Well, since then he has indeed recorded many animals and vehicles, but those specific big trips turned into different gigs. “The main reason why these exotic sessions never panned out is due to how fast this industry changes,” Kyle says. “A project’s scope and budget is always being refined, so you have to be prepared to adjust and realign your plans.”
“Recently though, I spent two weeks on a very diverse Australian island, recording wildlife non-stop with my old classmate [and grad] Robbie Elias.”
We asked Kyle to tell us more about his career, and what life is like working at Microsoft Game Studios/343 Industries on the upcoming Halo 4 game.
You’ve been working for the same company for about 3 years now. How do you think you’ve grown as a sound designer in that time?
Kyle: Being at MGS has been an awesome rollercoaster ride, from recording anything and everything to working on blockbuster titles such as Gears of War 3. I feel really fortunate that I was able to begin my career working on the publishing side of things instead of being with a single developer. This opportunity allowed me to gain a wide perspective in how game audio development is approached since we directly supported all first-party 360 titles.
I really got to see first-hand some of the common pitfalls that occur in a development cycle along with ways to work smarter, and be more efficient. Aside from being a sponge and absorbing all that I could, I also got a crash course on the politics of this industry and how you compose yourself in these certain situations. These are some of the things that you could never learn inside of a classroom.
As someone who came from a music production background, could you explain how you treat sound differently in the game world?
Kyle: Music production and sound design for games are completely two different beasts, but I always find similarities in them. I constantly pull things from my music background and apply it to sound design.
A good example is recording guns and explosives. We always treat these things like how you would treat a drum kit: we will put up dozens of microphones so we capture all the little nuances along with the acoustics of the surrounding environment.
I also like to apply common music mixing techniques when designing sounds such as parallel/NYC compression with creative equalization. Tuning is another one, just like you would tune instruments and vocals we tune sound effects to work with music and speech or tune RPM engine loops for seamless crossfades.
Even though these are different industries we, for the most part, all have the same common goal – moving the end user in some form while delivering a memorable entertainment experience.
Is there anything you can tell us in general about what it’s like to work on a massive franchise like Halo?
Kyle: Working at 343 Industries on Halo 4 is an incredible experience. It’s a dream project, working with a dream team. I feel so fortunate I get to work in a studio with some of the industry’s finest, and be able to contribute to the design and evolution of the Halo universe.
The audio team we have is amazing. Supporting me with design is Robbie Elias and Noa Lothian, and we recently brought in another Sound Design grad, Charles Sinex, as a production assistant. Best of all, working under Sotaro Tojima is incredible; words can’t begin to describe his genius.
We’ve been sharing a video of Sound Design grads talking about the crazy things they’ve had to do get the sounds they need for a project. Do you have any stories of your own?
Kyle: Yeah, that’s a cool video. Definitely the best thing about this gig is getting out in the field, getting your hands dirty, and collecting some good ol’ raw, original source.
I have done a lot of crazy and slightly stupid things in the name of sound. Some of the things that come to my mind would be traveling to the opposite end of the globe just to record a particular thing, close encounters with animals that want to eat you, going on hunts for unique-sounding objects, buying things for the sheer pleasure of destroying them, just so you can get some new source. And my favorite, rolling your own explosions.
[Note: Kyle is featured in this video, firing a potato cannon. Don't try this at home!]