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Feature: 'The Future Of Game Audio - Is Interactive Mixing The Key?'

In a new Gamasutra feature, Radical audio veteran Bob Bridgett looks at what video game audio personnel can learn from their colleagues in film.
Game audio has reached a level of incredible complexity and sophistication, thanks to in part to increasingly advanced tools. But do games take as full advantage of their sound design opportunities as films do of theirs? In a new Gamasutra feature article, Radical Entertainment audio veteran Rob Bridgett looks to film audio to identify some key techniques and philosophies to sound design that may benefit games -- and points out some real-time techniques that are impossible in the linear world of film. Bridgett covers both straight technical terms as well as broader methods. In this excerpt, he describes part of the audio mentality of FX mixer Randy Thom, who contributed to the remixing the film Ghost in the Shell for a new theatrical release: "This is a topic that Randy Thom is passionate about, and for him, epitomizes the role of sound in being able to tell the story of the movie. It is also a concept that translates over to games with very little modification. Effectively everything that the audience, or player, hears is heard through the ears, or 'point-of-view', of a character in the film or game. "This means that sounds are going to be heard 'subjectively' according to that character. Sounds that are more important to that character are going to be more important in the mix. "Fictional characters, like real human beings, never hear things 'objectively' - that is to say that all sounds are never of equal importance all of the time. Focus is always changing, just as you notice the ambience of a room when you first encounter it, but then different sounds will become prominent and gain your attention, such as someone speaking or a telephone ringing. "The ambience never disappears, but it is pushed to the back of our perception, any change in ambience may bring it to the foreground again for a moment. This is true in both our perceived version of reality and also in the version of reality portrayed through sound for a character in a movie. "This subjectivity is a core goal for a movie or game mix, and this is why point-of-view sound design and direction is more valuable than attempting to create an objective sound reality based solely on the laws of physics." In the full feature, Bridgett discusses other important ideas like internal consistency and audio level standardization, as well as specific techniques like ducking, grouping, and automation.

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