Adaptive Music in FMOD Studio: Parameters and Effects in Adaptive Music

Checked with: Version 1.07.00  01/02/2016

In this video, we will introduce the role of Game Parameters in driving simple adaptive music techniques. We will also create a “Health” parameter to automate track volumes and effects to help communicate the Health of the character to the player. We use assets from Loopmasters, which can be found at the Loopmasters Page.

 

Download FMOD Studio from the downloads page Downloads Page

 
 

Transcript

 

(0:00) Hello and welcome to the second tutorial 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 adaptive music 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 upgrading our music piece from the first tutorial with some Parameters and Effects. This will help FMOD Studio newcomers to level up their knowledge of audio for games, and help refresh FMOD Pros on some of the FMOD features.

(0:34) We will introduce the role of game parameters in driving adaptive music. We’ll see how we can use a “Health” parameter to control track volumes and effects in a truly dynamic way. I will introduce to you the Effect Deck as well, and how we can automate our Effects Properties to help communicate the Health of the character to the player.

 

(0:58) In the previous video, we had set up a looping segment for the base level of intensity for our music system. Next we will introduce the concept of a game parameter, and use it as we continue constructing our piece of music.

(1:11) In FMOD, A Parameter is defined as an input from the game engine which is used to influence the audio in realtime. The audio adapts to the game play via these parameters. Parameters can be pre-defined such as a distance and orientation value. It is also possible to define custom parameters such as RPM, Threat level or, in our situation health%.

Parameters can be used to control the states and values of a variety of audio effects and signal processors, which is what we’re doing today, or to control the progression through music, which is what we will set up in the next video.

(1:38) The best way to understand what you can do with a Parameter is though an example, so lets get into it…

Add a parameter with the 'Plus' tab above the Logic Tracks.

Add a parameter with the ‘Plus’ tab above the Logic Tracks.

(1:47) We will add a new parameter that has the name “Health” and has the range of 0-100.

(2:20) A really handy tip for when you create a new parameter is to define the initial value straight away – this you do by setting the value with the knob near your transport controls, and right clicking and selecting “Set as initial value”. Whenever our music event is re-started the “health” parameter will reset to 100. Now we can use this parameter to automate track volumes and effect properties.

Set the Initial Value by selecting the Parameter Tab and using the control dial in the Deck.

Set the Initial Value by selecting the Parameter Tab and using the control dial in the Deck.

(2:48) We want to “fade in” the choir as the player health gets closer to 0. To do this, we switch over to the “Health” parameter tab, and we right-click on the Volume dial on the track and select “Create Automation”.

Add Automation by right-clicking the volume dial of the track.

Add Automation by right-clicking the volume dial of the track.

(3:34) Now we draw in the curve that we want, by clicking in the “Volume” track. Where we click corresponds to the volume metering on the left hand side. So, when the Health is at 10 or below, we want the choir to be at 0dB, and when the Health is at 40 or above, we want the choir to be at -40dB.

Add points and adjust the automation curve in the automation lane.

Add points and adjust the automation curve in the automation lane.

(4:48) To create more gravity and impact in the lower Health range, use the diamond in the middle of the curve to push the curve out to a convex shape.

(5:02) We can add the same Volume Automation to each track if we wanted to, and you can totally go to town and dynamically manipulate the mix over the full 100 point range of the Health parameter, but I want to show you another cool way you can use the Health parameter – let’s add a sweeping low pass filter across the whole mix when there are major losses of health.

(5:26) Now, we can stay in the Event Editor window in our Health parameter tab to do this, but I’ll introduce you to an element of the Event Editor window that we’ve been ignoring a little bit so far. I’d like to introduce you to the Effect Deck or Deck for short.

(5:40) The Deck holds all the audio effects for a particular track. You can create and chain together as many effects as you like. To see the Deck for a track – just select it.

(6:15) To create an effect across all tracks, we will need to create the effect with the Master Track selected. All tracks in the event are automatically routed into the Master Track, So by creating our low pass effect here we can effect all the tracks at once. We’re going to add a low-pass filter effect today, and we will control this filter with the Health parameter.

 

Adding and automating the Cuttoff of a Lowpass filter.

Adding and automating the Cuttoff of a Lowpass filter.

 

(7:10) By using the health parameter to directly control the cutoff frequency, we will hear the audio become increasingly muffled as the player health drops. To automate the cutoff frequency of the Low Pass filter, right-click on the “cutoff” control – At 20 points Health, we want the filter to allow all frequencies to pass. At 0 points Health, we want the filter to pass only low frequencies, so set the “end point” of the curve to 250Hz.

Completed automation for the Volume and Low Pass of the choir.

Completed automation for the Volume and Low Pass of the choir.

(8:47) To create more gravity and impact in the lowest Health range, lets change the shape of the curve. To do this, drag the diamond in the middle of the curve to produce a convex shaped curve.

(9:51) Game players are now made aware of extremely low health and imminent death, and can take immediate life-preserving action. We have fulfilled one of our design objectives. We could continue adding more effects across the entire range of player health to create more audible cues, but this is all we are going to cover in this video today.

 

(10:17) Today we have covered a few techniques for creating adaptive audio with FMOD Studio. We have covered the super flexible and important concept of Game Parameters for controlling Volume – or track mixing, and also for controlling effects on both tracks and buses in music piece.

(10:33) In the next tutorial, we’ll continue working with this piece, and will add a second game parameter “Progression” and we will combine it with Conditional Logic to skip between musical segments.

Credits and Attribution

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