Sound Design Layering with Reaper and GameSynth
Layering is a crucial part of the sound design process. Whether the intention is to add character or to add weight, it’s an iterative task that requires many repeated processes. In the eternal quest to cut out unnecessary work, this blog will cover some tips and tricks for using Reaper, as well as for making the most of GameSynth’s workflow features.
This technique works great for sounds which have several distinct points, such as rock face landslides or fireworks displays; and works especially well for doing sound to picture.
First off, some Reaper tips to help make this process easier
By default, the “Tab” button will run the following Action: Item navigation: Move cursor to next transient in items. This is a handy way to navigate between transient peaks quickly. We can then run Markers: Insert marker at current position to create a marker at our transient peak. It may be that you don’t want to align sounds to the peaks, so feel free to place the markers wherever it makes sense for your sound to have additional layers.
We can then render our item or track stem in the render dialogue, making sure to embed markers. This information can then be used in GameSynth to generate event data.
[Note] Be sure to set the sample rate of your exported file to whatever you have set the sample rate inside GameSynth to, and vice-versa. This ensures that everything will playback and align correctly.
We can simply drag our rendered audio file into GameSynth’s Modular model to quickly create a Sample Player module. The bottom of this module contains an audio output as you might expect, but it also includes an output titled “marker”. This output can be used to trigger events to happen whenever a marker is read, which subsequently allows us to synchronise any other modules to our original sample.
Let’s go ahead and add some layers to beef up our sound~
In the example sound I chose to work on, there are 3 discrete metal impacts as illustrated in the first screenshot by way of markers. I wanted to introduce some gravely layers to fill in the gaps and imbue the sound with some character. To this end, Rocks adds some rich mid-frequency texture, Hail adds some intriguing high-frequency shrapnel, and Footsteps rounds it all out with a bassy thud. This is all thrown into a Mixer module to control levels on the fly.
Once we have our desired layer, we can mute our source audio and Render our output. If we want to divide our sound into separate layers, we can choose to route our audio into a Stereo module instead and deinterlace our channels once we get back into our DAW.
Back to Reaper
Once back in Reaper, we can drag our rendered sample into our original project, and line the left edge up with our original sample. All things done correctly; the beats should now line up perfectly. If you decided to render as stereo for separation of layers, you could run Item: Explode multichannel audio or MIDI to new one-channel items.
Of course, we can now go ahead and further chop things up, but this workflow is a boon for using GameSynth as a sound layering tool to get a good rough composite.