Nuno Fonseca: Technology, Sound, Movies in Particles
Date & Time
Wednesday, October 26, 2022, 12:30 PM - 12:45 PM
Nuno Fonseca
I love technology, sound and movies… 15 years ago I realized that the most interesting visual effects I was seeing in movies used particle systems, a well-known CGI technique that creates thousands or even millions of small points to simulate fire, smoke, desert storms and fairy dust, and I thought “Wouldn’t be nice if we could do the same with sound, creating thousands of small sounds that together create these amazing soundscapes?”. But that was only an idea…

In 2012, after finishing my PhD, I noticed that still no one was using particles systems for audio, so as I computer nerd that I am (this face doesn’t fool anyone!), I decided to start creating my own particle system software for audio, to allow sound designers to create amazingly complex sound scenes.

But I live in Portugal! A small country on the other side of the world, with an almost inexistent movie industry. What would be the chances of having my software being used in Hollywood, especially on their biggest productions (the main focus of the software)? But I think that sometimes in life we need to be a little naïve (or cocky, depending on the point of view) and believe. So I continued to develop the software. And even if no one used it, I was still having a lot of fun creating it (nerd alert!).

In 2014, I was going to LA to an AES convention, but a few weeks earlier I sent 5 or 6 emails to some sound professionals in Hollywood, saying that I was doing this crazy software, which could be particularly interesting for big productions, and I was going to be in town for a couple of days. The first reply was from Skywalker, inviting me to go to the ranch to do a presentation to their sound design team, and within 6 months I end-up giving talks also at Warner, Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, and later-on on Disney, Pixar, Apple, Netflix and other places.

Nowadays, Sound Particles company has 30 collaborators, and our software is used in all major Hollywood studios, in productions such as Dune, StarWars, Frozen, Game of Thrones, and also on videogame companies such as Blizzard, Playstation, and Epic Games.

We started with the idea of creating thousands of sounds around you, that forced us to create a CGI-like software but for sound, adapting a ton of computer graphics techniques to audio (imagine Maya but for sound), and even creating technology for 3D sound over headphones.

I don’t know the future, but even if Sound Particles closes the doors tomorrow, I can tell you it has been a ride of a lifetime, especially for someone that loves technology, sound and movies.
Location Name
Salon 2