Advanced digital skills process #3 creating a new project (Sound, Attenuation and Animations)

Exploring alternative projects – Attenuated environments

Due to circumstances me and my group partner decided to split into our own projects due to time management issues and scope for the Mo-Sense project. I figured it would be a great idea to create something that i am more adept in rather than learning too much from something new.

This project is based on the idea of incorporating a selection of soundscapes into different visualised environments. One idea i have come up with is to incorporate different 3D modelled environments that have there own attenuated sounds and environmental music that’s different depending on the objects in the scene.

The first one that i have begun to create is a small cartoon-like forest scene. within this scene there will be sounds similar to what you would here in the forest such as:

  • Birds chirping
  • A small breeze
  • Different wildlife.
  • Trees rustling

These scenes will be created in Maya and put together within Unreal Engine 4 with different animations and selected environments.

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This is the first 3D modelled scene. Within this scene i modelled simple, relatively low poly objects that you would see within a forest environment.
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Using the primitive shapes (cylinder) i created a base for the tree, then using the extrusion tool while rotating the top face at the right angle, i could create more organic objects with the different shapes. Then while using the ‘smooth’ tool i could increase the poly count and create a softer look that creates an organic feel.
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After 3D modelling some birds and importing them for the scene, i thought it would be a good idea to place them around the trunk of the tree and animate them. For the animation i used the Animation ‘Sequencer’, this part of the engine allows you to select certain objects within the scene and animate them individually or as a group, using key frames. For this part of the project i wanted to animate the birds on the Z axis so that (within a 3D space) they would rotate around the other 3D object (e.g. tree trunk). Due to troubles with the animation sequencer i wasn’t able to animate the birds with the sequencer, but instead figured out some different blueprints and components i could use to make it rotate on the Z axis. The component system i found within the engine enables simple rotations and movements buy simply attaching a sphere or square at the centre of an object with an awkward axis, after that i made the sphere the parent object with the birds underneath, then creating the component ‘Rotating Movement’ i was able to set a speed variable within the objects axis rotation.

Sound and attenuation (Research and practice)

When sound travels through a medium, its intensity diminishes with distance. In idealised materials, sound pressure (signal amplitude) is only reduced by the spreading of the wave. Natural materials, however, all produce an effect which further weakens the sound. This further weakening results from scattering and absorption. (Scattering is the reflection of the sound in directions other than its original direction of propagation). Absorption is the conversion of the sound energy to other forms of energy.  The combined effect of scattering and absorption is called attenuation.  Ultrasonic attenuation is the decay rate of the wave as it propagates through material.

Attenuation of sound within a material itself is often not of intrinsic interest. However, natural properties and loading conditions can be related to attenuation. Attenuation often serves as a measurement tool that leads to the formation of theories to explain physical or chemical phenomenon that decreases the ultrasonic intensity.

The amplitude change of a decaying plane wave can be expressed through this formula:

In this expression A0 is the un-attenuated amplitude of the propagating wave at some location. The amplitude A is the reduced amplitude after the wave has travelled a distance z from that initial location. The quantity is the attenuation coefficient of the wave travelling in the z-direction. The dimensions of are nepers/length, where a neper is a dimensionless quantity. The term is the exponential (or Napier’s constant) which is equal to approximately 2.71828.

The units of the attenuation value in Nepers per meter (Np/m) can be converted to decibels/length by dividing by 0.1151. Decibels is a more common unit when relating the amplitudes of two signals.

Attenuation is generally proportional to the square of sound frequency. Quoted values of attenuation are often given for a single frequency, or an attenuation value averaged over many frequencies may be given. Also, the actual value of the attenuation coefficient for a given material is highly dependent on the way in which the material was manufactured. Thus, quoted values of attenuation only give a rough indication of the attenuation and should not be automatically trusted. Generally, a reliable value of attenuation can only be obtained by determining the attenuation experimentally for the particular material being used.

Attenuation can be determined by evaluating the multiple backwall reflections seen in a typical A-scan display like the one shown in the image at the top of the page. The number of decibels between two adjacent signals is measured and this value is divided by the time interval between them. This calculation produces a attenuation coefficient in decibels per unit time Ut. This value can be converted to nepers/length by the following equation.

Where v is the velocity of sound in meters per second and Ut is in decibels per second.

