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Making Forgotling Crowd Reactions

Hi, I’m Troels and I’m one of the sound designers at Throughline Games.

I came on board the project very late in the development process when the aesthetics for the soundscape had already been cemented. My job has mainly been related to handling and implementing the voice over, some sound design, and mixing.

We had the voices of the game’s main characters covered by professional voice actors, but in order to cover all VO in the game we snuck in some developer cameos. I recall one of the sessions in particular as it was extraordinary enjoyable, and this is what I want to share with you today. Now, it’s no secret that we don’t have a well treated / installed recording room or booth at the Throughline office (note to self for next project) :-D Because of this, when we had to record several people simultaneously at one point, we had to come up with a creative solution to avoid roomy or sub-par recordings.

Now… What is a roomy recording? This isn't intended to be a tutorial on recording, it’s rather a small introductions to this particular aspect of recording. When recording audio inside a room, the audio will bounce and reflect off the room’s surfaces. These reflections enter the microphone and “add” a lot of information about the room’s size, wall material, etc. Imagine you record yourself on your phone in the living room. The recording would sound completely different to a recording made in a large hall or a bathroom with tiled walls. Sound designers love so called “dry recordings” (recordings that carry a minimum of room characteristics) as they can then add their own artificial reverb configured to their requirements. It also allows them to fit the same voice clip to different environments / locations by simply applying different kinds of reverb.

Now, as mentioned above, we had a recording session previously where we recorded several people, and this ended up in a very roomy recording - not at all in line with the environment you see in the game where these dialogue lines are played. We decided to re-record the dialogue and attempt to get a more dry recording that would be usable within the game. We gathered several people from the office within a small room and covered them below a thick blanket along with the microphone. All of them were instructed to speak various random sentences taking on different types of impressions (surprise, wonder, anger, etc.). We made several recordings of each impression and then layered them 2 and 2 on top of each other. Additionally, we panned the layers to each side (left and right ear / channel) to empathize the size of the crowd.

Here’s a little video of the recording session:

And here are some of the results that we put in the game.

Though the tools or conditions you have available for solving a task might not be optimal, you can still overcome most obstacles simply by utilizing what you have in creative ways. This is especially true for smaller developers, but it applies broadly as well.

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