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Topic: Microsoft Audio Music Summit Report

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  1. #1
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    Microsoft Audio Music Summit Report

    Microsoft held it's second annual Audio Summit in Seattle this past week. The Microsoft Audio Music Partnership (AMP) Summit was held to bring the audio & music development community together to learn and discuss how to maximize and enrich their experiences on the Microsoft platform. The summit also sought to build and support the alliance of audio and music partners around the various Microsoft technologies.

    There were about 200 attendees
    at the Summit, more than twice as many as last year. Representatives from many music technology companies attended including Roland, Cakewalk, Digidesign, Openlabs, Algorithmix, Creative Labs - to name a few. The Summit was held at the ultra-modern Experience Music Project (EMP) in downtown Seattle. The Experience Music Project is a museum of music history founded by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, located at the base of Seattle's Space Needle.

    The Summit started out Tuesday morning with a Welcome and Keynote by Dan Moore and Sanjay Parthasarathy. During the keynote was a demonstration of Silverlight (more on that later).

    The first session was a presentation about Microsoft Partnering and Channel opportunities as well as Partner Technical Enablement Resources and Logo programs. We learned about different development programs Microsoft offers and the various levels of support. Microsoft has quite a banquet of programs for software developers.

    Microsoft provided a nice lunch on the third floor of the EMP. During lunch, I had an opportunity to meet with many industry people and had a number of worthwhile discussions.

    Brian Schmidt from Microsoft gave an excellent and informative presentation about Game Audio. Game audio is very sophisticated and complex. What was interesting is that in general audio, music is linear; but in Game Audio, music is interactive and multi-dimensional. The music and sound has to adapt to a whole variety of events in different contexts. You can be in a cavernous room and then a small chamber, in a moment, and sound has to folow and be directional and adaptive. The duration of an entire game is quite long and the music has to be engaging and non-repetitive

    Next was a Digital Media "Ask the Experts" panel discussing a whole range of topics including the future of digital media, the challenges for artists and user generated content (like YouTube). Very engaging discussion and lots of questions from the audience. One of the discussion points was how the new technology is making it more difficult for professional musicians as more powerful tools are put in the hands of hobbyists and novices,

    The next presentation dealt with "Silverlight", Microsoft's answer to Flash. It seems Microsoft is dead serious about providing a cross-browser, cross platform plug-in similar what Adobe flash does (but perhaps better in some respects). Microsoft wants this the be the next web standard. This plug-in is reputedly very capable and has a small footprint. It will be interesting to see how this develops and gains acceptance and the kinds of applications that will arise.

    The last session of the day was about Microsoft "Live" - a platform for web applications and services. Windows Live is free and combines Search, Photos, Virtual Earth, Silverlight streaming for user-generated video, contacts, instant messaging and other live services. You'll get 4 Gigabyte of hosting free with this service.

    After the sessions, There was a casual evening get together at Neumos for food, drinks and music by a local funk band "Pah Sidy Smokehouse".

    Wednesday consised of the technical and business sessions. Breakout sessions included Audio Glitch Resilience in Vista, User Mode in Vista, DRM technologies, WASAPI, a MIDI roundtable, windows drivers, SysFx, Lolo programs, Windows embedded, and other topics. I was unable to attend these sessions on Wednesday but from what I heard from people who attended, they were excellent and informative. Thursday and Friday were the Microsoft Campus Tours and the Vista Porting Labs.


    We have been working with Microsoft since before last year's Summit to ensure our new upcoming libraries that will incorporate our new sampler is Vista 32 and 64 compatible.

    These Audio Summits that Microsoft are producing are terrific. As Vista is gaining market acceptance and new products are coming from Microsoft, it is very worthwhile and productive to understand more about the world's most popular platform. The Summit was a success and it was great to catch up on what Microsoft is doing and to meet friends in the audio and music tech community.


    Many thanks to Dan Morre, Eric Schmidt, Steve Ball, Brian Schmidt, Arif Gursei, Sanjay Parthasarathy and the rest of the Microsoft team for making this summit possible.

