Audio Break

Hey Folks! Switched gears today to to some audio work, as Michael's ATC script is making progress. Once he has that ready and we record the voiceover (VO), it'll be nice to be able to just drop that into the working system to get ambiance for the main menu.

Having done some audio tinkering before when Josh and I tried procedural theme music, it wasn't too hard to get things up and running. And fortunately, that meant a lot more time spent on creative work to make the audio sound better.

For now, I snagged a sample call and response line from Michael's ATC script to use a stand-ins for the final work. The first voice is requesting approach advisories, while the response is the tower acknowledging and giving course info. I replaced all of the dynamic tokens with some reasonable examples, then, I recorded both lines using the most ATC-like voice I could muster.

I also generated some background noise to simulate radio/cockpit/tower environment, which basically consists of a sawtooth wave and faint white noise.

From there, I imported the clips into Unity for tweaking. I figure I'll do all the VO in dry, clear samples, then let Unity processing layer the noise, and filter the VO for radio-like effects. For now, this mostly consists of a combo of high and low pass filters to cut all but a narrow range of the voice channel. I apply a compressor filter to all voice, too. Then, the noise is added in to a separate channel that cuts volume anytime the voice is talking (i.e. "ducking").

I also apply some random volume, pitch, and filter cut-off frequencies to each voice so they sound like different speakers in different environments. Finally, each voice/noise clip is scheduled to play in sequence, with some variable response delay and dead air times between voices.

The overall effect isn't bad. I can still tell it's my voice over and over, but a good chunk of them sound like genuinely different people in different cockpits/towers. And it's not a bad radio distortion effect.

I also finally hooked-up Josh's menu theme to the main menu, along with a light machinery hum loop I recorded back during NEO Scavenger. It really makes a difference, hearing all that together. A feeling of a much more complete environment.

I still need to make the voice pair into something I can instantiate and duplicate, so a few of these are ongoing simultaneously. Just hearing the same two voices repeat won't last very long :)

Overall, it was a really nice artistic diversion from the more logic-heavy plot stuff that's been occupying my time for months. I still have some ideas I'm excited to try in the plot system once I'm back there, but I want to try a few more things here before I do.


ra1's picture

To mix it up, you might want to have one male and one female voice.

dcfedor's picture

That was my wife's comment, too :) I don't know about you, but to me, it sounds like she volunteered!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games