The third and final season of Video Game High School (VGHS) is out, and for the first time in the popular web series’ run, the season has been designed and edited from the start in 5.1 surround sound, thanks in part to help from the Dolby® Institute.
VGHS tells the story of a high school set in a world similar to our own, where video games are the sports spectacle of choice. Instead of elite sports academies, talented gamers attend prep schools that emphasize game skills above all else.
The show takes place in two worlds: the real world, where Newton’s laws apply, and the game world, where students and sound designers alike get to bend the rules of physics a little.
The series has always emphasized high production values, especially in the visual effects-heavy game world, and, in previous years, the creative team has remixed the original video in 5.1 surround sound to play on Blu-ray Disc and on streaming services.
But the jump to designing the show from the beginning in 5.1 surround sound was a challenge for the team. Co-creator Freddie Wong, perhaps best known for his VFX work, said sound design is key to making the world of VGHS feel believable, and to sell the visuals.
“I’ve always said this: you can have horrible visual effects and great sound, and that video will be better received than great visual effects with crappy sound,” Wong said. “The Dolby involvement with VGHS has improved the show immensely in a number of ways. Chief among them is being able to give proper, full attention to the sound design, sound mix side of things.”
Co-creator Matthew Arnold agrees.
“Sound’s always that thing that, when it’s done really well, you don’t get recognition for it, because if it’s done really well, you just don’t notice it,” Arnold said. “And there’s definitely sequences that when we’re writing, we know, like, the sound design is vital to the scene.”
Dolby Institute director Glenn Kiser said, “We were fortunate that Freddie and Matt came to talk with us about VGHS before they even started shooting. We were able to jump on board and help them think about sound creatively from the very beginning of the process. Kudos to Steven Cahill and his team at Sticky Notes Studios, who did the sound design and mix.”
But you don’t have to take their word for it. Video Game High School, season 3, is streaming now on YouTube. To hear the full 5.1 surround sound mix, catch the series when it comes to Blu-ray Disc, iTunes, and Netflix. Watch our behind-the-scenes video below, and check out these four tips on improving the sound quality of your own web videos from the last time we caught up with Freddie Wong and the VGHS team at VidCon 2014.