Today I Learned: Wave Supports Up To 64 Channels

RF64, to be precise, which is a Broadcast Wave compatible multichannel File Format.

It popped up in a Indie Game Audio Podcast I listened to today. They claimed to have used this format to compensate for not having access to middleware like Wwise or FMod, and implemented their “interactive” soundtrack by just using simple level automation on a 32 channel RF64 file with all background music synced up. Sounds nifty, right?

This file format isn’t that new. The EBU Specs date back to 2009. Well, weirdly enough, I haven’t heard of it as of today, even though I work in the broadcast business.

So, how do you actually create such a file? It turns out that Audacity does the job (I have yet to check if other DAWs offer RF64 support).

In order to make this work you have to open the Audacity preferences Dialog and make sure to enable “Use custom mix” in the export settings otherwise everything will be mixed down to stereo.

Audacity Preferences

Then setup your session with multiple tracks and when you export the audio select “other uncompressed files” and “RF64″.

Audacity Export 02

Then you are prompted with the mixing matrix where you can specify the channel you want to route each track to.

Audacity Multichannel Export

It certainly seems this could be a nifty, certainly not super comfortable, but still viable workaround in case you don’t have access to Wwise or FMod and the like.

 




Game Audio / Starting Out

I spent the most of January doing research on Game Audio. Although I am an Audio Engineer by profession, the specifics of Game Audio weren’t covered at all back when I spent my time at the SAE. So I sat down and did some homework.

As expected, there are many solutions when it comes to integrating audio into games. Depending on the platforms, and the approach the developers are going for, you can be confronted with many different scenarios.

Delivery

The developers send you a complete asset list which they need sounds for and do the actual implementation work on their own. I think this might probably be the optimal situation you can hope for if you’re starting out in Game Audio, because you can focus on what you already know – producing audio assets. However, there’s one major caveat you have to take into account in the game audio world. File size.

I will go into more detail on this in a later post but here’s a small example: The over-the-air download limit of apps in Apples’ App Store is 20mb. If you want to reach as many people as possible with your app, you better stay below that. Now lets say you’re allowed to use 50% of that for audio (which is probably a rare best case scenario), that’s only 10mb for soundtrack and game sfx. From where I come from as a Broadcast Postproduction guy, where disk space essentially doesn’t matter, this seems ridiculously small right?

Delivery & Implementation

Now things are getting a little bit more demanding. The way how sound is implemented into a game can vary significantly. Some development kits like Unity3D or the Unreal UDK already provide audio engines. Then there are some middleware components available like Wwise and FMod among others. And some developers will have you work with their own in-house audio solutions. On top of that, depending on the Genre of the game, different levels of complexity are required. For example, a 3D first person shooter will require a completely different approach than lets say a 2D sidescrolling shmup (just think reverberation).

Conceptualization, Delivery & Implementation

This is a rare combination of tasks probably only applies to smaller game studios. I imagine bigger companies to employ a dedicated audio lead who’s delegating either an in-house audio team or external content providers. However, I think if you can actively develop your audio vision alongside the game development process, the results can be a lot better than just delivering a fixed list of assets.

What next?

Taking one step at time, I am currently learning about the more popular game audio implementation tools around. I am working myself through the The Game Audio Tutorial and the Unity3D audio engine, as well as looking up information about the Web Audio Api.

I also started actively “listening” to games. I recorded myself playing various games for around 20-30min to be able to listen to it again afterwards and really get a chance to focus on the audio. I might upload the videos on youtube at some point.