Game Audio 101

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Authored by Gina Zdanowicz, Jeanine Cowen

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Course Code: OMPRD-295

Next semester
starts June 24

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition

$1,545

Non-Credit Tuition

$1,290

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. Game Audio 101 prepares you for a career in the industry by covering the many facets of sound production and engineering that are particular to games.

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You'll begin by gaining an overview of game sound development, and the basics of sound effects libraries and recording Foley while 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 into game engines like Unity and middleware such as FMOD, 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, networking, building a demo reel, and finalizing a workflow. At the end of the course, you will have completed full audio (including sound design, dialogue, and music) for several short games 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:

  • Record Foley and work with sound libraries to create original sound design
  • Develop sound design and music for interactive environments
  • Compose and edit music interactively with layering, branching and transitions
  • Create video game soundscapes incorporating dialogue, sound design, and music
  • Work with a variety of tools like FMOD and Unity to complete game audio implementation
  • Work collaboratively and under the direction of a team leader
  • Complete and implement an Audio Design Document
  • Know how to create a portfolio and use it for networking
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Syllabus

 Lesson 1: Game Audio Overview

  • Meet and Greet
  • Video Game Sound Types
  • Video Game Genres
  • Assess the Audio in a Game Clip
  • Game Company Personnel and Game Development Overview
  • Hierarchical Map of a Typical Game Company
  • Video Game History and Playback Systems
  • Test your knowledge of Video Game History
  • Game Sound Development Overview
  • Audio Assessment of a Game

Lesson 2: Working with SFX Libraries

  • The Basics of Sound Effects Libraries
  • Storage Space
  • Starting Your Sound Effect Library
  • Preparing Your Sound Effects Library
  • Organizing Your Sound Effects
  • Trim, Edit, and Level Footstep Sounds
  • Animation Systems
  • Working with Animations
  • Performance Considerations and Tracking Strategies
  • Footstep Project

Lesson 3: Recording Custom SFX

  • Microphones
  • Field Recorders
  • Assess Your Microphone Cabinet
  • Signal Flow
  • Record Footsteps Part 1
  • Microphone Techniques
  • Record Footsteps Part 2
  • Recording on Location
  • Custom Sounds for Animation

Lesson 4: Unity & Real-World Sound Design for Games

  • Applied Effects
  • Manipulation and “Sound_Design-y” Effects
  • Identifying Applied Effects
  • Working with an Audio Engine (Unity)
  • Game Engines
  • Bringing All the Sounds Together
  • Implementing Audio in Unity

Lesson 5: Interactive Music

  • Game Music Types
  • Game Music History
  • Technical Hurdles
  • Horizontal Music Scoring
  • Implementation of Looped Music in Unity
  • Style and Genre Considerations
  • Final Music Edits and Discussion

Lesson 6: FMOD: Interactive Scoring and Implementation

  • Interactive Music History
  • Vertical Music Scoring
  • Create Three Simple Motifs
  • Introduction to Middleware
  • Scripting Systems for Interactive Sound
  • Knowing Your Limits
  • Complete the Interactive Music Project
  • Interactive Music Approaches Discussion

Lesson 7: Recording and Editing Dialogue

  • Contracts
  • Dialogue Supervision
  • Preproduction and Casting
  • Casting Call Exercise
  • Recording Preparation
  • Recording Setup
  • Preparing Your Recording Space
  • Recording and Processing
  • Editing Dialogue
  • File Management and Delivery
  • Add Dialogue to an Existing Game
  • Game Dialogue Analysis

Lesson 8: Sound Design for User Interface Experiences

  • Menu Interface Sound Design
  • Unified Soundscapes
  • User Interface Sound Design Discussion
  • Synthesized Interface Sounds
  • Record and Edit Mechanical Interface Sounds
  • UI sound Design for Mobile Games
  • Complete a Set of User Interface Sounds for a Game

Lesson 9: Interactive Sound Design in FMOD

  • FMOD: Parameters and Game Data
  • FMOD: Event Reference Modules
  • FMOD: Logic Track
  • Sound Design and Implementation
  • Complete an FMOD Sound Design Project

Lesson 10: Unity & FMOD Final Project Part 1

  • Diegetic vs Non-Diegetic sounds
  • FMOD Studio and Unity Integration
  • FMOD: Scatter Module
  • FMOD: Transition Regions
  • Unity and FMOD Final Project

Lesson 11: Final Project Part 2, Budgeting and Schedules

  • The Audio Director, Sound Designer, and Composer Roles
  • Start an Audio Design Document
  • The Team
  • Create a Content List
  • Milestones, Tradeshows, and other Deadlines
  • Complete a New Schedule
  • Time vs. Money vs. Quality
  • FMOD: Live Update
  • Complete The Unity and FMOD Project

Lesson 12: Demo Reels and Working in the Industry

  • Performance Issues and Space Limitations
  • Calculate Down sampling/Bit Reduction and Compression
  • Quality Assurance/Testing
  • Verify Functionality of Your Unity/FMOD Project
  • Final Delivery and Archive
  • Post Mortem
  • Demo Reels and Networking
  • Presenting Your Portfolio

Requirements

Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of one of the following courses Pro Tools 101Pro Tools 110Producing Music with LogicProducing Music with ReasonProducing Music with CubaseAbleton Live Fundamentals, or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.

