It was once the stuff of dreams — a patchable, modular environment for sound, synthesis, music, and procedural generative audio. Now it’s free (MetaSounds) in a free game engine (Unreal Engine). You just have to learn to use it – which is why this free comprehensive tutorial series by our friend Matt Spendlove is a must.
This really covers the entire environment, not just a cool demo or two. It’s like having a free class on MetaSounds, and it should appeal to folks new to music, synthesis, and sound design as much as more experienced users.
Most importantly, it also deals with what it means to think in terms of procedural audio and interaction, rather than just linear production and working with static samples. That’s appealing for game sound and music alike, I think – it’s a different way of approaching design and composition.
Welcome to MetaSounds, Unreal Engine’s built-in procedural audio engine! In this series, we explore the MetaSounds Editor and the hierarchy of MetaSounds: MetaSound patches, MetaSound Sources, and MetaSound Presets. We also compare procedural audio workflows to traditional, sample-based workflows, and discuss how subtractive synthesis can create highly editable and reusable MetaSounds. Then, you’ll learn how to craft interactive audio experiences with MetaSounds, such as sound effects or music influenced by player proximity; values controlled directly by Blueprints; or keyframed scenes in Sequencer.
On the gaming side, so much of what makes iconic game soundtracks what they are has been how interconnected they are with game development. Pac-Man or Super Mario Bros. became a new kind of sound and composition as a result. Here, it seems to me there’s not only a chance to make games more compelling and immersive but also for music to break out of some of the technological boxes it now inhabits.
The way to find out, though, is to dive right into the deep end. You’ve got a complete course here, plus all the files on GitHub:
MetaSounds tutorial [dev.epicgames.com]
In case you need more evidence that this goes beyond games, Matt’s latest work with MetaSounds is for an art installation at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NYC. (Oh yeah – we are going to sidetrack into visionary Spanish cinema invention!)
Cinema of Sensations: The Never-Ending Screen of Val del Omar
Matt is working with artists Sally Golding and Tim Cowlishaw on this project.
Check out Matt’s own platform, as well:
Matt also has a earlier tutorial on building an FM synth in Unreal:
Building an FM Synth with MetaSounds
I do expect that features like MetaSounds will tip a lot of interest in our communities from Unity to Unreal, but you should also check out running libpd inside Unity.
If this is a little intimidating, you can also check this 30-minute beginner intro:
And a 30-minute overview:
Interesting creative talk, as well, by Stefan Evrard from Mondlicht Studios: