Do computer animated films such as toy story, use linear or non-linear sound design? how is the job marker for it?


Computer animated films just like any other film use linear sound. Whether cutting tape or using pro tools, logic or most DAWs, you will be producing sound in a linear fashion. Every track is a line in the DAW and has a start and finish at a predetermined point. As you watch the computer animation the only non-linear control you have over the audio is to press play, fast forward rewind or pause. Non linear sound is present within different media forms like video games or sound toys where the user has control over when the sounds are triggered. Whether a button triggering a gunshot or being able to choose what radio station you listen to in the car in Grand Theft Auto, basically the sounds and music within games require triggers from the users actions making them non-linear.

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  • Really? Is Non-linear different in terms of film and audio? In film, it simply means you can jump from point to point at random, instead of having to watch the video to where you're trying to get to. – Dave Matney Jul 8 '10 at 13:22
  • I guess different people have different understanding of what linear/non-linear means @Dave Matney Im not familiar with the terminology, is analogue tape an example of a linear format? even if you can fast forward to avoid watching everything? – Haydn Payne Jul 8 '10 at 14:51
  • Yes analogue tape is a linear media form, also Cds Mp3s etc. Even though you can fast forward etc, when you press play you get what you are given from start to finish. Also in a film for instance a car drive by will sound the same however many times you watch it. In a game (which is non linear media) the sound should be changing in volume in regards to where the avatar is standing, your actions are directly having an impact on the audio within a cyberspace. Some regard modern editing programs as non linear because they enable non destructive editing, but I am referring to the finished product. – Lenny Jul 8 '10 at 17:57
  • Non-destructive and non-linear are not the same thing, though you will often find them side by side. In a linear editing program, you would have to somehow progress through everything before the point you're editing before you can actually edit it, be it through playing it or fast forwarding it, where a non-linear editing program allows you to jump around without having to fast forward / rewind. I don't disagree with you in terms of the finished product, though... Film is linear, video games are not. – Dave Matney Jul 8 '10 at 20:20

I would suspect they use non-linear sound design, but there's probably some rebel out there still cutting tape, trying to prove us that things can be done outside of ProTools.

I've never designed for a CG film, but I did get the chance to sit in on a lecture about the graphics and modeling techniques, especially 3D, used by Pixar for Bolt, and we were shown very early cuts where they hadn't smoothed out some of the polys, let alone textured them, and even got to hear some of the early sound design. As far as I know, that wouldn't even be possible with linear editing.

As for the job market? It's the same job market we're all in... There's work out there, you just have to prove to the people paying for it that you're worth it.

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  • Pixar didn't do Bolt...that was Disney Animation in Los Angeles. – Justin P Jul 8 '10 at 3:53
  • But was produced by Lasseter and sound designed by Randy Thom - which basically makes it a Pixar film. – Utopia Jul 8 '10 at 5:58
  • Gotta respectfully disagree with that observation Ryan. – Justin P Jul 8 '10 at 7:04
  • Sorry, I just always assume Pixar does all of Disney's CG animation. But, you're totally right. – Dave Matney Jul 8 '10 at 13:20

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