November Update

Hi folks!

As you may (or may have not) noticed I’ve been a little less active here on my site for a month or so. Whilst I’ve been working on a number of projects I’m also in the process of moving, and anyone who has had the pleasure of buying/selling a house will know how much work is involved! Suffice to say – I’ve not had much time for blog writing so I’m postponing any future waffling until the house move is complete and I’m all set up again.

Whilst it is super-stressful I’m very excited about the move, which will allow me to empty my storage space and move all my studio gear into one room. I’ll finally have the DX7 on hand for those moments when you just HAVE to frequency modulate.

Thanks for bearing with me and I’ll see you in 2018!*


* (interestingly ‘Rollerball’ is set in 2018 and any cult 70s / 80s cinema fans should definitely check it out to see whats in store for us next year…)


DATA Labs – Cassette Player Blueprint

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I’ve been working on DATA labs for around a year now – the level serves as a testing ground for new ideas, blueprints and personal development and it’s been lots of fun to work on!

Recently I’ve been creating audio log entries for the level, so the player can find out a little bit of backstory about the labs and what goes on there, as well as letting me indulge in some fun blueprints. The idea evolved from a simple playback system to a fully functioning cassette player, and whilst I’d like to expand it further I feel it’s probably a little beyond the scope of this project at the moment. Here’s how it works…

Essentially you can click on items to interact when them in DATA labs – clicking on the cassette player once plays the tape, again pauses it, clicking again plays from where you left off. You can leave it running or turn it off at any time or let it play until the end. Once the tape has reached the end, it will automatically shut off. A final click lets you rewind the tape and the whole system starts again. A red LED illuminates whenever the cassette is in play mode.

Cassette Blueprint
The full blueprint for the cassette player.

A lot of the ideas here are not mind blowing of course, they seem pretty simple in fact..! However, not coming from a game design or programming background means I often find that even simple tasks take up a fair amount of my dwindling brain power, so it took a number of iterations to come up with the blueprint you see below.

cassette_recorder_part A

This basically sets a number of variables in motion so that the blueprint knows what to do when you click on it – namely whether it’s playing, paused, stopped (complete) or rewinding.

cassette_recorder_part B

The next stage handles the system for play / pause functionality, which turned out to be quite a frustrating process for me! At first, my system could only handle a few play / pause run-throughs before it got confused and either started from the beginning or stopped completely! As usual, a branch node came to the rescue with an attached ‘is playing’ variable and the rest is history. It’s worth noting I’m using FMOD audio events for this blueprint, and a useful tip is the ‘On Event Stopped’ node you can use in conjunction with them – here it handles the auto-stop function of the cassette recorder.

cassette_recorder_part C

The final section of the blueprint is the sweet, easy-icing on the cake and simply toggles the red ‘active’ LED on and off in accordance with play state. Phew!

I’ll be adding some actual recordings to all the players in the level soon, so people don’t have to listen to me repeating “THIS IS A TEST” over and over again.. but it does the job for now. Any suggestions for the system would of course be appreciated and I hope this has been a useful read for folks. If you’ve got a question let me know!


A big thank you to Warren Marshall for the excellent retro-models you can see in the level – check out his Twitter for more!

Doing My Best (to boogie) – FMOD / Unreal

I realise it’s been some time since I posted here (two months truth be told!) however I’ve been keeping busy working on a couple of freelance contracts. This doesn’t mean that I’ve neglected my portfolio projects (Lake Lodge / DATA Labs / Digital Dark Age) and I’ve spent some time researching and developing my knowledge of blueprints to aid in their development in my spare time.

In particular I’ve been looking into creating custom occlusion blueprints for FMOD (which I’ll get into more depth about at a later date) and some of the ways in which FMOD integrates with Unreal in a musically interesting fashion!

As you can see the text and ‘coloured blobs’ are timed to the music, or more accurately the tempo and time signature of the attached audio event in FMOD. This can be useful for a whole range of things (rhythm games in particular) although I plan on using this feature in my DATA Labs level to add some extra interest in the basement labs.

Boogie A.PNG
Once you’ve got the tempo / time signature info from FMOD its possible to trigger lots of different actions in Unreal. This is the blueprint for my ‘boogie demo’ above.

As you can see below the FMOD component has it’s own ‘On Timeline Beat’ event which automatically outputs information about tempo, beats, bars etc and can be used to trigger anything you like really! As my boogie loop is in 4/4 I’ve used the beat output and a switch with beats 1 – 4 to toggle visibility of the coloured blobs and boogie text render.

