Adaptive Music in FMOD Studio: Introduction

Checked with: Version 1.07.00  01/02/2016

We start our Adaptive Music Video Series by creating some super basic functionality of FMOD Studio – Setting up our Event, the Audio Bin window and laying down the foundation for the first segment of music with Looping Regions some basic Adaptive music features (Trigger Probability and Loop Conditions). We use assets from Loopmasters, which can be found at the Loopmasters Page.

 

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Transcript

 

(0:00) Hello and welcome to the first video in a mini series introducing adaptive music in FMOD Studio. This tutorial series is designed to get you up and running with logic operations and non linear music systems in FMOD Studio. My name is Sally and I’m the sound designer at Firelight Technologies. Today, we’re going to have a look at some basic skills that will help introduce FMOD Studio to newcomers, and also help FMOD pros apply their knowledge of FMOD Studio to non-linear music.

(0:33) Today, we’re going to cover some super-basic functionality while we set up a non linear music system. Each of the 4 tutorials in this series will add a new layer of complexity to the piece and introduce new topics and knowledge.

(0:46) We’ll cover creating tracks, the audio bin, mixer view, tempo markers and trigger probability for regions today. The second tutorial in this series will introduce the role of parameters in interactive music systems. We will use a health parameter to allow us to control track volumes and effects according to player health. The third tutorial will add a second parameter progression, and we will use this to create some conditional logic that will allow the playhead to move around the different segments in the piece, so, both backwards and forwards in time.

(1:17) Finally, in the fourth tutorial, we will add complexity to the structure of our piece by adding a new segment and creating new transitions and submixes to compliment our upgraded structure.

(1:27) Now, what we’re going to do, is listen through the music, and I will point out to you some awesome features that we will discuss how to construct in Studio throughout the video series.

 

(1:39) Now, the music and action is pretty chilled out most of the time. So, we want to make sure that we can hold this chilled out theme in its own segment. However, you may enter a heightened state of intensity by entering into a dangerous area, or just proceeding through the level and being closer to completing the level.

Crossing in to the danger area will trigger a change in the music.

Crossing in to the danger area will trigger a change in the music.

(2:09) And while the intensity changes based on the danger of the player and his progress through the level, we also want to cue changes in the music based on the health of the player as well. So, first things like subtle changes to behaviour in the music. Then, as larger health losses occur, there will be mix changes – you can hear the choir fading in.

(2:43) Then, when health becomes critically low, this will then develop into major manipulations – such as low pass filters – when the health becomes close to zero. When the health runs out, we want to cue a separate musical theme for the death of the player.

Dying will trigger a new segment of music to play.

Dying will trigger a new segment of music to play.

(3:23) Now, if the player is revived, we want to start back in the musical segment that corresponds with the player’s progression through the game level.

(3:45) Now, in this first video, we will lay down the tracks for the first two intensity levels, and create the looping segment for the first segment. We will introduce the tempo and naming markers and set up our randomly triggering drum hits.

(3:58) So, when we’re done, our project will look like this – with some of our tracks and some of our assets, with a tempo marker set up, a segment marker set up, and loop region, as well as some random probability on our drum hit.

Completed music score will look like this by the end of our tutorial series.

Completed music score will look like this by the end of our tutorial series.

(4:12) So, let’s get started.

(4:15) What we’ll do is we’ll create a new event. What we’ll need to do first is we’ll need to create our tracks. So, we need 4 audio tracks – I’ll show you why in just a minute. And then we’ll need to open our audio bin.

Tracks set up and Audio Bin ready to drop in assets.

Tracks set up and Audio Bin ready to drop in assets.

(4:28) The audio bin is like the repository for all of your assets that are imported into your FMOD Studio project. You can sort your audio bin into folders – which I have done here – and you can create new folders and re-sort your assets in any way that you like. Because I am taking assets from two different Loopmasters packs, and also some of my own edited assets, I’ve sorted them into 3 folders to make them easier for me to find. Now, I’m going to take assets just from pack 2 at the moment, and we’ll lay them down into our tracks. So, we’ll need the brass section, we’ll need the choir, we’ll need the synth, and then we’ll also take drum hit 1.

(5:20) Let’s head back to our Event Editor Window.

