Waveforms, pictured by altemark

Composer, musician, and sound designer W. Brent Latta knows something about sound design, currently working professionally on sound for games with Amaze Entertainment. As an enthusiast of what it takes to craft sound, he’s put together a list for us of where to go to learn more and hone your abilities, from fundamentals to the specifics required by film/video and games. -Ed.

Sound design is a fundamental aspect of nearly every form of digital media, from music production to games to commercial radio. Sometimes seen as a ‘dark art’, sound design can also be viewed as difficult and mysterious, often deterring would-be creators. Here are 15 sound design resources to help rookies and veterans alike.

Fundamentals

The fundamentals of sound design rest firmly on the core fundamentals of audio engineering. Without a working knowledge of basic audio engineering, your road to becoming a sound designer could be a long one. Here are some resources to help get you off on the right foot.

1. AudioTuts.com is a great place to start learning basic and advanced techniques for audio production. Even if you have no interest in producing music, taking the time to work through both sound design and music production tutorials will quickly give you practical, hands-on experience with the techniques you’ll need to get your sound design career moving.

2. Sound On Sound has a voluminous archive of audio, music and production tutorials. These range from the most fundamental techniques of sound synthesis, all the way up to specific techniques using outboard effects processors.

3. Digital Pro Sound has a nice archive of tutorials and articles covering a range of applications, plug-ins, and general techniques.

Sound For Film

Sound design master Randy Thom. Courtesy Skywalker Sound.

Sound for film has a long and proud history, with a level of camaraderie and support that is not often found in other aspects of various media industries. As sound designers, we are fortunate to have a plethora of amazing individuals who help promote our work, keep us informed, and help us keep up on the latest and greatest news and tech. Here are a few film-specific sites that are worth checking out.

4. FilmSound is perhaps the most comprehensive site on the web regarding the topic of sound and music for film. Contributors include legendary sound designers such as Randy Thom, Ben Burtt and Walter Murch. There’s even a section specifically for beginners!

5. FilmSoundDaily is relatively new to the blogosphere, but is highly recommended for unique, personal approach, its thorough interviews, and plenty of audio and video content.

6. SyncSoundCinema is an interesting blog covering field production and recording. Product reviews and announcements, as well as industry commentary make for a useful daily read.

Sound For Games

The New Media Team’s video game collection, also known as Things Gamers See In Their Dreams. Photo by wisekris

Now that we’re moving into my neck of the woods, I’m happy to share with you some of my favorite sites covering the topics of audio for games. While many of the techniques are the same, the specific application of sound in games can vary widely from film, television and radio. Here are a few sites to give you a head-start on audio for games.

7. GamaSutra is one of the premier sites on the web for news, articles, interviews, and industry reports on games. Their archives are replete with interesting game audio articles covering a range of topics including adaptive music, voiceover recording, production pipelines and development methodology. In addition, Gamasutra has sections devoted to job-hunting and education, for those who are just getting started.

8. GANG is the Game Audio Network Guild, is the largest game audio community in the world. It is a non-profit organization devoted to the promotion, education and growth of the game audio community. The majority of the resources are available to members-only, but with the recent site overhaul, there are a number of new features that are available for those who are interested in joining but want more information first.

9. Music4Games is devoted to all aspects of music for video games, including soundtrack reviews, interviews with top composers, and even reviews of software used frequently in the production of game music. This is a great site for learning about the movers and shakers of the game music industry.

10. IASIG “exists to allow developers of audio software, hardware, and content to freely exchange ideas about improving the performance of interactive applications by influencing hardware, software, and tool design.” Comprised of a wide variety of individuals from across the interactive entertainment industry, the IASIG has working to improve the lives of game developers and game audio designers for over 13 years.

11. sound-music-interactive-games is a blog I recently stumbled upon. While much of the content is linked from other, previously mentioned sites, it is all focused on game-audio, and contains thoughtful and amusic commentary from Richard Stevens.

Communities and Lists

Making the right connections: patch bay photographed by José Ramón de Lothlórien’s.

I’m happy to say that the sound design community is generally welcoming, informative, and a fun place to work and play. Here are some great places where you can begin to network with fellow composers and sound designers. As a general rule, newbies are welcome in all of these communities, though the signal-to-noise ratio here is very high. Posts are almost always ‘on-topic’, and searching the archives for previously answered questions is mandatory.

12. GameAudioForum is an excellent place to learn, share ideas, and network with other game audio professionals.

13. GameAudioPro is a Yahoo! mailing list devoted to learning more about sound design for games. While there isn’t a much traffic here as on GameAudioForum, this is a great way to stay connected if you don’t want to spend a lot of time searching through web forums.

