Xan Williams Sound Design

Here’s my end of year 2011-2012 show reel. The majority of the sound in this video was designed, recorded, edited and triggered live in the games themselves, by me. However, it’s often useful for viewers to know exactly what parts of the soundtrack were made by me and who I made it with. Below are extensive linear notes that clarify as best as I can remember proper credits for each clip. You only need read them if you’re interested in this in-depth analysis.

00:00:00 Xan Williams Inter-title Card
All synthesised sound and ambient recording by me. This applies to all other inter-title cards so I will skip them, below.

00:02:42 Disney Universe Pirate Ship Boss
Ambiences by Sarah Scott. All other sound by myself. Music by Steve Duckworth & Jim Croft. Music system automated triggering designed and implemented using data-driven tools, by me.

00:20:32 Ableton Session File
All synthesised sounds generated by me. The audio you hear is rendered directly from the session file depicted. The wooden sign collapse sounds are rendered from a separate Vegas file. They have been added for completeness.

00:30:36 Vegas Session File
All sounds by me. The raw wavs used to compose these effects were also all recorded by myself using a variety of balloons and toy whistles. The render you hear is directly from the Vegas session depicted.

00:38:87 Sound Recording
All the clips in this section are raw recordings I’ve made or been party to (with the exception of the Dead Space clip which is live, in-game, and therefore processed). It’s my intention to quickly demonstrate a variety of recording techniques. This is quite hard to demonstrate because fully rounded sound effects usually come from processed recordings. These clips sound rough and quite weedy because they are essentially ‘outtakes’ from recording sessions.

00:39:37 Computer Smashing Recording Session
Mic setup and smashing by me. The desk (and camera phone) was operated by Sarah Scott.

00:45:99 Yorkshire field
Recorded by me, out back at my Gran’s house in Burn Bridge, near(ish) Harrogate. Stereo R0de mic, I think. Recorded on my personal Tascam HD-P2.

00:48:09 Swimming Pool
This was recorded by myself at Keyworth Leisure Centre, over in Nottingham. I used to work here as a Lifeguard when I was 17-20. Again, probably the R0de and the Tascam.

00:50:03 Disney Geordie Character Voice
I designed and produced ‘template’ recordings of the character voices in DU. We then hired voice actors to copy and put their own spin on my renditions of non-speech vocalisations such as Attack and Take-Hit. I went to London for the recording sessions. They were arranged by Hugh Edwards who also sourced the talent we auditioned and selected. Hugh was also the voice director for that session. The actor is Charlie Sanderson who, in this clip, is remarking on the pronunciation of “Phoo”.

00:53:64 Dead Space Facial Mocap
I probably wasn’t present for the recording of this line. That was done by a recordist from SIDE. I wanted to include this clip because I helped develop the audio strand of our facial mocap pipeline and appraised facilities in which to record the dialog. I attended the first live capture session for DS and later, administered to and processed the 10,000+ lines of localised dialog. I also worked with Audio Programmer Mark Topley to develop a distributed batch processing tool for our game-audio editor which allowed very fast iteration on and tweaking of the dialog effects processing.

00:58:05 AK-105 Session
I recorded Gary Barker operating his collection of decommissioned firearms to use as foley source for Quantum of Solace. These are two variations of the gun being chambered. The left track is a near-perspective recording while the right track is a far-perspective. Both were probably AKG shotgun mics.

00:59:09 Quick Clips of Slime & Gin Fish
These were recorded by myself and Sarah Scott. I’ve actually cut, overlapped and mixed these recordings... just to make them sound more interesting. The slime wobbles you hear first were recorded with contact microphones on the side of the slime beakers. These were actually used to develop the sound for the Sack Boss you can hear in the next section. The Gin Fish bubbles were done with a shotgun mic very close to the fish’s mouth. Likewise, these recordings formed part of the Grabber sound. I thought it would be interesting to include these raw sounds for you to hear prior to how they were ultimately used in-game.

