Loud, Fast and Flying by the Seat of your Pants

We caught up with Andy Gibson, Co-Owner of game audio facility Rev Rooms; who spoke to us about his work and his role in educating up coming audio engineers. Andy has worked on games for the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Electric Square, Studio Gobo, Ubisoft, and titles including Forza Street, For Honor, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 and The Grand Tour to name but a few.


Gibson started working in recording studios at the age of 25 when he headed back to university to study music at Brighton. He had fun working with reel to reel and old Tascam recorders, racks full of compressors and EQ’s, all the good stuff. drawn to the process of recording music as well as writing and performing it.


“Often if the bands were terrible, we'd send them to the pub and the lead engineer and I would play the instruments ourselves and then when the band returned, they were happy with the recordings and mix. It was easer doing it this way than getting them to perform it themselves.”


“I learned a lot about patch bays, bussing and large desks. A lot of this hardware is redundant now, but it gave me a good base, and I love the way all this technology has progressed into the digital realm.” By the time he was 32 he was ready for a change and was lucky to get a break with Monumental Games and he has never looked back.


Gibson is one of two Audio Directors alongside Gav Shepherd, and Gwen Raymond is Technical Director. “We had an amazing opportunity to start Rev Rooms when we were working at Electric Square: They needed additional audio support, so we set up on our own. We provide audio co-development for the games industry. We opened our doors January 1st, 2020: Brexit day and a few months before the pandemic. Luckily, we are all still here!!”


“Trying to convince producers and product owners for adequate audio resources is always hard work. It is getting easier though: I think we have finally ground them down. Having a good audio coder always helps and this is what defined what Rev Rooms can do. It’s not just audio designers creating and editing fantastic audio and implementing its into games through middleware. Partnering with a good audio coder means we can take game data and physics, working that with the audio in new and exciting ways.”


Gibson has been a course and module leader for game audio at BIMM. “I created the FMOD in a Weekend course with the ThinkSpace Education folk. I’ve both lectured at Northbrook College and taught at Buckinghamshire New University. We appreciate getting into the industry is hard, so we have an intern training and education sector at Rev Rooms. Everyone, including coders, work through the Wwise 101-301 courses. I’m a certified Wwise tutor so give extra tuition to all our sound designers and engineers when needed.”


“We also have a knowledge share programme and tiered tutorials internally. We work with many clients using different engines and middleware, so we allow our staff to move around so they get to learn all of them. This is great for us, but also for their prospects elsewhere if they want to move on.”


Gibson gets to work on some really fun projects. “I loved working on the Moto GP official games years ago. I had the opportunity to go and record the real motorbikes at real events around the world; it was very great fun. The gun recording sessions on Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 were also very memorable. Anything that involves location recording and then editing the files and seeing the process of this from start to finish I find very exciting indeed.”

“A few years ago, I worked on the Grand Tour game; I had three months of editing Jeremy Clarkson’s outtakes and voice. This was extremely challenging and I’m not sure I can watch him anymore. It felt like some sort of endurance test!”


Gibson loves location recording and being out recording people, places, guns, animals, crowds, cars, bikes etc. “Sports crowds are always quite fun because as soon as you point your furry blimp at them, they often pull out the most inappropriate and rude chants!”


“A long time ago I had the opportunity to record and learn with Chris Watson and Jez Riley-French and they showed me so many cool and interesting location recording techniques in a non-controlled environment. I think being prepared; having a backup plan with your kit and spare batteries always helps. Tim Bartlett from the Audio Guys was a total legend and showed me loads of cool tricks for recording bikes and cars. They can be hard to get right as they are so loud, and fast!!”


Creating sounds can be quite consuming, what techniques and processes does he use? “Reaper, Reaper and more Reaper! I love it, it's one of the most amazing tools of recent years and it just keeps getting better: many elements of it are open source and community driven, allowing it to become extremely adapted for game audio. Scripting, modifiers, shortcuts, macros and renaming tools make it a no-brainer for game audio pipelines. Templates with tried and tested pre-sets save you hours of time and keep quality consistent. Also, RX to check your work before submitting it.”


So is there any technology that excites him coming down the track? “Proper DAW to Middleware integration, Wwise and Reaper look like they may have it going on. I’ve had loads of equipment over the years but now work mostly in the box. My favourite plugins are Fab Filter, Komplete and Total Commander, and RX is like some sort of voodoo magic for cleaning and processing dialogue. I’ve just bought a Roland JD08 for my home studio, I could never afford the JD800 at the time when I was in a techno band when I was 19, but finally managed to get a wee version of it nearly 30 years too late.”


Gibson reminds us that in games it's important to remember who the hero of the story is in that game: that’s the focal point. “With a first-person shooter it’ll often be the weapons, stalking and stealth, it might also be the ambience or the footsteps and foley. For heavily narrative driven games then obviously the dialogue and the storylines will take centre stage. Overly complicated systems and granularizing the assets can bite you later with voice counts etc so always good to prioritise what’s important to the player at any given time and focus on the focus!!”


The game industry never stands still so how has he seen the audio business change over the past 10 years and how does he think it will change going forward? “The amount of disk space, memory and CPU we have access too now is incredible. This makes the possibilities of sound effects, voice over and music pretty much endless. I think all of it will become automated and games will continue to grow, processes will be optimised and hopefully the variation and complexity will deepen.”


“I think DLC, and persistent games will continue to become a lot more common. Seasonal content like any of the Fortnites and the like could also work across sports games instead of yearly iterations.”


“Getting people who specialise in audio to do the engineering will also make things interesting.”









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