CIRMMT Distinguished Lecture | Composing for an unwitting conductor: the sound of videogames

Monday, February 6, 2023 17:00to18:00
Elizabeth Wirth Music Building Tanna Schulich Hall , 527 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 1E3, CA
Free Admission
Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith, Audio Director and videogame developer, Electronic Arts (Canada) 

For more information visit cirmmt.org


Composing for an unwitting conductor: the sound of videogames


Sound design in videogames is tasked with many things: tell a story; provide feedback; convey dense information.

A single footstep can do all of these: the slow creak of an old boot on an even older foot; yes you did just take a vital step backwards; now you’re standing in mud with your back to a wall.

But in creating the virtual worlds of games, we rarely choose when a player takes a step - their freedom of choice is what defines the medium.

This talk will explore the unique challenges of interactive audio, where the simplest of sounds is surprisingly complex but the emotional highs unmatched - and show examples of the common techniques used to solve them, from granular synthesis to real-time environmental modelling.

(disclaimer: Matthew has zero musical ability, and the badly-chosen name of this talk is entirely metaphorical.)


Matthew Smith is a videogame audio director, and oversaw the sound of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, two of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. With a background in maths and technology before discovering the creative joys of audio, he loves the magic that happens when tech and art come together. With a focus on the interactive elements of the medium, he has extensive development experience with dynamic mixing techniques, environmental modelling, voice-over systems, and procedural sound. An advisor to audio tech startups Sonantic and Krotos, he is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what is possible with interactive audio.

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