01:04:23 Sack Boss
The Sack Boss emerges over the top of an exterior trench on the Ishimura. As its space, all you can hear is the vibrations of its oesophagi and sphincters travelling through the metal hull and up through your boots. Very tricky to do sound for. The action-scene sound was made and triggered by me. Automated breathing and heartbeats were worked on by myself and Guy Cockcroft.

01:17:04 Grabber
I made all the individual sound effects for this slithery spine. I also did the first-pass triggering. Later, when the anims got a second-pass, Steve Duckworth went back and adjusted the triggering accordingly.

01:25:81 Brute and Roto
In both instances, all sound effects and VO were created (and performed) by me. My scripted music system also handled the stinger triggering and BGM track change. Stinger by Steve Duckworth. Music by Jim Croft. Brute ambience by Sarah Scott. Roto ambience was either by Sarah or Jez Corbett, not sure.

01:37:59 Fodder
All enemy VO, SFX by me. I designed and implemented the Fodder random voice selection system too. Monsters Inc. ambience by Sarah Scott.

01:55:88 Nightmare Shooting Sequence
All sound by me. I even did the surround ambience this time too. Music by Jim Croft.

02:01:38 Dead Space: Extraction Binaural Steam
Foley by Duncan Bradshaw. I did the steam sounds by morphing steam samples with human speech taunting the protagonist, Nathan. I then used a VST binaural effect to process the samples to pan around the head, spookily.

02:10:00 DS ADS Chair
The same binaural effect is used here to seat the player in the rollercoaster-like cockpit chair. All sound by myself.

02:13:26 Quantum of Solace Construction Site Opening Sequence
All sound by myself.

02:27:24 QoS Shotgun (Loud Stuff)
All sound by myself.

02:32:15 DS Arc Welder
I made the sound this new weapon for the Dead Space franchise from scratch, myself. I triggered some of the sounds. The rest are played from code, as I directed. The Flyer enemy sounds were made by Steve Duckworth. The ambience was probably made by the original Dead Space team at Visceral Games. The amb was either triggered by Duncan Bradshaw or Sarah Scott.

02:37:89 DU Time Bomb Explode
All sound by me.

02:39:98 Vancouver Bobsleigh
I made & triggered the flag whizz-by sounds you can hear on the right. Most other sound was probably Jez Corbett.

02:41:66 QoS Sniper Scope
All sound by myself.

02:49:00 DU Taunt
SFX by me. Amb by Jez Corbett. VO designed and triggered by me. The voice actor was Harriet Kershaw.

02:43:49 Goldeneye Reloaded Truck Explode.
I worked on Goldeneye 007 during pre-production where I somehow ended up making explosion after explosion. I guess I was fresh of Dead Space and in “Big Sound” mode. It was quite a lot of fun. A bunch of those explosion sounds remain in both Wii and Next-Gen versions of the games, including this one. Anything else you hear like the P99 and the ambience will be by Guy Cockcroft and Duncan Bradshaw.

02:45:19 DS Crash Scare
All sound and music triggering by me. The music stinger was probably Visceral but could have been Steve Duckworth.

02:46:29 QoS Barge Propane Tank Explosion
All sound by me.

02:47:93 Vancouver Downhill Skiing
Flag pole sound by me. The rest by Jez Corbett.

02:47:43 QoS Shanti Town P99
All sound by me.

02:48:00 DU Scream Canister Gag
All sounds, especially the farting, recorded, edited and track-laid by me (Cutscene clip, triggered in game).

02:52:17 Panda
From a short film by Rob Brown made for the Bournemouth Arts Institute (across the road form the Uni). All sound by myself.

02:56:07 DS Grabber Grapple
Sound effects by me. Triggering by myself and Steve Duckworth.

02:57:54 End Inter-Title
All sound by me. The whispered voice is a recording I took of Guy Cockcroft. Some of the sounds ape the front-end of Dead Space One. I re-made these sounds from scratch and processed them binaurally to use for the “Dementia” sequences in Dead Space: Extraction. Credit to the guys at Visceral games for the awesome SFX design. The low brassy tone is all my own invention :)

End – Hope that wasn’t too boring!