If you’ve been following TAKEDOWN on Christian’s twitter, you would have gotten a sneak peak of our recent audio shoot to record weapons sounds for the game. It was a fairly significant logistical undertaking that involved an enormous amount of equipment and working around our game development production initiatives. We also attempted to document the session over the course of two days via video and hope to have that out soon for the fans and followers.
There were five of us on point to help with the recording session and we travelled out to Christian’s land near a small vacation town called Chelan. It’s on the other side of the Cascade mountain range and takes about 3 hours to get there if you’re travelling from Seattle. The crew arrived on Friday, the night before to allow us to set up early the following day. We intended to set up at 8AM but on the first day, James got lost and Christian overslept (Christian termed this “sleeping in”). That left Kristoffer and his team of audio recordists waiting by the gate for about an hour or so before Kristoffer decided to hike up to Christian’s property and rouse him from his peaceful slumber.
Once we got on to Christian’s property it took about 4 hours to set up all the gear. This involved placing 30 or so microphones of various shapes, sizes, and functions at ranges all over the land. There were contact mics that attached directly to the weapons to get the deep mechanical sounds, other mics attached to Christian’s eye protection to get point-of-view audio , and others still to get the range of close, medium, and long from the shot of the weapon – there were even microphones placed to catch the tail of the weapons as the report of the weapon careened in echo throughout the valley.
James brought his firearm but on this shoot Christian (who is a qualified rifle/pistol expert and range safety NCO from his time in the USMC) was the only one firing the weapons. The crew wore ear plugs, and safety glasses when necessary. The weapons were fired in specific locations designed to minimize ricochets and there was a comprehensive set of clear procedures for calling cease fires that could be employed by any team member.
Once set up was performed it was on to firing the weapons. The sequence was generally performed from the quietest firearms (pistols) to the loudest. Each weapons was fired 10 times and Christian was instructed to wait as still as possible for 10 seconds after each shot was fired. This proved to be more difficult than it sounds because, especially with veteran weapons handlers, muscle memory plays a fairly significant role (to not do things like flip safties on). Additionally, holding a weapon straight out for 10 second intervals takes a lot of muscular support. Christian did an excellent job however. The sensitivity of the microphones is to such a degree that Kristoffer could easily tell when Christian was breathing through his mouth or his nose.
On the first day, after getting everything set up, the team began to be challenged by the weather. Initially, the day, while cold, was calm. But by mid afternoon, rain clouds, that had been veering off most of the morning, began to hit us with frequency. There was a lot of time spent running around attempting to cover the thirty some microphones up with plastic bags to keep them as dry as possible. Eventually, gusty winds and finally a significant pummeling of hail forced us to wrap up the first day’s session early and perform a mad scramble to break down all the gear in the hopes of avoiding damaging the sensitive equipment. Fortunately, the only thing worse-for-ware was the linoleum floor in Christian’s camper as it was covered with thick mud as we used it a shelter for the mic’s.
The second day was free of precipitation but was exceptionally windy. The team was relatively proficient at setting up the audio configuration after the dry-run and day one setup. However, much of the setup time on Sunday AM was taken up by attempting to scout a new location to minimize the wind as much as possible. The location was found after a few hours. The acoustics were drastically different. Fortunately, Christian had made it through a number of the firearms and for Day 2 he was able to get through all of the weapons much more efficiently. Kristoffer indicated that he was able to get a number of high quality sounds and was very confident he’d be able to effectively use all of the audio recorded.
Now, as Kristoffer distills hours and hours worth of recording, he’ll perform his audio magic to pick the best segments, perform mix and design passes, and then tailor the audio depending on how it sounds in the engine.
The line up – just getting ready for the shoot on early Saturday morning
James setting up for the video portion of the session
The selection of weapons the team recorded
The audio bunker. The tent is designed to help shield the equipment from the elements – not just the rain, but the sun too (the equipment can overheat in direct sunlight)
A view of the rocky eastern Washington landscape
Just before we were forced to call it a day on Saturday. The tent almost blew away and took a lot of effort to hold down
Day 2. New location due to high winds. The cord connects to a generator that sits 300ft away to attempt to minimize the audio of it being recorded as well
2nd day station set up.
Mid range recording devices. We had to direct a little traffic and our safety efforts were much appreciated by the neighbors (who expressed a keen interest).
In the Office
In addition to the extensive audio initiative, the team is working through a big push on the UI, animations, bullet penetration, as well as features such as follow cams so you have something to watch in an MP match when you have taken some lead medicine.
This week is also GDC! Christian will be heading out there to talk shop, so if you’re going too hopefully you’ll get a chance to bump into him. If you do, don’t hesitate to say hello!