Creative Harmony: Pro Tools and Game Audio

By VFS Web Team, on May 28, 2004

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1307","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","title":"Nassim Ait-Kaci","alt":"Nassim Ait-Kaci"}}]]What does an army of toxic decomposing butt-zombies from hell sound like? Ask Sound Design grad Nassim Ait-Kaci. After all, he invented it. Creating new sounds is nothing new to Nassim. This musician/performer/breakbeat producer/DJ/sound engineer has been obsessed with audio as far back as he can remember.
After being approached by filmmaker Kevin Speckmaier to create music for a movie, Nassim discovered the marvel of film audio. He suddenly had a new direction to take his innovative talent. This took him to VFS.
"Someone once told me that to become affluent in cheating at poker, you have to learn how to play the game first," says Nassim. "VFS took a parallel approach to audio. Rather than simply training you as an audio engineer/sound designer, they took the time to detail the actual physics of audio. That made the engineering training far more relevant."

From Microsoft to Neversoft

In August of 2003, Nassim graduated from the Sound Design Program and was quickly hired by Microsoft Game Studios in Seattle . When MGS dissolved a year later, Nassim found himself at the centre of a bidding war between several major studios including Rockstar, Sony, Infinity, and Neversoft.
A meeting with the team at Neversoft - which produces the Tony Hawk franchise - convinced Nassim his next step was to the company's California studio. Much of his job now involves creating original sounds, like writhing alien beasts or toxic decomposing butt-zombies, from the depths of his own imagination. "It's a challenging environment that allows me to ooze creativity and use my skill set," Nassim says. "Once you break into a good company after graduating, you can open almost any doors."
Game Audio
Sound design is the syncing of audio to visual media. This includes dialogue, special effects, ambiences, music, mixing, editing, and foley. Unlike film, game audio is completely contingent upon the player. In a movie, the sound of a car passing is identical every single time you watch a scene. But in games, a player's decisions makes the audio non-linear and, for Nassim, also a lot more interesting.
"Not only do I create the audio assets, but I am also confronted with new challenges and logic puzzles on a daily basis," says Nassim. "I reproduce real-world acoustical phenomena within a completely manufactured interactive virtual environment. For me it's a dream career and I wouldn't change a thing in my life."
Watching the Credits Roll
With several high profile game credits already to his name, Nassim is currently at work on the latest addition of the Tony Hawk franchise, as well as a new title Neversoft is keeping under wraps. Nassim credits his VFS experience for developing his professional skills, particularly the certification in Pro Tools software.
"Pro Tools certification makes you instantly employable," says Nassim. "If you want to work with the big boys, you better learn to handle the big boys' toys. And Pro Tools, like it or not, is the industry standard in audio. With certification my resume went to the top of the pile of hundreds of people applying to video game companies every day."