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Introduction to Game Audio

Author: Jeanine Cowen | Course Code: OMPRD-295

An audio professional working in the gaming industry is required to possess not only musical and audio talent, but also knowledge and experience with typical game audio workflow. Introduction to Game Audio prepares you for a career in the industry by covering the many facets of sound production and engineering that are particular to games.

You'll begin by gaining an overview of game sound development, and the basics of sound effects libraries and working with animation. The course will cover typical studio effects, sound manipulation, and addresses technical hurdles you might encounter. You'll learn more advanced concepts and techniques such as recording custom effects, proper integration of audio, and mixing techniques particular to the gaming industry. You'll also take a look at the business side of the industry – who's involved and what their role is, scheduling, contracts, and finalizing a workflow. At the end of the course, you will have completed full audio (including sound design, dialogue, and music) for a short game or portion of a full-length game for your portfolio, and a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that will prepare you to work at a game development company or as a freelance game audio professional.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

develop sounds and music for interactive environmentswrite and edit music interactivelycreate videogame soundtracks incorporating dialogue, sound design, and musicwork with a variety of tools to complete game audiowork collaboratively and under the direction of a team leadercomplete and implement an Audio Design Document

Lesson 1: Game Audio Overview

Why Are You Interested in Game AudioDefinitions: Sound Types and Game GenresAssess the Audio in a Game ClipGame Company Personnel and Game Development OverviewHierarchical Map of a Typical Game CompanyVideo Game History and Playback SystemsGame Sound Development Overview

Lesson 2: Working with SFX Libraries

The Basics of Sound Effects LibrariesStorage SpaceExercise: Ripping CDsPreparing Your Sound Effects LibraryTrim, Edit, and Level Footstep SoundsScripting SystemsWorking with AnimationsPerformance Considerations and Tracking Strategies

Lesson 3: Manipulating Sound

Typical Applied EffectsUsing EQ, Compression, and DelayManipulation and "Sound-Design-y" EffectsIdentifying Applied EffectsReal-Time Effects Applied by the Audio EngineYour Work with PipmakBringing All the Sounds TogetherPipmak Project

Lesson 4: Game Music Overview

Game Music TypesCreate a 4-Bar Loop with Intro and OutroGame Music HistoryBenefits and Drawbacks of Early Music SystemsTechnical HurdlesIntegrate a Simple Music ScriptStyle and Genre ConsiderationsMusic Edits and Discussion

Lesson 5: Cut Scene Music

Building a Successful Music ScoreCreate a Rough Draft or ThemeTools of the TradeCalculate Tempo(s) for a Given Cut Scene Including Hit PointsProduction Techniques - Real vs. SynthesizedCreate a Mockup of the Thematic/Draft Material and Class FeedbackFinished Composition and Mixdown

Lesson 6: Interactive Music

Interactive Music HistoryCreate Three Simple MotifsScripting Systems for Interactive SoundAdjust the Pipmak Demo ProjectKnowing Your LimitsComplete the Interactive Music

Lesson 7: Recording Custom SFX

Microphone TypesAssess Your Microphone CabinetSignal FlowRecord FootstepsMicrophone TechniquesRecording on LocationCustom Sounds

Lesson 8: Creating a Unified Soundscape

The Aesthetics of Sound DesignIdentify Types of AudioDeveloping an AestheticAesthetics Without VisualsInteractive SoundSound Design Final Thoughts

Lesson 9: Recording and Editing Dialogue

Preproduction and CastingCasting CallRecording PreparationRecording and ProcessingEditingFile Management and DeliveryAdd Dialogue to an Existing ProjectGame Dialogue Analysis

Lesson 10: Mixing

Preparing for a Linear Cut Scene MixMix the Master Sessions from the Cut SceneSurround Sound IntroductionMix Your Cut Scene Music Session to a StemReal-time Engine Mixing and Processing Concepts

Lesson 11: Budgeting and Schedules

The Audio Director, Sound Designer, and Composer RolesStart an Audio DesignThe TeamCreate a Content ListMilestones, Tradeshows, and other DeadlinesComplete a New ScheduleTime vs. Money vs. Quality

Lesson 12: Delivery, Archiving, and Working in the Industry

Performance Issues and Space LimitationsCalculate Downsampling/Bit Reduction and CompressionQuality Assurance/TestingVerify Functionality of Your Pipmak ProjectFinal Delivery and ArchiveDemo Reels, Interviews, and WorkPresenting Your Work

Jeanine Cowen

Author

Jeanine Cowen has been involved with sound for games since the early 90s, having held positions on development teams at The Education Development Center, Inc., Turning Point Software and Turbine Entertainment, as well as several consulting positions. She has been engaged at all levels of sound development on wide ranging projects which include Hasbro's Mr. Potato Head, Microsoft's Fine Artist & Creative Writer, and Midway Games recent release of the MMORPG Lord of the Rings Online, Shadows of Angmar.

