The Normandy Beach landings were a pivotal moment in World War II that’s been recreated in countless entertainment mediums, including, of course, video games. A recent example was housed in Activision and Sledgehammer Games’ 2017 installment into the world’s most popular first-person shooter franchise, though the origins behind some of the Call of Duty: WWII sound effects are quite homemade, utilizing the likes of common household objects.
Recently appearing on a panel at PAX Australia in Melbourne, CoD: WWII audio director David Swenson and lead sound designer Michael Caisley spoke about the strange creative process that went into some of the game’s recordings. Initially, the pair had grand plans to use authentic sound clips from the time they spent preparing audio with the United States Coast Guard, but legal rights issues eventually put a stop to that.
After coming up with a creative homemade solution, Caisley then put his plan into action from his actual home. In order to create the sounds of splashing water and water hitting soldiers’ jackets, he reportedly affixed an old leather jacket to a metal chair and then sprayed the makeshift prop with his garden hose. It’s certainly not a AAA production method, though the end result was almost indistinguishable.
Other shared examples of the Call of Duty production budget (somewhat surprisingly) not being infinite include fighter plane noises that were captured at a local air show, a camping trip providing the chance opportunity to record wet footsteps made by a character travelling through a creek, and, in the case of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the sound of technologically advanced walker tanks actually being a recording from a garbage truck that came to empty Caisley’s trash…
It’s probably not as glamorous a life to work on the Call of Duty sound team as you might’ve initially imagined, but it certainly sounds like the Sledgehammer staff has fun coming up with inventive solutions to their odd audio conundrums.