DigiPen Institute of Technology is pleased to host the sixth annual Audio Symposium, which is being jointly sponsored by the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.). Talks will cover a mix of topics related to sound engineering research, interactive music, and game audio.

This event is free and open to the public. Please register below if you plan to attend.

2018 Event Schedule

  • 9:30 a.m. - Coffee and Welcome
  • 10:00 a.m. - Brian Schmidt: Technology’s Impact on Creativity. Case Study; Beyond HRTF
  • 11:00 a.m. - Mike Kent: 35 Years of MIDI 1.0. What's Next?
  • 12:00 p.m. - Lunch
  • 1:30 p.m. - Nick Wiswell: Things to make you go vroom!
  • 2:30 p.m. - Marty O’Donnell: VR Audio: Forget the Tech! What do you hear?


Presentation Abstracts

Mike Kent: 35 Years of MIDI 1.0. What's Next?

MIDI has persisted for 35 years as a foundational tool for musical performance and production. Over the years, the standard has expanded and grown beyond the dreams of the original designers. But there is not much room left for technical expansion. Or is there? Can we change a standard that is so entrenched?

This session examines the progress on the biggest changes to MIDI since 1983, designed to further establish MIDI as the standard for the next 35 years while carefully protecting backward compatibility. Mike will discuss the design solutions from an engineering perspective, industry and business aspects, improved workflow for music production, and increased musical expression that is expected in 2019 and beyond.

Marty O’Donnell: VR Audio: Forget the Tech! What do you hear?

In the new reality of VR game development, there are many questions left to be answered. In the past three years of development, Highwire Games has has attempted to answer some of those questions. In this talk we will take you along the precarious and promising path Highwire Games took to define and realize the soundscape of Golem, a fully-featured, high-fidelity action and exploration game for PlayStation VR. From the first sounds that caught our ears through the challenges that arose and the solutions we found, there were undoubtedly lessons learned and questions left to be answered. Developing in virtual reality requires emerging technologies and new techniques, but it also requires a steadfast commitment to the tried and true sensibilities of traditional media, and we'll show you why, in the end, it's still all about what comes out of the speakers (or in this case, the headphones).

Brian Schmidt: Technology’s Impact on Creativity. Case Study: Beyond HRTF

In 2004, Legendary game designer and programmer, and current Oculus Chief Technology Officer, John Carmack, proclaimed that in a couple turns of processor generation audio “…will basically be done.” Is that true?  It’s 14 years and “a couple turns of the processor later,” so was John correct?  Is is game audio “done?” Game audio technology and tools that we use every day, as powerful as they are, sometimes lead us in directions we might not have taken otherwise, and might be unintentionally pushing us to some of the wrong problems, or perhaps overstate their abilities. This talk will look back at some of the ways technology and tools have influenced music and sound design, both in games and outside. We will also explore some of the limitations of the technology we use, using 3D sound simulation as a particular case study.

Nick Wiswell: Things to make you go vroom!

Ever wondered why your car doesn’t sound the same as others? Probably not, but in this talk you'll learn how and why it sounds the way it does and how to reproduce it in a video game.

You'll get to hear recordings of different types of cars, gain a deeper understanding of the factors that change their sonic characteristics, and get a peek behind the curtain at the techniques that have been used reproduce them.

Speaker Bios

Mike Kent

Mike Kent is an industry leader in MIDI and musical instrument industries. He is a member of the Technical Standards Board of the MIDI Manufacturers Association, co-author of the USB MIDI Specification, principal architect of MIDI-CI, and contributor to USB Audio 1, 2, and 3 specifications. He had a 30 year career at Roland before starting his own consulting business. He has contributed components to MIDI in Windows, MIDI in Nintendo’s developer SDK, and worked closely with Apple on both MIDI and audio solutions for many years. He contributed to an audio processing system for a NASA event simulation center and audio capture for an archiving network of the US Coast Guard. Most of his work is now focused on the future expansion of MIDI, working as consultant to Yamaha R&D. Mike owns 19 synthesizers and 8 guitars.

Marty O’Donnell

Marty O’Donnell is an award winning composer and audio director. He earned his Masters of Music degree with honors from USC and founded Total Audio producing music and audio for film, TV, and games. His credits include Riven, the Sequel to Myst, the Myth series, the Halo series, and Destiny where he collaborated with Sir Paul McCartney on an orchestral suite called Music of the Spheres. In 2014 he founded Marty O’Donnell Music LLC, and is also co-owner and founder of Highwire Games LLC, developers of the PSVR game Golem, which will ship in spring of 2018. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Game Audio Network Guild in 2016. In late 2017 he released Echoes of the First Dreamer, the musical prequel to Golem.

Brian Schmidt

Brian Schmidt has been creating music, sound, and audio technology for games since 1987. As the 2008 recipient of the Game Audio Network Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Brian has a credits list of over 130 games for companies such as Sony, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Sega, Microsoft, Zynga, Namco, and many others. Apart from his work as one of the industry's first freelance game composers, Brian spent 10 years at Microsoft as the primary audio architect for the Xbox team, where he was responsible for technologies such as XMA and XACT. He also created the boot sound for the original Xbox. Brian’s work has been featured in the "Legends of Game Music" CD set and received Sega’s "Best Sound" award. His theme from the 1988 video game NARC was covered and recorded by The Pixies.
In 1985, Brian received undergraduate degrees in music and computer science from Northwestern University, where he created the dual degree program between the School of Music and the Technological Institute. He went on to complete his master's degree in computer applications in music in 1987, and portions of his thesis work appeared in Computer Music Journal. Brian also presented his thesis work, by invitation, to the Audio Engineering Society (AES) special conference on audio technology. Brian is a frequent and in-demand speaker, as well as the founder and executive director of GameSoundCon, the largest professional conference on game music and sound design.
Brian sits on the advisory board of the Game Developer Conference and is a founding board member of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.). He is also a former steering committee member of the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group (ia-sig) of the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) and has presented as a keynote speaker at The Game Developers Conference and Project BBQ. Brian also belonged to a select group of 10 game audio professionals who successfully lobbied the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) into making video game soundtracks eligible for the Grammy Award in 1999.

Nick Wiswell

Nick Wiswell is the Audio Director at Turn 10 Studios and is the owner of the audio direction for all games in the Forza Franchise. A 19-year industry veteran, Nick has worked on over 20 games during his career, including award winning franchises like Project Gotham Racing, Geometry Wars, Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon.

Nick has spent the majority of his career working on racing games and is always searching for new ways to more accurately reproduce car sounds interactively.

Nick Wiswell
"This picture is from my brief appearance in the documentary Beep: A History of Video Game Sound that Marty O'Donnell and Brian Schmidt also appear in."

Event Details

Date: May 12, 2018

Location: DigiPen Institute of Technology

Cost: Free

Event Info