Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Video games score points by keeping the sounds real

08-25-2007
In ‘NBA Street: Homecourt,’ engineers went out to real street courts to record the sounds of games being played, including shoes on the court, balls hitting the rim and backboard and — of course — trash talk. Photo: Special to the Star

When the fight broke out Charles Deenen figured he had something.

On an outdoor basketball court in Venice, Calif., Deenen was watching the tempers flare. As the senior audio director for Electronic Arts’ Black Box division, located in Vancouver, B.C., he was securing audio for EA’s “NBA Street: Homecourt” video game. He liked what he was seeing and, more importantly, what he was hearing.

He’d arranged for street ballers to be miked while playing a game that EA had organized. Deenen, hoping to generate strong audio, required the players to use only half the court, which led to a slightly cramped crew, a higher rate of player contact and eventually sparks flying. Every street ball game certainly doesn’t turn into a fight, but verbal sparring and sharp elbows are often a big part of the game — and that’s what Deenen was trying to capture.

“It would’ve been a lot easier to do it in a studio, but it wouldn’t have sounded believable,” Deenen says.

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