Jeanine has also worked as a composer, music producer, orchestrator, and conductor since 1986. She is able to create unique scores for each project and can be found conducting an orchestra, or working in the studio, or on location recording custom sounds and music. She has years of training in classical music, and extensive writing experience in jazz and contemporary music. Jeanine has worked on studio, television, and indie projects that have gone on to receive critical acclaim.

Jeanine trained at Northwestern University as a classical percussionist. She then graduated magna cum laude from Berklee College of Music with a dual degree in Film Scoring and Music Production & Engineering. She is currently the Assistant Vice President of Curriculum at Berklee College of Music.


Gina Zdanowicz

Instructor

Gina Zdanowicz is an Emmy-Nominated sound designer and composer for games, film and TV. Her work can be heard on award winning AAA titles to casual games such as Bioshock2, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (2K Games), CrimeCraft (Vogster Ent.), Avalanche Studios, ESPN Arcade and Cartoon Network, just to name a few.

As a graduate from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Music Synthesis, Gina has focused on the games industry for the past 10 years working in-house for game developers as well as operating her own independent studio, Serial Lab Studios. Her varied experience in the games industry gives her in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the production cycle from start to finish, which allows her to greatly contribute to the overall process.

In addition to her work in games, Gina continues to score feature films and TV projects, which have won awards around the world and have premiered on networks such as Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. She is also a member of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) and the International Game Developers Association (I.G.D.A).

Students must be proficient with a professional-level DAW and sequencer of their choice (Digital Performer, Logic, SONAR, GarageBand, etc.), including the ability to record individual tracks, trace signal flow, complete a basic mix, route to and from effects and software instruments, and integrate any relevant MIDI gear as required. Students must have an advanced knowledge of MIDI sequencing, with the ability to edit pre-existing information. Students must also have an understanding of music theory and harmony, and be prepared to compose music and sound design elements in an appropriate genre for their game project. Knowledge of dramatic scoring techniques is suggested. Students should also be active as a casual gamer in some part of the industry whether it be console, computer, cell phone, or Web/Flash-based games.

Game Development Essentials: Game Audio Development

This is an excellent, entry-level book focused on providing a solid understanding of the foundations of game audio and music. This book takes you through the basics and provides an invaluable set of interviews of game audio professionals as context for the presented concepts.

PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionA digital audio workstation (DAW) capable of multi-channel sound playback is required for this course. The DAW must support MIDI sequencing, integrated QuickTime movie playback, and allow for manipulation of 8+ tracks of audio as well as allow for output to 2-channel stereo mixes for class discussion. Examples would include Pro Tools, SONAR, Apple Logic, Digital Performer, Vegas, and GarageBand 10 or later. Check to see if the version of the DAW you have meets the above requirements.A MIDI sequencer is required.Assets will be provided in broadcast WAV file format, QuickTime movies, and as proprietary formats specific to the course.We will also be using Unity 3D, a cross-platform game development engine for sound and music integration exercises. Download and install the version that matches your computer platform from the link below. It would be helpful to become familiar with the software and its user manual before the course starts.You will need a utility to bring your audio files into Unity 3D in Ogg Vorbis format. A free, open source, audio recording and editing tool that can also convert your files to Ogg is Audacity. It is available for both Windows and Mac.

Unity 3D can be found at http://unity3d.com/

Audacity can be found at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Windows Vista SP2 or higher1 GB RAM1 GB hard drive space recommendedSound cardCD-ROM driveSpeakers or headphones for your computer
Mac OS X 10.5 or higherIntel Mac1 GB RAM1 GB hard drive space recommendedCD-ROM driveSpeakers or headphones for your computer
A microphone will be necessary for recording your own custom sound effects. An example of a suitable microphone would be a Shure SM57. You will need a means of recording with the microphone in various locations, either through a cable directly to your computer or by using a portable recorder.A MIDI controller is recommended to complete the music composition portions of the class.
  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
    $1,449
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition Add 6 CEUs
    $1,200 + $25

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Enroll by December 1 to save up to $200 on select Music Production, Songwriting, Music Business, and Performance courses.

Details