We caught up with Steve Horowitz recently to talk about how he’s been using iClone to help his students build up their skills to break into the video game industry.
1) Tell us how the Game Audio Institute got started.
The institute started in 2010. It grew from the idea that the best way to learn about sound for games was to work on actual games, not textbooks. I had been making crazy sounds for games and interesting in game audio education since the late 1990s. All the time people were coming up to me and asking how they could get into working in the game industry and how was game sound different from film and TV. At the time, almost all of the existing game audio instruction was done as a video while in ProTools or other DAWs, or if you were lucky, FMOD Designer. The student was supposed to imagine something interactive happening in the game environment, which we thought was completely missing the point for an interactive medium. Our brainstorm: Why not actually have them put the sound in the game and experience it for themselves? That was the germ of the idea and after a bunch of hard work, voilà, the Game Audio Institute was born!
2) What inspired you to incorporate Reallusion’s tools into your curriculum?
iClone has some super rad abilities to create logic, models and visual elements in games so it was a natural fit. We are designing game lessons that teach audio concepts. We found the tools to be simple and very functional. Reallusion’s toolset gives us a leg up on high-quality graphics, and shortens our development cycle–once we saw the capabilities we were hooked.
3) How did you use iClone to build your curriculum?
When it came to dealing with character design and animations for our Smuggler’s Dilemma FPS Game lesson, Reallusion really helped us out. Being able to use iClone 5, ToonMaker, and 3DXchange, plus existing motions, greatly speeded up our development time when designing humorous enemy soldiers as well as the player’s avatar featured in the introduction. Having an already existing toolset and workflow that allows you to mix and match model parts as well as clothing, meant that design and export to Unity could be reduced to a few hours instead of days. iClone is an excellent tool for quick prototyping.
4) What are you going to be teaching at your upcoming workshops?
This is a fun, informative, no-holds-barred, deep-dive into understanding what audio for games is all about. We start with the terminology, move onto the nuts and bolts of game audio concepts and then before you know it attendees will get to put their own music, sound effect and voice-overs into an actual game developed by the Game Audio Institute.
Along the way, we’ll be using and learning about how well-known apps like ProTools, and Logic, can be used with more game-specific tools like FMOD, Wwise, Fabric, Master Audio, & Unity 3D. At the end of the day attendees get to take home our A/V presentation screens, Game Audio Institute Levels, Step-By-Step Guides, plus a 20 percent discount on a signed copy of our book.
5) Tell us about the levels that you use.
Our levels or Game Lessons, as we like to call them, are fun, custom-made game-based educational tools for teaching game audio hands-on. Some of our game lessons teach interactive music skills, like our 3D Music Maze, and others teach basic sound design, like the Mysterious Warehouse (perfect for Halloween). All of them are pre-wired, and classroom tested, no coding involved. If you take the workshop, the lessons are provided as part of the price of admission and are completely wired for sound. The behind-the-scenes work has all been done and workshop participants concentrate on game logic and the artistic and technical challenges that make game audio super special.
6) What skills do you teach your students? Will they be able to get a job doing music or sound design for games?
Good question! Our goal is to draw back the curtain and expose actual game audio workflow, so folks can understand how all this stuff connects and works under the hood. There are lots of places you can go to talk about game sound, but our workshop takes that to the next level by applying theory to practical application, so you get to do it for yourself. No one can promise anyone a job, but for me, the proof is in the pudding and I am ecstatic when people who have taken the workshop or our classes, come up and thank us for helping them get a job in the industry. This has happened to many of our students, and that is very gratifying. You really feel like you have had a positive impact on someone’s life directly.
If you are a total newbie, a seasoned pro that wants to update their skill set, or are already working in linear media like film or TV and have thought about games, then this is the perfect place to be. You’ll jump start your knowledge of games, game audio and the game sound industry at large.
7) What advice would you give people who want to break into the field of game audio?
Number one is — if you want to work in games you should like games. Next, you need to do your homework and research to get a leg up. It is a growing field and also a very competitive field, you need the latest training to be competitive. So I hope it is not egotistical to say, grab a copy of our book The Essential Guide to Game Audio: The Theory and Practice of Sound for Games, then Download the free iOS companion application and then come on down to the workshop and super-charge your hands on knowledge.
You should to put together a killer demo reel and website and if possible, show your work inside actual games. You should also know about and be a part of organizations like the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group, The Game Audio Network Guild, and the International Game Developers Association. Then there are Game Jams, they happen all over the country and are a great way to hone your skills, meet people and network.
The game industry moves at light-speed and things are constantly in flux. Because of this dynamic world, you have to keep informed and stay on top of the latest technology, tools and methods.
Steve Horowitz is teaching a game audio workshop in NYC on November 1st at the Institute of Audio Research. Register by October 20th for a special early-bird discount. Reallusion users also get an additional 10% discount by entering the promo code: gai-vipdiscount-2015. Limited seating. Sign up now before all the slots are filled: http://gameaudioinstitute.com/workshop-at-institute-of-audio-research/