In today’s lesson, we’re looking at the three most essential instruments in FMOD, namely the “Single”, “Multi” and “Event” instruments. These are the most used instruments in FMOD and will carry you a long way! If you come from Wwise, instruments are basically the same thing as containers, although they behave differently in certain aspects. Let’s get started!
The Single Instrument
First things first, I’ve made three events in the hierarchy, one for each of the instruments we’re going to be looking at. These are 2D events, but could just as easily 3D. Just keep this in mind when we’re working through the examples and exercises. If you don’t know how to make an event, you simply right click in the hierarchy –> Choose “New Event” –> and then select the kind of event you want to create.
Let’s press on the “Single” event. You’ll see a timeline that’s similar to many DAW’s, try right-clicking on this timeline. Just like in the hierarchy, you can choose between different options when doing this. This time you can choose between different kinds of instruments.
Let’s add a single instrument by pressing “Add Single Instrument”. You’ll see a block appear on your timeline, which looks like this;
This block is what is called a “Single Instrument”. What this does, is that it basically just plays a sound, it’s as simple as that! If you look at the bottom of the picture above, you’ll see a section where it says “Drop Audio File Here” and you guessed it, you simply have to drag an audio file there for this to work! So, try dropping any sound you can find into this field. (Note. You need to have the single instrument selected for this window to appear at the bottom). I went ahead and dragged in the dragon roar we created last week.
If you press space or the play bottom at the top, you can now hear that your sound is being played. As you can see, there are also various options you can fiddle with, like volume, pitch, start offset. These can all be randomized! You do this by simply right click the parameter –> Choosing “Add Modulation and then “Random –> and then you’ll get a little dial that determines how much randomization you want to place on something. I’ll go into much more detail about the other options in another upcoming lesson!
This is the basic gist of what a single instrument does, it just plays a single sound.
The Multi Instrument
If you’ve been following along, you can probably guess that a “Multi Instrument” plays and randomizes between multiple sounds. It works the same way as the single instrument, the difference is that now you have the option to drag in multiple sounds instead of just one. Try dragging in some footsteps or in my case, some sweet dragon breaths! If you hit play a couple of times, you’ll hear that it’s constantly switching between which audio file is being played. You can also see it graphically, by which audio file is highlighted in the instrument (very satisfying!).
You can also see that you have a little dropdown menu where it says “shuffle”. This dropdown menu let’s you choose between different randomization methods. It’s not overly important to understand how all of these work (most of the time you’ll just use Shuffle or Randomize), but here’s a quick overview:
- Randomize: Just plays the audio randomly, but has the chance to repeat audio files.
- Shuffle: Behaves the same as Randomize when no play percentages are set (we’ll look at those in another lesson), but ensures that the same file is never played twice in a row and with equal frequency.
- Sequential Local Scope: Plays the files in sequence for the duration of the event. When a new event is created, it will start from the beginning.
- Sequential Global Scope: Plays the audio in sequence and doesn’t start from the beginning when a new event is introduced.
This may be a bit much to take in, so don’t worry about it if you don’t understand it yet.
The Event Instrument
This is one of the more interesting instruments in FMOD and to explain it simply, it let’s you place another event within an event, making it so that you can play them simultaneously. Let’s take a look at how this works!
If you take a look at the picture above, I have a simple loop playing some rain that I recorded. Underneath that you see this strange yellow box, this is the event instrument. This is also playing a loop, but one that has a different timing than the rain one. If we double-click on the event instrument a new event window pops up (this is also what is referred to as a nested event, basically an event within an event), letting us make a whole new sound with all the tools we know and love.
As you can see, I’ve simply just set up this little fire loop. If we now go back to the “main” event and hit play you can hear them playing at the same time. Note that the event instrument only play for the duration that you’ve set the box to cover, so make sure it’s the same length as the main loop. Try this out right now and make sure you understand this!
This makes for a loop that is constantly varying and therefore never sounds repetitive, very nice! You can also visually see this by the playheads on the loops moving at different speeds. See if you can get result doing this before moving forward. If in doubt, try looking at the screenshot to get a feel for how things look and behave. Remember, a loop is basically a single instrument that is being looped (you can choose to loop it by right-clicking on the single instrument and pressing “New Loop Region”.
As I mentioned before, you can also use the other tools that we learned before. Take a look at the screenshot below.
You can see that I’ve made two smaller event instruments called “Thunder”. What these do, is that they play thunder sounds from a random multi instrument. The way it works, is that I’ve placed a multi-instrument in the event instrument with a selection of thunder sounds, making is so that each time the playhead passes one of the event instruments, a thunder sound will play. Here’s a look inside of the instruments;
- Create 10 Single Instruments
- Create 10 Multi Instruments
- Create 10 Event Instruments
- Make a cool SFX by placing several single instruments inside of an event
- Place multiple multi-instruments on top of each other to create the effect of footsteps on wet concrete.
- Make 5 different loops using a main loop and then one or more event instruments.
- Try adding “effects” to these loops like thunder, cars, train etc.
That’s it for today! Hope you learned something! And as always, feel free to contact me any way you like if you have any questions at all!