Sound dynamic

September 5th, 2021 by harold

It’s a perfect example of the perfect storm of history, technology and lack of understanding that there’s no middle class anymore.

Historically, sound is king in the theater. So sound engineers always aimed to reproduce that experience. Because theaters are acoustically far different from standard living rooms, it never made any sense except on paper: let’s try to give folks the best sonic experience. Except that before 00s, everything was standardized through analog technology and sound was fine: you could listen to movies and hear everything perfectly fine even on a mono, 13 inches TV.

Technology showed up. DVD players —finally the TRUE movie experience is at home—, surround sound systems exploded in popularity while movie sets and production transitioned to fully digital.

This is where and when sound became a second thought. Too low? Now people have digital devices, they can crank up the volume at three different levels, let’s not bother. Too loud? Well, it’s loud because you’re using a cheap or not-calibrated 5.1 system and you should be happy about shaking your room! Cinema at home, yay!

No. People are trying to enjoy a movie and shaking the room with basses or filling the room with whispers is not necessary better for the experience. If they wanted that, they’d go to that thing called movie theater.

Broadcast loudness standards are too many: standard TV, movies, US/Europe, Netflix, Amazon. Everyone has a different one or with enough variations that the standard isn’t standard. Why? Because it’s easy to re-calibrate digital audio and do your own recipe, compared to the analog days where you didn’t have non-destructive edit options. So everyone is trying to impose their shit.

That digital edit easiness has permeated video as well: they edit shows as if you were watching them in a dark, movie theater, which is why you need to play with brightness on TV too now. Because the digital panel making your TV really is showing black when it’s supposed to be black: pre-2000 tech didn’t allow you to have perfect black. Yes, perfect tech can be a problem because our senses are variables and differ from one individual to another.

But also, middle class. Producers look at market research that says “well, people bought a lot of surround systems”. And that’s it, they aim that. The reality is that no one really uses surround systems. And hasn’t in the past 20 years. People bought one system, saw that it was annoying, are back to TV speakers usually with a soundbar (which is another level of craziness in terms of sound reproduction because of all those dumb ass DSPs but anyways). The idea that a decent amount of folks use 5.1 systems is a total myth.

People most likely watch shows in good old stereo, through speakers or headphones, aka there’s no need for the movie theater sound mixing paradigm. Just balance dialog, music and effects, you’re done. Don’t try to add so much dynamic (dynamic being the difference between the softest sound and the loudest: the bigger the difference, the better). It’s like artificial dramatization, it’s kind of weird.

Which makes me think that it might be the issue here: there’s just too much entertainment, and people producing it don’t have the experience/knowledge to create “stand-alone” stuff and rely on tricks: dramatization of sound, ultra slow meetings between characters while nothing happens for fucking 10 minutes, very long  and complacent shots etc.

Septembreber 2021

September 1st, 2021 by harold

It is the ninth month of 2021. What

Psychonauts 2

September 1st, 2021 by harold

The game finally came out and looks like it’s really good? I really enjoyed the first one, even through its flaws.

I love that character design.

Anyway, Tim Schafer and his team are always on point with universes. He’s a beast at curating them. I was reading on Full Throttle recently, remembering how much I wanted so much more from that weird and interesting setting.

Grim Fandango still sits right up there in terms of originality that just immediately works. That’s hard to pull off and Grim is so unique. Absolutely needs a sequel as well.

Congrats to DoubleFine, the entire team (we love you QA), the contractors and everyone involved. Thank you!

Hire may

August 31st, 2021 by harold

The irony of soft skills being indispensable is that we never get to show them when looking for work.

They don’t show up on a resume, a cover letter, nor a sound design or programming test.

They may show up in a chat or quick phone call  but because time is limited and anxiety happens, this might not be the best display of said skills.

Personally it looks like I have great soft skills, able to glue with any team, in a very wide range of situations. But with the way companies hire I can’t never “sell” that, yet it’s a very important, sought after aspect of a candidate applying to a position.

Hiring and working seem so disconnected.

Spaghetti shortage

August 31st, 2021 by harold

It looks like my Barilla Spaghetti n.5 are stuck on one of the 44 cargo ships stuck in Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

So 10 pounds of spaghetti on Amazon is now $50 instead of $20. I hate it here.

California is burning pretty badly, I know.

Those were the days

August 29th, 2021 by harold

I try not to forget how right before summer last year a lot of conversations were going around UBI and the absolute necessity to set one up, the call for a new kind of society less based on profit and more “mature”, caring, etc. We can afford it (2016 article, the urgency is even greater now).

Then sports came back and that was a complete wrap.

I blame us, dudes. A few balls thrown in the air with different rules and we don’t know how to act.


August 28th, 2021 by harold

I wheezed for five minutes because I can very accurately reproduce Zach de la Rocha’s voice cadence and tone in my head and this meme is simply glorious. I cannot.

Having said that, the situation is tense. Everything about the pandemic is probably under reported. Most actual numbers are probably either delayed or hidden. I’m sick to think about a coworker who had to do contact tracing all year long last year. For absolutely nothing. Of course people are tired, there’s a lot of meaningless work out there.

It’s also basically Halloween/Thanksgiving and the end of the year already.


August 25th, 2021 by harold

Games are so potent because the underlying content is a platform for multiplayer storytelling, rather than a linear narrative.

Nah, the multiplayer storytelling is attractive and fun, not potent. Games are so potent these days because they optimize every psychological tricks known and discovered through social media and web games (Farmville) in the early 2010s.

Publishers, developers have leveraged that knowledge and it is lucrative as hell with generations who don’t know anything else.

GaaS is just Pachinko business. Buy tokens, get into the slot machine vibe, boom. All the spectacular numbers we hear about gaming today are thanks to whales that we exploit nurture as much as possible.

Games haven’t changed much if at all in twenty years. But gaming has, dramatically.

Pour out

August 25th, 2021 by harold

Shout out to the people who died of COVID-19 when we didn’t know what it was, before tests, before vaccines. 18 months ago.

People born between generations

August 24th, 2021 by harold

I swear we’re the only ones making sense on this floating rock.