(5:23) Just to make things a little clearer, what I’m going to do is name my tracks. I’ll name them brass, choir, synth and Hits. Now, we can listen to them all together just by hitting play.

Tracks named and modules arranged ready to design Logic.

Tracks named and modules arranged ready to design Logic.

(5:49) What I’ll do is I’ll quickly balance these so that they are sitting together a little more nicely in the mix. What I’ll do is I’ll “flip to faders” just by hitting this button here.

Switching between Tracks and Faders view.

Switching between Tracks and Faders view.

(6:01) Now, the “flip to faders” view allows you to see each of the tracks and manipulate the volumes, solo and mute states in a DAW-like view that those who are familiar with sound engineering or music composition in Logic or Ableton will be familiar with. It also makes it easier to see your tracks and compare your volumes by having your monitoring in the channel strips view. So I’m going to turn the choir down a little and pull the synth down a little too. We can solo each track to hear the audio separately just by hitting the solo button, or we can mute a track too – that actually excludes that particular track from the overall mix.

Tracks balanced in Tracks View.

Tracks balanced in Tracks View.

(6:44) Now, to get back to tracks view, you just hit this button with the horizontal lines right here.

(6:48) Now that we have our tracks down, we can introduce some basic logic operations. Right up under the Timeline, we have the Logic Tracks section. Right clicking in the Logic Tracks will give you your tools to design the structure of your piece.

(7:00) So, what we’ll do is we will add a tempo marker first. A tempo marker defines the tempo and time signature of your piece, or event. These operate in the same way as most other DAWs – the timeline adjusts its meter and measures based on these tempo markers. The cool thing is that you can have multiple tempo markers and time signatures in each event. So, our tempo is actually baked into each of the regions – so we can see that that’s 140 beats per minute. Let’s type that in. The time signature is four four so we’ll just leave that.

Creating a tempo marker.

Creating a tempo marker.

(7:34) Now, we’ll start setting up our structure, and we’ll do that just by throwing in a marker. So, right click and press add marker. Now, I’m keeping my marker names simple – I’m going to call my marker Segment 1.

Adding a naming marker.

Adding a naming marker.

(7:52) These markers are things we will use to mark the structure of our piece. They are our destinations when we are sending our playback cursor around in our music when we are using Transition Regions or Transition Markers. Now, you can also use markers to mark up any audio on the Timeline without needing to assign logic around them as well.

(8:10) The next step is to create a Loop Region. A Loop Region forces the playback cursor to loop within the bounds of the region, on the timeline. We will use this segment of audio to fulfill the design requirement of holding the playback according to Intensity level at a point in time. This loop region needs to be 12 bars long, so we’ll take from bar 5 up to bar 17. Let’s watch the cursor – you’ll see it’ll loop back to the start when it hits the end.

Setting a loop region - also done by right-clicking in the Logic Track.

Setting a loop region – also done by right-clicking in the Logic Track.

(9:00) Now, the last step, is to trigger the Hits module with a probability logic attached. Now, we do this by selecting the region to see its characteristics in the effect deck area. Expand the Trigger Behaviour Panel on this Left hand side by clicking the little white arrow.

Expanding the Trigger Behaviour Panel for the Module.

Expanding the Trigger Behaviour Panel for the Module.

(9:23) From here, we have a host of tools to create Logic attached to this region. What we will do is focus on the Probability knob on the Left Hand Side, and set this to a low value so that it is quite unlikely that this will trigger. So, we do this just by pressing the Dice button to activate the Probability dial. We can either use the knob or click to type in thirty percent. So, what we should hear now is that only thirty percent of the time the cursor actually hits this region, the sound will actually trigger.

Setting the Probability of the Module Triggering.

Setting the Probability of the Module Triggering.

(10:34) This is the end of the first stage of this tutorial series, and has given you an introduction to constructing logic operations that are useful for when you begin to design your own non-linear music. We considered a design problem, and started constructing a non-linear peice of music to fit. We started with one looping intensity level, and a few simple logic operations.

(10:56) In the next tutorial, we will continue working with this piece, and introduce a second segment, and a health parameter to control the track volumes and effect automation.

Credits and Attribution

Assets in the videos are provided by Loopmasters. They are used for demonstration only, and are not available for distribution.