Game Audio with Steinberg's Nuendo
Have you considered upgrading to Nuendo 10? Or are you starting out in game audio and wondering what software to use or what the workflow is like? Then this blog may help you make some decisions and get an idea of what Nuendo is capable of.
I recently got the opportunity to upgrade to Nuendo 10 from Cubase 10.5. One of my main reasons for upgrading was the faster workflow that Nuendo offers, when it comes to audio post production and designing sounds for games. I watched the Steinberg videos here and read through their website materials and I was impressed by the robust features for game audio.
For my blog page, I’ve begun documenting my workflow between Nuendo, Wwise and Unreal Engine and I thought I would share my experiences with the you as I dive deeper into this powerful software combination.
Nuendo 10 itself is a relatively expensive DAW, a licence from scratch will set you back £860. However, if like me you are a Cubase user a cross grade can be purchased for £343 and can also be found cheaper on specific sale days so it’s worth holding out and keeping your eye open if you wish to save some money. There is also a 60 day free trial which is useful if you are evaluating your options.
Some of the key features that sold me on Nuendo were:
Legacy Cubase projects are compatible
Game Audio Connect to Wwise
Offline processing and RX connect (history is kept and can be changed anytime)
Steinberg's industry leading audio engine
Full Latency Compensation
Scrub audio within confines of event
Memzap (Using memzap a user can quickly "store" a location and zoom)
Steinberg's fantastic built in plug-ins and plug-in integration
Batch export and export cycle regions
Visibility and visibility agents
Picture follows event
ADR recording functionality
Custom key commands
7.1 and Dolby Atmos integration
Video Cut Detection tool
Field Recorder Import
Project logical editor
Network based collaboration
Preset saving and recall
Hitpoint detection (Aka transient detection)
Convert track to\from stereo\mono
Scalability from small room to large studio
These features are great for all types of audio based work and as a freelancer it is likely that I will take on work in both linear media and interactive media. There are certain features on the list which really help me on a day to day basis. I will go into some more details on those specifically in the interests of brevity.
First and foremost is the integration with Wwise. Game Audio Connect (GAC) is a built in feature of Nuendo which works in tandem with the Wwise plug-in 'Nuendo Game Audio Connect', which can be installed to your version of Wwise on the plug-ins page of the Wwise launcher. You can then select the Game Audio Connect window from the Project tab in Nuendo. This allows you to select any container in the Wwise project as the target and then drag audio you want rendered there, either directly into the GAC window or via the multitude of export options found in the file tab. The files are exported to the Wwise project and the Nuendo project so you always have a backup.This seamless interaction allows for quick iterations of your sounds to be tested in game, unobstructed by additional steps which can be frustrating and impede flow. Other DAW's can do this such as Reaper, although after looking into Reaper as an option I saw a number of videos where the steps were convoluted (required setup) in comparison and buggy, one tutorial had to reload Reaper before they could re-render a file (this could be fixed in current versions, but it didn't seem too great to me).
The options for export themselves in Nuendo are fantastic. You can export by mix-down (stereo\multichannel or mono), selected events in the arrangement view, selected tracks or by clip packages (Clip packages are sound combinations that you create by arranging, editing, and grouping several audio events or parts in the Project window and saving them as clip packages, another great feature for reusing designed sounds in future projects). There's also options for exporting MIDI, OMF, AAF, CSV and more all super handy when working remotely with others on different platforms and DAW's. In the export window itself you get even more options. Single or multiple tracks at a time with a search function, export cycle markers or regions between locators. The file format options are extensive going up to 384KHz 64 bit float, allow split channels and mono down mix, in everything from wav to OggVorbis.
On paper one of the best features for sound design is the Direct Offline Processing. This allows you to create process chains on a per event basis, with fully reversible history at any time. It even allows you to drag and drop plug-ins from channel inserts and copies the settings to the offline process. This feature is incredibly powerful and flexible, RX connect also works well with this system allowing for clean-up processes to be added to the chain before the real fun begins with experimenting with your plug-in combinations. You also have 4 banks for favourites, where processes can be stored for future use. The process range and tail can be adjusted as required, so you don't loose anything from the end of time based effects, however the downside to this is you must set the time before applying the time based effect otherwise it will cut the tails off. Reportedly, any plug-in you have and any Steinberg process can be used in any order and can be applied, re-ordered, discarded or added to as you choose at anytime. So far, this has been the only feature which has caused me any issues, some plug-ins will cause Nuendo to hang, Loopmash being one of them. Hopefully in future updates some of the bugs will get ironed out, but in any case its still a great feature. At the moment I am still learning what combinations are possible and what I will likely need to use again, but here's a quick demo just chucking stuff at a sample to show what it can do.
In Nuendo any event or sample can be dragged into the lower zone, when sample editor is selected as its focus. This allows you to quickly map a sample across the keyboard and perform it on a MIDI keyboard, useful to perform in footsteps to video for example.
I also really like the metering options in Steinberg products. Being able to customise the thresholds of when the meters change colour is great for setting up your loudness thresholds to be seen at a glance. The main meter can be brought up in the right zone at any time and set to K-weighting or other standards.
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of Nuendo is in its customisable macros, any action or process which Nuendo can do can be added and combined to a macro and the executed from a single keystroke or with modifier keys. A real time saver when performing rote tasks, which can be made even better when coupled with something like the Stream Deck, which is next on my list of things to add to my setup. Here's a quick example.
Overall, I am very pleased with my experience of Nuendo so far and the transition across from Cubase was as painless as it could be.
If you have any questions I will endeavour to answer them. Likewise, if you want to offer me any suggestions for improvements or you want to discuss game audio, you are most welcome. It's best to reach me here on my website through the contact page or on Twitter @RM_Audio .