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Wondering about the audio quality of NPC mods


Guest Dirty Uncle Bertie

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Guest Dirty Uncle Bertie

I'm looking to try out my first NPC mods, and three in particular have caught my eye: Amber, Finch and Gavin.

 

I appreciate that these sorts of projects must take loads of effort, and I certainly don't want to crap on anyone's mod, but I wonder, does the voicing fit in perfectly with the Bioware NPCs? An NPC whose voicing is the same volume as the Bioware NPCs, and is also free of pops and crackles, would be just perfect I reckon. Is such a thing possible, and if so, do these three mods provide this?

 

Like I said, I don't want to sound unappreciative of modders' efforts, but as far as an NPC mod is concerned, if the audio is much louder or quieter than the stock NPCs, or is full of background noise, then it'll stand out as mod-added content, and break immersion. I'm hoping to avoid that in my game.

 

Many thanks.

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Gavin sounds fine for me and the others I don't know (not played, yet), but the NPC mods you listed should be fine, too, because the modders of these mods made and tried much for their own mods and for their quality.

 

Like I said, I don't want to sound unappreciative of modders' efforts, but as far as an NPC mod is concerned, if the audio is much louder or quieter than the stock NPCs, or is full of background noise, then it'll stand out as mod-added content, and break immersion. I'm hoping to avoid that in my game.

But it sounds unappreciative, because we all try the best to improve BG and we do this all in our freetime. We have no Hollywood actors or soundstudios and if there a little background noise or crackles then you should live with that and honor the work, which the modders have done with these mods. To get speakers and recorded voices is not easy and it is everytime better as to use the BG ones. If you have so high claims, then it is better you don't install a NPC mod, but then you would miss some good NPCs...

 

Sorry, if this sounds too hard now a little bit, I wanted to clarify only the situation. We love BG and would never get on not to install a NPC, only because it cracks sometimes in the voice. :)

 

Greetings Leomar

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Guest Dirty Uncle Bertie

Thanks for the replies.

 

What I was thinking of doing if a particular file does have crackles etc, was just removing that file (or replacing it with a silent one) so I'd just get the text. I'd rather do this than have crackly audio.

 

As for the volume of the speech, well, that's more difficult. I did read a thread once where someone said an NPCs voicing was twice as loud as the Bioware NPCs, and it sounded like she was shouting all the time. I'm not going to slag anyone's mod off if they're unable to get the volume perfect, but at the same time I'm not going to play every NPC mod out there, regardless of its quality, just to "honor the work".

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Well, this will remove audio from dialogue.

 

BACKUP ~#!AudioRemover/Backup~
AUTHOR ~Icendoan, G3~
BEGIN ~Remove Audio from Dialogue~
PRINT ~Default options are: Anomen [ANOME] Yoshimo [YOSH] Aerie [AERIE] Nalia [NALIA]~
PRINT ~Mazzy [MAZZY] Korgan [KORGAN] Cernd [CERND] Jan [JAN] All: enter nothing.~
PRINT ~Which Audio file do you want to remove dialogue from?~
ACTION_READLN fileRegex

PRINT ~Is there a specific audio file you want to remove references to?~
PRINT ~All [.*]~
ACTION_READLN audio

COPY_EXISTING_REGEXP GLOB ~%fileRegex%.*.dlg~ ~override~
DECOMPILE_DLG_TO_D
REPLACE_TEXTUALLY ~[%audio%].*~ ~~
COMPILE_D_TO_DLG
BUT_ONLY_IF_IT_CHANGES

 

Copy, save as setup-#!Audio.tp2, run a WeiDU.exe as setup-#!audio.exe and it should remove the audio. :)

 

NOTES: This is untested, so there are undoubtedly typos. Also, it will remove ALL audio from the dialogues if you do want to remove a specific audio, go through the dialogue and find the sound name in [ ] then rerun the code.

 

Icen

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Finch's audio is perfect. Absolutely perfect. No hiss, no pops, and perfect volume. It will still stand out as mod content, though because none of the BioWare NPCs are voiced. BG1 NPC did not add voices to banters because the BG1 NPC team had no means of recruiting the original voice actors.

 

Amber's dialogue, too, is flawless, in terms of quality, although it is very slightly louder than Bioware. Unless you've got a really good ear, though, you probably won't notice.

 

With Gavin, I avoided full voicing because BG1 NPC did not include it. I did not want Gavin's voice sounding out where the BioWare guys were silent. So he's just got his selection sounds, battle cries, etc., just like BG1 NPC. I tried to match the volume, but that's tough because, especially in BG1, volume is dependant on where on the screen the characters are standing. If the character is standing in the exact middle of the screen, the voice is louder, if he's further to one side, the voice is softer. I've got a pretty good ear and decent recording equipment, so I was able to get the voice actor, Matt (also the voice of Diriel and Sir Nord of IWD2 NPC), recorded without hisses or pops. BG2 Gavin will be fully voiced, though I'm going to have to make sure I get Matt to record the "first lines" soon, because people have this annoying habit of dropping off the planet when you've got a job for them to do.

