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3×5(x2) Interview with Planetside 2's Sound Designers

We're back with another 3x5 interview, featuring our friends from SOE, Gary Miranda & Rodney Gates. Sound marriage, Ben Burtt and controlled chaos are all discussed about their ongoing live game, Planetside 2!

George Hufnagl

February 26, 2013

6 Min Read

This blog was originally posted on Creating Sound. Additional information about the website can be found at CreatingSound.com

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3x5 Rodney Gates & Gary Miranda (600)

Planet Side 2's Website | Rodney on TwitterGary on Twitter

Rodney's Planetside 2 Video Footage: "I like this distant-perspective video a player made." 


1) What are five things we should know about Gary and Rodney?

  • Gary also works with San Diego recording facility, Studio West. He does engineering on various projects and teaches Pro Tools and Game Audio.

  • Gary has two sons Faustus (11) and Joaquin (7) who enjoy games as much as he does (maybe more?), including PlanetSide 2.

  • Rodney also has two children, both girls, named Sienna (4.5) and Zoe (2.5) that keep him happily busy.

  • Rodney has also kicked off a new virtual instrument company called SoundCues. He’s planning on releasing three sample libraries in 2013.

  • Both Gary and Rodney are very like-minded and share similar goals with sound design, and wholly “get” the process of creating and integrating audio into games. Game audio is equal parts creative and technical, which they both enjoy immensely.

2) Rodney - what are five things Gary has taught you about sound?

  • Distance treatment

  • Creative choice

  • Realism for automatic weaponry

  • Effective dynamic mixer achievements

  • Excellent player feedback

3) Gary - what are five things Gary has taught you about sound?

  • Don’t be married to your sounds no matter how much you love them. Revisions can come at any time!

  • To effectively focus on frequency separation

  • Details in sound changing over distance

  • How to control chaos; what to focus on in such intense moments

  • That designing sound for games IS what I want to do for a long time.


1) In four months’ time, your combined sound design powers could complete:

In three weeks’ time, we can complete 70% of the weapons, explosions and vehicles for PlanetSide 2. Working ridiculous hours, of course. But in four months, if everything was available to work on, and all technology in place? The game’s entire soundscape could be accomplished.

2) In four hours’ time, Gary and Rodney could finish:

An entirely new weapon, from scratch, including all perspectives and corresponding suppressed version.

3) The sound effect in Planetside 2 that’s best expressed in four seconds’ time is:

Gary's Nanite rez / de-rez

(CTRL/Command + F) IN THREES

1) What 3 pieces of equipment (hardware or software) were vital to your sound design work for Planetside 2?

  • Rodney - Avid Pro Tools, Waves plug-ins, and Sony Sound Forge Pro.

  • Gary - mine would include Sonnox Transient Modulator instead of Waves.

2) Gary - what are your 3 favorite sound effects from the game?

  • The Biolab capture - I had a lot of fun designing the base captures. The FX team and I really got together and kind of sync’d up on what we wanted.

  • Proximity mines - The moment when you come around the corner and you hear that bang. It’s just awesome because you know you are doomed! At the same time there is such gratification hearing one go off that you placed and it results in a kill.

  • Sniper bullet whiz-bys - Design asked for some unique whiz-bys for the sniper projectiles. After a few iterations we got some that we all liked. Then, Adam (one of our other sound designers) added some air reflections on them that made them sound just killer.

3) Rodney - what are your 3 favorite sound effects from the game?

  • The NC Sniper rifle

  • Gary’s C4 / Grenade Explosion (it’s a toss up)

  • The NC Reaver aircraft’s exterior high-speed engine (there’s some elephant in there for you tie fighter lovers).


1) Who are two people playing in sound that you admire?

  • Rodney - by a long shot, Ben Burtt

  • Gary - Frank Bry

2) Rodney - what kind of sound work would you do that might honor that person?

Energy weaponry and/or vehicle engine audio design.

3) Gary - what kind of sound work would you do that might honor that person?

Hopefully, be able to match the fidelity, depth and quality of his recordings.


1) What is one aspect of Planetside 2’s sound design that you’d like recognized?

  • Rodney - the depth of the soundscape - PlanetSide 2 represents well from close to distant, and is pretty dynamic overall.

  • Gary - The controlled chaos. The moments where bullets are whizzing by, bombs are dropping, explosions are going off and it makes you feel like you have to get the hell outta there! Then, as the battle eases off, there are these little moments that feel like you can breathe once again as the soundscape eases off.

2) What is one word that sums up your experience in working on PS2?

  • Rodney - Chaotic!

  • Gary - BOOM!

3) If you have one bit of advice for those wanting to leap into the crazy world of game audio, what is it?

  • Rodney - don’t be lazy, work hard, create a quality demo, and research everything you can online. There’s plenty of information on game audio out there now.

  • Gary - Make sure you can be very self-reliant. This work is much more than just creating a sound in Pro Tools and just “dropping” it into the  game. There are many systems and much tech to learn. Don’t be afraid to get involved with all the processes.

Gary's Planetside 2 Video Footage: "I just took some footage right when we put the limiter in and just loved the absolute chaos of it." 

About the 3x5 Interview

The "3x5” is a non-traditional interview series that encourages creative and personal responses from its participants. While the core structure remains intact, I occasionally update the sets of questions to keep interviewees and readers engaged. Although the resultant replies of the participating audiophiles may be informative or instructive, my hope is that the interview will encourage conversation and a sense of camaraderie within the sound design community.

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