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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.