Twitch AMA with Pixelmons Sound Partner TWOAM Music, 22/09/2022
On Thursday, 22nd September, Pixelmon hosted a stream with Giulio, the Pixelmon CEO that was joined by Kit Kuan Leong from TwoAM music. TwoAM Music is Pixelmon’s sound partner, and Kit is a sound supervisor and partner at TwoAM Music, having worked there for 15 years and in the sound industry for 20 years.
What does TwoAM do?
Kit: TwoAm is in the field of sonic advertising, focusing on music compositions, sonic branding, and sound design. We have a diverse team of musicians, engineers, and sound designers that span multiple countries, including America, the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, and Malaysia, home to our HQ. TwoAM was founded by Anton Morgan over twenty years ago.
Fundamentally TwoAM are sound problem solvers. Working with clients’ producers and directors who come up with an idea, we bring it to life, evoking emotions and feelings sonically. Presented with the problems of creating sounds from scratch for any media platform, TwoAm design and create bespoke sounds for any project.
Why did TwoAM decide to work with Pixelmon?
Kit: Pixelmon and TwoAM got in touch through a mutual close friend. TwoAm has always wanted to work on a game from the ground up, with a lot of the team interested in gaming. Working with Pixelmon was a no-brainer; it’s something new but a good breakaway from our usual work.
How does the process of creating a Pixelmon creature sound start?
Kit: It all starts with initial calls on the direction and creative vision of the individual characteristics of the Pixelmon creature, such as size and species. There were 68 to conceptualize, which was initially a lot but served as a fun challenge. The team had to ensure each character had their own uniqueness, with no two sounding similar.
The very start of the process is a simultaneous and collaborative one. Once the sound team receives the conceptualized artwork, the sound designers begin working on the characters. It starts with brainstorming sessions for each character. The characters are approached through their rarity and individual elemental origins, whether Water, Air, Earth, or Fire. First, the team creates sounds for the background soundscapes through distinct noises for each origin. Once this is complete, the team begins working on each individual Pixelmon creature’s sound based on their rarity and art, taking inspiration from animals and the general appearance of each Pixelmon creature.
What goes into a Pixelmon creature sound?
Kit: The first stage after conceptualization and brainstorming is recording from human voices. These are then mixed and layered with various animal sounds such as lions, tigers, crows, goats, and a plethora of other creatures. These sounds are then honed to create the finalized version for each Pixelmon creature. Mixed in with these are many different background sounds that vary from the many TwoAM sound effect libraries. After mixing and perfecting, the sounds are switched and looked at individually to ensure each sound matches its ideal Pixelmon creature.
After this, Kit moves on to demo some of the sounds, explaining the process and breaking down the mixed individual sounds. This is best watched visually and with sound on the Twitch recording.
In the process, are there a lot of layers of compressed sounds, or are sounds created from scratch?
Kit: We record the sounds and voices and lay them individually on the track in various layers until the team is happy and the sound is finalized.
How long does one Pixelmon sound take to make?
Kit: Some are more complicated than others, but generally, the process of recording, layering, processing, mixing, and mastering one Pixelmon creature sound takes around three hours.
What’s the process behind the background ambient sounds for each element?
Kit: It was a straightforward process. For each individual Pixelmon creature, we decided to take sounds from what we thought best represented the element. For air, we took sounds from mountaintops; for earth, we took sounds from the Amazon rainforest; water was inspired by lakes and streams; and lastly, fire comes from crackling fires.
How does the ambient sound interact with the Pixelmon creature sound?
Kit: It’s an interaction with the volume levels between the background and Pixelmon creature sounds. The focus is always on each character’s sound, but the ambient background sounds are there to remind listeners of the environment of each Pixelmon creature.
What software do you use?
Kit: We work on logic pro and pro tools. These are the two DAWs we use and are the industry standard for game development, music, and movies. They give us the power and precision to easily craft a sonic vision.
What plugins do you use, or which are your favorites?
Kit: So many, but let me mention a few. One is Elixir which allows us to limit our audio to a certain threshold in decibels. Another is a LUFS meter (Loudness Units relative to Full Scale) that lets us ensure everything fits within the sound level we require. Another plugin we use is Antares, which enables us to edit, mutate, and alienize voices and sounds. This was useful for taking Pixelmon sounds recorded by humans and turning them into something more creature-like and fitting. The last one is Ehumanisers, which allows us to process voices and sounds into larger or smaller monsters.
What are you working on right now with Evolution 1 complete?
Kit: Currently, we’re working on Evolution 2 for each Pixelmon species. We have a few concept art angles for each of the second evolutions, and we’re figuring out how to work in parallel with the art team and their concepts to develop Pixelmon creature sounds in their second stage.
Other than Pixelmon creatures, you’re working on the in-game sounds. What is that process like?
Kit: The list is very comprehensive and detailed. We’re working on everything from pop-up buttons to damage to buff sounds and more. It’s an interesting process and one that’s easier due to how direct and detailed each sound request is.
What challenges do the new sounds you’re working on bring?
Kit: The really challenging aspects are the sounds of each Pixelmon when they’re being hit or dealing with attacks. The combat sounds will require a lot of research to develop as they’re so different from everything else.
What was your favorite Pixelmon to work on?
Kit: It’s difficult, but if I had to pick one, it’d be Kevin. I had a lot of fun getting into the character, and the zombified voice of Kevin is actually my own. It was exciting and fun.
Any final words you’d like to tell the community?
Kit: Thank you so much to the community for listening in, and I’d like to thank my team. Without them, this would be an uphill battle, but working together with all the recording and development aspects has made it possible. Finally, thank you to the whole Pixelmon team for the trust placed in us and how easy it’s been working together. It’s a privilege to work with you all, and I’m excited to continue working together on the game in the future.