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The Sound Design of Journey
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The Sound Design of Journey

October 10, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

The stone pillars the player hides behind in the snowy mountain level originally weren't slated for sound but looked like giant resonators. Their sounds were made by blowing on some bottles, mostly a large champagne bottle -- whose contents were consumed, for the good of the game, on Thanksgiving with a girlfriend. I filled them with various amounts of water for different specific notes, tuning them to the key of the music with my phone's guitar tuner app.

Whistle Stones by Journey Sound Design

In the snowstorm mountain level, the player and guardian sounds buffet in and out with the wind by subtracting the values of randomized LFOs from their volumes, and scaling that reduction according to the wind speed.

The snowstorm mountain level is based around a coldness mechanic. The player's singing grows more randomly detuned the colder and weaker the player gets.

At the start of the level the snow is wetter, and the footsteps were made with the help of my niece and nephews (Isabel, Wyatt, and Jameson!) one winter holiday. Later in the level the snow is colder and drier, and footsteps were made with the old foley standby, cornstarch.

Snow Footsteps by Journey Sound Design

The player's frozen cloth movement also grows with the cold, and the sounds were mostly made from the snacks in Sony Santa Monica's kitchens. It builds from Cheetos, to Lay's, to Sun Chips, to Funyuns, and a deadly cocktail of all for the final death walk. Also, I soaked paper towels and the aforementioned ruined jeans in water, froze them in the freezer, and recorded the sound of them bending. (Apologies to the colleague who found brown ice on his or her Lean Cuisine -- I should've washed the jeans first.)

Frozen Player Sweeteners by Journey Sound Design

The crackle sounds of cloth freezing in the mountain level were made from ice dropped into warm water after being deep frozen with dry ice. The sounds of cloth melting were made from girls sighing.

Cloth Freezes by Journey Sound Design

The player's flight wind is a modified wind system from Flower. The main billowy bassy sound is my open moon roof while going too fast on a San Diego freeway. There is also another loop for altitude that pitches from a high thin airstream up high in the sky, down to low breathy air rush near the ground. Their volumes scale with player velocity.

The glowing ambience at the very peak of the mountain, and buried in thewhite ancestor scenes, is mostly a favorite song of mine that's been smeared into a heavenly drone. I stretched it out like 1000 percent using a free program called Paul's Extreme Sound Stretch, then I reversed, layered, panned it, and threw in some sparkles. This is my best attempt at the sound of heaven. 

Ancestor Heaven Ambience by Journey Sound Design

Other Bits of Interest

The misty waterfalls in the last level that look as if they're turning into snow midair were made from an effected version of me saying, "Sssssssssssss". The sound that plays when you pass through a waterfall is the spray from a spray bottle.

Snowy Thin Summit Waterfalls and Passing Through by Journey Sound Design

The effervescent beacon the player has to sit in at the end of each level has champagne, Alka-Seltzer in water, and baking soda in vinegar.

Ancestor Beacon by Journey Sound Design

Most of the sound recording was done with a stereo shotgun microphone, and most sounds in the world are stereo despite emitting from single points in space (the two channels emitting at a specified angle). One could argue that’s excessive, but to me, it often sounds richer and can give it a light "3D-plus" quality.

For instance, cloth was mostly waved past the mic, so there is usually sideways panning going on within each cloth sound itself, not just the panning due to character/camera movement. Some sounds needed to be mono and precise due to size or distance etc., but most are stereo.

The gates and grates opening and closing are made from the same bits I used in God of War III, trying to be gentler and more elegant. And a lot of the stone machinery sounds of the tower in the third level are from a trip I made to a rocky Malibu shore to record for that game's Poseidon fight. The surf wasn't good that day, but I got a lot of great material rolling boulders down the slope. That tower emits a sort of rhythmic non-electrical "power plant" ambience that I tried to make sound alive and breathing in a sinister, mysterious way.

Gates and Desert Tower Ambience by Journey Sound Design

The cinematic storyboard sequences went through visual revisions and kept getting moved around, and since the sound effects of each was streamed as a single file, the sound kept getting thrown out of sync. So I saved their final pass until the end, and did them in a straight shot over the winter holiday break when I knew they were done changing.

After the final mix in Sony San Diego's swanky mix room during the first week of January, Austin noticed a bass tone I had used in the transitions was blowing out small TV speakers. So I redid all of the transition sequences the Sunday before the final submission in one steady charge. They mostly all use the same elements but each is actually something spontaneously unique.

Story Sequence and Transition Examples by Journey Sound Design

Most of the sounds were hooked into the game by TGC president / creative director Jenova Chen himself. To show him where the different surround ambiences and reverbs should go, I took overhead screengrabs of each level in Maya, highlighted each specific area, and labeled them with which ambience to play and which reverb to use. A picture is worth a thousand words! Sorry I don't have any.

Jenova likes to say that the mountain peak was filled with ocean sounds early in development, but that's not completely accurate. I processed crashing ocean waves to make the faint snow ripple sounds, and they're still in the game!

Summit Peak Snow Ripple Ambience by Journey Sound Design

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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