Game Audio Guru Craig Duman adds Dangerous 2-Bus and Monitor ST/SR to his Mix
Edmeston, NY – Craig Duman is the sound design and music expert at Snowblind, a Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment Company that specializes in video games. Duman has over fifteen years experience in game audio and has worked on over 75 games for many of the top companies in the industry including Interplay, Shiny and Rock Star. Duman is currently in the midst of creating audio for “War in the North,” a Lord of the Rings themed game that is highly anticipated by fantasy game players. It features all the latest in graphics and sound technology, including the audio in 5.1 surround. At Snowblind Duman has recently installed the Dangerous Music 2-Bus LT analog summing amp and the Dangerous Monitor ST/SR stereo and surround monitor controller.
“One of the main reasons I went with the Dangerous Music equipment was because I was on an ‘analog kick’ – I learned on 2-inch tape and a traditional console,” explains Duman. “I was looking to bring that analog sound and feel to the projects that I work on. The Dangerous equipment was a natural solution to that. I’ve been mixing-in-the-box on Pro Tools for about 15 years, and I was looking for something that could increase the headroom in the mix environment as well as bring back the clarity and the punch – the 2-Bus does all that along with delivering a lot more depth too. We have 16 D-to-A outputs from the Digidesign 192’s and we feed them to the 2-Bus which sums them to stereo. The 2-Bus is simple to use – there’s no bells and whistles to degrade the signal path, and its recall is easy and instantaneous, which I like. I don’t have to write everything down like with other analog equipment.”
“With mixing in the box in order to not clip the internal stereo buss you have to bring your faders down pretty far, so you’re not using all the bits, whereas with the Dangerous 2-Bus I can leave tracks set pretty hot. It doesn’t clip, it doesn’t distort, and it blends the audio in a nice way. I like the Mono function on the 2-Bus too, a lot of the game sounds I do are mono sounds, so I just hit the switches and there it is. It’s just so much more punchy and powerful sounding than mixing in the box. I had to go back and rework a bunch of sounds that I did before I had the 2-Bus because they just didn’t have the punch and sound quality that the newer sounds did.”
Describing his initial reaction to setting up the Dangerous Music equipment in the Snowblind studios, Duman recalls, “I got the 2-Bus and the Monitor ST installed at the same time and immediately I could hear that they made a really *^#@! big difference. I didn’t think it was going to sound this good. I was very, very impressed.”
Snowblind has given Duman and his audio group a new level of power allowing them to actually program the sound elements into the game ‘code’ and the Monitor ST plays a big part in making that work successfully and smoothly. “These days sound design and implementation are tightly woven together art forms. We really want to punch up our games and make them stand out, we’ve got to implement the audio in the game ourselves,’ says Duman. “When I first got started in games we’d hand the music and sound effects to the programmers and they’d often come back with the music in the wrong place and the wrong sound effects. Taking complete ownership of sound implementation makes our games stand out and is done right the first time,” states Duman.
Once he found the Dangerous 2-Bus and looked over the other products, Duman realized with the help of his salesman Ryan Sloan at Sweetwater Sound he could also get the monitoring system he needed from Dangerous, and that it was a system he could build on. “In addition to the 2-Bus, I was also looking for a surround monitor controller, but initially I wasn’t focused on the surround elements because it was early in the development of the game. The modular design of the Dangerous system was perfect for us. We got the stereo Monitor ST first and added the SR unit for surround later. I was asked by accounting if I could buy some now and some later – and I could. It worked out great for my department budget.”
“I was using a low-cost monitor controller at the time,” adds Duman. “The Dangerous Music Monitor ST made my existing speakers sound better. The ST added a lot of depth perception and I really like the repeatability of the volume control. Also my old controller wasn’t very movable because all the cables connected to the back of it. I like that the Dangerous remote is easily movable. You can pick up the remote and move around the room and check your mixes in different spots, and that’s something I really like. You can put it wherever you want, it makes it real easy to check your mix and work in different parts of the studio and still have control of the volume and speakers.
Duman uses the Monitor ST/SR to listen to the game in actual play mode because that’s how the sounds he creates and programs into the levels and game actions are generated: during game action. “It all depends on what is going on in the game. Sometimes the character is in front of you and sounds come out the front speakers and sometimes that same character is behind you. I have to monitor in surround and then adjust the in-game parameters for that mix to happen in surround. I’ll play the game, as for example the warrior guy, I’ll go into a level and play-test the whole level.”
Having the Monitor ST’s latch and quick press “solo” speaker buttons really help with their work, Duman explains, “I’ll hear a problem going on in the game, ‘But where is it?’ Now I can quickly solo out a channel and find out what’s going on. Another example is ‘Why does the dialog sound terrible?’ – we can easily diagnose the problem and fix it. Find out that it’s playing in the wrong speaker. Because we are implanting the music and sound into the game itself, there are so many places for it to go wrong, the Monitor ST helps us zero-in on where it’s going wrong. And we can find it a lot faster than with other monitor controllers – I hit the buttons really fast, other controllers may have speaker solo buttons on them but they are not like the Monitor ST. The Monitor ST buttons don’t stick!!! It’s easy to work with. I didn’t think the latch and quick press solo functions would be as helpful as it they are!”
Visit the Snowblind website to find out more about the “War in the North” Lord of the Rings video game: http://www.snowblind.com