Forthcoming Meetings

A Comprehensive Overview of Game Audio

Date: 3 Nov 2014
Time: 15:00

Location: Room 203, Birmingham City University
Millennium Point
Birmingham

Room 203, Millennium Point, Birmingham City University, Curzon St, Birmingham, B4 7XG.

Overview:
AES-Midlands is hosting an afternoon of presentations introducing the field of video game audio. From simple casual games all the way to AAA blockbusters, audio plays a major role in the gamer’s experience. The interactive nature of games and the technical limitations of the platforms they run on, significantly contrasts from linear mediums such as TV and film. Presented by industry professionals of both creative and technical backgrounds, these presentations are ideal for those interested in the industry.

The event is free of charge and open to everyone (members and non-members). Free tickets are available here.

Schedule:
[3.00 - 3.45] The Sonic Journey, Andy Grier (FreeStyleGames/Activision)
[3.45 - 4.15] Pew-Pew! Boom-Boom! Kapow!, Andy Grier (FreeStyleGames/Activision)
[4.15 - 5.00] If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, how many channels does it use?, Jethro Dunn (Codemasters)
[5.00 - 5.30] Break
[5.30 - 6.15] Mixing for the Unknown, Edward Walker (Sounding Sweet)
[6.15 - 7.00] Sound Bytes, Aristotel Digenis (FreeStyleGames/Activision)
[7.00 - 7.45] Creating a Virtual World in Real-Time, Jon Holmes (Rare/Microsoft)
[7.45 - 8.00] Coffee
[8.00 - 8.30] To ∞ and beyond…, Aristotel Digenis (FreeStyleGames/Activision)

Abstracts:

3.00 – 3.45: The Sonic Journey
Andy Grier – Lead Audio Designer – FreeStyleGames/Activision
A brief historical audio tour from the first bleeps and bloops of Pong, through all the various synthesis methods of console generations that you or your parents played on, right up to groundbreaking technology found in current generation video games. Andy will highlight key moments in game audio history which helped shape the industry whilst engaging the audience in a comparison of where we’ve came from vs. where we currently stand.

3.45 -4.15: PEW-PEW! BOOM-BOOM! KAPOW!
Andy Grier – Lead Audio Designer – FreeStyleGames/Activision
So what does sound design for video games entail? Andy will discuss the task of producing raw source material and content that will go into the video game. Audio topics such as traditional sound design, Foley art, field recording, synthesis, voice-over production and music composition to name a few. It’s the harmonious sum of all these components which are brought together to create the audio vision for the game.

4.15 -5.00 If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, how many channels does it use?
Jethro Dunn – Senior Audio Designer – Codemasters
We have sound… now what? Jethro discusses how sound is implemented in games from basic authoring and triggering using audio middle-ware to complex data driven simulation systems for modern games. He will also discuss how hardware limitations can affect design decisions and examines some approaches to budgeting and optimisation which can allow sound designers to exceed those limitations.

5.00 – 5.30: Break
Sandwiches will be served in Room 405

5.30 – 6.15: Mixing for the Unknown
Edward Walker – Game Audio & Post Production Sound Engineer/ Director – Sounding Sweet
Mixing audio for games is no longer something that ‘just happens’ towards the end of production. It has become a key area of development which offers some fantastic creative opportunities. Mixing has the power to make or break the audio presentation of your game! In this session we will be exploring the challenges that mixing for non linear audio presents. We will be looking at how one mix can be adapted to sound great across multiple platforms while also conforming to loudness requirements and console limitations. What techniques can we learn from film dubbing mixers that could be employed in a 3D game audio mix, and what can the film dubbing mixer learn from us game audio guys that would help with positioning in Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D? How many speakers is enough? Where does the average consumer place them? What happens when my carefully sculpted surround mix is only experienced through a mere TELEVISION SPEAKER!

6.15 – 7.00: Sound Bytes
Aristotel Digenis – Lead Audio Programmer – FreeStyleGames/Activision
While new game console generations offer great gains in computational power, audio programmers still need to be creative in how to best implement audio algorithms into games. Computational complexity aside, algorithms that may be suitable for offline processing often need to be reviewed and adjusted for the interactive and real-time nature inherent in games. Aristotel will cover engaging topics including spatial audio, environmental audio, codecs selection, and toolsets for authoring interactive audio.

