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Karl Davis is absolutely relishing his first year on the Creative Sound Design Degree.
Alongside his studies here at ACM, Karl is heavily involved with several students from De Montfort University in Leicester on a games development project called ‘Regicide’. We caught up with Karl to promo ‘Regicide’ (which is beyond awesome) so far and to get a glimpse into life on the CSD course…
What course are you currently studying?
I am currently finishing my first year of the Creative Sound Design Degree.
A bit about your background – why did you want to work in this industry?
I have always had an interest in music and sound, as well as being an avid gamer. Although I came to ACM with more of an interest in music when I started researching game audio I realised that is what I wanted to pursue. The balance of recording and creating sound assets as well as implementing playback systems makes it very interesting and rewarding when everything starts to come together.
Tell us about what you’re currently involved with since starting at ACM?
I’ve recently collaborated with several students from De Montfort University on a project called ‘Regicide’. This project has definitely been the most interesting and challenging project I have worked on so far during my time here. I have spent a lot of time getting to grips with the game audio software and generally becoming immersed in the world of game audio and sound design to learn as much as possible.
How did you go about creating your audio project ‘Regicide’?
As mentioned, I collaborated with several students from De Montfort University, two Artists, a dialogue editor and voice actor. The designers had advertised on Twitter that they were looking for a student sound designer for their entry into the Off The Map competition.
I got in contact with them stating my interest and although I haven’t completed my showreel yet I sent them some previous work and a work in progress demo I was creating in Unreal Engine 4 (the same engine this project uses). They invited me onto the project and I spent the next month recording and designing assets as well as communicating closely with the team to make sure everything would fit with what they were looking for. The team also invited me down to Leicester for two days to work on implementing the audio together, and it was also great meeting them in person! After that I had a near final build of the game to work with and fine tune the audio.
The audio was implemented with FMOD and then linked into Unreal with blueprints (A visual scripting language built into unreal). The game is very linear, a short cinematic level, so we spent a lot of time tweaking when certain things like dialogue would trigger so that it seemed natural. I went through many revisions to make sure the sound matched the visuals and everything flowed well together.
Do you have any future projects lined up?
I am currently focusing on finishing my portfolio pieces and show reel. I am definitely looking to get involved with more projects whilst I’m at ACM and also work on future projects with the Two Fair Bros team.
How is your course preparing you for your career in sound design?
I have learnt a lot so far on the course about many key areas such as microphone technique, foley and acoustics. I have got a lot out of the course by using the facilities available and experimenting, as well as working on my own projects and getting feedback from tutors on how to improve them.
Do you have any advice for those looking to get in to industry?
Whilst I’m probably not the most qualified person to be giving out advice, I would definitely recommend getting involved with other students projects. Game audio is a deep subject and working on a project presents many challenges and unforeseen issues to be solved and learn from. I have learnt a lot even from working on such a small project. Working in a team environment is also a great learning experience, communication is vital to ensure all the audio integrates with the game properly and to get feedback on your work.
Most audio middleware used in games is free to download and learn (such as Wwise and FMOD), along with many game engines to link it to (such as Unreal Engine 4). I had started learning and experimenting with Unreal and various middleware solutions before I came onto the project which made it much easier to work with the team and integrate the audio. I would highly recommend downloading and starting to learn popular middleware and how it integrates with game engines.