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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Games Developer Capcom Picks PMC for Main Dubbing Stage

The globally renowned Japanese games developer Capcom has chosen PMC loudspeakers for its new Dolby Atmos immersive audio Dubbing Stage in Osaka where the system is already being used to mix major titles such as Resident Evil 4 and STREET FIGHTER 6.

The 7.1.4 channel system comprises PMC IB2S XBD-A II stereo speakers installed on both sides. PMC6-2 monitors were chosen for the height and rear/horizontal positions, along with four PMC8 subwoofers for bass.

Kazuya Takimoto, Senior Sound Engineer/Mixer at the company, says he is delighted with the sound of the new studio, which has turned out even better than imagined, both in terms of looks and functionality.

“People who listen to the sound in this room all exclaim ‘Wow!’ in unison,” he says. “I once visited Sony Computer Entertainment’s Santa Monica Studio during an AES show in Los Angeles and felt envious of the environment where they create game audio. However, after the renovation, our new studio has become something to be proud of on a similar level.”

Based in the R&D building near its headquarters in Osaka, Capcom’s bitMASTERstudio is an in-house facility that is used to produce much of the game sound and music for titles such as Monster Hunter and the Resident Evil series. In 2022, Capcom carried out extensive renovations to bitMASTERstudio, transforming the facility into the three-studio complex that it is today.

The inspiration for these changes was the overhaul of Capcom’s Dynamic Mixing Stage: GOLD room in 2018, which was designed and constructed by acoustic specialists SONA. According to Mr. Takimoto, establishing solid room acoustics for this studio achieved such fantastic results that it became the vision for the renovation of Dubbing Stage.

Kazuya Takimoto, Senior Sound Engineer/Mixer at Capcom.

“Dynamic Mixing Stage: GOLD showed us that, when stabilizing room acoustics, the phantom localization improved remarkably,” Mr. Takimoto explains. “In 3D game audio, all sound sources are objects and are reproduced based on their coordinates, creating an omnidirectional sound field. Even if it’s just dialogue, there is a possibility that it could be positioned in a very awkward (halfway) location, so if the phase of the entire monitor system isn’t stable, it becomes difficult to determine whether the discomfort is due to the room or to the sound processing.”

Mr. Takimoto adds that the improvements made to Dynamic Mixing Stage: GOLD allowed for precise positioning of all sound images, thus giving engineers the freedom to focus solely on sound quality and balance during mixing.

“This is truly important for producing game audio,” he says. “Consequently, in 2022 we took the decision to renovate Dubbing Stage and add a new room, Dynamic Mixing Stage: SILVER.”

Once again, SONA was responsible for the redesign of Dubbing Stage, which now has a completely renewed interior structure and an exciting new aesthetic with the theme of an ‘adult social space’. Looking more like a nightclub than a typical in-house games studio, Dubbing Stage has a crescent-shaped panel at the back of the console, which was installed to hide the base of the speakers.

“I wanted something impressively impactful so that visitors to the studio would immediately say ‘what is this?’,” Mr. Takimoto says. “The idea of a waning moon popped into my mind, and I thought it would look cool if the speakers were illuminated from beneath the crescent. The crescent design doesn’t have an acoustic significance, but people other than producers and sound design team members also come to the studio, so having cool design elements like this can uplift the mood. The studio’s ambiance is, in my opinion, highly essential for carrying out creative work.”

Mr. Takimoto’s decision to install a PMC monitoring system was inspired by a demo he heard at Inter BEE 2019 where PMC’s distributor Otaritec was showcasing the company’s flagship QB1-A loudspeakers.

The PMC6-2 height speakers are mounted on the ceiling using custom brackets made of steel and vibration-damping rubber. The rear/horizontal PMC6-2 speakers are installed on custom speaker stands. In addition to the four PMC8 SUB subwoofers, the LFE input of IB2S XBD-A II is also utilised.

This flexibility of installation is made possible thanks to the wide dispersion design of PMC speakers. Mr. Takimoto adds that the versatility of PMC’s subwoofer products allowed him to overcome any challenges in the installation environment.

Matching the height speakers with the front/surround in a three-way configuration has enabled Capcom engineers to precisely position sound in a three-dimensional space, including an upward direction. For Mr. Takimoto, the end results are highly satisfying, and he is delighted with the look and sound of the new room.

“I like the stereo dedicated IB2S-AII main speaker just as much as the PMC series. I was impressed with its sound from the first audition because its extended high frequencies and fast-responding low frequencies are incredibly enjoyable. It really is a great speaker,” he says.

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