Environment-making Tutorial

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Saul Bottcher
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Environment-making Tutorial

Post by Saul Bottcher » Fri Mar 28, 2003 2:09 pm

Hi everyone,

(Introduction: I'm the "sound guy" who's been working on the music, environments, etc for HWS3. Hi!)

Jonas asked me to put together a tutorial on editing and creating the sound elements in environments. At the moment, it's half-finished. :)

We decided it would be a good idea for me to post it here, so you all could offer your feedback. Currently, it covers the basics of editing environments and using sound groups. The final version will include a section on using your own sounds, and a section full of tips, tricks, and special effects. (So, for you experienced folk, the tutorial might seem a bit basic at the moment).

I'm going to copy/paste the tutorial itself into the next message. Give it a read-through and let me know how it can be improved.

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Saul Bottcher
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Post by Saul Bottcher » Fri Mar 28, 2003 2:12 pm

(here it is... sorry it's a little lengthy :) )


Basics

Let’s take a tour of the “Sound” tab on the environment page. From the main menu, select “Options” and then “Environment”. Or, hit the environment button on the toolbar.

Environments including visual elements, such as a backround image and animated effects, as well as sound elements. The sound elements include everything you might hear in that environment – wildlife, weather, and so on. Different sound clips are played at different times to create the illusion of being in a real location.

Let’s load up one of the pre-made environments, and see what we can hear. Select “Ocean Cove” from the drop-down menu. (Notice that pre-made environments are listed with a green font, while custom environments are listed in cyan).

There’s the constant sound of waves crashing against the shore and water lapping between rocks. Occasionally, we hear a seagull or tern calling in the distance. Each of these sounds is controlled by applying specific settings to a sound clip, determining how often it plays, how loud it plays, how it’s positioned from left-to-right, and so on. Let’s look at those settings now, to see exactly how this environment was put together. Click on the “Sound” tab.

This screen may look a little intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite organised. Each darkened region holds the settings for a single sound clip. The name of the clip is the first piece of information – for example, “waves (loop).ogg”, “water lapping (loop).ogg”, and so on. To the left we see a checkbox for enabling/disabling the sound (useful when you want to work on specific parts of the environment alone), and an X for removing the sound entirely. To the right of these two controls are the settings – delay, volume, rate, and pan. Each setting has two values – a minimum and a maximum. Each time a sound plays, a value is chosen between the minimum and maximum, so you can think of each setting as a range. Clicking on “both” lets you set the minimum and maximum at once. Here’s what the settings do:

    “Delay” determines how frequently a sound plays. Once a sound has started playing, it will not be triggered again for this many seconds.
    “Volume” determines the loudness of a sound.
    “Rate” determines the pitch of a sound. More accurately, it determines how quickly the sound-clip is played, which affects both its length and its pitch. Setting “rate” above 1.0 will raise the pitch and speed up the clip (creating a sort of “chipmunk” effect). Setting “rate” below 1.0 will lower the pitch and slow down the clip (creating a “slow-motion” effect).
    “Pan” determines the position of the sound from left-to-right.


Scroll to the bottom of the list of clips. The last clip in the list is “tern.ogg”, the call of a Tern. It’s set to play once every 30-60 seconds, which means at least once a minute – but no more than twice a minute. The volume varies between .4 and .6, which gives the effect of the tern being at different distances. The rate is fixed at 1.0 (no midget or giant Terns). Finally, the pan is set between 70% left and 70% right, which generally sounds like the tern is within your field of vision. (100% left or right sounds more like the object is directly beside you).

Scroll back up the list, where you see “waves (loop).ogg”. Notice there’s a setting we haven’t discussed, at the far right: Loop. When this setting is on, the sound plays repeatedly, returning immediatley to the beginning when it reaches the end. Sounds which are recorded and edited in a certain way can loop without a noticeable break, which allows us to create continuous sounds like wind, rain, and waves.

