Ubisoft Montreal: Creating Cutting-Edge Interactive Gaming Products
The newly constructed UBISOFT audio room sports a 7.1 Blue Sky Pro Desk MKIII system.
Ubisoft Entertainment is a leading international producer, publisher and distributor of cutting-edge interactive entertainment products. Ubisoft Montreal opened its doors in 1997 and has since grown into one of the largest studios in the world, producing titles such as the wildly successful Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six and Prince of Persia series, among many others. Expanding its activities, Ubisoft recently opened a new studio in Toronto, dedicated to developing the next opus in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell franchise.
Under the supervision of Audio Director Fabien Noel, the studio has constructed a new audio room with a 7.1 Blue Sky Pro Desk MKIII system (with two BMC II bass management controls) for the production of sound FX, game dynamic mixing (for PCs and consoles), and for its day-to-day production reference and sound sync-to-video prototyping. Currently, Noel is involved in multiple AAA projects, including Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell video game franchise.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I spent 5 years studying at the University of Paris 6 France, specializing in acoustics for architecture and mechanics. I am currently working as Audio Director in the Ubisoft Toronto studio, after having spent around 10 years at Ubisoft Montreal working on multiple titles. Prior to joining Ubisoft, I spent 4 years as a programmer for Cap Gemini in France.
What other gear is the Blue Sky system integrating with in the room?
We’re using an Avid Pro Tools 8.04 system on an Apple Mac (8 core Mac Pro), with several plug-ins like McDSP, Waves, Audio Ease and Native Instruments’ Komplete.
How important are monitors in the grand scheme of things for the kind of production you do at Ubisoft and why?
It’s very important, of course. We need to have a precise monitoring system for sound creation that reproduces every detail of the sound design — from very subtle Foley sounds to high-energy guns and explosions. Also, it is important to have good monitors you can work with for a long time. These speakers are very comfortable to work with. The Blue Sky remote for soloing specific speakers on our 7.1 setup is really useful.
Are you using Blues Sky’s Bass Management and if so talk about how they’re working for you?
We’ve got a pair of BMC II units linked together, which give us the guarantee that we are adequately managing the LFE channel and bass for our end-users who play our games. Also, they make it much easier for calibrating the acoustics of the room.
Do you work solely in 7.1 these days, or are you sometimes mixing in 5.1?
All of our game content is created to get the best from a consumer surround sound system — music, ambiance, sound effects and some specific voice effects. We either let the console do the 3D rendering or we specifically encode sound in a multi-channel format in Pro Tools. Game audio is then played back from the console on the Blue Sky system. We mix in 7.1 for our PlayStation PS3 games, and in 5.1 with Dolby extended (or other similar technologies) for Xbox 360 and PC users.
What are you currently working on?
We’re heavily involved on the next Splinter Cell game!