    Gary Garritan


    PS: Here is a link last year's Audio Summit report:
    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=43406




    The Experience Music Project in Seattle





    Microsoft Partnering Session


    "Ask the Experts" Panel


    Dan Moore and Arif Gursei of Microsoft


    Starbucks with Kord Taylor or Drumcore and Ulrich Hatje or Algorithmix


    Composer Hummie Mann and Arif

  2. #2
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    Thumbs up Re: Microsoft Audio Music Summit Report

    Very cool report, Gary, bet that was a great event and i bet the game audio discussion was very interstsing. Sorry you missed some of the Wednesday stuff, like the midi roundtable, that would have been great to see what they are up to on that front. If i get to visit Seattle, I'll have to check out the Experience Music Project, what a unique example of ultra modern archecture. I won't tell Microsoft you called them Microsift.

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    Re: Microsoft Audio Music Summit Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Leaf
    Very cool report, Gary, bet that was a great event and i bet the game audio discussion was very interstsing. Sorry you missed some of the Wednesday stuff, like the midi roundtable, that would have been great to see what they are up to on that front. If i get to visit Seattle, I'll have to check out the Experience Music Project, what a unique example of ultra modern archecture. I won't tell Microsoft you called them Microsift.
    Yikes, hope that Bill Gates didn't catch that "Microsift" slip.

    I'll see what I can find out about the MIDI stuff. And do check out the Experience Music Project. It is a must see when you are in Seattle.

    Best,

    Gary Garritan

  4. #4

    Re: Microsoft Audio Music Summit Report

    Very cool stuff Gary!

    Thanks for passing along your impressions to us. As a Vista user, I'm glad to hear Microsoft has a very defined focus on computer audio (and judging from the attendees you mentioned on computer music production as well).

  5. #5

    Re: Microsoft Audio Music Summit Report

    Thanks Gary

    Any chance of more info about that Game Audio session? Would interest me greatly what was said.

    cheers

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    Re: Microsoft Audio Music Summit Report

    From what I heard the HD MIDI spec is being worked on and not finalized yet. It is going to take adoption by the hardware community to see this through. Yamaha, Roland and Korg are already on board so there is good reason to believe this will happen.

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    Re: Microsoft Audio Music Summit Report

    Quote Originally Posted by BenNichols
    Thanks Gary

    Any chance of more info about that Game Audio session? Would interest me greatly what was said.

    cheers
    Ben,

    The Game audio session was the most interesting. I'll do my best to reiterate some of what was covered at the session.

    Game Music presents unique challenges. There is no set soundtrack that's set in stone - it's always changing. To the player, it sounds like one soundtrack - but under the hood it's a number of many sophisticated elements.

    Gaming is non-linear. This means that it is not just predictive - from point A to point B. It can go off in a number of different directions and dimensions.

    There's a contextual element. The music and audio has to fit the context which is always changing. You can be in a cave one minute and outdoors the next - this presents some mixing challenges. The game tends to mix itself depending on all the events, virtual environments and the contexts. There is no 1 to 1 coorelation of, say, an action triggering a wav file. Things are relative - volume depends on distance, there's obstructions, sound occlusions, dispersal patterns, etc. Sounds have different elements which are always contextual.

    A next event, which the music must adapt, is not readily known or predictable beforehand. The user interaction dictate the action, flow and the timing. And the action onscreen can determine the tempo and intensity of the music. In a film soundtrack, music is more or less set in stone to follow a linear set of visuals.

    Whereas a soundtrack need last only a couple of hours, a game can last dozens of hours. A lot of music is needed to cover many different eventualities. So the game musician needs to write a lot more music compared to a film composer.

    I learned that modern games have a great deal of processing power that's available to music and audio. But resources have to be shared - graphics, networking, audio, etc - all of them vie for resources. And that game music and audio seems to be lagging behind the visuals. There are many tools available for programming and visual development, but few good tools for game audio. and there's no standards - and Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft all do things quite differently.

    Hope this helps.

    Gary Garritan

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