Playtime Season 2 Development Blog – Part 5

This is it.... the final post in my Playtime Season 2 Development Blog! This week's article is dedicated to Audio Editing and Post Production.

If you're late to the party, here's what we've covered so far:

When we left off last week, I had just completed the video editing process. I now have a complete, 25 minute video that represents Playtime Season 2 in it's entirety. The video is cleanly edited, and looking good. It is now time for me to turn my attention to the audio.

If you remember back to Part 1 of my Development Blog, I have all the voice acting for Season 2 recorded and mixed into a single audio file. Up until now, this audio file has served as a place-holder. It is recorded in Mono, meaning it doesn't yet have any of the panning in place. Now that I have the video fully edited, I can go back to the voice recording and add in all the panning and spacial effects. In other words, when a character is on the left side of the screen, their voice will sound like it's coming a little from the left, and so on.

For all my audio editing, I use a multi-track recording program called Sonar. This recording program is often used for recording and mixing music. You can separately take a bunch of different instruments, such as drums, guitars, keyboards, etc, and record them on to their own "tracks". You can then mix them all together into a stereo sound file. You would use Sonar to control the volume level of each instrument, their stereo placement, and you can even add different audio effects on to individual instruments. For example, I could make the drums sound like they are in the "center", add some echo to the guitar and move it 45% to the left, then move the keyboards to the right and make them a little louder. This is exactly how I mix the audio for Playtime Season 2, except instead of "instruments", I have "voices".

I have every character's dialog loaded into their own "track" in Sonar. This gives me the ability to adjust the volume level and panning of every character's voice separately. It also allows me to adjust these parameters moment to moment. For example, if there is a shot in my video where a character walks from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen, I can make their voice move in the same way.

With Sonar set up and ready to go, I open my Playtime Season 2 Video in a separate window and press "Play". As I watch the video, I am taking note of each character's position on screen as they speak. I slowly move through the entire video, stopping every 10 or 15 seconds to go back into Sonar and make the appropriate adjustments to the volume and panning of each character's voice. I continue this process until I've reached the end of the video. I now have all the dialog properly mixed.

On a side-note, I wanted to take a quick moment to discuss my general stylistic approach to mixing all the audio for Playtime Season 2.

When I mixed the audio for Season 1, I took a very cinematic approach. The stereo panning of the voices was strongly exaggerated, I paid insanely close attention to each character's distance from the "camera" and adjusted the volume of their voice accordingly, and there were spacial effects like echos and reverbs all over the place. Sit down and watch Playtime Season 1 on your big flat-screen TV with your sweet surround sound speakers cranked up real loud, and it sounds fantastic. Lots of detail and subtlety.

The problem was: nobody watched Playtime Season 1 like that. Playtime is a web series, which means most people who watch it do so on their computer, with tiny little speakers that sit directly in front of them. In this situation, all the audio subtlety that I worked so hard to create just turns to mush. Worst of all, it could sometimes be a little tricky to hear what Warren and Cobra were actually saying to each other.

So, I decided to take a slightly less subtle approach to mixing the audio in Playtime Season 2. There is still plenty of panning and reverb effects going on, but I made a point of keeping every character's voice a little more "front and center". The result is a slightly less cinematic audio mix, but one that is more clearly audible on tiny little laptop speakers or iPhone headphones.

So the voices are essentially done. Next up: Music.

I wrote and recorded all the Music for Playtime Season 2 myself. Being a musician, I have a simple-but-decent setup for recording at home. Nothing too fancy: a couple microphones, keyboards, lots of guitars, a handful of amplifiers, drum machines, and a little mixer with a USB port to get all the sound on to my computer. To record the music, I use the same software that I use to record and edit the dialog: Sonar. I edit and mix each piece of music, then turn them into a stereo audio file.

With all the music complete, I once again boot up Sonar and open my "Playtime Season 2 - Audio Mix" file. I have all the voices mixed and ready to go. Now I begin adding the music in. I create another track specifically for music, and add in each piece of music at the appropriate times. I have complete control over the volume of each piece of music, and I fade them in and out accordingly. I do a lot of subtle adjustments to the volume of the music, particularly during scenes when characters need to speak while there is still music going on. Being able to hear the dialogue clearly is my primary concern, so I would actually turn down the volume of the music any time a character speaks. When done correctly, the viewer won't notice the music constantly getting softer and louder around the dialog. This requires a lot of subtle adjustments, but is definitely worth the extra time.

I now have all the voices and music properly mixed together. Only 1 thing left: the in-game audio.

In it's current form, my Playtime Season 2 video file has no voices or music, but it does have all the in-game audio that got recorded along with the video. All the footsteps, gunfire, and environmental sounds (waterfalls, birds chirping, etc). With so many different audio layers coming together, I need to have direct control over the mix of the ambient noise as well as the voices and music.

Using a program called Any Video Converter Pro, I rip the in-game audio from my Season 2 video file. I now have all the in-game audio in a 25 minute long audio file. I take this audio file and add it into my Sonar audio mix. I then go through the entire season again, adjusting the volume of the in-game audio so that it balances properly with the music and dialogue. Once I have everything balanced nicely, I use Sonar to create a single stereo audio WAV file. This WAV file is the complete Playtime Season 2 audio track. It is now a simple matter to take this audio file, and add it to the silent Season 2 video file in Windows Movie Maker. I press "Publish", and after a couple hours of rendering I have Playtime Season 2 in it's complete and finished state on my desktop. After 2 months and over 300 hours of work, Playtime Season 2 is finished!

Thanks very much for following my Playtime Season 2 Development Blog. I hope this series of articles has helped shed some light on the machinima making process. I get messages daily from fans who ask me to help them make their own machinima. While I don't have time to personally help out, this blog series should cover everything you need to know.

If anyone has questions, feel free to email me:, or post in the Playtime Q&A section.

One last thing. I was going to wait until I had a release date nailed down before I put this online, but what the heck. I'm in a 'giving' mood right now.



Stay tuned!


Playtime Season 2 Development Blog


Posted in Extras
One comment on “Playtime Season 2 Development Blog – Part 5

    Awsome Trailer!!

    Cant wait for the release of season 2.

    Will all of the music fetured in the trailer be avalible for download?


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