When a sound is set to loop, the settings work slightly differently. “Delay”, instead of determining when the sound plays, instead determines how often the other settings should be randomised. In other words, the sound plays continually, but the pitch, rate, and volume only change as often as Delay dictates. Setting a small range for these settings can help to introduce some variation into a looping sound. However, too large a range can be quite noticeable to the listener.


Editing an Environment

Now that we know what the various settings control, let’s try creating a new environment using “Ocean Cove” as a starting point. (If you’ve made any changes, re-load the environment on the first screen, then return to the “Sound” tab).

Let’s imagine we’re a little further from the beach: through some grass, near a small, marshy pond where we can search for frogs. We’re going to change the Ocean Cove environment to reflect this new location.

To begin, let’s remove the sound of the Seal and Tern. Scroll down the sound list and remove “seal.ogg” and “tern.ogg” by clicking the X at the left of each sound. Disable the remaining sounds by clicking on the checkbox – this lets us concentrate on each sound as we work.

Now, we want the remaining sounds of the beach – tide, water, and seagulls – to sound further away. To make a sound seem more distant, we should make it quieter, and in some cases reduce the panning range (to make sure it’s “in front” of the listener). Let’s start with “waves (loop).ogg” (the tide) – by clicking on “both”, set the volume minimum and maximum to 0.3. Now enable the sound.

Next are the two copies of “water lapping (loop).ogg”. Set the volume to 0.1 (using “both” again). Change the panning on the first copy from -0.7 to -0.5, and change the panning on the second copy from 0.7 to 0.5. Now enable both sounds. For “splash.ogg”, set the volume (both) to 0.1, and the panning to -0.5/0.5. Enable the sound.

At this point we’ve recreated the sound of the beach, but further away than before. Now let’s bring our seagulls back out of hiding. For the first seagull sound, set the volume to 0.2/0.4, and the panning to –0.6/0.6. For the second, set the volume to 0.1/0.3, and the panning to –0.4/0.4. Re-enable both seagull sounds.

Now that we’ve taken care of the beach, let’s add in the sound of the frog pond. Scroll up and click on the “add sound” button. In the “atmosphere” folder, choose “creek ambience (loop).ogg”. The sound appears at the end of the list. Turn on looping, and set the volume to 0.7. This sound clip recreates the sounds of small insects in the grass at the edge of a creek or pond. Let’s add a cricket sound to give our pond a little more interest.

Click on the “add sound” button again, and in the “critters” folder, choose “cricket.ogg”. Turn on looping, and set the volume to 0.1 (both). Set the rate to 0.9/1.0, and the panning to –0.7 (both). Let’s give our cricket a friend – add another copy of the same sound, and apply the same settings, but pan this one to +0.7.

Finally, we need our frogs. Click “add sound”, and from the “critters” folder add “frog.ogg”. Set the delay to 5/30, volume to 0.3/0.6, rate to 0.8/1.0, and pan to -0.7/0.7; this will give us a decent variety of frog positions and croaks.

Now, click the “Environment” tab, and let’s save our new environment under the name “Frog Hunting”. If you re-load the “Ocean Cove” environment, you’ll see our changes have made quite a difference – it really does feel like a different location, further from the beach and the waves.

Play around with other environments and see what you can come up with. If you want to create a new environment from scratch, just use the “remove all” button to clear out all the existing sounds and start fresh. Remember to use a new name when you save!


Using Groups

Groups are an added feature that can help you to organise sounds, speed up editing, and help you to re-use your work in several environments. To see how groups operate, let’s load up the pre-made “Silver Creek” environment.

Click on the “sound” tab. Looking at the sound list, we see this environment is made up of 10 sounds. About half these sounds relate to the creek itself, while the other half are surrounding wildlife. So, let’s try organising the environment into two groups.