 

You might still run into places where the content exceeds BioWare. All of these mods add more content than BioWare intended. Finch and Gavin pobably have more than BG1 NPC because Bons and I were writing one NPC, not twenty-six.

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Guest Dirty Uncle Bertie

Thanks again.

 

I downloaded and extracted the Amber, Finch and Gavin mods so I could have a listen to the ogg files. I don't have Tutu installed, so wasn't able to install Finch and Gavin, but I assume the oggs and the wavs in the override folder will sound exactly the same.

 

berelinde , when you say "none of the BioWare NPCs are voiced", I take it you mean that there are conversations between Finch and the Bioware NPCs where only the Finch part is voiced? If so, I guess that's okay with me.

 

When I was listening to the ogg files for each NPC I found the following:

 

Amber

The quality is excellent, but I did find that m#Amb062.wav sounds a fair bit louder than most of the others (not that I've listed to them all yet). Perhaps I should see if Meira and Darios would like me to listen to them all and let them know which ones stand out to me as being louder than the rest.

 

Finch

Can't fault this at all. It's great, and so cute!

 

Gavin

I don't know if it's something my end, or because I'm listening to the oggs, but a large number of the files have pops at the end (I downloaded v3.1). bgav_25.ogg and bgav_32.ogg are perhaps the best examples of this. Considering what you've said, berelinde, it's probably a problem with my speakers or something. Maybe someone else could have a listen to these two oggs and see if they get a pop at the end.

 

Finally, I found a couple of topics that talk about this sort of thing:

 

http://forums.gibberlings3.net/index.php?showtopic=13003

 

http://forums.gibberlings3.net/index.php?s...st&p=120459

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Guest Dirty Uncle Bertie

I managed to listen to the files on another PC, and I have the same issue.

 

By turning the speakers up, I found that there's also a small pop when the audio starts. So it's like there's a pop when the audio starts and another when it ends. The actually spoken parts are great, and I can't find any pops during the audio, only just before when it starts and just after it ends i.e. at the beginning and ends of the file.

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I managed to listen to the files on another PC, and I have the same issue.

 

By turning the speakers up, I found that there's also a small pop when the audio starts. So it's like there's a pop when the audio starts and another when it ends. The actually spoken parts are great, and I can't find any pops during the audio, only just before when it starts and just after it ends i.e. at the beginning and ends of the file.

The popping may be from the program that recorded it. Sounds similar to the slight popping noise one could get sometimes when recording to a cassette. The movement of the record head touching and leaving the tape would sometimes be picked up.

 

By turning the speakers up you increased the over all volume which would increase the level of any background noise or white noise present on the recording. To get an accurate representation of what the entire clip sounds like, you would need to keep the entire clip at the same level as it would be in game.

 

Okay, the guy who doesn't work in radio any more will give up the 'mic'.

 

As far as my games have gone:

I have played Gavin in a game and have not heard any popping during play. I have played Finch and always thought that her Candlekeep dialog was too quite because the chanting monks were much louder, but further away. The rest of the game she seems okay.

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Guest D. U. Bertie

Thanks, plainab!

 

So you hear it to? It's not just me that can hear this?

 

Oh, and just to clarify, I originally listened to the oggs at the same volume as when I play the game. It was only later when I increased the volume that I heard the pop at the start of the file. I also listened to some Amber, Finch and Gavin oggs one after another, which is why the pops in the Gavin files stood out for me.

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Amber

The quality is excellent, but I did find that m#Amb062.wav sounds a fair bit louder than most of the others (not that I've listed to them all yet). Perhaps I should see if Meira and Darios would like me to listen to them all and let them know which ones stand out to me as being louder than the rest.

You're very wellcome to give feedback on Amber's voicing. I still have the original wavs stored - as well as the high qualyty wavs that have been etited for noise/pop/volume etc. and length, but wich haven't yet been converted to the lower bitrate and ogg format. So re-editing is entirely possible without loss of sound quality.

 

One thing you'll notice with Amber is that there are lines missing. That's someting I can't fix at the moment.

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Guest D. U. Bertie

Hey, Meira.

 

Sure, I'll have a listen to each wav and let you know if any sound particularly louder than the others (m#Amb062.wav being one such example). I guess this may take a week or two, depending on how much time and patience I have. One thing I obviously won't be able to do is compare how loud the files are to the Bioware NPCs. Amber does sound a little bit louder than Finch to me, but not by much, and Finch's voice is quite different anyway, so the difference in volume sounds appropriate in a way.

