Guest Post: Grad Gives Game Audio Advice to Current Students

By VFS Web Team, on April 3, 2012

Sound Design grad Josh Osiris with current student Morgan Greenwood

When Sound Design for Visual Media grad Josh Osiris (known to some as Josh Linton) finished his year at VFS, the video game industry in BC was experiencing rapid growth. Having now spent the majority of his evolving career at companies like EA and BigPark, Josh was brought in to speak to current students about the unique challenges of working in this field.
Guest Post by Sound Design student Morgan Greenwood:
Students from the Sound Design campus were privileged to have guest speaker (and VFS Sound Design grad) Josh Osiris come in to offer an insightful look into his world in the video game industry.  Josh is the Lead Audio Designer at Microsoft's BigPark Studios.  He has also been involved in the Need for Speed and Skate franchises while working as an Audio Designer at Electronic Arts Blackbox.  Josh currently uses a lot of the same software that is being taught here in the Sound Design program, including Wwise, FMOD, Pro Tools, and Max/MSP.
We were able to get an inside peek at some of the content for one of the more current projects he was involved with - Kinect Sports 2.  He went through the early processes involved with pitching an audio target to top executives, in order to demonstrate what the audio goals and priorities should be for the game.  In this case, Josh was trying to sell the concept of incorporating some of his own Max/MSP plugin designs into the audio middleware program Wwise.  It was reassuring to see these practices taking place, as we have completed many similar projects throughout our time spent here in game audio courses.
Josh explained that for game audio mixing, it all comes down to the concept of ducking - which is the concept of discreetly lowering the volume of certain audio elements in exception for others in terms of priority.  Because game audio is interactive and not linear, there could potentially be endless combinations of sounds that can occur at any given moment.  This means that dynamics are generally not as varied in game audio than in film, as there could potentially be heavy compression to ensure particular audio files will punch through in the mix.  Game audio mixing is done moment-to-moment.
Josh spent a fair amount of time stressing the importance of individual workflow and awareness of your toolsets and software.  We must be able to anticipate roadblocks and challenges ahead, and to weigh different priorities against each other.  Everyone's workflow is different, so it is important to try and find what works best for you to achieve the most efficient results.  He argued that iteration and speed are more essential than knowledge of software or the gear being used.  The goal is to always try to do things faster.  Deadlines are absolute.  You can be the best sound designer in the world but if you can't submit deliverables on time, it means nothing.
Thanks to Josh for the visit and to Morgan for the recap!