What are the most interesting features that have been
taken advantage of for the PS3 for audio? More channels? Dynamic compression?
GS: Some obvious
advantages are pooled memory and the cell architecture that allow for some
serious processing power for more real-time interactive mixing. More channels
are good but not necessarily always better.
What game has impressed you the most for
the PS3 with its use of audio?
GS: Uncharted was a huge success both
graphically and audibly. Just as with the previous generation consoles, things
only get better with time and I'm excited about our future projects in
development and raising the quality bar that Sony is known for.
What is the average amount of audio memory that you are
seeing used in PS3 games?
This is always the
first question most sound designers care about when preparing for a new
product. The average have been around 30MB, with some more some much less.
Given the PS3's pooled memory RAM resources, negotiation all the way through
development isn't unusual as the game is realized and resources make themselves
obvious in terms of productions priorities.
What would the next big step be for audio hardware and
software in games? Realtime synthesis of voice / sfx? Planar emitters?
The future of
developing audio for interactive media will be tools that expose and allow
complete customization of hardware and software resources for both the audio
and programming teams. Tools that account for very fast iteration is the
definitely the future, both from a sound design per sound perspective as well
as sounds all at once mix perspective.
Having the ability to interface with art
assets and allowing those assets to scale automatically as they are updated as
an example, will be critical for maintaining quality with smaller teams and/or
limited resources. Lastly, I foresee more robust real-time logic systems that
will allow sound designers and production directors to actually make decisions
and mix the game at a "post-production" like stage of development.
The Contenders Face Off
the playing field looks about even between these two heavyweights. While the
Xbox 360 still has a lead over the PlayStation 3 in terms of sales numbers, in
terms of raw power for audio many cross platform games have very equivalent
sound quality, most notably BioShock.
Xbox Contender: Halo 3
Marty O'Donnell directed
audio for the worldwide hit Halo 3.
In Halo 3 a great marriage took place
between the ubiquitous Waves software bundle and a video game. I chatted with
him about how Waves was used.
How did you hook up with Waves for
realtime use of their effects?
Marty O'Donnell: I've
been talking with Brian Schmidt about using Waves with the Xbox for a number of
years and he put me in touch with Paul Bundschuh from Waves. Paul and I had a
great conversation and we started moving forward on making it happen.
Which effects did you end up
used the L360 which is based on the L1 rather than the L2 (L2 too much of a CPU
hit). It really worked well to have a great compressor/limiter at the end of
the chain. We also used Q extensively. We would have loved to have used RenVerb
because it sounded absolutely beautiful, but it was way too big a hit on CPU.
How big a difference did you hear
in quality of effects from native effects?
gave us much better range and control for EQ than the standard stuff in the
box. The Xbox never had an L1 type of DSP before so there's nothing for us to
compare it with. We would try settings in Pro-Tools with the plug-ins and then
duplicate them in the 360 and the sound was basically identical. I really wish
we had had more time to see if we could have optimized the RenVerb.
Did you use off the shelf Waves
licenses or special embedded system algorithms for more optimized realtime
had engineers both here and at Waves to optimize the performance of these
plug-ins. Waves was great to work with as a company.
What kind of CPU hit did you
register, was there a battle over the CPU for realtime effects?
now you're getting too technical for me. Like I said, some stuff was too
expensive and we had to minimize the hit as much as possible. This wasn't
something that the Waves engineers were used to doing but once we met with them
and showed them what we needed they really came through. As you know, in games
there is a CPU battle for just about everything.
Were you able to crossfade effects
(such as two kinds of reverb from one location to another)?
were already crossfading reverbs in our engine, so we thought we'd be doing
that again, but since we didn't use Waves reverb it didn't come up. We used
modified reverb from the XAudio stuff.
Have you heard any feedback from
the team or the buying public on the difference the new effects have made in Halo 3?
of this stuff is revolutionary and basically I believe that all our progress is
being made in many different subtle ways. The public seems to like the audio
design of Halo 3 and Waves is one of
the reasons why.