7.00 – 7.45: Creating a Virtual World in the Real-Time-World
Jon Holmes – Audio Engineer – Rare/Microsoft
It’s a really exciting time for audio in games. Technology has rapidly advanced to the point where we have the fewest restrictions ever on what we are capable of doing. The last generation of games consoles in particular have allowed game audio programmers to really flex their technical creativity. Jon will talk about how much audio really goes into a modern AAA game and how the available technology is used to make it sound dynamic and fully immersive.

7.45 – 8.00: Coffee
Coffee will be served in Room 405

8.00 – 8.30: To ∞ and beyond…
Aristotel Digenis – Lead Audio Programmer – FreeStyleGames/Activision
What next…? That is the question. This closing talk will go over just some of the areas being researched both by game audio companies as well as academic institutions, and suggest how game audio may benefit from them.


Reimagining the piano: ROLI and the Seaboard

Date: 11 Nov 2014
Time: 18:30

Location: ROLI Ltd
2 Glebe Road
London E8 4BD

Lecture by Ben Supper, ROLI Ltd.

ROLI created the Seaboard as an evolution of the piano. The Seaboard sets out to endow the traditional piano keyboard with far greater powers of musical expression, without alienating existing musicians.

What is involved in producing such a musical instrument? In developing the Seaboard, ROLI has had to overcome several classes of problems. There are organisational difficulties: to build and mature a design and manufacturing company from scratch, and to reconcile the ambition of a nascent company with the realities of its capability. Alongside this are several classes of technical problems: to develop and refine new technologies; to find new materials and to learn to manufacture with them, and to bend the aged MIDI specification to handle more expressive information. There are social aspects to this task, too: ROLI has formed partnerships with synthesiser manufacturers, working groups, and industry pioneers to shape the Seaboard and provide it with an infrastructure of support.

This lecture picks out a few of these challenges, providing a perspective on how a new company sets out to innovate within the music industry.

Ben Supper has lectured to the AES in various guises: as a PhD student at the University of Surrey, as a panellist discoursing on digital signal processing, and a few times as the inventor of Focusrite’s VRM system. As Head of Research at ROLI since 2013, his mission is to provide other engineers with a rewarding and stable career, and the industry in general with a more interesting future.



Spot the Odd Song Out: A System for Music Similarity Estimation

Date: 10 Dec 2014
Time: 18:30

Location: Room 203, Birmingham City University
Millennium Point
Birmingham

Dr. Daniel Wolff, City University London

Music similarity estimation is a key topic in Music Information
Retrieval. In scenarios such as music exploration or recommendation,
user satisfaction depends on the agreement between the user and the
system on which music is more and which is less similar. The perceived
similarity is specific to the individual user and influenced by a number
of factors such as cultural background, age and education. We will
discuss how to adapt similarity models to the relative similarity data
collected from users, using machine learning techniques or metric
learning.

At this point, there are few similarity datasets available for training
and evaluation of such systems. We will present the “€œSpot the Odd
Song Out”€ game, which collects relative similarity judgements of users
on triplets of songs: Players are they are asked to choose one song as
the “odd song out”€. This data is annotated with user attributes such
as age, location and spoken language. The game is designed as
multi-player and rewards blind agreement of players. Based on the
CASimIR API, it has been extended to multiple question types and
scenarios including annotations of tempo, rhythm and further
classification. Game URL: http://goo.gl/6sNcmm

Daniel Wolff recently finished his PhD on “Similarity Model Adaptation
and Analysis using Relative Human Ratings” at the Music Informatics
Group of City University London, now researching in the Digital Music
Lab project. Apart from modelling music similarity, his past research
includes feature extraction from audio with a focus on periodic
patterns, as well as computational bioacoustics with a focus on birdsong
recognition. He is furthermore an active musician in the City University
Experimental music Ensemble. Author’s homepage: http://www.soi.city.ac.uk/~abdz038