First Game Jam!

Last week I went to my first game jam and had a great time! Fuse Jam in Bristol. We made a little game where you float around on a boat and you can raise and lower the water level by collecting pluses or minuses dotted around the world.

You can play or download the game that we made here: https://tidalloch.itch.io/tidal-loch

I made the music that plays in the background when you start and quite a lot of the sound effects too, I collaborated on the audio with Starshine Audio.

It’s the first time I’ve ever done any kind of audio work for games and luckily folks were kind enough to help me with implementation in Unity and explaining some of the basics of how that works.

In terms of audio stuff I created the music by making multiple variations of a simple piano loop, made using Kontakt, Tritik’s Krush (which is free and awesome) and Izotopes DDLY that looped seamlessly, and then telling unity to play them in a random order.

The idea was to create the impression of the music being generative, without the serious work involved in doing that properly! I was pretty happy with the result.

In terms of sound design I kept things pretty simple due to time constraints and because my goal for the jam was more to meet people and learn a bit of unity/implementation stuff than imprve my design chops.

I used Collected Transients flusher library quite a lot though, especially for the water drain/fill sounds. Thanks to some of the folks at the jam I’ve now discovered Bitsy so the next mission is to make a little game using that and then learn how to make audio work within it!

Learning Granular Synthesis pt 2

A very short post today, to say that it’s been a slow process trying to get my head round Max over the last couple of months, but I finally have a fairly useable patch that I’ve been playing around with quite a lot.

Really this is more of a glorified sample player than a true granular synthesis patch, in as much as it has no options for multiple grains, grain density and so on. Still, I’m pretty happy with it as a complete novice to both granular synthesis and programming in general.

In presentation mode it even looks (reasonably) presentable:

Out of presentation mode, not so much:

I’m working on some new music using prepared guitar samples processed through this patch, I’ll update this post with some of it when I’m ready to share. In the mean time if you’d like to share Max patches with me please get in touch, I need all the help I can get…

Learning Granular Synthesis Pt 1

In the last couple of weeks on my MA course, we’ve been learning about editing audio using phase vocoder based technologies, and granular synthesis. This is frankly, all a bit technical and mind bending for me, but I think i’m starting to get my head around it and I’ve been playing around with editing some of my field recordings to create ambient/drone pieces.

On the 2nd of November I was out and about around the Harbourside in Bristol making some field recordings.


Field Recording on the pontoon beneath Prince’s Street Bridge

I borrowed some kit from the universities asset store (Sound Devices 552, Rode NT4) and made some basic stereo recordings from various points around the Harbourside.

Here’s one of those recordings, after normalisation and trimming in Audacity.

As you can hear in the above clip, theres some pretty prominent violin playing from a guy to my right at the start (he was pretty good!)

I decided that it might be fun to try and use some spectral editing to remove some of the partials that were not his violin, with the aim of making his playing more prominent and hopefully without completely trashing the original sound in the process.

I used SPEAR to do this, which is pretty fun to play around with and free! Here’s the result.

As you can hear I (somewhat) succeeded in making the violin more prominent, however I kind of turned the rest of the recording into a strange, banshee like sine wave fest. Not exactly what I was aiming for, but since SPEAR actually re-synthesises the sound, it’s kind of impossible to avoid this if you remove lots of the quieter partials. At least for me it is, more practice and time with it will help i’m sure.

Anyway, I then took this file and fed it into MacPOD (another cool piece of free software) and did some granular synthesis mostly just using snippets from the first 10 seconds or so where the violin is playing. Here’s the result of that.

I’m pretty happy with this as both something substantially more listenable (to my ears at least) than the original re-synthesis, and significantly far removed from the original field recording.

I’m currently playing around with Max, building a very basic granular synth patch, in part 2 I’ll talk about that, share the patch and hopefully some interesting sounds I’ve made with it!

Fun with Hydrophones

This month I have begun my MA program and so far it seems like it’s going to be loads of fun.

The other folks on my course all seem very nice and they have a diverse range of interests in all kinds of things sound related, from the super high tech, to the very low tech.

So far, aside from the obvious beginning of essay writing, I have mostly been focusing on making some underwater recordings.

I hired out some Jez Riley French hydrophones from the uni’s asset store and have been making lots of recordings with them. Mostly this involves trying to get them to stay underwater by sticking them in slightly awkward places like this:

Results have been varied to say the least but I’ve got some recordings that I’m pretty happy with and the process itself really encourages you to listen and experiment with placement a lot, which has been very fun.

I’ll update this post with some of the recordings I’ve made in the next week or so.

Update: Here’s a recording I made at Bristol Harbourside from the end of a pontoon. I dropped the hydrophone about 4 metres down into the water and came across this terrifying scraping sound. Ten nerd points for anyone who can identify it. My best guess is some kind of sluice/valve thing or some part of a boat (although there were no obviously moving or loud boats around at the time)