Click on “Create Group” (not “Add Group”) and type in the name “creek”. You will see that a new entry has appeared in the sound list, on a green background, with its own controls. The checkbox lets you enable/disable all the sounds in a group, while the X deletes the group and all the sounds it contains. Volume allows you to reduce the volume of the entire group, while keeping the same relationship between sounds in a group.

Let’s move some sounds into this group. The first sound in the list is “creek ambience (loop).ogg”. Click “Move” at the right-hand side, and a menu will appear. Select “creek”, and the sound is moved into the creek group we created. Now, do the same for both copies of “creek gurgle (loop).ogg”, as well as “splash.ogg” and “sloshing.ogg”.

Time for some magic. Click the checkbox beside the creek group, and all the creek sounds shut off! Now it feels like we’re in a very quiet forest. It’s almost a bit too spooky, so let’s bring back the creek. Try setting its volume to 0.6, for the sound of a creek further away.

Let’s create a second group, called “wildlife”. Move all the remaining sounds into this group. It’s time to try a new setting. Click the checkbox marked “exclusive” on the wildlife group. What does this do? Listen and see if you can figure it out.

The “exclusive” checkbox forces only one sound in the group to play at one time. The frog, crow, woodpecker and grosbeak just became more polite: they won’t interrupt each other!

Something sounds funny about our far-off creek: the frog is too loud. Let’s move her out of the “wildlife” group and into the “creek” group, so the volume will match. Click the “edit” button on the wildlife group. Notice how just the sounds of this group are listed now, and can be edited as always. Click “move” beside the frog sound, and move it to the creek group. Then click “done”. Now our frog is back by the water where she belongs.

As a final touch, let’s add a light shower. Click “Add Group”. A list of pre-made groups is included, to help you build environments quickly. Select the group “rain”, and it will be automatically added. It’s too loud for a light shower, so let’s set the volume to 0.4.

We’ve created another new environment – and it was even faster this time using groups. Let’s save it under the name “Silver Creek, Light Shower”. It’s easy to imagine yourself sitting under a tree near the creek, keeping out of a light summer shower.

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e_moomoo
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Post by e_moomoo » Fri Mar 28, 2003 3:47 pm

Yippeeeee!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Comere Jonas and Saul so I can HUG you! :D

.......hey, maybe I'll finally get my first enviro just like I want it, and you'll get to try it now, lol......
"People may not remember exactly what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel." :-)

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swanky
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Post by swanky » Sat Mar 29, 2003 8:27 am

That is stunning. THANKS!

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Saul Bottcher
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Post by Saul Bottcher » Mon Mar 31, 2003 7:47 am

Hehe, hope it helps. This is just the first draft, I'm planning on cleaning it up a bit and of course adding those additional sections I mentioned.

If there's anything you've tried to do in your environments, but couldn't figure out how, this is the place to let me know so I can add it to the tutorial as a "how-to". :)

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Mistress McGregor
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Post by Mistress McGregor » Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:23 pm

Thank you so much for adding this. I just bought the game and wanted to learn how to make my own enviornments so this is a big help to me. :D
Becky
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NanaGram
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Post by NanaGram » Tue Apr 18, 2006 7:54 am

Hi there, welcome to HardWood.

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Mistress McGregor
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Post by Mistress McGregor » Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:02 pm

NanaGram wrote:Hi there, welcome to HardWood.
Thank you. I'm new around here, just muddling through the waters a bit.
Becky
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carolinaprince3
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Re: Environment-making Tutorial

Post by carolinaprince3 » Sat Aug 29, 2009 2:21 pm

WHEN I HIT THE OPTIONS TAB I DON'T GET ENVIROMENTS. I ONLY GET"GRAPHICA,AUDIO,DECK,OTHER ANS REPLAY GAME.

carolinaprince3
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Re: Environment-making Tutorial

Post by carolinaprince3 » Sat Aug 29, 2009 2:22 pm

HOW DO I UPLOAD MY PICTURES TO THE DECKS IN EDITING ?

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