I’d thought I’d post my workflow for creating/editing surround 2D events, in case it’s of benefit to the FMOD community. There are a few things in designer that took some time for me, and another sound designer, to figure out, so hopefully this helps some new FMOD Designer users. I use this workflow for things like ambiances and certain events that could benefit from being in surround (but don’t require being positional, i.e. not a 3D event). I haven’t done a lot of surround work, but I have shipped a couple games with some light 5.1 support, so any corrections/suggestions are welcomed. Here’s my workflow:

  1. Open up an event that I want to position in surround, bring up the ‘Surround Pan’ tool (not the effect, see Window/Surround Pan), pick the mode I want (usually 5.1 or 4.1), move the listener (red dot) to an appropriate location and then hit ‘Apply speaker levels’. You don’t have to do this if you’re fine with setting the speaker levels in the property list manually and are fine with the default speaker mode (5.1)

  2. If I’ve got multiple layers within the event, and I want to position some layers more in the front/back speakers, I will add a ‘Surround Pan’
    effect to each applicable layer and edit its position. I’ll often add a timeline parameter to have the layer pan from front to back (or vice versa) over time (depending on the event).

For looping parameters, I’m told that it’s a good idea to put a point at the end of the loop on each effect’s envelope. I believe this helps ensure that there are no jumps in the parameter value when the loop occurs. I’ve never had a problem, but I do this just to be safe.

You should note that once you add the ‘Surround Pan’ effect, that the event properties ‘2D Speaker L/C/R/LR/RR/LS/RS’ will no longer have an effect on the event. The ‘Surround Pan’ effect will take control of these event properties.

  1. If I’m doing, say, an ambiance in 5.1 (instead of 4.1), I’ll usually want to reduce the amount of ambiance in the center channel. Therefore, I’ll also add a ‘Speaker Level’ effect to the appropriate layers and adjust the ‘Sub, Center’ envelope accordingly. Feel free to edit the other ‘Speaker Level’ settings as you see fit.

Note that the ‘Speaker Level’ and ‘Surround Pan’ sum together and, again, override the event properties ‘2D Speaker L/C/R/LR/RR/LS/RS’.
If either effect is active on a layer, ‘2D Speaker L/C/R/LR/RR/LS/RS’ is bypassed for that layer. I have not had any issues with having these 2 effects active on a single layer. Part of the purpose of the ‘Speaker Level’ effect is to correct for any imbalances that might occur between the L/C/R/LR/RR speakers as one adjusts the ‘Surround Pan’ effect. As a side note, these 2 effects are bypassed when a sound is 3D and the ‘3D Pan Level’ is set to 1 (i.e. 100% 3D). They have no effect on 3D events.

That’s pretty much it.


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Hi Sean,

Thanks for the write up I’m sure plenty of sound designers out there will find it very useful. You might be interested to know that we have completely reworked our panning for the up coming FMOD Studio. If you’re going to GDC you should swing by our booth and check it out!

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