Veale Associates Design Audio Facilities for Frontier Developments

3rd January 2024

Veale Associates Design Audio Facilities for Frontier Developments

Few things are as evocative as sound; the way the right score can produce an emotional reaction is something film-makers have been capitalising on for decades, and more recently, video game developers too.

Games are now telling more complex stories, and we are seeing more cinematic aspects incorporated into their sound design. There is now a shift towards hyper-realism; delivering cinematic experiences with emotional heft and using complex, object-based audio to achieve a more immersive sound environment.

"Put simply, it means more content with more depth & detail, and more demands."

Mixing on headphones is part and parcel of the mix process, as is mixing in stereo, 5.1 and 7.1, but many games studios are predominantly using headphones to mix due to in-house limitations, resulting in companies being reliant on external facilities to record for them, driving up cost and reducing in-house flexibility.

Having internal recording and mix facilities mean that companies are no longer dependent on outsourcing and acquire the ability to respond rapidly to fast changing game requirements.

Frontier Developments - the brains behind the Elite game series - decided they required new, professional audio facilities upon moving locations. Veale Associates were part of the process to design their new rooms.

James Dixon, Chief Operation Officer at Frontier, said:

"It was important to us to provide quality facilities for our audio team. This change afforded us the opportunity to take our audio to the next level."

Veale Associates created acoustic and construction designs, delivering twelve sound design rooms, two recording studios with one Foley pit, two Audio Mix suites and an AV Editing suite.

The facilities were designed to provide each sound designer with their own independent and acoustically treated working environment, with separate dedicated rooms for accurate recording and mixing on 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound formats; as well as providing the infrastructure for future Dolby Atmos productions.

Eddie Veale, Principal of Veale Associates commented: "Our acoustic and studio design knowledge was critical to the design team in order to develop the layout to accommodate the sound facilities. Being involved at the front end when the project was still a green field site enabled us to work with the architects to build the necessary studio isolation into the fabrication of the building rather than trying to retrospectively fit it."

The audio team are very happy with their facilities. "We had to strike a balance between rooms that designers could spend all day in, enjoying natural sunlight and rooms that were fully acoustically treated for critical listening" said Jim Croft, Head of Audio at Frontier.

"Everything has been used to its fullest and you can hear the results in our games! Happy staff make the best audio."

Jim Croft had more to say on the advantages of Veale's work:

"Having the pro mix space allows you to mix with true accuracy in surround and stereo, and be confident that what you are hearing is a true picture of what is there. Being able to mix in a properly calibrated reference room as we go along makes mixing in the last couple of weeks before release much easier."

Looking forward, Frontier faces some huge but exciting challenges. The quality expectations of audio have grown along with the scale and detail of the games being made.

The advent of professional audio facilities, designed by Veale Associates for Frontier, have not only proven to be great value for money, but given the ever-growing demand for content, Frontier now are able to afford the opportunity to produce more in-house; to experiment and develop in a fast-paced industry.