Here’s a great clip of Halo 5 Senior Sound Designer Kyle Fraser discussing the Eurorack synth setup that he uses in the composition and sound design process.
This is a great video for many reasons. I highly recommend watching all of Kyle’s segments, including the section at 13:30 which shows the review process with the game developers. We don’t get that many glimpses into the world of video game sound design, so this is a must see.
Early in the video, Fraser shows us the Eurorack modular system. This includes some techniques he uses to get some of the more far out sounds that appear in Halo 5. Interestingly, Fraser employs some uncommon input devices to generate sounds. One stand out module demonstrated here is the Music Thing Mikrophonie which Fraser uses to capture some very strange sounds with found objects. In one scene, he is using two magnetic “bucky balls” on either side of a glass jar, with the opening laid over the Mikrophonie’s internal contact microphone. A pretty avant-garde technique that you likely wouldn’t see “in-the-box” computer musicians adopting.
We also see a fairly non-traditional tool in his photo-resistor device, which responds to the amount of light in the room. Using light toys, he triggers the photo-resistor and generates interesting oscillating effects, perfect for the Halo 5 soundscape. A very cool, “lo-fi” idea that anyone could try with some very basic electronics components.
Finally at 13:30, we see Fraser in a sit-down session with one of the game developers, reviewing and critiquing some of the sounds that he has created. This arduous process is rarely caught on film, and permeates beyond just the video game industry. Naturally, in film composition and sound design as well as music production, client oversight is a constant concern. Artists are often sent back to the drawing board when a director or developer is unhappy with certain elements or the tone or emotional content of a piece or sound effect.