F1 24: How F1 video game sound recording works

In racing games, sound evokes speed and position, and even prompts the player to change gears. It's as crucial as graphic design.

But the sounds of Formula 1 are not easy to capture. Their cars are rarely run and are effectively scrapped after one year, and their race weekends are incredibly noisy with all sorts of noise that is difficult to control. Its breakdowns are not something you can — or want to — intentionally regulate.

With the launch of Codemasters F1 24 earlier this week, we spoke to the sound design team to find out how they captured the unique sound of the championship.

In fact, much of the audio recordings of the 24 Formula 1 races were captured on site during pre-season testing in Bahrain – where the 10 teams completed three days of running ahead of this season.

It's easier to pick up on sound during pre-season testing where teams are more relaxed about their time, at least, compared to a race weekend.

Bahrain Formula 1 test

“The entire sound package in the engine is completely new,” explains Chris Greenman-Ralph, sound artist at Codemasters [in F1 24]. This includes transmissions and turbo sounds, which we don't always update [for each yearly release].

“We put a microphone on each side and one directly in front of the exhaust, and combined them together to create the complete package for each team.”

Note that, as noted above, this “package” includes the transmission sound and turbines—although none of these components operate in the same linear way as engines.

Bahrain Formula 1 test

“When we can get it, we use actual on-site recordings – and we have a library archive we can draw on,” adds lead sound designer James Kenin, who alludes to the experience Codemasters had in making an official F1 game from 2009 to the present day.

The engine sound must be updated every year to reflect the changing sound of each engine each year; Even if there is no change in engine regulation, each engine sounds a little different each season.

But this is only part of the picture. Pitstop's sound, which you'll hear over and over again, is also central to the experience.

“One of the cool things we do when we go to pre-season testing is when teams do pit stop drills,” adds Brad Porter, audio director at Codemasters. “You'll see them pushing the car into place, so you get that effectively [pitstop audio] isolated.

Bahrain Formula 1 test

“Because we have really good relationships with the teams and we work in the garages with the teams, we will have instances where we will ask them to do something specific.

“For example, when you hear the air blowers in the game, they're the actual air blowers that the teams use. We record everything…and then the wheel jacks, we record the mechanics driving it and then we lift the car, and then we lift it and lift it.

“We record isolated mobile rifles as well.”

Ambience is another part of F1 24's audio design. When your car is in the garage or on the grid before the race, or during the red flag, the sound of the crowd and garages you hear is recorded by the Codemasters audio team in various locations including Bahrain, Silverstone and Zandvoort.

Zandvoort F1 Circuit

If you play F1 24 enough, you might also pick up some audio Easter eggs that developers Codemasters left in the game.

“There's another thing we like to do at [team] Garages, we like to try to capture the personality of the teams.

“There are a lot of Easter eggs and jokes and lyricisms and what have you, so we like to try to capture that. There will be certain parts and pieces that we will play in certain garages but not every time you are in a garage.

“It's almost a nod and a wink to the team to try to express their individuality. That's always fun.”

Tire sounds cannot be captured separately, so Codemasters records the sounds of tires screeching across the tarmac – to evoke cars at their limits – in separate sessions.

F1 crash

To capture the sound of the impact, Codemasters had a sound bank created from sessions done to mimic the crushing of carbon fiber against Armco barriers. A few years ago, the sound team obtained a piece of carbon fiber that had been crushed and bent to give F1 crashes more accuracy.

Just as various assistance and settings give each player a personalized experience in F1 24, audio settings can also be customized to suit each player. For example, a “driver mix” will evoke what each driver hears inside their helmet. Codemasters achieved this by placing microphones inside a racing helmet and capturing sound from within.

After recording the audio, the team has to correlate the sounds with what the player is doing on the track. This is done by linking sound to physics, so that if a car is accelerating, stalling, slowing down – or stalling – the game knows which specific sound to play, at a specific tone and pitch.

“There is a sound designbut there is also sound code“The physical system is connected to sound,” Porter adds.

F1 24

“We have a program called Wwise, which is a third-party program that a lot of other game developers use, that will set the RPM [of the engine] To the car and its size. We can find a point in time that says, for example, the car's speed is 12,000 rpm and everything matches up.

“It's similar with tires [the software] It knows the wheel slip ratio or the wheel rotation speed – almost anything you can think of.


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