Witness: Why it doesn’t need a dynamic mixer.

This is a snippet from a Skype chat where I was explaining why Witness doesn’t need a dynamic audio mixer-

“Witness doesn’t need it because it would work against the core premise of the game which relies on player’s perception.  Dynamic mixing is manipulating the audio to create the experience devs want them to have. Witness is more like…here’s an island. It’s really cool.  Go check it out, and see what you find. It’s the player’s perceptive contributions that move the game along. If the audio is any more dynamic than what the player has control of through movement or doing something, then we are leading them in an artificial way…potentially drawing their attention to an event with no correlation to anything deeper happening the game play and creating a false reality. Completely against what Jon is trying to do.”

It is of course mixed, but it’s a very simple 2 level static hierarchy…3 if you count the level of the sample itself.  Global volume and world object factoring being the other two.  We just don’t need duckers, rms attenuators, state change page mixes or any of that.




“I wanted to shoot you a quick email to say that from my perspective it sounds fantastic. You really did a great job on this piece…lots of wonderful sonic layers.  The sounds are so distinctive and balanced, flowing seamlessly and tonally into each visual change. It has a wonderful quality. Thanks.”

-Rupert Nadeau – Standard Vision, LLC.

“…played the last submission sneak peek to our big boss here last night and he almost shot beer out his nose, from all of the awesome.”

“You’ve been a major part of this process since you helped walk us through that first LinkedIn conversation 6 months ago, and along with Jesper your design contribution, implementation suggestions, magical ears, and support have really helped guide this from half-formed idea to full execution.”

-Nicholas Day, Plarium

Andy has some of the best “ears” out there and can communicate his design ideas quickly and easily. This translates into my being able to get a higher quality effect that will be utilized effectively. His manner is that of a co-worker, always ready to listen to an idea and yet able to “steer” me away from an area that is not playing as well, all the while making me feel my contributions ( and the rest of the crew ) are valuable. Andy is one person that when I know I am working with him, I will deliver a superior product, on time and have really enjoyed the experience.

John Roesch, Lead Foley Artist at Warner Bros.

Andy and Wabi Sabi Sound played a significant and hugely valuable role in the creation of Dead Space 3′s Sound Design. Apart from being a hugely talented sound designer, Andy has and infectious creative energy and is a complete pleasure to work with. He’s also very responsive to feedback. I hope I get the opportunity to work with him again soon.

Nick Laviers, Audio Director at Electronic Arts

Andy’s work was fantastic, and to this day I still get compliments and inquieries on the sound effects he created for my animation. His turnaround time for the final sounds was also extremely fast as I did not supply him with the final animations till the same day as the deadline.

Mark T. Carlson, R&D FX Engineer at DreamWorks Animation

Andy is a great designer because he always places himself in the ears of the listener and is able to perceive, from their perspective, what’s the most crucial interpretation of a given sound or gestalt of sounds on a moment to moment basis. This is a straightforward premise that very few sound designers are able to carry through in practice, and requires a great amount of dedication to detail and craftsmanship

Paul Gorman, Audio Director at Electronic Arts

Andrew is the most talented Sound Designer I’ve ever met. I was fortunate to work with him on DeadSpace. It was really cool of Andrew to share some his techniques for creating killer sounds, but he also impressed upon me many broad, conceptual ideas regarding creating immersion for the player.

I have no doubt that DeadSpace wouldn’t have been as successful without Andy’s work on the soundscape.

Marcus Egan, Valve, Inc.

Andrew did a great job of taking direction from the design team on the creatures and combat in Dead Space, and he produced absolutely fantastic results.

Once I had a good idea of how we wanted key scenes to look and feel, Andrew and I discussed what kind of sound treatment would work best with them. I wanted a cohesive soundscape, not just a collection of sound effects. Andy understood that and assured me that we’d get a comprehensive treatment. He offered lots of ideas on how he could exceed what we were expecting.

