Realism vs Effectiveness: Design choices to be made

By Tiff
21 February 2023

In our weekly meeting, we discussed some choices to be made for visual and audio design. The question arose as Aya was compiling sounds for our entry video and realized that actual recordings – while realistic – might be grainy, echoey, and/or full of distracting background noise from vessels and other environmental factors. In comparison, a synthesized sound would be cleaner and perhaps also fit in better with the visuals we’ve created. It brought us back to a key question: what is the goal of the scene? Is it to document and showcase real whale sounds or to convey a feeling about the Arctic and life below the surface?

After a short discussion, we all agreed that we wanted to prioritize the effectiveness of our storytelling over realism. So, in terms of sounds, this would mean that people could understand that Orcas talk through squeaks that sound similar to what we could synthesize versus hearing actual recordings of Orcas (that might be accompanied by splashes, motors, etc.). The former helps keep the player in the game universe because it would have the same feel as the visuals, whereas the latter risks feeling disjointed and out of place.

It was an easy call to make but an interesting discussion nonetheless.