Students must be proficient with a professional-level digital audio workstation (DAW) and sequencer of their choice, 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.

Textbook(s)

Software

  • Full-featured Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), such as Pro Tools (Studio or Ultimate), Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, Ableton Live (Suite or Standard), Reaper, Reason, or FL Studio (Producer or Signature). Note that GarageBand is not acceptable.
  • Virtual instruments, such as those included with most full-featured DAWs (note: Reaper is an exception), or third-party sample libraries
  • Audio converter, such as MediaHuman Audio Converter (free) or Switch (free)
  • Unity v2023.1.16f1 (free license)
    • Note: Installation instructions and considerations outlined in the course after enrolling
  • FMOD Studio v2.02.11
    • Note: Installation instructions and considerations outlined in the course after enrolling
  • Software to record computer screen and audio, such as OBS
  • Recommended: Audacity (free)

Hardware

  • MIDI keyboard controller
  • One of the following studio monitoring options (both recommended):
    • Studio monitors (pair), such as JBL 305Ps or better, as well as an audio interface and necessary cables
    • Over-ear studio headphones, such as Sennheiser HD 600, Sony MDR-7506, Philips SHP9500, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, etc.
  • Mobile recording rig capable of capturing high-quality audio. Options include:
    • Portable field recorder, such as Zoom H4N Pro (recommended option)
    • External microphone attachment connected to a smartphone
    • XLR microphone and audio interface connected to a laptop or smartphone
    • USB microphone connected to a laptop or smartphone

Important Technical/System Considerations

  • OS-specific considerations:
    • Mac users: We highly recommend that you avoid updating to the latest MacOS available, as this often affects overall compatibility with various software used in class.
    • Windows users: There are known performance issues with Microsoft Surface tablets/laptops for this course, and it is not recommended that students use one.
  • At least 400 GB of unused storage space
    • Note: Do not store Unity projects or FMOD sessions on cloud synced drives without zipping them first. The syncing process can break the project.
  • Please ensure that your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements to run all of the required software for the course.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu with any questions.


General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Instructors

Gina Zdanowicz

Author & Instructor

Gina Zdanowicz is an Emmy-Nominated sound designer and music composer for games, film, and TV. Her love for video games, sound, and technology began at a very early age and grew into a decade-long career in the games industry.

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After graduating from Berklee College of Music with a degree in music synthesis, Gina focused on a career in game audio, working in-house for game developers as well as operating her own independent sound studio, Serial Lab Studios. Her work can be heard on more than 100 game titles from award-winning AAA games to casual games such as Just Cause 3, Bioshock2, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, CrimeCraft, and Runeward, to name a few.

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 currently resides in New Jersey, just outside of NYC, where she creates game audio for clients worldwide. Read Less


Jeanine Cowen

Author

Jeanine Cowen Professor of Film Scoring at Berklee College of Music, is a frequent lecturer on the topic of music technology and new media industries. She is an active composer, music producer, and technologist, working primarily with sound and music for visual media. Jeanine studied at Northwestern University as a classical percussionist and graduated with a dual degree from Berklee College of Music, in film scoring and music production and engineering. Her graduate coursework focused on interactive design and game development at Savannah College of Art and Design. Jeanine has worked on development teams at the Education Development Center, Inc., Turning Point Software, and Turbine Entertainment. Her compositions can be heard in a wide variety of art and media, in works that include the documentary The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo, the critically acclaimed off-Broadway play Rapt, and Midway Games’ MMORPG Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. Her work as a percussionist can be heard on fellow Berklee composer and music technologist Stephen Webber's Stylus Symphony. Jeanine served as an active advisor to the Alliance for Women Film Composers during its founding.


Filipe Antunes

Instructor

Filipe Antunes is an audio engineer with a passion for music, sound design and film. He pursued his education at Berklee College of Music, where he successfully completed a dual major in Music Production/Engineering and Electronic Production/Design. With a strong foundation in both technical aspects of music production and creative electronic design, Filipe honed his skills in crafting innovative and immersive audio experiences for visual media.

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After graduating from Berklee, Filipe landed a prestigious position at Skywalker Sound, a renowned audio post-production company founded by George Lucas. In his role as an assistant re-recording and mastering audio engineer, Filipe brings a unique blend of expertise in audio production, engineering, and electronic design. Read Less


Spencer Bambrick

Instructor

Spencer Bambrick is a composer, educator, author, and electronic artist. His creative practice is rooted in video games, where interactivity plays a primary role. His career in the video game industry spans over a decade, shipping titles on Sony PlayStation 5, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, as well as mobile games with millions of downloads internationally. The intersection of technology, interactivity, and social impact are major themes that Spencer explores in his work.  


Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

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