Pro Sound Effects Blog

How to Sound Design First-Person Shooter Gunshot Sound Effects - with Mark Kilborn

Explore the process for sound designing gunshot sound effects for first-person shooter video games.

Watch game audio sound designer Mark Kilborn (Call of Duty, Forza Motorsport) layer, edit, and render unique gun shot sound effects using source material from the King Collection: Guns Pro library.

In this insightful video tutorial, Mark walks us through his weapons template in Reaper, where he goes through the several layers which make up gunshots; Body layer, Transient layer, Sub or LFE layer, Mechanical layer, and Tail layer. He has these layers routed independently in preparation for the final step of rendering and outputting his final sound effects for game engine integration. Then he explains his processing choices, and how to output your new sound effects so they’e ready for implementation into game engines.

Illustrating the creative use of the King Collection: Guns library, Mark also utilizes plugin tools like Pro-Q 3 EQ from FabFilter, KClip 3 from Kazrog, Renaissance Bass and Center from Waves, Black Box Analog Design HG-2 from Plugin Alliance, and Soothe 2 from Oeksound to create full bodied and intricate gun sounds.

Follow along as Mark breaks down each component of the sound design and and his processing workflow:

00:00 — Intro
00:22
— Reaper Template Organization
01:20 — Exploring the Body Layer
02:16 — Exploring the Transient Layer
05:40 — Exploring the Sub Layer
07:50
— Exploring the Mechanical Layer
12:00 — Exploring the Tail Layer
14:30 — Final Touches
15:21 — Rendering Theory 
16:12 — Conclusion


Ignite your creativity with the most comprehensive guns sound library available.

Unlock a massive treasure trove of versatile firearm sound effects with King Collection: Guns – curated from the private library of four-time Academy Award®-winner Richard King (Dunkirk, Inception, The Dark Knight). Create with the same tools used in award-winning films and video games to energize your projects with the dynamic strength and powerful realism of masterfully detailed gun recordings. Be armed and ready for any scene with over 90 weapons spanning three centuries, captured across many big-budget recording sessions with top Hollywood recordists.

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An important thing to note about game audio is that it is nonlinear. Nonlinear audio is not permanently recorded as you move along your timeline. Unlike film audio which follows a strict timecode and sync, game audio is always changing in relation to the player's choices. A game's code will output different sound effects based on the players gameplay decisions, therefore video game sound effects require dozens of variations, not only to adjust to the game's events and tone, but also so that the same sound effect, such as gunshots or footsteps, do not repeat infinitely becoming tiresome.

First Mark overviews his game audio template, where he goes through the several layers which make up gunshots; body layer, transient layer, sub or ‘LFE’ layer, mechanical layer, and tail Layer. He has these layers routed independently in preparation for the final step of rendering and outputting his final sound effects for game engine integration. Next, Mark goes through each layer in turn, identifying unique elements and the distinct components which individualize each layer, and add characteristics to the gunshots such as distance, material, & space. 


mark-kilbornThanks to Mark Kilborn for putting this tutorial together!
Follow him on Twitter to keep up with his work.

What other sound design tutorials would you like to see?
Let us know in the comments!