Andrew Lackey Special: Top 5 Audio Tools for Christmas (but don’t yet exist)

by Andrew Lackey, December 22, 2009

For the most part, Sound Designers use borrowed tools. Most audio software has its basis in music, and through the years features have been added for linear post production and surround sound. Particularly in the areas of interactive sound design and surround sound there are big time needs for audio software development. Here’s my Christmas list:

1. Sample Bank Audio Designer

Protools, Nuendo, Logic are great for linear, but the vast majority of the material game sound designers do is samples. I imagine a cross between an audio editor (like DSP Quattro, Peak or Sound Forge) and a sampler (like Battery for visual purposes). The key feature of this tool is that the samples of a bank can be edited/processed accross the entire bank or one at a time.

So say you have a bank of 10 punch sounds. The waveforms of all 10 samples should be visable (with zooming options). You can edit or process destructivly on any sample or the entire group. In a pane at the top you can also edit the bank parameters like random pitch and random volume. Lastly, auditioning the sounds is based on the bank parameters. So the samples would randomize as they’re being played.

Future Features:

  • Auditionable from runtime events in the game.
  • A Source audio file feature would allow the import of a source sound that could be sliced into bank samples
  • Each sample could have mulitiple tracks availible for layering…then you can automatically exporet a mix down.

2. True Surround Delay Plugin

I don’t want to gripe too much, but when it comes to plugins developers seem to completely overlook the post market. I mean seriously how many stereo vintage compressors do we need?  So to start off with, I’d just like a simple 5 channel multi tap delay with feedback. Mono in 5 channel out.

3. True Surround Whacky Effects Plugins

Ok now that we’ve got delay, how about an oscillator modulating the azimuth of the surround field and the pitch of a sample. Or what about if you panned a sound directly into the center of the room and put an LFO on the radian and the frequency of a notch filter. Come on people you know what I’m talking about….crazy stuff…this would frickin’ awesome!!!   True canyon echos, waves rippling on a pond, helicopter blades, supernova’s radiating out in all directions. I basically want Pitch/Time Blender 5.1…come on Sound Toys.

4. Clip Based Audio Recording to picture.

The idea here is a simple tool that allows you to record sounds to a video in a clip based fashion. You would script the app with in and out points, name of the audio file and other meta data and then step through the cue as you recorded them. The idea is to combine an Excell style cue sheet with audio to picture recording. The current method of using one long timeline for the video and audio is inefficient. I have friends who have written they’re own versions of this…maybe they’re reading this and will be inspired to put it out there.

5. iPhone and Field Recorder timecode sync app.

This may be a little far fetched, but who cares I’m dreaming here! I basically want to play a movie on a handheld device and record in sync to a field recorder. Ideally both the recorder and handheld device should be able to do machine control of the other, and the recorder should be able to get positional data from the video for its time stamp. I basically want a one man, in the field foley stage:)

Ok well that was fun. Please comment, forward and advocate for post tools. There are growing numbers of sound designers and we may be able get developers to listen by creating some noise. What are you ideas?

Image via Synthtopia

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