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"HDR" audio?

Posted by urgrund on Tue, 09/05/06 - 10:30 PM

this is a question for any of the game sound designers/engineers.

on the rendering side of things, games now use HDR, where color beyond the current brightness possibility of your monitor is rendered and then tonemapped to the screen... etc, simulating chromatic adaption.

similarly with audio, your speaker can only output a certain range of db. We can't have a jet engine at the real volume it is at coming out our speakers! Which limits the range. (I'll use 0 - 1 here for simplicity).

So, in real life, a rifle may have a level of 10 and a human voice of 1. Which, when clamped to the db range of the speakers should be 1 and 0.1 respectively.

I've noticed no game has done this yet... each audio sample will play between this 0-1 range. So a commander shouting at you never gets quieter no matter how many explosioins or jets are flying over him because they havn't adjusted his voice level based on the huge range of db levels that different objects project.

So, I was just curious whether audio engines in games are going to start respecting this?

Sometimes I feel audio is grossly overlooked though it's a huge part of immersion. Making a persons voice quieter as a huge truck rolls by (clamping the huge range of db's back to 0-1) really helps you get a feel for the loudness of something.

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 10/05/06 - 12:49 AM Permalink

most mixers mix outside of the allowable bandwidth (ie 0 to 1). They are just saturated at the last step. That is called clipping.

You are talking about something else where a sound gets quieter due to something louder coming in, which people are already doing. It is called ducking and compressing.

Submitted by urgrund on Wed, 10/05/06 - 7:16 PM Permalink

really? what game is using this? I'd like to check it out. I've never noticed sounds (in games) dynamically adjust their volume relative to a louder sound nearby, it may appear to, because you now hear more than one sound, but as I was explaining, you'll still here your pistol at the exact playback level as before, even though your next to some huge turbine, I've never noticed a dynamic adjustment in the samples.

Submitted by Wednesday on Thu, 25/06/09 - 1:19 PM Permalink

Obviously it's an aesthetic choice - I'm not so sure about the games world, but in the TV world, if we go to the effort of recording someone's voice for any reason, then obviously we want it heard (regardless of whether it's some background blurb or main dialogue).

If a jet in real-life flies close to you, you wouldn't be able to hear what anyone is saying at all, let alone any other sound - but unless there's an actual plot-related reason, in TV you'll hear what someone is saying, even if they are only 'pretending' to be shouting. db scales are geometric, and there'd be no way to 'accurately' reflect the loudness of a nearby jet engine to a voice; all other sound would simply be eaten up (including any atmos/sfx/music etc). Likewise, a real gunshot without ear protection screws with your hearing a little too... Although I seem to remember a 'ringing' sound after grenades went off in Counter Strike, which was neat.

Everything you hear in TV is ultimately there for a reason, and it'd be the same in the game world (whether it's atmosphere, or an NPC telling you your next objective). Otherwise if we were getting dialogue that no-one would ever hear, we wouldn't want to be paying for it =P


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