Andrew worked very quickly, yet the results he delivered in fact completely exceeded my expectations. We ended up with creatures and combat that sounded very original and absolutely terrifying.

In Dead Space, quality was king, and Andrew absolutely delivered.

W. Wright Bagwell, Director of Design at Zynga

The honest, hype-free truth is that your sound design is the difference between my wanting to release the film or shelve it. Of course shelving it was never really an option, but still accurately describes my feelings pre-sound design. My hopes were that good sound would fill gaps in the film, but your design went further by contributing soul and character in a way that’s harmonious with the tone of the world. When watching a film, I typically only notice sound if it’s bad while quality design goes unnoticed (which is kind of the point, as I understand it). However, sound in the films I actually make is a different story, and It’s been educational to see the profound effect sound has on narrative. Having worked with you, the thought of going with a less-skilled sound designer in the future makes me break out into a cold sweat. Sound isn’t just more important than visuals; it holds the narrative hostage.

Chip Norman, Director Mullberry


Sounds AWESOME! So cool to watch one of our projects with kick ass sound… It pretty much brought tears to our eyes! Sounds like everything is either great or on the right path! The sounds of the couch are amazing…!

 Ryan Coopersmith, Boo Ya Pictures, On Lazy Boyz

Check it out: Where are Wabi’s clients?

While the majority of our work is with US companies, Wabi Sabi Sound has built relationships with several international clients over the years.
So Far:
United Kindom
Where are Wabi’s clients?!
Make yours @ BigHugeLabs.com
Make yours @ BigHugeLabs.com
And we find this web site invaluable for scheduling meetings.  Between time zones and seasonal clock shifts you NEED a scheduling tool.

Essential Room Tuning

I started working out of a bigger room recently and after getting my acoustic treament placed and speakers cal’d I ran through my reference material.  A room is often a bigger influence on your sound than the difference between brands of speakers.  Check this out for tips on selecting and using reference material to finish tuning your room.

Wabi Speakers

I’m assuming you’ve done the appropriate technical room set up and calibration.  There is a lot of  info out there on how to measure and tune your room to certain standards.  Look Here and here and Here: IESD Mix Ref Levels v02_members.  Very important stuff!

Ok, now you’re ready to throw in your reference material to let your ears make the final call on whether you’re done.  Below are tracks I’ve used for years, and you should pick your own.   Select pieces that are good examples of dynamic range, front to back staging, left to right staging and frequency response.  After you’ve picked your reference material stick with them.  You will accumlate experience listening to these recordings over time.  I know what “Stuck On You” sounds like on $100k and $100 systems.  I’ve been using this track for 15 years.

 Go to tracks and why:

1) Stuck On You – Failure – Fantastic Planet

You should hear: “The Wall of Sound”

Especially good for: frequency spectrum and sub tuning.


2)Waiting – Kevin Gilbert – Thud

You should hear: Wide open Left Right imaging…the vocals floating in space.

Especially good for: speaker placement, acoustic treament tuning


3)High Life – Live At the Pawnshop – Arne Domnérus….

You should hear:  A live club space with awesome front to back imaging and instruments coming into and out of focus.

Especially good for tuning:  speaker width, acoutic treament quantity and placement


btw:  Get the PCM versions of these tracks if you’re going to use them.


Next, check out material that is specific to what you work on.  I’m a sound designer/mixer so I listen to movies and games I’ve worked on and also raw sound effects I’ve recorded. Like:

Do all your listening first and then tweak. If you have an obvious problem then fix it, but room acoustics is not an exact science.  Get a general feel from a wide variety of music and then start dialing up the sub or angling the mains.  Barring any specific technical issue, always try to solve problems with room treatment first.  Too modal, too dull, image smeared…well placed bass traps, diffusers and absorbers can fix these things. Speaker placement is next, but the tech specs on speaker placement shouldn’t be violated. 

After you’re good with all that, go back and run through your measured calibrations one more time.  Even slight adjustments will shave and lump on dB’s at the mix position.

Thanks all, and ping me back with what you listen to.