Featured Employee: Pat Balthrop

by ig.sarah on January 20 2011


Here’s why we think Pat is swell:

Audio director Jim Bonney: It’s hard to decide where to begin when it comes to summing Pat up, but the most striking thing about him is that he seems to have no ego whatsoever. All Pat wants to do is work with the team to make the game sound kick-ass–and he’ll go to just about any length to do it. From drowning to electrocution, he’s subjected himself to all varieties of self-induced abuse in the name of creating authentic sound design.  He perpetually maintains a positive attitude, a tireless work ethic, and a fantastically creative mind.  We’re trying to figure out how to clone him.

Your title is “audio principal.” What does that mean?

Pat Balthrop: As audio principal, my time is shared between conceptualization and content creation. This means that I explore new ideas, new methods, and even new systems for making our games sound unique and exceptional. The fact that my position even exists at Irrational Games is proof of the studio’s appreciation for the way sound can bring interactive experiences to a new level.

What games have you worked on?

PB: Some of the recent games I’ve shipped include BioShock, and Harmonix’s games Rock Band 2, The Beatles: Rock Band, Rock Band 3, and Dance Central.

Pat creates sounds during a field recording session.

Describe life at Irrational in three words or less.

PB: “Sound designer’s dream.”

What is your favorite game of all time?

PB: This is an impossible question. If I measure this by which game I play the most, it’s Team Fortress 2. I’m already in your base, and you got blood on my suit.

Name a game everyone should play once in their life.

PB: Can I get away with saying The Orange Box? [Sure. -Ed.]

What is your favorite movie?

PB: My favorite movies tend to correlate with my favorite sound professionals. To name just two out of many, Randy Thom and Walter Murch have had a huge influence on how I think about and approach use of music, mix, voiceover, and sound design for media. Apocalypse Now, The Incredibles, Ratatouille…every time I hear these films, I learn something.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

PB: I enjoy producing electronic music and playing in my band The Hole Punch Generation. I like writing and collecting standalone programs and patches for audio software Reaktor, Max/MSP, and SuperCollider to design my sounds. Lately I’ve been dabbling with open-source platform Arduino in the hopes I will start building custom hardware controllers.

Tell us your favorite story about life at Irrational.

PB: This is a tough one, but a really defining moment for me as a sound designer was finishing the BioShock X06 demo. The sound team worked pretty hard leading up to finishing it. Ken called the whole studio into a conference room to watch the demo. The audio team stood back and listened to the demo with the rest of the team, and it was at that moment when we realized we were on to something–that we had done something really unique.

Avatar Image Posted this January 20 2011 03:05 pm, under Featured Employees,
Featured Employees
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  • IG.Faulstick | January 20, 2011 3:09 pm

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    No mention of the Pat-Cave?

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  • teleportingman | January 20, 2011 4:10 pm

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    This guy is awesome if he plays and loves the orange box i will love him

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  • ethan526 | January 20, 2011 6:46 pm

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    I want to see who made the bioshock designs the send him or her to the looney bin for the creation of sander cohen’s room in the winery. DX It scared thy fook out of me.

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  • maclaine | January 20, 2011 8:30 pm

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    Patrick has excellent taste in eye wear, and his triceps are incredibly powerful.

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  • daedro | January 21, 2011 10:50 am

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    An audio expert with experience through a large majority of Harmonix’s game library? What else needs to be said?

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  • buckybit | February 2, 2011 5:46 pm

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    Sound Design / Engineering must be amongst the most interesting jobs period? And if you know the technical aspects in and out, you can easily swap jobs and do Astronomy, instead?

    In this day and age most starting movie-makers STILL don’t understand: you can throw the crappiest pictures at me, as long as the sound is superb, I’m with you (your story)! Same goes for games 10x ?

    It is pretty irrational (sic!) of me to think that, but I expect from Irrational Games to carry the torch of Looking Glass – being the first, who really cared about not just good, but excellent sound in their games! You go girls! :)

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