Pitter-patter and tip-toe – will you do a footstep listening test?

Footstep sounds are one of the most widely used sound effects in film, TV and game sound design.
Great footstep sound effects are often needed, from the creeping, ominous footsteps in a horror film to the thud clunk of an armored soldier going into battle in a sci-fi action game.

But its not easy. As Andy Farnell pointed out in Designing Sound (which has a whole chapter on footstep synthesis), there are lots of issues with using recorded footstep samples in games. Some early games would use just one sample, making a character sound like he or she had two left (or two right) feet.
To get more realistic variation, you need several different samples for each character, for each foot, for each surface, at different paces. And so one needs to store hundreds of footstep samples. Even then, repetition becomes a problem.

We have a procedural model for generating footstep sounds without the use of recorded samples at nemisindo.com , see https://nemisindo.com/models/footsteps.html .

And we have also been looking at a new approach to footstep synthesis, based on multi-layer neural networks.

To investigate this, we have prepared a listening test comparing several different footstep synthesis approaches, as well as real recordings. The study consists of a short multi-stimulus listening test, preceded by a simple questionnaire. It takes place entirely online from your own computer. All that is needed to participate is;
• A computer with an internet connection and modern browser
• A pair of headphones
• No history of hearing loss
The duration of the study is roughly 10 minutes. We are very grateful for any responses.The study is accessible here: http://webprojects.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/mc309/FootEval/test.html?url=tests/ape_footsteps.xml

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to email Marco Comunità at m.comunita@qmul.ac.uk