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The Wwise Damian Adventure

 

Today, I’ve started a new position here at Audiokinetic as a Software Product Manager. My goal is to help grow the future of interactive audio working remotely from Seattle, Washington. What that means is still coming together, but standing here in Montreal on day one has me imagining the brightest possible future. What I can firmly say is that this moment in time feels like the perfect intersection of my personal and professional pursuits in partnership with a group of people I have come to know and respect over my time in the game industry. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 Photo courtesy of the Beep DocumentaryPhoto courtesy of the Beep Documentary

So, what will I be working on? The way I see it, quite simply: Helping to grow the future of interactive audio. Alongside the technical prowess here at AK and in-conjunction with the community of folks using and licensing Wwise, I’ll be defining features, refining workflows, and continue building towards a brighter future for creatives and authors of interactive content. To make the whole greater than the sum of its parts, I’ll be looking for insight from folks like yourself, coming from a diverse set of backgrounds, experience levels, and perspectives, to help continue shaping the best ways to implement audio for interactive experiences.

To those of you I know: I look forward to having all of the same conversations about how to make our lives in audio development richer. To folks I haven’t yet had the pleasure to wax-philosophical with, know this: There are few things that give me greater joy than unravelling a sticky implementation problem or riffing on potential solutions for our technical audio woes. My ears are open, drop me a line here when the mood strikes you: openears@audiokinetic.com

Read on for more about what’s in store and a bit about the road that led me here:

The story of how I ended up here feels like a foretold prophecy, or more like a series of fortunate events, arriving conveniently at an unspecified destination to leverage experiences gained along the way. Which is to say, it feels like I’ve landed in a position that my career path has been angling-towards since first stepping into game audio 15 years ago. A position that will allow me the ability to apply all of the on-the-ground knowledge gained towards enabling the potential of dynamic interactive audio authoring for the masses. A kind of Wwise Project Adventure for real life, maybe? (I’ve used so many metaphors in my writing career, from two-way streets to magic beans, that this analogy feels SO right) I’m grateful for all of the support I’ve received from colleagues and friends towards preparing me for the long journey ahead.

At the start of my career, publicly available tools for implementing audio in games were few and far between. Some were available for download and some were locked behind a professional wall of non-disclosure agreements. All of them were fundamental in our industry arriving at, what has now become, the emerging standard of audio authoring across the different platforms of interactive experiences. I dove into the minutiae of technical sound design just as Wwise was entering the market in 2006 and felt the paradigm-shift over the first years of my career from closely guarded proprietary audio technology to the widespread use of game audio middleware. With that shift came a shared understanding of audio techniques, thanks to the accessibility of audio authoring tools, comprehensive documentation, and a community of people committed to knowledge sharing. At every step in the process, the intention of Audiokinetic has always felt very clear in their contribution to raising-the-bar for interactive audio by providing the tools, understanding, and the execution of quality.

Damian-AudiokineticSimon Ashby, Head of Product at Audiokinetic   / Mads Maretty & Jacob Olsen, Wwise Adventure Game developers

Since the beginning of these bygone days, I have found the folks at Audiokinetic to be among some of the most creative and dedicated pioneers of interactive audio. I’ve spun the Untold Tale of a Technical Sound Designer before, but it’s worth mentioning that my collaboration with Audiokinetic dates back to 2011 (unless you count the fireside chats with Audiokinetic Head of Product Simon Ashby during Project Bar-B-Q in 2008) when I helped consolidate their growing pool of educational materials. I have always seen the resources, documentation, and certifications they have created as part of what makes Wwise accessible and it’s great to have contributed to that over the years. Combine these resources with the ability to author, audition, build, and profile and you have what I’ve been calling the 360° pipeline that is the Wwise authoring application and audio engine as we know it. From my perspective, the next workflow evolution involves bridging the gaps between game engines and sound content creation tools that operate on either side of the audio authoring pipeline. I’m excited to be able to help shape the future of audio authoring and playback through the exploration of interface, workflow, and technology.

