On Thursday, September 22nd, Pixelmon hosted a live stream with its CEO, Giulio. Alongside him was Kit Kuan Leong from Two AM Music Global, the sound partner of Pixelmon. Kit Kuan is an accomplished sound designer with over 20 years of experience in the sound industry, and has been part of the Two AM team for 15 years as Sound Supervisor/Partner.
Kit: At Two AM, we're all about sonic advertising, specializing in music compositions, sonic branding, and sound design. Our team is a global mix of talented musicians, engineers, and sound designers hailing from various corners of the world, including the USA, UK, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, and our main hub in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. More than twenty years back, Anton Morgan, originally from New Zealand and now making Malaysia his primary home, kickstarted Two AM. With his prowess as a prolific film scoring composer, he set the stage for our journey, and ever since, we've been making waves in the sound industry.
In essence, we're the sound solution experts at Two AM. Collaborating closely with our clients' producers and directors, who initiate the concepts, while we breathe life into these ideas, creating emotional and sensory experiences through sound. Two AM excels in designing and producing tailor-made music and sounds for every project.
Kit: Pixelmon and Two AM connected thanks to a shared close friend. Two AM had a long-standing desire to dive into game sound development, fueled by the team's passion for gaming. When the opportunity to collaborate with Pixelmon arose, it was like a perfect puzzle piece falling into place. This venture promised something fresh and exciting, providing a welcome distraction from our routine work.
Kit: It all kicks off with initial discussions about the direction and creative vision for the unique traits of each Pixelmon creature, like their size and species. With 68 creatures to bring to life, the task seemed big at first, but it turned into an enjoyable challenge. The team aimed to make sure each character had its own distinctiveness, avoiding any similarities.
The process begins as a team effort. Once the sound team receives the concept art, the sound designers jump into action. They start by brainstorming for each creature, considering factors like rarity and elemental origins (Water, Air, Earth, and Fire). The first step involves creating background soundscapes with different sounds for each element. After this, the team dives into crafting individual sounds for each Pixelmon based on their rarity and appearance. This inspiration is drawn from real-world animals and the overall look of each Pixelmon.
Kit: After coming up with ideas and brainstorming, the initial step involves recording human voices. These recordings are then combined and layered with different animal sounds like lions, tigers, crows, goats, and many more. These sounds are carefully refined to make the final versions for each Pixelmon creature. Also, mixed into these sounds are various background sound effects selected from the extensive Two AM sound effect libraries. Once the mixing and refining are done, each sound is reviewed separately to make sure they match the unique sounds of each Pixelmon perfectly.
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.
Kit: We record sounds and voices, placing them one by one on the track with different layers. We keep doing this until the team is happy and satisfied, and the sound is all set and ready.
Kit: While some are a bit more complex than others, the usual process of recording, layering, processing, mixing, and mastering a sound for a Pixelmon creature usually takes about three hours on average.
Kit: The process was fairly simple. For each Pixelmon creature, we chose sounds that matched their element. Air sounds came from mountain tops, earth from the Amazon rainforest, water from lakes and streams, and fire from crackling fires.
Kit: It’s an interaction between the background ambience and Pixelmon creature sounds volume levels. While the main focus is always on the character's sounds, the background ambience is there to give a sense of each Pixelmon's environment.
Kit: We use Pro Tools and Logic Pro – these are the two main music and sound softwares we work with. They're the industry standard digital audio workstations and with these tools, we have the ability to create our sonic ideas with accuracy and ease.
Kit: There are many, but I'll highlight a couple. One is Mutator by Antares, a vocal processing tool which lets us modify and transform voices and sounds, really useful for making Pixelmon sounds more creature-like. Similar to Mutator, we also use Dehumaniser from Krotos, allowing us to create bigger or smaller monster-like voices and sounds.
Another handy tool is Elixir developed by Flux, which helps us control the audio volume to a specific level. Lastly, there's the trusty Youlean Loudness Meter measuring LUFS (Loudness Units relative to Full Scale) to make sure we find the true perceived loudness of our audio and prepare it for TV or streaming services release.
Kit: Right now, we're focused on Evolution 2 for each Pixelmon species. We've got different angles of concept art for the second evolution. We're in the process of coordinating with the art team to create Pixelmon creature sounds that match the new stage while they work on their concepts.
Kit: The list is quite extensive and detailed. We're covering everything, from pop-up buttons to damage and buff sounds, and much more. This process is intriguing, made simpler by the clear and specific nature of each sound requirement.
Kit: The toughest parts involve the sounds when Pixelmon gets hit or uses attacks. Crafting combat sounds will be a big task, as they're quite unique compared to other sounds and will need a lot of research to get right.
Kit: That’s a bit difficult! But if I had to choose one, it would be Kevin! Playing that character was a blast, and the zombie-like voice you hear from Kevin is actually mine. It was a really fun experience!
Kit: A big thanks to the community for joining us, and a special shout-out to my team. This journey has had its challenges, but with their support and skill, we've tackled recording, editing, mixing, and development together. It's been an amazing experience. Lastly, a big thank you to the whole Pixelmon team for their trust and smooth teamwork. It's a privilege to work with all of you, and we're excited to keep working together on the game!