14. sound_design is another Yahoo! discussion group. This particular group is a veritable who’s-who of the film, television and game sound world. The level of professionalism here is extremely high, and while rookies are welcome, asking rookie questions is somewhat frowned upon, as most rookie questions are readily answered elsewhere (in the archives or on other websites). I’ve been a ‘lurker’ on this site for two years and have yet to ask a question. Even so, I’ve learned a great deal by simply reading the posts of others.

A Random Must Read Site

15. USO is a site with a wide ranging scope covering topics such as sound design, production, technique, interviews and digital signal processing. This is one of my favorite daily visits, with a great sense of humor, and reverence for audio creators everywhere. Highly recommended! Ed.: I agree — this has long been on my blog RSS feed! -PK

Your Favorites?

Do you have favorite websites, mailing lists, or forums that cover the topic of sound design, production, recording, foley or audio for games? If so, let us know in the comments!

  • Robert Lyon

    thanks, this is great.

  • http://www.gorehole.org/nostromo/ M-.-n

    Great article and collection of links Peter. Digg in it. My favorite list all time was the nord modular list at the time the first g1 came out. There was a troumendous level of expertise and great entousiam in sharing. I miss a list like that.

  • http://www.byronscullin.com Byron Scullin

    I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate posts like this! Some of these sites I have followed for a while but it's always the one or two you didn't know about that really blow your mind. It's great that people in audio feel so ready to share information as well…

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Actually, FYI that's Brent, not Peter — just editing this one. But I appreciate the kudos! :) PK

  • Orubasarot

    Are the Foobar and Fruity Loops Oscilloscopes really as good as it gets for software? Is there not a single one out there that takes advantage of GPU acceleration (which I have a buttload of) to make pretty dynamic highlights and glows on an antialiased line?

  • endekks

    Awe. Some.

  • spinner

    Great work, much appreciated!

  • http://www.vytispuronas.com/ Vytis Puronas

    This is great! Can I vote for this as top article of the year? Thank you so much!

  • http://audiotuts.com Joel Falconer

    Thanks for dropping a link to AUDIOTUTS, Brent. :)

  • http://www.jakekulju.com/agrainaday Andrew Lee

    I also check Wire to the Ear daily.

    http://www.wiretotheear.com/

    There is also a Theatre Sound Design listserv on Google Groups and it reads as the Who's Who of theater sound designers in North America and the UK. They have MASSIVE archives on their old yahoo groups web page.

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  • http://YES automatonandon

    one of the best articles on this site ever, have always been interested in this and couldn't bend google to my will to get anything decent. good work!

  • http://symbioticaudio.com W. Brent Latta

    I'm glad you've all enjoyed the article! We will definitely keep this format in mind for future stories.

  • a.m. gold

    audiotuts.com is right up there with your greatest links ever. what a terrific post! more, please…

  • matt

    never knew about audiotuts!! what an awesome site. Thanks and I would encourage further postings like this in the future.

  • Tom Lee

    Here is a great podcast on audio that is fun and informative with some great storys and advice. I think they have even mentioned CDM website once or twice. Sound designer Scott Gershin talks about his recent work on Hell boy 2 in the latest podcast.

  • Tom Lee

    Sorry the site is http://www.audionowcast.com

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  • http://gamesgizmo.blogspot.com/ Alvin Smith

    I read this post…..its very interesting…………These are definitely cool things ……its sounds like Killing Games….

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  • septo

    great list man. on number 11 it says htetp instead of http in the URL.

  • Dri

    Thanks, this is a great list. I have used a few of those lists and communities in the previous few years… certainly got me out of trouble with sound design deadlines for my work at the time and i managed to get some good advice from Randy Thom no less. As a noob to the industry i was overjoyed.

    Where else can you learn to make a water proof contact mic from a piezo element, freeze it in a block of ice, record it melting at double speed and then halve it back… glacial cracks ahoy!

  • http://www.soundesign.info gianpaolo

    Hi guys I would like to add http://www.soundesign.info , the first italian blog totally dedicated to sound design.

    We are managing to do an english version.

    Our blogroll contains all your list. Amazing!!

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  • http://www.semiproductions.com Sam

    You know what site is great?

    http://www.soundworkscollection.com

    SOUND WORKS COLLECTION MUST be added to this! It's an awesome site!

  • Octavio Rodriguez

    Amazing article! It provides a great insight into the world of sound design. I am blown away…and so happy that I am studying music production.
    -Octavio Rodriguez-Ortiz

  • https://www.facebook.com/mykprouctions1947 Michael Roberts

    Outstanding Article! This is great info and not to be taken lightly.