Damian Kastbauer interview

DCF 1.0

Find Damian Kastbauer @
Official website
Lost Chocolate Blog
Game Audio Podcast
Game Audio Relevance

BRIEF LIST OF CREDITS:

Marvel Heroes, Dead Space 3, XCOM (2K Marin), Uncharted 3, Star Wars: Force Unleashed 2 etc.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?

I am a freelance Technical Sound Designer working to help developers achieve an interactive audio aesthetic in support of their gameplay. Over the past 7 years I’ve split my time between traveling to a developer and working on-site for short durations and experimenting remotely from the home laboratory. Usually this means helping an audio team to integrate sound content in the game using proprietary pipelines and middleware tools. Specifically: a little text-file crawling, spreadsheet hustling, abstract systems building, and conversational pioneering.

What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?

I’m focused specifically on bridging the gap between audio content creators and the game engine. I don’t usually use a DAW to design sound content and I’m also not hacking at code under the hood. Instead I rely on game audio specific tools and audio functionality built into game engines, in conjunction with a pallet of sounds created by a sound designer, to “technically design” sounds in relation to gameplay. This is a ballet of communication between: what a sound designer want’s to achieve, the capabilities or needs of the audio engine, and the most creative and efficient way to accomplish the task. I can get dirty with some scripting and am able to find my way through 3D engines to author emitters, animations, and parse visual scripting languages.

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?

PC, Speakers, Headphones, Webcam, Game Controller, Keyboard, Mouse…nothing fancy. Talent, not tools.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)

Audio Middleware (Wwise, FMOD, etc), Source Control (Perforce, SVN, etc), Excel, Notepad++, Greenshot, Copy Filenames, Bulk Rename Utility.

When do you find you are most creative?

Morning and late night. The inevitable mid-day slump always arrives at a time when only decadent pastries and strong coffee will suffice. I like to practice creative visualization when I’m falling asleep: drifting into dream while imagining solutions can inspire some wild solutions.

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?

Play game and understand the audio needs, specify and receive audio content for a given system, integrate content into audio middleware and game engine, test and verify in-game. Rinse & Repeat.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?

The people I have worked with are a constant source of inspiration! Honestly, it’s the interactions between people that provide the creative connective tissue between every aspect of what I do. Every conversation has the potential to influence the outcome of a days productivity. I try to cultivate as much discussion as possible and listen closely to other people’s perspectives and passion.

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?

Whenever dynamic parameters from the game can be leveraged to modify the resulting sound, the results are always interesting. The fundamental aspect of games that makes them interesting to me is the dynamic and unpredictable. Finding ways to harness a games underlying parameters in a way that makes sense for sound is not only interesting, but extremely satisfying when done in a way that supports the gameplay.

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?

Invest in people and you’ll always win!

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?

I wrote THIS the other day for aspiring game audio professionals and it’s filled with opinions, observations, and links to resources that have helped me along my path.