Using what i have learned about attenuation

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From what I have learned from researching sound and attenuation, i started to get a better understanding about how the different elements of the attenuation overrides function, as well as how the different elements start to work in tandem to each other.
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Attenuation can be activated by simply adding the ‘WAV’ or wave file from any audio software, by importing directly into the content browser. Afterwords i would create a sound cue by right clicking the imported sound file, then, open the blueprint an activate the attenuation override  which is on the top left of the side bar, when selecting the output node of the blueprint.
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Changing the volume is a easy as, selecting the sound cue within the level, then, going to the right panel in the engine you can change the volume multiplier. When the volume multiplier is set to 1.0 that means it is at 100% of the volume for the original Wav file, where is if your multiply said value by 2 it will increase in volume 2x the amount, resulting in louder audio. Due to my audio file being a little louder than normal i decided it would be best to set the value to half (0.5).
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One of the main features that allow the sounds to be heard in an environment is the ‘Radius’ and ‘Falloff Distance’. The ‘Radius’ is the distance at which the sound will reach at full volume, and the ‘Falloff Distance’ is when the sound starts to fade and lower in volume, as if you are getting further away from the source. As the scene shown here is a forest it would be best to incorporate the sounds of chirping birds and rustling trees, and by turning the ‘Distance Algorithm’ to ‘Natural Sound’ it allows the sound to be heard outside the falloff radius. To make this work at its best i would decrease the ‘dB Attenuation’ in the settings underneath the distance algorithm, lowering the effected space and not bleed into other environments.




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When enabling ‘Listener Focus’ you can now select these parameters within the attenuation settings. The ‘Non Focus’ priority is there to allow you to make the sound effect the sides of the scene, making this value higher than the rest of the parameters will make it take priority over all the settings, making the sounds to the left and right more noticeable.


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One part of the attenuation would be the ‘Focus Azimuth’. This allows for the sound to be focused in different ways, but in this case this version of this setting allows the forward direction to be the main focus of the sounds attenuation.

Mapping UV’s and using Substance painter for texturing 

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By using the UV editor within Maya i could drag and scale all the different parts of the object into more controlled sections to UV paint in Substance.
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Before i used substance i would use the base colours within Unreal engine to create some colourised textures. this looked great at first but ultimately lacked character, this is when i decided to add some more texture to the scene.
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After i would start UV mapping these mushrooms and importing them into Substance painter, i decide to use simple textures due to my time frame of 1 week due to previous projects.
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Using the layer system (similar to Photoshop) i was able to carefully place different textures on the objects without interrupting the base colours. Separating the UV’s helped a lot as it would of been difficult to paint over so many objects at once and get textures where i don’t want them.
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(In engine look at the mushroom textures)

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Effecting the bases of the models was simply by using the Lambert’s brought along with the models. Using the material editor i could make the texture more glossy or even metallic simply by connecting the original parameter to the different nodes located on the material blueprint.

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(grandfather clock creation process slide show)

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(In engine look at the different simple scenes found within the project)

Link to the files for this project – Built for Mac

1500 word Report detailing my developments (PDF document)

Report Advanced digital skills



Client based brief -(Desert Maze) – Music and Sound Development #6

Creating the Music for the title screen

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For this rendition is used the ‘Alchemy’ system to create and alter different instruments that I sounded ‘Egyptian’.
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Alternating the different ‘Perform’ options within the Plug-in allowed me to create different alternative sounds and music by changing it to the short performance option making the lead sound more subtle.
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The same was done for another sound within this plug-in, alternating the different effects such as the resonance and delay of the sound itself.
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The ‘Modulator’ plug-in was a big step in the right direction to change how the sound would turn out. By making the sounds wavelength go up and own slowly, it made a subtle but noticeable change to how calm the music will sound in the end.


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(Changing the channel EQ to make it more balanced)
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(Heightening the tune to make it sound more positive) 
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(Alternating some settings in ‘Sculpture’ to see what difference it would make to the instruments)

Sound Cloud link

Communication with torquay museum

Communication with Torquay museum has been scarce since the presentation we showed within March-April time, which left us with two months to create a video game for android, tablet and computer devices.

Going from what we discussed during the presentation, we went ahead and started development on what we understood was what the client wanted (Torquay museum) while keeping it too a strict deadline. This made it hard to communicate with the museum as our original contact had to leave the museum on different circumstances, thus making it harder to communicate with them entirely.

