New Microsoft Flight Simulator – Sound Scape “new sound engine, realistic 3D audio, doppler effect” Episode 5 [Video]
Hello everyone. I’m Aurélien Piters audio director at Asobo studios, and in this episode I am going to present the audio features of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator. I will begin by presenting the new audio technologies. What was improved, and how these tools helped us build an accurate soundscape. Then I’ll show you how we created aircraft audio, how we recorded them, and how we use the recordings in the simulation. At the end of this episode I’ll talk about the world and the weather. And as my colleague Lionel said “The world is really big” audio is here to support and enhance the world in flight simulator.
The audio engine has been totally revamped and is now using Audiokinetic Wwise. Wwise allows us to use the latest interactive audio technologies, Such as real time audio FX, or even dynamic mixing. This new technologies given us huge freedom and allowed us to simulate sun reflections, cockpit acoustics, or even dopplar effect. But what was most important to us was to connect audio to the simulation meaning that every sound in the sim is connected to simulation variables. By doing so the audio is accurate and feels breathing. For example if the wind is getting strong or if your plane is shaking the audio will reflect these changes. It truly gives depth to the simulation.
The good news is that the SDK will allow you to access all the simulation variables. We created a new way to implement audio, using XML files and Wwise. All these files will be accessible to simmers, meaning you’ll be able to tweak or even add sounds. We also made sure that the FSX legacy audio content was still usable in the new Microsoft Flight Simulator. For aircraft the most important thing was to reflect the sonic signatures of every aircraft. For this the best solution was to record them to get an accurate result. A partnership with plane manufactures allowed us to visit plane factory and have full access to the planes. We created a recording rig allowing us to record with high fidelity.
Sixteen channels of audio for cockpit and external perspective. Each microphone is recording specific elements of perspective. Front propeller, side propeller, close exhaust, far exhaust and so on. This modular approach let us create specific audio meters for each sonic source. Bringing a true 3D audio experience. For example, if you get close to the exhaust you will hear more of it. Following your position in game, you will never hear the same thing. More than the engine we also carefully recorded cockpit buttons, switches, instruments, or even flaps.
Last but not least thanks to audio convolution technology we were able to record cockpit acoustics. Which allowed us to play any sounds or voices as if you actually heard it in the cockpit. For example if you wish to create new sounds it will allow you to play them in the acoustic space of the cockpit. With such a realistic and detailed world we wanted aircraft and every sonic source to be fully integrated in to the environment we wanted the audio to feel right in the world. For this we needed to totally rework the way sounds attenuated and reflected. For example when is passing from far away you not only hear the direct sound of the engine but you will also hear all the sound reflections. Like in real life when the sound is bouncing back to you because of the mountains around you.
Moreover we also totally re-worked one other key aspect of the soundscape, the Doppler Effect. Depending on the speed of the aircraft passing by and your own speed, the engine pitch will be modulated as it would in the real life. Attenuation, reflection, and the Doppler Effect all together bring accuracy and give an organic feeling to the sonic source of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator. As I already said the connection between the sim and the soundscape was really important to us.
And this time we use math of the physics and aerodynamics calculated by the sim to feedback how the plane was behaving. When your plane is shaking or when you’re doing a far from perfect landing you’re going to hear the impact and the physical rattle of the plane, a really useful feedback to determine how successful your landing was. We also simulated the aerodynamic wind flow on the plane using wind sounds, especially in external view where we can have more creativity you’ll be able to hear your actual plane movements. In the new flight simulator you’ll be able to land everywhere a plane can land. Meaning that you’ll be able to hear the soundscape of where you land. We created a biome system based on the sim land classification data. Depending on where you are you’ll hear different soundscape. For example you will get very different kind of fauna sound in the African savanna than in the Alaskan area. We also simulated the night and day soundscape with different ambience at night time.
As for more aviation related sounds you’ll be able to hear surrounding planes or even ground vehicles. The idea was to enhance immersion and support every story the world is telling thanks to the audio system. Weather tells its own story and in flight simulator there are many variables for you to tweak and each of them is connected to audio. Let’s say you increase the wind you’ll not only be able to feel the wind during your flight experience, but also hear the wind. We also have rain, thunder, and even storms for a complete weather experience. Thank you for watching this episode and on behalf of the flight simulator audio team. I hope you enjoy hearing the world we created for you.