Along the way, I’ve worked in my share of audio pipelines and workflows and I’ve found that there continues to be a gap between both the audio authoring to game engine as well as between audio authoring and digital audio workstation. The bulk of work has been bridging these gaps through the use of systemic design, game engine integration, and collaboration across disciplines. My desire has always been to automate the known and repetitive tasks while creating space for the creative potential of dynamic audio within the context of an interactive system. I started out working to optimize these pipelines on a per-project basis. I then graduated to building technology that could scale across multiple projects within a single studio and across a larger development infrastructure. (I remember Audiokinetic CTO Martin Dufour, while visiting Seattle, dropping by and lending his perspective to this challenge.) With the move to Audiokinetic, it’s my hope that I’ll be able to help create these pipelines and workflows for all Wwise users, while adding to the accessibility of concepts available to the community at large.

As a core discipline within the larger development environment, I feel it is up to everyone to serve as both educators and advocates for the potential that audio can bring to an experience. Working with interactive sound, we already know the value that things like early reflections, HDR audio, or dynamic mixing can bring to a project. Bringing the rest of the development team into the audio process can lead to some incredible collaborations. While folks will find different ways to do this internally, I have found that there is an equal opportunity for advocacy on a wider scale. Whether that is communicating with other developers about streamlining the process of audio engine integration or building towards a frictionless iteration pipeline within the greater development ecosystem. There is an opportunity to contribute to the evolution of how we create for interactive in a way that empowers everyone to express and realize their intentions. Audiokinetic has always been a voice for creative professionals working towards realizing these intentions and I look forward joining the choir when communicating with organizations and developers towards the continued evolution of technology, technique, and artistry.

Damian-Audiokinetic2Bernard Rodrigue,  Director of Wwise Experience  at Audiokinetic

I remember attending a conference in Austin, TX in 2017 and sharing the program with Audiokinetic’s Director of Wwise Experience Bernard Rodrigue, where we both found ourselves championing audio pipelines and workflows to a wider audience. In keeping with that spirit, I look forward to continuing as an advocate and educator to help raise the profile of interactive audio. I’ll still be co-hosting the Game Audio Podcast with Anton Woldhek & co-coordinating the Audio Bootcamp at GDC with Scott Selfon. You can continue to expect a steady stream of far-out noises emanating from my (almost sentient) guitar effects pedalboard. Working from Seattle, I’ll continue to have the support of one of the best game audio communities where I’ve tried to promote a culture of inclusivity, diversity, education, and respect. I’ll be looking forward to bringing these same goals to my continued engagement with the Worldwide Game Audio Groups along with the global populace of Wwise authors, interactive audio students, and professionals.

This next phase of my career is all about engagement. Here on the ground with the creative and smart folks at Audiokinetic, in Seattle working with developers to better understand how was can continue to grow, and globally across a network of passionate individuals dedicated to the advancement of our craft. I encourage you to reach out and share your experience working with Wwise. What could be better? How well does it integrate within your existing game pipeline? What challenges do you face in achieving your audio vision? What is the one thing that might make for a better workflow? I’m eager to hear from you and I look forward to collaborating towards building the next generation of interactive audio together! Drop a line: openears@audiokinetic.com


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 First day at Audiokinetic!

 

 

 

Damian Kastbauer

Software Product Manager

Audiokinetic

Damian Kastbauer

Software Product Manager

Audiokinetic

Atari 2600/ NES channeled through> C64 SID chip Blue Monday game child purple mountain majesty feasted on guitar noise during 90's shoegaze invasion culminating in two-tiered pedal board with never enough digits to turn all the knobs. Constant fascination with dark art of implementation leads to articles diving into unknown technical sound design as attempt to share discussions through game audio podcasts and now the two-volume book series Game Audio: Tales of a Technical Sound Designer. Community to the core, noise for life, respect the vibrations.

Lost Chocolate Lab

 @DamianKastbauer

Comments

Hermann Rauth

May 07, 2019 at 12:28 pm

This is a match made in heaven. Such great news. I can't wait to see what you all will be doing together. Exciting times! :D

Wenda Zonnefeld

May 09, 2019 at 12:45 am

Congratulations Damien! What a wonderful outcone@m! It's absolutely perfect!

George Sanger

May 17, 2019 at 04:39 pm

There's a little tear in my eye. I couldn't agree more with, like, every word of this article. Damian, with you on board, channeling the power of the whole community, the worlds' best tools will get even sweeter by an order of magnitude. I know that your sense of "knowing where to hit" (as the old joke goes) will be supported and nurtured by the AK team into something we can't imagine now. This is a match made in Audio Heaven, a magic grain of sand in the oyster of moving sound, and I can't wait to see it unpack like an '80's demo scene masterpiece into the vast, bright new landscape of interactive audio.

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