 

By "lines missing", I assume you mean that a subtitle appears during selection/command but there's no speech? I usually play with subtitles off, so I suppose I may not even notice the issue (unless a subtitle still appears even though subtitles are off?).

 

Oh, and are you able to comment on the Gavin issue I mentioned? Perhaps you could have a listen to some of the files yourself, and maybe offer some advice?

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One thing I obviously won't be able to do is compare how loud the files are to the Bioware NPCs. Amber does sound a little bit louder than Finch to me, but not by much, and Finch's voice is quite different anyway, so the difference in volume sounds appropriate in a way.

 

IE editing tools, such as Nearinfinity, allow you to listen the bioware NPCs soundsets. If you'd like that is. :)

 

By "lines missing", I assume you mean that a subtitle appears during selection/command but there's no speech?

 

Yes.

 

Oh, and are you able to comment on the Gavin issue I mentioned? Perhaps you could have a listen to some of the files yourself, and maybe offer some advice?

I can make a very unprofessional guess. The fact that I unsure of the correct English terms for this doesn't make it any easier to explain. As you know, sound is a wave. To me it seems, that if you cut the audio file from the wrong place in the sound wave (even the virtually silent parts usually have tiny amount of background noise), it results a small click on the end of the audio file. To avoid this you should cut the audio file from the 'zero' line, ie. the place where the sound wave crosses the median line. I looked at the bgav_32.ogg and it does start and end below the 'zero' line and that why (I think) there's a small click on both ends. Again apologies, if my lack of correct terms for audio editing made the explanation nearly worthless.

 

In all other terms the audio file seemed perfectly flawless (no background noise, hisses or pops in the spoken text) Furthermore I didn't hear any ill marks of digital editing (such as metallic edge in the actors voice or "silver bells" on the background (try Sarieleth for that). Then again if you can't notice the click on you actual game because of the volume or game's music and ambient noises, I'm uncertain if the click matters at all. :)

 

For example: With Amber I held Kelsey's voicing as the quality standard. I used a good quality headphones to catch the flaws (mainly background noise), that would go unnoticed if I used only the speakers of my computer. However, when I was finished with Amber I listened Kelsey's lines with the headphones (before that I had only listened them from the speakers) and found out that Kelsey's lines - that I had thought as flawless - did actually have some background noise in them. Since I had never noticed that with the speakers, let alone in the actual game, it turned out that I had perhaps been unnecessarily strict with Amber. :p

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Nah, the click is the software I was using at the time introducing electrical garbabe. I, too, still have the unedited files, so I can always go back and redo them. The older version of Audacity had suboptimal normalization and noise reduction, so I didn't use it. The newer version has better of both, so I can do a re-edit. Of course, since you really can't hear them unless you're blasting the audio file at high volume and without music/environmental audio, etc. it isn't really a high priority, but it will get done eventually.

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Guest Dirty Uncle Bertie

Meira

Thanks for listening to those Gavin files for me and confirming what I thought I heard. I don't have a pair of really good headphones, but I do have £200+ speakers for my PC, as well as a high-end soundcard.

 

I've downloaded Near Infinity and have had a play around with it. I had a bit of a play around with Amber in-game, selecting and commanding her and then doing the same for a Bioware NPC, and some of her speech is noticably louder. Are you easily able to reduce the volume of wavs on a mass scale, or would you have to do each individually? Is there no way of playing a Bioware clip and seeing what volume that's at (or taking the average of a number clips) and then applying that to the mod NPC sound files?

 

Anyway, I'm still in the process of listening to the files in Windows and seeing which are the loudest. Some files, like M#Amb003.ogg, M#Amb007.ogg, and m#Amb062.ogg are noticeably louder, so I'll provide you with a list of files that are of a similar volume to these.

 

Just out of interest, if you are able to reduce the volume on a mass scale, perhaps a slight and equal reduction in all files would be a good place to start, since, like berelinde says, I get the impression that most of her files are slightly, but noticably, louder than the Bioware NPCs. Regardless, I'll carry on with my list and let you know when I'm done.

 

berelinde

That's good to hear. :)

I'll keep an eye out for the improved audio version, and will have a listen once it's released, if you like. Like Meira said, other than the pops at the start and end of the files, the audio is perfect.

 

I did have a listen to all the Gavin oggs, and there are a couple that I think are definitely too loud:

 

bgav_12.ogg - battle cry, but still sounds overly loud (certainly louder than bgav_11.ogg)

bgav_18.ogg

 

Also, there are three that do sound a little bit louder than most of the others, so perhaps you'd consider reducing their volume slightly when you do your re-editing for pops:

 

bgav_22.ogg

bgav_25.ogg

bgav_42.ogg

 

I hope this type of feedback is useful to you both.

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