By Stephanie Ciccarelli
January 31, 2012
Do you play Angry Birds?
Ever wondered about where the voices came from or how the music came to be? If so, you'll love this post!
I hope you enjoy my interview with the sound designer and audio producer of Angry Birds, Ari Pulkkinen!
STEPHANIE CICCARELLI: Congratulations on your success with Angry Birds! As sound designer, you were responsible for composing the Angry Bird's theme music, music used in the game, the selection sound effects and also for crafting the voice overs used. Can you tell us about your creative process and how you decided what an angry bird or pig might sound like?
ARI PULKKINEN: Thanks! When I first got in to the project, the game was in alpha stage - character, game and graphics design was completed when I started design music and sounds for the game. I really liked the concept and I had instantly thought making the audio design a bit silly, funny and not too serious. I first made the basic sounds, ambiance and then composed the song in my summer cabin (yes, I was in nature when I composed AB!). Vocals for birds and the pigs were the last ones - I thought about it a bit and wanted funny and unique voice acting for them.
SC: How many talent from your team were involved? Were you all together in studio?
AP: The vocals were recorded in Rovio offices with me and selected people from their staff (including lead designer Jaakko Iisalo and Mikael Hed CEO). They were quite surprised when I decided to record the vocals with them, but it came out quite alright! A total of five people were in the recording session.
SC: What microphone(s) did you use to record for Angry Birds? What does your studio comprise of?
AP: I used Rode NT2-A and my backup Zoom H2. I don't record bands so I stick to the vocal and Foley recording microphones.
SC: The average console game has around 8,000 lines of dialogue. Epic console games, such as Spider-man 3, have upwards of 70,000 lines of dialogue. If you had to estimate, how lines were recorded for each character in the first Angry Birds and how many voice overs were recorded for the original Angry Birds iPhone app as a whole?
AP: For the Original Angry Birds there were many voice overs I wanted - different birds making idle, attack, flying, hit, dying, taunt voices and pigs had also similar emotions including also laughing and insults. I'd say that in the game we had over 70 different sounds for birds and the pigs including variations. Because of the HD limit, we had to cut additional pig vocals from the game, but it worked really great only with a large generic pig soundgroups. In the future, different pigs will have distinctive voice acting too as people have witnessed from the new trailers and videos.
SC: Are voice overs recorded whenever a new version/app is released or are you able to reuse preexisting voice files?
AP: The sounds are so iconic that they are used in every new game version and application. For trailers and videos there will be new voice overs though.
SC: Given that you are designing for mobile applications, there is less space so to speak bandwidth wise for audio where an app is concerned. How does this reality impact your ability to employ music, sound effects and voices for mobile devices?
AP: You have to prioritize music and sounds for the game and also decide how many variations will you use for one audio group. Luckily mobile devices have come far form the "medieval" times, there is much more space to use and better sound quality. I always prioritize the most important sounds and main title song, these are usually imported for the game more higher quality too.
SC: Which character was the most fun to record? Which character was the most challenging to record? Did you direct the voice over sessions or was a voice director other than yourself present?
AP: I think the most fun was to record pigs laughing in a group; it might have been also the challenging because we laughed so much that many good takes were spoiled. Personally, the hardest things to record have been Angry Birds getting angry (the classic rising anger) but when you get it right, it sounds really funny. I was the voice director and actor when we recorded the sounds. I've done about half of the voices in-game and the latest bird I voice acted for was the Orange Bird for Ham'o'ween.
SC: From what I understand, the Angry Birds theme is so popular that people want to purchase sheet music! Is sheet music available, and if so, where can people buy it?
AP: Luckily, official sheet music is getting done finally in the near future! The main target group will probably be schools, small bands and solo instruments - I personally am really excited about the release. Rovio will be handling the publishing so I'm quite sure people will know when the sheets are out.
SC: What else are Angry Birds voices being used for (i.e. toys, animation, etc.)?
AP: Angry Birds voices are pretty much everywhere imaginable! They have been in toys, animations, short movies and even in various remixes. I think you cannot go anywhere in the world without hearing those sounds.
SC: Are you working on new Angry Birds projects? Is there anything more that you can tell us?
AP: I'm currently working other projects and my latest work have been music and audio design for successful games like Outland and Trine 2. As for the Angry Birds, only future will tell!
Ari Pulkkinen, CEO of AriTunes, is a composer, sound designer and audio producer. His decade-long career in game development has given him the opportunity to focus on specialties including game music and audio design. When Angry Birds first came along, Ari had already been running his own company for over a year and most recently, has won "the best Finnish game developer of the year 2011" award. For more information, you may visit his website, www.aritunes.com and if you want, his YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/artz1234.
For a treat, you can also watch a video interview with Ari to learn more about the making of the music and sound effects of Angry Birds.
Be sure to add your voice to the conversation by adding a comment! If you're reading this from your email, click here to get to the Angry Birds interview with Ari Pulkkinen online.
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