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Irrational Games and some good ‘ole shooting range recording

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Posted by: Andrew Clouther

If you ever have to ask ‘where is the best place to record authentic gunshot noises’ then you are doing it wrong.  Irrational Games knows.  The answer is simple, a gun range.  However, the process is far more difficult than you’d expect.  Conditions must be perfect!

If you are thinking this article is about Irrational Games recording period type guns for BioShock Infinite, well, you are absolutely correct.  While Infinite is a first-person shooter with incredible depth and story, the voice acting and sound effects will add immensely to the game experience as well.  Since the game takes place in the 1912’s, guns from that period must be recorded for this shooter.

Microphones had to be placed nearby as well as downwind to get the full scale of gunshot noises.  Four mics were placed next to the gun, then one at 150 feet, and one at 300 feet away.  The point of the different mic placements is to not only catch the sound of the discharge at different ranges but also to catch the echo.  The end result here is authenticity.

It does not surprise me that the Irrational team found that each gun sound had a certain personality.  Every gun and firing process has its own little niches, mechanical sounds, and even different sounds of the bullet coming out of the chamber.  On this topic, the Audio Principal Patrick Balthrop said:

There’s a lot of action taking place, so there are interesting characteristics that you’d never really know about without firing a gun.  What makes a gun sound interesting from first person is actually how the gun is designed; the mechanics of it, the materials of the gun – metal, wood, the actual firing mechanism.  It’s possible to record that stuff, but we decided to take what we heard in first person and design those intricacies later.

The gun range offers more than just sound recording though.  From using the guns, feeling the vibrations, and aiming down the sights – the team is able to get an authentic feel for each gun and then go and implement that ‘feel’ into Infinite.  Both the exciting and dangerous sensations someone gets from discharging a weapon will be imitated through the newest BioShock title.

          

This seems like a pretty fun process; a good way to spend a few of your working hours.  I’m no gun expert, but I’d guess the riffle they are using is a Mosin–Nagant from the shape, and it certainly matches the time period for Infinite.  After the voice acting interview yesterday, it seems like Irrational’s sound team has things covered on all fronts.

Tags: BioShock, BioShock Infinite

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