GET IN SYNC!
I've just finished reading Paul Lehrman's article in the February 2008 issue (“Insider Audio: Late for the Future”), and he is right on.
I produce TV commercials and was involved in presentations when HD was just coming out. One presentation was by the Sarnoff Committee; as I recall, it was at the 1996 or 1997 NAB show. I raised this sync issue at that time and was told that sync would not be a problem because all material would be coded similarly to SMPTE timecode, so the audio would track with the video. I guess it never happened. Besides, with non-discrete frames in some of the video, encoding it can take almost a half-second before you have the next discrete frame suitable for a lockup reference — even if an intercoding between audio and video was used.
I have been on my “soapbox” about this issue for the past 10 years, but it seems that it has only recently been getting some attention. Lehrman hit it perfectly when he noted that every element in the distribution chain helps to create sync problems, and when you try and trace a specific problem it's never really possible to get to any specific source; many times, each part of the chain compounds the problem — it can be very cumulative.
It seems like groups such as NAB, SMPTE, AES, etc., are all attempting to find a solution, but it is really difficult because of all of the sources of the problem, each [of which is] managed/monitored (with some luck) by different independent organizations.
A big issue is that out-of-sync [audio and video] really can jeopardize the believability of the message — a serious problem in commercial advertising and political advertising, as well as dramatic program presentations and newscasts.
Hopefully, someone will be able to figure out a way to imitate nature and lock up mouth movement with vocal cords. Maybe if a few program producers or advertisers refuse to pay distributors for a product that is received out of sync, there will be a concerted effort to fix this problem.
Mix continues to receive letters about “30 People Who Shaped Sound” in the October 2007 issue, which profiled producers, engineers and musicians who significantly influenced the pro audio industry or consistently stood out among their peers during Mix's first 30 years of publication (1977-2007), as chosen by the Mix editors.
In general, I agree with your choices. However, I think there are at least two glaring omissions: Les Paul and Tom Dowd.
Paul B. Robbins Ph.D.
I have a ton of respect for the names on this list and no doubt it was difficult to narrow it down to just 30 people. But without the influence of The Beatles and their pioneering spirit, there are people on your list who might have followed other career paths. And The Beatles would not have reached the heights they achieved without people like Geoff Emerick, George Martin, et al.
You left off Brian Wilson, who forever changed the way the recording studio was used with his Pet Sounds and SMiLE albums, and the single “Good Vibrations.” And [although] the list is certainly one of people who shaped sound, I would argue that a few on that list shaped sound for the worse.
The January editions of the MixLine e-newsletter asked readers who work in game audio production after beginning their careers in music and post-production to tell us why they made the switch, as well as name the title of the first videogame they worked on. Here are two more responses that we received.
My first game title was Winter Olympic Challenge for PC and Sega Genesis in 1988, followed soon after by Test Drive II. I was trying to break into film and TV scoring at the time, but having a tough time because of all the established players already in the field. It was clear that the game world had a lot of growth potential, and the machines would be continuously improving. Plus, a background in both computers and music was a big plus.
Now, I think games are definitely the place to be because we're still writing the rules, still advancing the art of it as the capabilities of the machines improve each generation.
I started playing and doing sound in the clubs of New York City when I was 16. I moved on to doing tour productions and did sound for Air Supply, Princess Pang, Trixter and Joe Lynn Turner, to name a few. In the late ‘80s, I started concentrating on studio work, which brought me into game audio.
My first major title was a multi-award-winner called Awesome Animated Monster Maker. I went on to do numerous kid games, including CD remakes of board classics Operation, Chutes and Ladders, and a couple of Tonka Trucks titles, as well as Arthur, Barney and other stuff.
When I started doing sound design and music for games, we were still figuring out what file types were smallest and how to get audio to play on a CD on underpowered Macs and PCs. All of our file-compression applications were handwritten in-house by former Apple Computer employees because there wasn't anything out yet! Stereo was out of the question, and at 8-bit audio the “fizzies” on every sample became the biggest challenge, using radical EQ settings (thank you, Waves!) and audio compression to squeeze every ounce of quality from the hours of hard work. It was exciting, interesting and frustrating at the same time.
The game world has grown way beyond what any of us ever imagined. Now game audio people are pulling in big bucks, getting royalties and staging huge concert events. Where it goes from here will be interesting.
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