events to start and stop other events, this would be perfect. Not to mention, it’s one of my most anticipated games right now and I feel there’s so much potential gameplay that could be shown in a ‘fake’ Wwise project.

I did Expand this on this concept a little further; experimenting with an implementation idea for the Leviathan Axe seen in God Of War. I wanted to make an asset in which Wwise fully controlled the panning of the Axe as Kratos threw it. Going forward, whenever I find something that grabs my attention in a game, I’m going to see if I can recreate its effect using Wwise. 

I’m going to put together a couple of videos showcasing these projects soon and it will be going up ASAP.

Until then friends! back to work, it is!

Kept you waiting, huh?

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So, It’s been a while…

I basically abandoned the blog and the website for a few months. It got a little crazy. I was working the day job and working doing some freelance work. This meant I was pushing almost a 60 hour week on a regular basis. When my freelance work was finished,  I was left in a difficult position.

At this freelance job, I had a workstation and computer to work off, working in Unreal Engine making a game demo. When I was done, I had nothing capable of running Unreal engine 4. My Laptop sounded like it was going to take off into space if I even tried opening it. So I was faced with a dilemma. Ultimately, I knew my portfolio had to be better than it was and the only way I could do that is to buy a new PC. I got my head down at the day job, saved some money, and bought one.

Then I spent a good amount of time putting together the content currently on the projects section. Now, I’ll be able to give a little bit more attention to the blog again!

Currently I am working on a project, developing a procedural Foley system. I’ve essentially got it working, so next I’m going to be developing it further, adding actual Items and designing the accompanying Foley sounds. I’m also going to make an environment to make the whole thing look a little more AAAish. I REALLY want to work on some forrest ambiences. But more on that later…

see you soon!