The story behind remarkable SFX

We recently caught up with Simon Kamakazi, a freelance sound designer and the creator of the amazing audio track for the introduction to the video game, Starcraft 2.  He discussed his use of Linear PCM Recorders (in this case, the Olympus LS-10) in his work. (He’s currently working with Unknown Worlds Entertainment on a game called Natural Selection 2.)

For the introduction to Starcraft 2, Kamakazi said most of the sounds were recorded around his house: printers, fax machines, computers, CD players – things with small motors – plus a refrigerator and car air conditioner. He also recorded metallic sounds from items in his garage and backyard shed. Most are highly layered and manipulated in a studio. For example, the robotic arms that weld the character’s shackles combine a printer motor, ATM motor, SLR camera lens zoom, printer click sounds and metal suitcase locks being flicked closed. The steam/pressure release sound is a recording of a flyscreen door stopper.

Kamakazi said he uses a handheld recorder as one of the primary tools both in and out of his studio.  “I like to just keep it with me when I’m out,” he says, “so if I hear a sound I like I can just record it there and then.”  In the studio, in order to avoid the hassle of having to go through a mixer, he will use the handheld recorder while working with a single-track instrument.

Kamakazi said he finds the high sound quality possible with modern handheld recorders combined with their portability incredibly appealing. “I like the idea of being able to take my whole studio with me in a backpack, so the recorder is a way for me to have access to high quality recordings wherever I am,” he says. Because electronic producers like Kamakazi often use sounds they collect from sounds they hear throughout the day, he has found that the handheld recorder provides him exactly what he is looking for in terms of quality and convenience.

Kamakazi also offered advice for those who are interested in designing sound projects like the one he created for Starcraft 2.  He says that like anything else, practice makes perfect. He added that having a large and diverse collection of equipment is not as important as one might think – but having the skills and a trained ear is what makes a great sound designer.  “I release music, play live electronica sets, and work as a freelance sound designer using only a laptop, the portable recorder and headphones,” he says.

Also: Listen to Kamakazi’s music.

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