By Jonny Koy
Audio Technical Manager, Keywords Studios
When Keywords Studios acquired three audio localization studios in France in 2017 we were set on providing the local market with a unified solution for video games publishers and developers.
However, we quickly realised that were some challenges to overcome.
On paper, our brand was solidified by the union of La Marque Rose, Dune Sound and Asrec but the logistics turned out to be a little more complex.
To begin with, we had eight studio booths spread over three sites, all of them with their own acoustic and technical specifications.
Our equipment, booth configuration, software and even acoustics differed greatly from one site to another, creating a complex ecosystem of workflows.
This ran counter-intuitive to the goal we had set in the first place: to become the most accessible and versatile audio localization partner.
To this end the solution was clear; we needed to gather our forces and create a new studio that would synthesize the experience and expertise of our historic brands and fuse the best of them with the finest technologies available.
While the works are still in progress, we are proud to announce that our vision is becoming a reality.
Innovation in design
When planning what the new studio would require, we had to solve for the challenge of creating a space that could facilitate any project request we had previously seen as well as adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The requirements included:
- Simplify audio and video transport and routing
- Communicate audio/video flows between all studios to allow working in all configurations (hybrid rooms vs. mixing room with dedicated booth)
- Record audio at sample rates up to 96kHz, 24-bit depth without conversion
- Plan a segregated configuration to safely record even when social distancing is required
- Simple and easy to use for operators
- Expandable configurations to allow for project scaling
To meet our objectives, our choice naturally fell on ‘Dante’ technology, which is an ‘audio over IP’ transport protocol.
Traditionally, analog configurations have long runs of specialised cables that are heavy, cumbersome to maneuver and only allow for a single type of signal going to a single device at a time.
Changes to this set-up can be labour-intensive and expensive, and noise and hum are constant companions as distances grow. Adding video to the mix brings more of the same, with even more dedicated cable types to install, manage and maintain.
Dante replaces those connections with a computer network, effortlessly sending video or hundreds of channels of audio over slender Ethernet cables with perfect digital fidelity.
Scalability and flexibility
All connections can therefore be managed with software, making routes fast, readable and reliable.
Because all devices share the same network, signals can be sent between any devices – no matter where they are located on a site, with no change to the wiring required.
To demonstrate how Dante will support the scalability and flexibility of the new studios, the future booths located on the fifth floor will be able to communicate with those on the ground floor with near-zero latency and almost perfect synchronization.
It will all be done without having to pull audio cables for tens of metres, which would involve degradation of the audio signal.
As mentioned before, our vision at Keywords Studios has always been to consolidate the highly fragmented supplier market, combining talent and tools to better provide our clients and partners with local audio solutions that care for their global needs.
A new era of high fidelity
With this new technology, we could even route recordings done in one of our studios to be handled by technicians in the other side of the world, allowing remote collaboration as it has never been seen before.
The option to bring together creativity from all our sites with high fidelity and no lag will pave the way for a new era of seamless digital interaction between our studios.
We are beyond proud of the efforts put into the creation of this new studio in Paris, and we will keep sharing its virtues as work progresses.
For more information on Audio Localization services for your video games from Keywords Studios, submit a request on our Audio Services page.