Boogie B.PNG
The ‘On Timeline Beat’ event outputs a range of useful data.

Another useful function I’ve been playing about with lately is the ‘On Event Stopped’ event that can be called from any FMOD audio component.  The screenshot below is taken from my DATA Labs level where I’m using it to turn off a cassette player once the recording on the tape has reached it’s end. (I’ll be posting about this soon as well!)

Cassette Stop.PNG

This is really only just scratching the surface of what you can achieve when combining the functionality of FMOD and Unreal in blueprints, but I hope it highlights a couple of ideas and provides some inspiration for your own projects. If you’ve got any questions etc please feel free to drop me a message over on Twitter.

Inspired by…

Hi folks! As usual, probably a little longer than intended since the last blog post but I’ve been updating the site and various other pages across the interwebs…

This is just a brief post to let everyone know about my new ‘Inspired by’ series of compositions that I’ll be uploading as and when I can, focussing on music I’ve written thats been inspired by a particular game, film or maybe even just artwork.

First up, two pieces I wrote after playing the wonderfully crafted ‘Firewatch’ developed by Campo Santo, one of my favourite games! It’s been such a huge inspiration in my work, both in game audio and in composition. I hope you enjoy them.

Firewatch –
Campo Santo –

Futureworks Degree Show

If you’ve been following progress with ‘Digital Dark Age’ you’ll know that I’ve recently completed my degree in music production with Futureworks here in Manchester, where I’ve been studying since September last year (after doing the first two years of my course online). It’s been a pretty hectic year to be quite honest, especially when factoring in freelance projects and portfolio work into the mix, but really enjoyable nonetheless, and I’ve met some super talented folk along the way!

My little interactive audio kingdom…

Last week I showcased my digital wares at their annual degree show and it was fantastic to see a lot of the other students work on display. It can be a little insular when you’re constantly working on your own projects (not to mention being in dark studios all the time) so I took the chance to chat with folks and see what they’ve been up to!

One thing that really stood out to me was the overall quality of the work, particularly in the areas of animation, 3D art and environment design (although that being said it’s much easier to showcase this than audio / video in that kind of environment). Some of the final projects and portfolio pieces really made an impact and showed just how many creative and talented people attend Futureworks, even though they’re not always that good at blowing their own trumpets! I thought I’d drop a few links below to some of the folks I chatted to and would highly recommend checking out their work…

Bradley Mayo (3D Environment / game design)

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 09.14.08.png

Ellie Durkin (Illustration / Animation)

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Sean Lewis (Sound Design)

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Lisa Lau (Illustration / Animation)

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Amy Collins (Composer)

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Cartrdge Portfolio Update

Posts have slowed a little on here recently as I’ve been working on a number of freelance projects, however I have recently updated my Cartrdge page to include my latest portfolio work. If you’ve not heard of Cartrdge before I’d suggest having a nosey at some of the developers, artists etc that are currently using the platform as there are some hugely talented folks indeed. You can find my page HERE including updates for Lake Lodge & DATA Labs.

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Zoom SGH-6 Stream Test

Last weekend I spent a little bit of time getting to know my new stereo shotgun from Zoom, the SGH-6. It’s designed to work with a few of their portable recorders (in my case the H5) and is fairly reasonably priced as you can grab one for less than £100.00. It also includes a windshield which is a necessity if you’re going to be near even the faintest of breezes!

I spent the day recording various outdoor sounds, ambiences and random things I found but wanted to provide a quick test of the microphones mid / side capabilities whilst I had a few minutes today. In this example I’ve used a recording from May Beck, a small rocky stream that winds its way through a rather picturesque Yorkshire valley.

I tried recording from a number of microphone positions but the examples below use this close riverbank location.


I downloaded the mid / side decoder that Zoom make to accompany their range of portable recorders and microphones, which is available for free from their site here and used this inside Adobe Audition to decode the recordings afterwards. As you can hear above I provided three examples exporting mid / side, mid and side mixes.


Mid & Sides.png
It’s free, it’s easy, it’s effective… and I like the block diagram!

It’s a simple tool to use, and if you have one of their recorders then it certainly makes sense although there are obviously plenty of other plugins and ways of decoding mid / side recordings.

For less than £100.00 I’ve been really impressed so far with the SGH-6 – both using it in stereo, mono and mid / side modes (it’s worth pointing out you have to specially select this mode prior to recording using the menu function rocker switch). The windshield is well made and really makes a difference, although for stronger gusts you’d need something a bit heftier!  With all things considered it has definitely been a most welcome, inexpensive addition to my kit. I’ll try and post some more examples over the next few weeks.