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3x5 Interview With Damian Kastbauer (aka Lost Chocolate Lab)

George Hufnagl revives his 3x5 interviews on and kicks it off with Damian Kastbauer (Lost Chocolate Lab) as first guest. Damian has worked with audio on games like Uncharted 3 and Infamous 2.

3x5 interview with Damian Kastbauer at

Recent Work | Website | Twitter: @Lostlab

[A few years ago George Hufnagl did 3x5 interviews that he posted on his blog. Now he joins and revives the format to get inside the heads of sound designers in an entertaining fashion.]



1) In exactly five sentences, give us what you feel is important biographical information about your sonic background.

Atari 2600/ NES channeled through> C64 SID chip game child purple mountain majesty, then feasted on guitar noise during the 90’s shoegaze invasion, culminating in a two-tiered pedal board with never enough hands to turn the knobs. Flashforward dead-end job at a University late-nights all alone with a test tube listening for the secret synergy between passions resulting in crazy technical sound design focused obsession. Wing-and-a-prayer leap to the west coast 5’X10’ trailer family drag 6 month contract dice roll turns eventual freelance 6 year non-stop thrill ride. Circled wagon back to Minneapolis working remote with occaisional on-site helping bridge the gap between sound content and programming while doing neither right in the middle. Constant fascination with dark art of implementation leads to articles diving into unknown as attempt to share discussions through game audio podcasts and now aural fixations column in game developer magazine.

2) Please state, in exactly five words, your interest in sound.

Noise, Parametric, Dynamic, Experimental, Unknown

3) Now please state, in exactly five syllables, how you might describe your process of work.

Improvised Chaos


1) Using the rhythm of the famous four-note opening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (i.e. short, short, short, looong), please tell us a fact about you that we may not know.

Han-dy with toooools.

2) Who are four people that have influenced your work?

Kevin Shields, Jason Pierce, Rob Bridgett, Julian Kwasneski

3) Name your preference for starting work: Sound Library, Field Recording, Vocal Imitation, Writing it Down?

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, Coffee


1) Name three sounds that make you glad to have ears.

Cicadas, Phase, People

2) Name three sounds that cause you physical discomfort.

80’s Drum Reverb, Bono’s falsetto, Loud impacts from locations involving my children.

3) Address one way to change three of those sounds or three ways to change one of those sounds.

Time travel


1) List and describe two projects on which you're currently working.

Racing Game Sound Study: This is an attempt to understand the development and techniques involved with technical sound & audio design for racing games. Focusing on current generation examples from the player perspective with a narrow focus to dissect racing game sound, boil down the core elements, and present them to the community for educational purposes.

Dominus: A sci-fi PvP MMO using a Hero Engine + FMOD Designer integration and pipeline in conjunction with content from Bay Area Sound. This is the 2nd MMO using this configuration which has been tooled for speed to enable a swift channel from content to game. Leverages FMOD Event based DSP tied to distance to achieve some interesting special effects.

2) And how are they both going?

Racing Game Sound Study: Set to launch in April 2012

Dominus: Currently in beta, everything is happening.

3) How do you feel they are challenging your current skill set?



1) Name one environmental element of the creative process that you find essential.

Human Interaction

2) What is one area in which you hope to improve your work?


3) What is one thing you would like people to know when listening to your work?

All the cool tricks are happening dynamically at runtime, not the same wav file over and over again. Humans have a keen ability to recognize the configuration of sounds that are repeated. The ability to make things different, keep things fresh, diversify the audio experience for the player in situations where repetition of gameplay is inevitable doesn’t need to sound repetitive. Through a combination of sound content and technical sound design a maximum of diversity and impact can be achieved under the same circumstances. Hopefully the systems I help to create and implement aren’t easily discernible from a composite sound that could be created linearly by a sound designer. Is it live, or is it Memorex?

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