As its starting to get busier now due to the summer holiday, we did try to email them about other information but fell through the grape veins and lost communication with them in general.

Afterwards we managed to complete the assigned brief within the deadline connected to the assignment.


Business cards, portfolio link and annotated practitioner work sheet.

link to portfolio –

The average size for a business card is 3.5 x 2 inches, and must not have too many overpowering qualities that look to messy and unprofessional.

martyn ward business card.png

link to my blog that showcases my developments with software and what skills I have at my disposal –

Tumblr for commissions and or progress of my concept artwork only –

following the powerpoint provided by my tutor and instructions online I decided to create my business card in thee format shown before.

I decided to have an experiment on different styles of business cards, either showcasing different artwork or just simpler colours and fonts with slight change to composition.

1st example – Simpler, less clutter, more colour.

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2nd example – alternating sides to change the composition.screen-shot-2018-04-24-at-11-20-59.png

3rd example – switching sides and a simpler layout can also make it more appealing as its not too busy or overwhelming.Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 11.23.56.png

4th example – simple faded look that looks more professional.Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 11.39.26.png

5th example – switching the outside watery layers to be on both sides and set the composition to the centre of the card.

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6th example – similar to the 5th example but with different concept art.

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I have printed the 6th example as it looked quite professional for what i am marketing.

scanner@sharp.local_20180501_093223 – PDF annotated with different results and insight into how I can progress to the mentioned jobs and specialist fields.

Client based brief – Experimentation #5

Experimenting more with sounds and background music

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Experimenting with different Plug-ins again to see what would match the overall tone of the music piece.
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Decided to see what an arpeggiator would sound like but ultimately was disappointing, so didn’t keep this piece in the music.

Collectible sounds

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Using simple bells, mallets and strings in quick succession, while doing a quick upscale on the keyboard, made a delightful collectable sound effect that felt like you accomplished something. 
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Adding new sound effects to the mix for new additions i.e. collectibles: bow and sword.

Creating a lantern for the playable character

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Using Maya to create this was easier now I understand the fundamentals. By using a simple cylinder and then extruding the top and bottom layers out created a beveled section to the lantern. Extruding the handle was just simple extrusions by selecting different faces on the top of the model, then rotating the axis toward the other sides.
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Using Mixamo I rigged my character in multiple ways, this one is the character holding the lantern.
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By adding the object to the hand on the playable character it would stay in that position indefinitely, swaying back and fourth with the motion of the characters animations.

Client based Brief – Experimentation #4

Creating music for the Egyptian maze

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After fiddling with the Channel Equaliser the music started to sound more balanced.
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Same with the other instruments I have experimented on the changing the EQ was the best way to get quicker results, changing the sounds more efficient way.
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After changing the backing beat with the ‘Phaser’ plug-in, the sounds started to come together a lot better than it was originally.
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Adding the ‘Bitcrusher’ was the next step to making the beat sound more like it was from a simple game. by effecting the downsampling it created a better mix with the other sounds.
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(Experimenting with different plug-ins such as the ‘Spectral gate’)


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This figure shows the signal flow of the core synthesis engine.

The Waveshaper imposes a nonlinear shaping curve on each voice of the signal coming from the pickups and amplitude envelope. This reshaped signal is then passed on to the filter. This is quite similar to the waveshaping of oscillators in synthesizers such as Korg’s O1/W.


3D developments learning More about ZBrush

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Starting with simple objects I wanted to see what modelling from low poly to high would look like.
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Changing it as I go was great to do as I learned how to use new brushes and alphas that changed the model completely.
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(low poly version of a beveled brick)
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(Medium poly version)
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High poly version)
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After creating the higher poly version I experimented more with Substance painter with new and different looking textures to that I used before. The uv mapping for this object was a bit easier now as it was played out a lot better with more attention to the detailed parts.
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More experimentation with high poly modelling using different alphas. (Going for a damaged stone feel.)
(Reference image of a sarcophagus within torquay museum)
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experimenting with the new knowledge from making the previous models, I created a quick rendition of a sarcophagus based on the reference image to the left.
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ultimately this won’t be added to the game as it is to high poly and if was done lower poly, would look very terrible.