Founder Ed Walker discusses the recent opening of his Leamington studio and working with a zoo
Whether it’s the familiar 16-bit tones of Mario or the immersion offered by the high-definition effects of modern titles, audio has long been one of the defining traits of games. A quality soundscape offers just as much as 60 frames-per-second performance and razor-sharp controls.
Sounding Sweet is an independent recording and audio production company that specialises in games. The firm’s facilities near Stratford-upon-Avon include a 7.1 surround sound-dubbing suite with two voiceover and Foley studios.
“Guitar Hero Live and Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One are two of the biggest projects we have had the pleasure to work on in the world of gaming,” recalls technical director and MD Ed Walker. “We provided predominantly sound design services, but also assisted in other areas of audio production, such as mixing, field recording and music editing.”
It’s not just triple-A games that the firm helps to get heard, either.
“We supplied Chester Zoo with the sound design and audio production for its new ‘islands’ park, and last month we were out in Bahrain, where we provided the sound design, music editing and mixing work for the new BMW 7 Series launch event,” reveals Walker.
A SOUND INVESTMENT
Sounding Sweet recently expanded to a new office in the centre of Leamington Spa, which will serve as the base for two extra audio production studios.
Add this to a boosted headcount and Sounding Sweet hopes that it is prepared for projects big and small alike.
“Having relatively few permanent staff allows us to be both very flexible and affordable,” Walker explains. “If our client needs a particular skill set to achieve the desired result, we aim to fulfill that requirement – even if it means using external freelance support.
“We can scale up and increase our head count to suit the largest of projects, we are able to do this by using our network of experienced and trusted freelancers. In this way we can offer a bespoke high-end service without having to employ specialists in each field of audio production.”
To accommodate its ability to outsource and manage any required service, Sounding Sweet utilises what it calls a ‘hot studio’. Similar in concept to a hot desk, the studio allows staff and freelancers to freely use the equipment and facilities.
“Accurate monitoring spaces and acoustically isolated studios cost a small fortune to design and build – it doesn’t make financial sense to use our studio spaces for tasks that don’t require them,” says Walker.
“We use studios for recording, mixing and critical listening and then general office space for meetings, basic editing and some types of implementation. This flexibility allows us to provide a very high quality service and standard of audio production at a competitive price.”
With new premises, extra staff and a growing presence in both the world of games and beyond, it’s hardly surprising Sounding Sweet is only looking up.
“We would like to start working with our clients much earlier on in the development cycle,” says Walker of his plans for 2016. “However, over the last three years or so, this has improved. Getting ‘in the mix’ much earlier doesn’t cost more and simply delivers ‘sweeter’-sounding results, which benefits us and, ultimately, the client and gamer. It’s a win-win situation.”