Saturday, July 16, 2011

Part 2: With "bow" and coconut Hooves! - Patch HoN

A little late update, but here we go!
When it came down to working on the emerald warden alternative's sounds. I kinda got rushed into the project:

She had to have additional new sounds because:

  1. New Weapon
  2. New Movements
  3. The model was now a female

I would have liked to go as far as doing different ability sounds, but there really wasn't much to go with in terms of different looking abilities or animations - to support additional sound work.

The art for her is beautiful and some of her sound had to reflect that:

The voice:

The voice actress they had hired, had such a similar voice to Claudia Black, I first thought it was her!
Her acting was all over the place, really good at certain places and kinda strange at others, to the point of not fitting at all, but overall in terms of acting, she did a fairly good job compare to many of the other voice overs we've got (including some of the hilarious auditions!)

Now when it came to the quality of the recording, well, it made me slightly rage, simply because there were so many pops, clicks and a frequency hum going on in the background.

It always amazes me that voice talents never really listen to what they record, and\or they are not aware of all the noises their mouth make;
I hate when people lean into my ear and whisper; it tickles and you hear every phlegm and pop their voice makes, that you are not aware of during normal conversations, so when you decide to record, remember that when talking into the mic, you gotta think of how it feels like if someone screams, (this is more to the point of how clipping sounds on a recording, and outside of the comfort of a recording engineer monitoring it for you) or talk normally instead of whispering in your ear.
It isn't pleasant.

Keep in mind that microphones (condensers and so on,) can pick up every little detail in your mouth, and that place, is a factory of sound.

A good voice artist can do a voice.
A great voice artist can both do a voice and act.
But a fantastic voice artist can do a voice, act and realize their mouth made a crazy - additional (and unwanted) sound.

The voice over (no offense of course to the actress) had it all over the place, it puts the quality of the sound for a movie\game really down, and sadly, audio guys get the blame for the talent's mistake (which for the record, is hard to avoid when nobody tells you it is a problem.)

Had I the option to actually sit in a studio and be the recording engineer for the actual recording. I'd probably ask for retakes AND there wouldn't be a hum in the background.

So I started off cleaning the audio until it was passable.
Now, for those of you who wonder how to clean your own audio before you send it off to the client, there is a fantastic clean up tool called Izotope RX (I don't get cash for recommending any links in my blog, I recommend them cos I had good experience with their product, so I am not affiliated with them) which worked wonder on cleaning it up. I also used adobe audition's click\pop remover which never fails me.

I didn't keep the original file, but in the future, I'll do some before and after audio clips.

After it was repaired, I started separating the good takes from the bad, and putting them where they belonged.
I felt it strange to make her voice standout as human as it were, and I decided to do some effects on it.

What I did, was that I duplicated the voice into three separate layers but being played at the same time:
The first layer would play the normal voice without effects (it is also the loudest layer.)
The next would have a EQ setting on it so only the low and slightly the mid-frequencies would play, I also then added an echo to this layer, that would make it seem ethereal,
I then put the volume to -4dB.
On the last layer - I added a really wet reverb to it (a dry sound is a normal studio recorded audio without changes, a wet one got certain changes, like an echo or a reverb, if it is half wet and half dry, it means it is slightly effected) to help give another ethereal impression, but this time in the high - mid frequencies. I had the volume to -8dB.

I then compressed it and I felt quite happy with the result. It reminded me a tad of the warcraft 3 voices for the elves, which I used as a slight reference point, when I was thinking of the voice for the female warden.

Here are the before and after for the effects:

The Sounds:

When it came to start doing the sounds, there were two things that needed to be redone: Footsteps and spear throws.
I couldn't use the existing attack sound of the hero Valkyrie, simply because that is a bad idea if they are both in a fight.
It would just make it loud, confusing, boring and a constant barrage of the same sound, adding to the fact they are both agility heroes who suppose to attack fast, you can kinda imagine how annoying that would sound like.

So I had to make something for it:
I recorded various wine glass sounds and then using a doppler plug-in, I could make it sound whooshy. It wasn't enough though and had to result into using some library sounds of crystal like whooshes, that helped build a greater body of sound.
I added an additional sound of the valkyrie's whoosh, but decreased the volume so much that it would rather add tail to the sound than be part the whole soundscape.
I tested it with both Valkyrie and Warden attacking each other and felt that they were different enough.

Here are two of the attack sounds without Valkyrie's:

Next up was the sound of her hooves:

Do you remember the part in monty python's "banging coconuts together" to make the sound of hooves?
Well, that is actually how you used to make the sound of hooves!
These days, a foley stage use a special prop made to replicate the sound (unless of course you can record a real horse.)
Though anyone who spends some time with horses or been around them, knows that they don't sound like that at all, but, I really wanted to use them!

I used the coconut shells outside on a dirt patch and recorded during the early morning. I am sure anyone who looked at me thought I was 8 years old and ripe for the loony bin, but I had fun!
After the recordings, I picked the ones that I liked, cleaned them up a little and compressed them, afterwards, I split them up and added them to the game.
I then had to look through her awesome walk animation in which she walks and jumps around, find the correct frame number it hits the ground and attach a sound to it, I also added the normal surface sounds that play, so if she goes into water, the correct water sounds will play.

This is how it sounds like in motion with her animation on a grass surface:

And that's it!
If you wanna try her out and be one of the first before she becomes available on sale in the store, go here.

This is it for now, come back next Friday, where I will talk about the sound I did for something that was amazingly fun to work on, and what I am sure people been wanting to be available to them ever since [spoiler alert!]


  1. Cool sounds. Just a few questions;

    1. Why does every hero have an echo in their voice

    2. Are you replacing arnej?

    Well done with the sounds. I actually really like the voice actor they chose, a nice husky voice. Its a shame the modellers were too lazy to match the concept art.

  2. Yeah u got me with that spoiler ^^

    Nice post :)

  3. What do you have to do to become a sounds engineer?