Announcements Archives - Jam Sonic

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New Studio

As you may know, Jam Sonic recently relocated to Pittsburgh’s Strip District. The studio sits on the site of the original HJ Heinz Company Factory (the ketchup people). However, moving was just the beginning. We also undertook the task of upgrading our studio to give us some enhanced recording and composition abilities. We’ve been waiting to upgrade our equipment for some time.  Since the primary focus of our Pittsburgh studio is composition/design, we’ve designed it with that goal in mind. Mixing/mastering and any instrument recording is still done at Truephonic studios in Charleston, SC.  Here are a few of the updates.


Argosy Desk:  The new desk provides us with plenty of working space for our laptops, drum machines, midi controllers, and any other gear that we setup.  No more having to squeeze and try and work around everything.  Our other favorite thing about this desk is the pullout keyboard tray that sits an 88-key piano.  This frees up so much desk space without feeling cluttered.  I always hated having to press the record button on the DAW, turn around to record, and then turn back around when I finished.  The keyboard tray makes it so easy to pull out the keyboard when recording or to put it away when editing.


Dual Monitors:  We’re in the middle of installing these right now, but I’m not sure how we’ve lived this long without them.  I was sitting in on a friend’s studio session who had a dual monitor setup, and from watching over his shoulder and seeing how smooth the production process went, I knew I had to make the upgrade.  One of my pet peeves is having to dive back and forth between windows on the computer screen to complete my tasks.  The dual monitors boost productivity tremendously by allowing me to have multiple screens open simultaneously.


Tiered Keyboard Stands:  We’ll be honest, tiered keyboards in a studio just look sexy to us. For that reason alone, we wanted one.  However, for more pragmatic reasons, they allow us to access our weighted 88 keyboard and our synthesizers in one fell swoop. Also, we aren’t working out of a huge room, so having our studio be properly outfitted but organized and clean is a priority to us.  The tiered keyboard helps us free up valuable real estate.


Mood Light:  We now have some back lighting that can be set to a variety of colors. Setting the right mood in the studio helps us create an inspiring environment and one that we can work in all day and night without wanting to leave.  Just a touch of colored lighting transforms the space from workspace to studio.  It’s a subtle touch that makes a big difference to us.

Vocal Booth:  We now have 25% percent of the room dedicated to vocal and foley recording. The space is small enough where it allows us to feel comfortable in the other part of the room, but it is big enough to record a foley pit.  This is a huge convenience for us and allows us to recored footstep sounds and other foley sounds for video games.

What’s Next:  Upgrading the studio is an ongoing process where we are always tweaking something throughout the year, but our next big update will be to build a new custom computer optimized for audio.  We are planning to do a walkthrough of the process for those wanting to follow along in one of our upcoming posts.



Keynote Speech: Games For Change


Where did the time to go? Here in Pittsburgh, it’s clear that summer is over and fall is upon us. The summer was such a great time for Jam Sonic because we got a chance to travel to the east coast, west coast, down south and back. However, now that we are settled for the fall, there is no better time to start reflecting on our summer highlights starting with Game’s For Change.

June 10, I had the honor of giving the keynote address for the Game’s For Change Student Challenge. Games For Change is a non-profit organization dedicated to using games as a vehicle for social change. High school and middle school students competed in the Student Challenge to create games based on one of two themes: Climate Change or Immigrant Voices.

Games4Change_2The event was held here in downtown Pittsburgh at the Heinz History Center, and it was a joy to see the center filled with VR units, laptops, controllers, and keyboards.  The student teams typically consisted of a programmer, an artist, and a sound designer. However, there were some games crafted entirely by one student. Genres ranged from platformers where you navigated a pixelated earth ravaged by climate change to resource management games. The grand winner of the challenge, however, was from the Immigrant Voices category. The winner, “Italian Immigrant Voices”, was a text-based game featuring real documents and photographs from Italian-American History. The documents were gathered from a local Italian-American Heritage society in Pittsburgh. They integrated these documents and photos into the game’s storyline and visuals with great results.


I remember as a kid reading a book about game programming using BASIC. I enjoyed the text-based games you could make with BASIC, but I always dreamed about making games like I played on the NES. At that time, the resources and technology weren’t as sophisticated and affordable as they are now, so seeing these students have such an opportunity is amazing.  It’s also great seeing the creation side of gaming as being used as a vehicle for self-expression. Congratulations to all the students who participated in the event.