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video games

The History of Sound Design

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The History of Sound Design

Although the term “sound design” has been around for nearly four decades--and the practice has been pursued for much longer--its use has only recently become nearly ubiquitous.  A day cannot go by that I do not see #sounddesign appended onto the end of a multitude of tweets from around the world.  We now have the invaluable website DesigningSound.org which distributes information about our community’s adventures, musings, and technical inquiries.  And our own Boom Box Post blog often touts titles such as Creature Speech Sound Design Challenge or Smoke and Mirrors: Unexpected Sound Design Sources.  

Why this sudden renaissance of the term “sound design”?  This week, I decided to take a closer look at the history of the term, the differences in how it is used across the film and television, interactive and immersive media, and theater industries, and its use and abuse.

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8 BIT TWICE SHY: CREATING RETRO GAME SOUND EFFECTS WITH BFXR

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8 BIT TWICE SHY: CREATING RETRO GAME SOUND EFFECTS WITH BFXR

It's no surprise that parodies/homages of the games of my youth (those popular throughout the 80's) are starting to pop up in the shows I work on. In fact, they've been cropping into modern cartoons for pretty much my entire career. There are a few reasons for this. First (and most obvious) everything that is old is new again. Retro is always going to be hip, and we have been in a love affair with 'The Decade of Excess' for quite a while now. It's also true that a lot of the talent at the Executive Producer, Director and Head Writer level these days (those producing the content) land right square in that age group where these are the things they love from their youth as well. Lastly, however, you need to consider the style that comes with writing a video game sequence into your animated program. Most modern games both look and sound entirely realistic. So if, for example, you wanted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to take a break and geek out over a video game together, what fun would it be to have them play something that looks and sounds like a feature film? The fun comes with the retro, both visually and sonically.

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