In the follow-up to the first part of our recent Inside Crytek Interview, Senior Audio Designer, Christian Schilling, answers your questions about his day-to-day work.
Is it an entirely original soundtrack being composed for Crysis 3, or can we expect to see some of our favorite themes and motifs from C1 and C2 make a comeback?
It will be an entirely original soundtrack. We’re happy that Borislav Slavov remains the composer in Crysis 3 like in Crysis 2. So I bet you will recognize his style in C3! Also, the game still takes place in New York City, so some themes will be rearranged and picked up for new compositions. However, the city is in a completely different situation, and the story has made some significant steps, which definitely will be reflected in the mood and color of the music.
I’m so glad I found this article; you are my hero at the moment! I’m going to FullSail University for Recording Arts and I want to do what you are doing. Your advice was great since sound and movies are also my passion. I wanted to know how you obtain most of your sounds and what percentage is artificially created? Also, how much time goes into matching up audio with animations?
Thanks. I’m glad it’s useful for you! It’s hard to name numbers, but we normally go for doing original recordings at least for the stuff that should really stick out. We recently went to a Foley stage, especially to record tons of metallic noises, as there will game situations with – surprise, surprise - excessive demolition, collapsing buildings, etc. In addition to such studio sessions, each one of us has a handheld recording device to carry around wherever we go, so in case we come across a cool sounding situation, we can instantly record it. It’s always good to have access to a wide variety of sound FX and foleys as a basis to create new original ones. So, we also use licensed libraries just as many other studios do. There are just way too many awesome libraries on the market to simply ignore them. Also sometimes production just has to go fast, and libraries can be a life-saver in certain cases. All in all I think we have a good mix of both original recordings and library source material that serve as basis for new unique mixes.
I understand your question about artificially created sounds as in synthetically modified audio footage. Again hard to tell a number here, as it actually doesn’t matter how much of it is synthetically processed. The result is what matters. In the Crysis universe of course there is a strong reason for heavy audio modification – aliens! And on top of that the whole story takes place in the future. In regards to sound FX this offers huge opportunities do create exciting synthetic assets. And we hope you will enjoy them! Thanks to the CryENGINE Sandbox Editor it doesn’t require big magic to align sound FX to animations. The most important part here is the communication with animators. It’s important to not spend too much time on temporary animations, and to work only on relevant ones or final ones. In an animation heavy game like C3 this can make a big difference in time management. Also the features for animation and sound implementation continuously improve so it leaves more and more time for design and less need for technical chin-ups.
How many people work in the sound department at Crytek? How many of those are working on Crysis 3?
Crytek as a whole consists of several studios and each studio runs its own sound department. Across Europe we’re 13 audio guys on various projects. Currently 8 people at Crytek contribute to the sound of C3 single player and multiplayer. Some constantly, some for a certain time period. If a project needs stronger attention then more sound can get involved.
Check out my sound reel, Christian, I hope you like it. (Sound/Music replacement Reel Cinematic from the videogame trailer Crysis 2):
This is a very different approach compared to the original. More synthetic, minimalistic music style and abstract sound FX. I would use this one more as a music demo, rather than as a SFX demo. Always keep in mind your demo will be compared with the original. In this case the goal for the original trailer was to capture New York City emotionally as well as reflecting the human drama that is connected with the story. Your music is wicked electronic stuff. Add pure emotion that makes one’s heart jump and it’s a candidate. This is really tricky, as it can quickly get cheesy. If it should serve as SFX demo, then I’d suggest to remove all music and go for hyper realistic in-your-face sound design that makes one think: “wow this is real!” Keep it up and good luck!
Can you tell us a bit about what kind of special sound effects are used and how they are recorded? What is the weirdest/most difficult sound or song you ever worked on?
I would say the sound FX which are very special to the Crysis universe are the Nanosuit sounds, the aliens, and the weapons. Nanosuit and aliens are pure sci-fi with lots of creative freedom. We did numerous iterations on those since the first experiments, both recording-wise as well as processing-wise. The Crysis 2 alien gunship sound for example was made by a coffee-cup sliding on a flat metallic surface, mixed together with a sliding crown cork on a cardboard surface type. However if you are aiming for a very realistic sound of a certain weapon, then your creative freedom is very limited and you have to basically replicate the very special audible behavior of that gun, plus adding that little extra excitement without getting too far away from the original sound. This requires, first of all, excellent recordings of that gun, with several microphones in different distances and perspectives. Then after choosing the best takes, these are processed and mixed together, the sound color is modified as well as the dynamic behavior and loudness in order to get the real juice out of the material.
How many voice actors are recorded for the main characters and NPCs? Would you like to be a voice actor yourself?
I enjoy doing voice acting myself. There are just too many great professional actors out there, and to be honest I’m glad that we don’t have to rely on my acting skills! The story is not 100% locked down, so there is no set number of voice actors at the moment.
Thanks for sending in your questions! Look out for our next Inside Crytek Interview, which will be coming to you real soon, and have your questions at the ready!